Cheaper but qualitatively equivalent option to Nikon 500mm f/4.0G ED VR AF-S

somdgsomdg Posts: 2Member
edited December 2013 in Nikon DSLR cameras
Hi everybody, signed up to the forum a few minutes back. Have been reading posts and views and whilst asking the question am feeling nervous about the comments from the experts like msmoto, adamz taotejared etc. Well straight to the point - I am planning for an African Safari trip next summer and feel that I badly need Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 and Nikon 500mm f/4.0G ED VR AF-S for this trip. None of these are available on rentals in the country where i stay currently. I have recently purchased D600 and have the following lenses - Nikon 70-300 VR and a Tokin 11-16mm. Whilst I want to build up my glass collection (I have recently got into photography as a hobby-1 yr), can't afford 14-24mm f/2.8 and 500mm f/4 now. What could be the cheaper alternatives (without much sacrifice in terms of quality and ease of shooting) so that i can come back with great pics of the animals and birds ? My budget is USD 2.5 k. What are the best equivalents from 3rd parties like tamron/sigma etc ? Will the IQ from 3rd party lenses like Tamron / Sigma be at par ? Just want to have some nice 8" by 6" shots for hanging at home. Thanks in advance for your guidance and tips.
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Comments

  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    OK, so I will not suggest the 800 mm f/5.6.... But something to consider is the new 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 Nikkor. And if you could add the TC-14EII, this would work well. The IQ of most non Nikkor long lenses will not be the same as the Nikkors, but may be quite acceptable. We have several folks shooting great shots without dropping $5,000 - 10,000 on lenses.
    Msmoto, mod
  • shawninoshawnino Posts: 453Member
    Tokina 16-28 on the wide end $700 at B&H. Nice lens.

    Long end no clue but I expect somebody will chime in with the Nikon 300 f/4 + the appropriate tele.
  • henrik1963henrik1963 Posts: 559Member
    I am in the same boat as I want a long tele lens without spending to much. I am considering a used last generation Nikon 300 2.8 VR and use that with tele converters. From what I read image quality should be very good. Does anybody out there have any experience with last gen. 300 2.8 + TC 2III?
  • NukeNuke Posts: 64Member
    You might consider this;
    http://nikonrumors.com/2013/12/13/price-of-the-new-tamron-sp-150-600mm-f5-6-3-di-vc-usd-lens-announced-in-japan-around-1350.aspx/

    It won't have the IQ of the 80-400 but stepped down, it should be pretty good. Africa should provide pretty good light.
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    edited December 2013
    But something to consider is the new 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 Nikkor. .
    +1

    This is one of the cheapest ways to get a quality Nikon 400 mm lens with the latest VR3
    not so sure about adding a TC
    Others will disagree but IMHO TC + zoom + the latest FX sensors, many not be better than simply cropping
    When looking at third party lenses, remember many reviews do not take into account VR, which is critical if you are hand holding a 400 mm lens
    the NEW 80 -400 can be hand held
    Post edited by sevencrossing on
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    I would consider the Tamron 150-600 on the main blog. Also @coastalconn shoots with the tamron 200-500 (and sometimes with a 3rd party TC) and gets great results. They go for about $1k new. I have a few tamron lenses and am happy with quality, build, etc... 200-500 zoom is a great length for safari as you don't have to change lenses if something gets really close.
    Someone will remember a guest post video where several options for longer reach were presented. Can't seem to find it at the moment.
  • shawninoshawnino Posts: 453Member
    If the 150-600 is anywhere close to as-advertised in terms of MTF charts, and if there is any extra supply of 200-500, the older lens' price should drop like a stone. Nothing wrong with the 200-500 on its own, but the IQ, extra range, and VC should make the new 150-600 ($1,070) nearly double the price of the 200-500 in my mind.

    If there's no extra supply of 200-500, there'll be no bargains.
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,144Member
    edited December 2013
    African Safari photo gear? Check out this discussion and others by Thom Hogan who teaches on such safaris'

    http://bythom.com/photographic-travel/africa/botswana-2013-workshop-blog/the-measure-of-a-safari.html

    http://bythom.com/photographic-travel/africa/how-to-think-about-equipmen.html

    Thom has many articles on his website with photos taken during the last safari

    Consider this:

    1. First, get a second body so you don't have to change lenses. Get a D7100. Remember the 1.5 crop factor of a DX D7100 will turn your 70-300 lens into a 105-450 lens and you are also eliminating the edges of the glass so it may work quite well. Does anyone on nikon rumors have experience using a 70-300 on a D7100 body?

