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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> Nikkor 70-300VR - 24-85 2.8...or?
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01/14/2009 08:53:04 PM · #1
After my bad experience with the Sigma 150-500 (it is being returned) I have been thinking about the Nikkor 70-300 F4.5-5.6 VR for wildlife photography. I have looked at reviews and overall it seems to fare pretty well. While I have no problem setting up camp, so to speak, and using a tripod to get some wildlife shots, I also know that handheld opportunities are inevitable and, outside of a zoo or a harbor or similar environment, often probable.

I like the reach of 70-300mm VR (I understand it can be a bit soft at the long end of the zoom range). And love the VR aspect. Also the size and weight. The smallish aperture is a consideration over some of those 2.8 lenses which can cost more than I paid for my car.

So, any suggestions beyond this one? And any real life experiences that can be shared?

I am also thinking of adding the Nikkor 24-85mm f/2.8-4D IF to the mix as well. The 70-300 and this 24-85 would not be much more than I paid for the Sigma 150-500. I know it does not have VR but at this zoom range I am not concerned. Any thoughts or suggestions about this zoom would be wonderful.

At this point, from my kit, I am keeping the Sigma 10-20 and the Nikkor 50 1.8D. So these two lenses, along with the two lenses above, would probably represent my complete kit for some time. (unless those pesky lottery tickets pay off! suuuure)

Thanks in advance!

Michael

Message edited by author 2009-01-14 20:56:08.
01/14/2009 10:27:39 PM · #2
If nature photography is your interest you are not going to be happy until you get to at least 400mm (600mm with the 1.5 crop). I have tried a number of less expensive lenses along the way, from 200 to 500 on the long end, and finally settled on the Nikon AF Zoom-Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED VR as the minimal, both in terms of cost and reach, lens I can get away with. A Nikon 500 or 600 would be even better but cost is normally an issue for most people. I was lucky enough to have saved for and bought a Nikon 70-200 2.8 VR awhile back and found that although it was an excellent lens it just did not have the reach I needed so I sold it and bought the 80-400. So my advice would be to be patient and save the $1,500 you will need to buy the 80-400. In the meantime you might get lucky and Nikon will finally upgrade it to an AF-S lens (it still has the older slower focus system) before you are ready. Heck, if that happens I'll be selling mine and upgrading and I'd likely make someone a great deal.

Good luck in your search.
01/14/2009 10:43:37 PM · #3
I would suggest, at a minimum, getting a tele converter to go with the 70-300. As JB said, you'll want all the range you can get for closeups to wildlife in the wild. I have a 300 f/4, and a 500 f/8 that I use along with tele converters to get shots of birds on the marsh. My other suggestion to you is look for used lens on ebay, craigslist, here, etc. While they may not have VR or AF-S, they won't cost as much as your car either.
01/15/2009 10:27:04 AM · #4
Nikkor 70-300 F4.5-5.6 VR

01/15/2009 11:06:52 AM · #5
I do not think a teleconverter will work on the 70-300 F4.5-5.6 VR.

BTW - the link below is really to a Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED Autofocus VR for $1,300.
01/15/2009 12:23:50 PM · #6
i'll second what JB says / go for the 80-400 !
you can find them used (people moving up to the 200-400)
01/15/2009 12:57:07 PM · #7
Originally posted by Canopic:

...
I am also thinking of adding the Nikkor 24-85mm f/2.8-4D IF to the mix as well. ....


This is my standard lens. Sharp, fast focus, 2:1 (or 1:2) macro - love it. Watch for barrel distortions at 24mm though. Full frame distortions maybe bad, don't know.
01/15/2009 04:51:18 PM · #8
Originally posted by jbsmithana:

I do not think a teleconverter will work on the 70-300 F4.5-5.6 VR.

BTW - the link below is really to a Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED Autofocus VR for $1,300.


Even if a converter would work, the effective aperture would certainly be an issue at the longer focal lengths.

