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Author Topic: Wildlife lenses for Nikon  (Read 14009 times)
larry_t
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« on: May 30, 2007, 09:40:27 PM »
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I use a Nikon D200 and currently use a Nikon 80-200 f2.8 AFS with TC17E for wildlife photography. I am now looking for a longer lens and have a reasonable budget. My shortlist is the new 300mm f2.8 AFS with VR and the 200-400mm f4 with VR. Has anyone had any experience with these lenses? Any thoughts on which way to go?
Larry
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2007, 01:19:21 AM »
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There are few Nikon shooters here, so you might not get a first hand answer.

I'd check at http://www.nikoncafe.com/ if I were you.

I have heard many great things about the 200-400 f4 VR, and it is clearly the route I would go if I were to shoot wild life... but then again I don't.

Cheers,
Bernard
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Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2007, 01:47:32 AM »
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Quote
I use a Nikon D200 and currently use a Nikon 80-200 f2.8 AFS with TC17E for wildlife photography. I am now looking for a longer lens and have a reasonable budget. My shortlist is the new 300mm f2.8 AFS with VR and the 200-400mm f4 with VR. Has anyone had any experience with these lenses? Any thoughts on which way to go?
Larry
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I am a bit old school

I value maximum aperture and physical robustness

Go for fast non zoom lenses

you already own a 17 converter which with the 300 2.8 gives you 450 at 4.5 for $2000 ish less than the zoom

Really you need a 500/4 or 400 2.8

IMO the 600 4 is too heavy (I own one and would swap it for the 500 or a 400)

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If you really are on a budget buy a S/H 300 2.8 and use it with your 1.7 converter

Remeber in low light you can use a 2.8 lens at 2.8 without the converter

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If you dont use a D200 or a D2x  body you use you may get best value by going for one of these  and getting some extra MP on the lense you already have

To me the 300 2.8 and D200 is the only good thing about nikon right now - eqiv of 400 2.8 full frame in a super managable package

SMM
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Sam Morgan Moore Cornwall
www.sammorganmoore.com -photography
larry_t
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« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2007, 09:10:01 AM »
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Thanks, I intend to do some whale watching later in the year and the 300 f2.8 seems the more manageable option.
Larry
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elkhornsun
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« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2007, 02:57:45 AM »
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The 200-400mm f4 VR is the best zoom telephoto Nikon has made to date. The VR really works well. I have shot hand held at 1/30th at the 400mm setting and get sharp images. Add the 1.7x teleconverter and you have the picture angle of a 1020mm on a film body and a still usable f6.3.

Two wildlife shooters who use Nikon gear to check out are Thom Hogan and Moose Peterson. Both have excellent websites with useful information on photography and equipment.

Often you need to be able to switch to a shorter lens if wildlife moves towards you and with a fixed 600mm f4 you may not be able to shoot. With the 200-400mm you can take off the 1.7x and switch to a 1.4x or go to 400mm or down to 200mm which gives you many more options.

I recommend the 1.7x over the 2x. Better autofocus and VR still functions with the 1.7x and more magnification than the 1.4x. The 1.7x also works well with the Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR lens.
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NikosR
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« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2007, 07:01:57 AM »
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If one is to get only one lens for Nikon wildlife, the 200-400 is the lens to get, unless one is a dedicated small bird shooter where a longer prime might be a better option.

Four important things often overlooked by people who have not used the 200-400 lens for wildlife, and who tend to see only that it's slower than the 300f2.8 or shorter than the 500f4:

1. The obvious framing convenience of a zoom

2. The not so obvious but very important advantage of the 6.4-6.5 ft min focusing distance on a 400mm lens. Max. magnification 0.27 (compare with 70-200vr 0.16, 300f2.8 0.16, 400f4 0.13).
You can almost do macro by adding a short extension tube.

3. The (limited) handholdability of the 200-400 vs. virtually no handholdability of the longer primes (even if they had VR, which they currently lack).

4. You only need to carry one lens to cover most shooting situations vs. having to carry 2 or 3 (maybe a 200, a 300 and a 500). Out in the field, this might prove much more important than any other consideration

Only reason to ever consider the 300 2.8 VR or the 400 instead of the 200-400 is if one really expects to need that 2.8 aperture A LOT, which tends not to be the case for the average wildlife shooter (as opposed to sports shooters). Things were different in the film days but in the digital era with ISO 400 quality being excellent on any camera, the importance of the 2.8 aperture has greatly diminished for wildlife shooters IMO.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2007, 07:35:56 AM by NikosR » Logged

Nikos
GregW
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« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2007, 08:56:44 PM »
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A lot of really valid points have made about the 200-400.  

One advantage of the zoom over such long focal lengths is the ease of subject aqusition.  This can be quite tricky with a prime if you have an erratic subject.

Nikonians have a wildlife orientated podcast review of the 200-400.  

http://www.nikona.org/podcasts/NPC-ID-2006-05-11.mp3
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