    2. Second, get the 70-200 f4 (it is very sharp) as an alternative to the more expensive 70-200 f2.8 and put that on our D600. Be sure to check your D600 for dust spots and know how to clean it if they appear. There is a lot of discussion about this issue on this forum. With these two purchases your budget is exhausted.

    3. Third, the Tamron 150-600 looks very good on the MTF charts but wait to see the reviews when the lens comes out to see if it meets the claims. If so, this lens could be mounted on your D600 in place of the 70-200 f4.

    4. Fourth, I doubt you will get much use from wide angle or normal focal lengths when trying to capture nice images of wild animals because they won't let you get that close. I would think you would almost always be shooting the animals a 70mm and more.
    Post edited by donaldejose on
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    @shawnino great point. We should be on the lookout for ~$500 200-500. At that price it would be a great value.
  • ChasCSChasCS Posts: 309Member
    +1 on the new Nikon AF-S 80-400mm lens. ;-P

    The upgraded version would be a great addition to your trip kit.,
    And which gives you an awesome range, even without the TC-14EII...

    But that would eat up your said designated glass budget...
    D800, AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR, B+W Clear MRC 77mm, AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR, Sigma DG UV 77mm,
    SB-910~WG-AS3, SB-50, ME-1, Lexar Professional 600x 64GB SDXC UHS-I 90MB/s* x2, 400x 32GB SDHC UHS-I 60MB/s* x1
    Vanguard ALTA PRO 263AT, GH-300T, SBH-250, SBH-100, PH-22 Panhead
    Lowepro S&F Deluxe Technical Belt and Harness ~ Pouch 60 AW 50 AW & 10, S&F Toploader 70 AW, Lens Case 11 x 26cm
    FE, NIKKOR 2-20mm f/1.8, OPTEX UV 52mm, Vivitar Zoom 285, Kodacolor VR 1000 CF 135-24 EXP DX 35mm, rePlay XD1080

  • PhotobugPhotobug Posts: 4,537Member
    Here are my two cents. I have owned the Tamron 200-500mm for 4 years. Used it for wildlife and have gotten excellent pictures with it on a D300 and now the D7100. Love the DX crop factor, turns the lens into a 300-750mm lens.

    I second the recommendation for buying the current model new when the prices drop when the new ones hit the store. Currently they are selling for $949 to $969 in NYC. If there is a big inventory of the current model, the prices will drop quickly. For a reference, the local camera dealer has a used one in a Canon mount for $650.

    I talked to the Tamron representative yesterday at a photo expo and the Nikon mount version will be available starting January 17, 2014. At the $1,069 price and if it lives up to the charts on the main blog, it's going to be a hot selling lens.

    There are alternatives to consider. By March this lens should have been reviewed by several companies so take your time before buying.
    D750 & D7100 | 24-70 F2.8 G AF-S ED, 70-200 F2.8 AF VR, TC-14E III, TC-1.7EII, 35 F2 AF D, 50mm F1.8G, 105mm G AF-S VR | Backup & Wife's Gear: D5500 & Sony HX50V | 18-140 AF-S ED VR DX, 55-300 AF-S G VR DX |
    |SB-800, Amaran Halo LED Ring light | MB-D16 grip| Gitzo GT3541 + RRS BH-55LR, Gitzo GM2942 + Sirui L-10 | RRS gear | Lowepro, ThinkTank, & Hoodman gear | BosStrap | Vello Freewave Plus wireless Remote, Leica Lens Cleaning Cloth |
  • autofocusautofocus Posts: 625Member
    Here's one more consideration. I can't speak to the Tamron but I can vouch for the new Nikon 80-400G. If you will be shooting animals/birds or anything that is fleeting make sure whatever lens you buy has fast autofocus. I can tell you the 80-400G is as fast to focus as my 70-200G. Additionally, I have used my TC-17E with the 80-400G and the results are very pleasing. Of course autofocus suffers a bit with the TC however, it's still pretty good. With your D600 you should be able to compensate for the smaller aperture with ISO. The D600 should be fine up to 1600 and acceptable at 3200 if needed.
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 3,973Member
    edited December 2013
    I love how people are recommending the 80-400mm VRII, which is over the budget listed by the OP. And from the nature of the first post, that would be for two lenses, not one.
    Post edited by PB_PM on
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • ChasCSChasCS Posts: 309Member
    He did ask for a cheaper equivalent to a very expensive Nikon 500mm lens.
    There is no such animal, not with that quality of glass and nothing near the length.

    I only added my comment in total agreement though, with Msmoto and sevencrossing,
    It's an incredible lens, yes expensive, with perhaps not the best collar/foot for a lens of this quality...