I am still new here, contributed little so far, and not part of the regulars yet, so hesitated on an overly-personal post. The other issue is my hands. I play music and have gotten arthritis in both hands from repetitve motion. The left hand had major surgery a couple of years ago and the right is undergoing physical therapy. I can still play (slower) but neither is really up to heavier lenses. I actually looked at the 80-400 but feel the weight is really going to be a factor. Probably should have just mentioned that up front. :(
01/15/2009 09:12:39 PM · #9
Originally posted by Canopic:

Originally posted by jbsmithana:

I do not think a teleconverter will work on the 70-300 F4.5-5.6 VR.

BTW - the link below is really to a Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED Autofocus VR for $1,300.


Even if a converter would work, the effective aperture would certainly be an issue at the longer focal lengths.

I am still new here, contributed little so far, and not part of the regulars yet, so hesitated on an overly-personal post. The other issue is my hands. I play music and have gotten arthritis in both hands from repetitve motion. The left hand had major surgery a couple of years ago and the right is undergoing physical therapy. I can still play (slower) but neither is really up to heavier lenses. I actually looked at the 80-400 but feel the weight is really going to be a factor. Probably should have just mentioned that up front. :(


I hear you. I almost always carry my D300 and 80-400 combo (spell heavy) with a monopod. That way I can walk with it balanced on my shoulder and when I shot with the monopod planted I don't have any weight in my hands, just what it takes to zoom and balance the camera/monopod. If this is still to heavy for you then the 70-300 is probably a good compromise.

Good luck.

Message edited by author 2009-01-15 21:13:15.
01/15/2009 09:48:31 PM · #10
Originally posted by jbsmithana:

I do not think a teleconverter will work on the 70-300 F4.5-5.6 VR.


The Auto-focus won't work, but it will extend the reach of the lens.
01/16/2009 01:45:18 AM · #11
Originally posted by Canopic:

Originally posted by jbsmithana:

I do not think a teleconverter will work on the 70-300 F4.5-5.6 VR.

BTW - the link below is really to a Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED Autofocus VR for $1,300.


Even if a converter would work, the effective aperture would certainly be an issue at the longer focal lengths.

I am still new here, contributed little so far, and not part of the regulars yet, so hesitated on an overly-personal post. The other issue is my hands. I play music and have gotten arthritis in both hands from repetitve motion. The left hand had major surgery a couple of years ago and the right is undergoing physical therapy. I can still play (slower) but neither is really up to heavier lenses. I actually looked at the 80-400 but feel the weight is really going to be a factor. Probably should have just mentioned that up front. :(


This is totally unrelated to the post (although I yearn for the 80-400 too ha), but your comment about rehab and what not made me think you might be interested in this little device. The Powerball. It's a gyroscope exercise tool that provides great grip/forearm exercise without being rough on my joints. Granted, I'm young, but I've tried others and this is far and above the best I've found. Other devices have given me joint stiffness, and don't provide the amount of versatility of the powerballs (they are versatile because the resistance is based on how quickly you rotate them). There are several other brands (like Dynaflex) but I don't think they have the same 25 year unlimited warranty. Look around and see if you can't try one out in person locally. They sell them here at some sports places and rehab places.
01/16/2009 10:16:45 PM · #12
Originally posted by spiritualspatula:

Originally posted by Canopic:

Originally posted by jbsmithana:

I do not think a teleconverter will work on the 70-300 F4.5-5.6 VR.

BTW - the link below is really to a Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED Autofocus VR for $1,300.


Even if a converter would work, the effective aperture would certainly be an issue at the longer focal lengths.

I am still new here, contributed little so far, and not part of the regulars yet, so hesitated on an overly-personal post. The other issue is my hands. I play music and have gotten arthritis in both hands from repetitve motion. The left hand had major surgery a couple of years ago and the right is undergoing physical therapy. I can still play (slower) but neither is really up to heavier lenses. I actually looked at the 80-400 but feel the weight is really going to be a factor. Probably should have just mentioned that up front. :(


This is totally unrelated to the post (although I yearn for the 80-400 too ha), but your comment about rehab and what not made me think you might be interested in this little device. The Powerball. It's a gyroscope exercise tool that provides great grip/forearm exercise without being rough on my joints. Granted, I'm young, but I've tried others and this is far and above the best I've found. Other devices have given me joint stiffness, and don't provide the amount of versatility of the powerballs (they are versatile because the resistance is based on how quickly you rotate them). There are several other brands (like Dynaflex) but I don't think they have the same 25 year unlimited warranty. Look around and see if you can't try one out in person locally. They sell them here at some sports places and rehab places.


Thanks Spirit (may I call yuou Spirit?). I spoke with my Physical Therapist and my Orthopedist. The company lists "carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive strain injury RSI, arthritis or previous breakage." Currently the only curable arthritis is some arthritis contracted by Lime's Disease. Mine is simple. Breakdown of cartilage between the joints. (am 58 years old and been playing music for 35 years). Actually exercise was not recommended by my physical therapist or doctor as a cure. No exercise will rebuild the missing cartilage. Mainly pain alleviation techniques. I know in the future I will need surgery on the right hand as well.

I do appreciate your taking the time to post this but I fear it may actually make things worse.

I will report on the 70-300VR lens when I get one. My main interest is in getting interesting, beautiful shots of animals. Dumbo that I am, I just realized the San Francsico Zoo is a short drive for me (I live in SF). Yes, it is not the same as capturing images from the wild. But I simply want to capture some wonderful animal images. If I can get beautful shots from there, combined with some nature treks, I will be happy. A year or two down the road the 70-300 may be sold and something greater achieved. Time will tell1

And really, thanks very much for your reply. It really is appreciated.
01/17/2009 07:54:05 AM · #13
I'm really sorry to hear your hands are worse for the wear, and wish you the best. Maybe you could alleviate the issues a bit with a monopod like 21.gif jbsmithana does or maybe just make a tripod your new best friend.
I've only ventured out to the zoo for photos once, but it was still pretty good. People gave me hilarious looks with my bigma. Hopefully the 70-300/D90 combo won't attract as much attention to you.
01/17/2009 11:53:02 AM · #14
I used to have the 70-300VR. It was a great lens but I sold mine to get my 80-200 without VR. I kind of wish I had kept the 70-300 because what's gained in sharpness is lost in the distance and most of the time 200 just isn't enough. Plus when you're out to 200 on the 80-200 the sharpness is gone anyways. I think the 70-300 is much sharper at 200mm than the 80-200. Do some comparisonshere
01/19/2009 09:09:30 PM · #15
Originally posted by smichener:

I used to have the 70-300VR. It was a great lens but I sold mine to get my 80-200 without VR. I kind of wish I had kept the 70-300 because what's gained in sharpness is lost in the distance and most of the time 200 just isn't enough. Plus when you're out to 200 on the 80-200 the sharpness is gone anyways. I think the 70-300 is much sharper at 200mm than the 80-200. Do some comparisonshere


I was thinking the same thing. My assumption being that the 80-200 may be a sharper lens FL to FL but the 50% greater magnification in processing to achieve 300mm - well the 70-300 may have the edge.

I was giving serious consideration to biting the bullet and going for the 80-400 Nikkor VR, but reading reviews (Rockwell (typical) and Thom Hogan (excellent) gave me pause about the autofocus speed as this is not an AF-S lens. Thing is if I am going to be photographing wildlife there may well be some panning and its resultant focus shift. I understand the 80-400 has two distance swicthes to help the AF perform faster, but overall it seems this will not be ideal for capturing panning motion? At least consistenlty (or relatively consisteltly).

So again, I am trying to decider between the 80-400 or a combination of the Nikkor 70-300Vr (which IS AF-S) and the Nikkor 24-85 2.8/4. Decisions decisions.

Anyone have any other recommendatins for a wildlife lens the 300-400mm range for a D90 at about $1400 or less with fast autofocussing for panning and some type of vibration reduction (and is sharp)? I am returning the Sigma tomorrow so have a few days to digest until it is recieved.

Message edited by author 2009-01-19 21:32:05.
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