    What was your preferred suggestion? Smile
    Trying to be helpful, not referring the Nikon AF-S 1200-1700mm... After all.
    D800, AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR, B+W Clear MRC 77mm, AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR, Sigma DG UV 77mm,
    SB-910~WG-AS3, SB-50, ME-1, Lexar Professional 600x 64GB SDXC UHS-I 90MB/s* x2, 400x 32GB SDHC UHS-I 60MB/s* x1
    Vanguard ALTA PRO 263AT, GH-300T, SBH-250, SBH-100, PH-22 Panhead
    Lowepro S&F Deluxe Technical Belt and Harness ~ Pouch 60 AW 50 AW & 10, S&F Toploader 70 AW, Lens Case 11 x 26cm
    FE, NIKKOR 2-20mm f/1.8, OPTEX UV 52mm, Vivitar Zoom 285, Kodacolor VR 1000 CF 135-24 EXP DX 35mm, rePlay XD1080

  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 3,973Member
    edited December 2013
    My suggestion , on a budget like that? AF-S 300mm F4 and TC 14EII. Much cheaper and optically superior to the 80-400mm VRII (yes, reviews back this up). That would leave room for the OP to buy a wide angle lens, as requested.
    Post edited by PB_PM on
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • kyoshinikonkyoshinikon Posts: 410Member
    edited December 2013
    An AIs Nikkor 500mm f/4 runs around 1K on ebay. Even cheaper would be a used 80-200mm (500) with a TC ($200)As to the 14-24mm I got by with a 17-35mm for years before I got mine. The 14mm f/2.8 runs around $800ish on ebay too. No zoom but you are saving much.

    I would never buy another tamron as the build is horrid. Wonderful optics but drop a feather on it and it is in 20 pieces... Sigmas are both great optically and their build is fantastic. You could pick up a 150-500mm for $1k new at B&H. That will leave you with "enough" for a new 14mm prime at B&H ($1400ish)
    Post edited by kyoshinikon on
    “To photograph is to hold one’s breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It’s at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.” - Bresson
  • somdgsomdg Posts: 2Member
    Thankyou so much to all of you for your time in giving me the valuable suggestions and tips. Offcourse I have to individually check out all the links and reviews suggested by you and then take a call. Whilst the distance is of primary importance in an African Safari, i thought that a 14-24 / 16-35 would offer scope for shooting the vast expanse of the grasslands with a monsoon laden skyline in a different perspective, the idea being to capture the sheer vastness of the national park. So if budget doesn't permit a fx wide angle after buying the long range one, then i guess I will have to borrow my friends D7000 and fit the tokina 11-16 as a make do option.
    Digressing a bit in ref to the D600 oilspot issue mentioned in donaldejose's post, just want to let the forum know that Nikon fixed the same without any charging - the significance in the issue being that I had purchased mine from Canada and got it fixed in India although Nikon's worldwide official policy (as I was told and as visible in Nikon India website) is not to extend international warranty on bodies but only to lenses. So i guess, the bad press on D600 / D610 forced Nikon to acknowledge the problem albeit on the sly.(apologies ! should have put this in the thread meant for D600 oilspot issue)
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,144Member
    edited December 2013
    I have a D7000 and a Tokina 11-16 lens. It is a good sharp combination which I have used mostly for interiors since it allows me to get more of a room into the frame. I have also used it outdoors to capture extreme depth of field with an object in focus close to the camera and the distant background also in focus. If you have a DX 7000 body along with your FX D600 body you automatically have a 1.5 times increase in the mm marked on any FX lens. So if you mount your FX lens 70-300 on the DX D700 body that 70-300 lens becomes a 105-450 lens and you are near the 500 mm you wanted but you are down an f-stop to f5.6 as compared to f4. You can compensate for the reduced 1 stop f-stop by increasing your ISO one stop (instead of shooting at ISO 100 set your ISO to 200 or instead of shooting at ISO 200 set your ISO to 400 or instead of shooting at ISO 400 set your ISO to 800). Why don't you borrow your friend's D7000, mount your 70-300 on it and go to the local zoo to photograph animals or shoot any animals you can find anywhere such as dogs in the streets? This will allow you to see if the image quality is good enough for you, how you like the handling characteristics, how high you can set your ISO and still get good results (ISO 640 to 800 should be ok but higher than that may be an issue), what shutter speed you will need to use for sharp results (try using 1/125th second, 1/250th second and 1/500th second to see which gives you the greatest rate of keepers). This type of practice will tell you a lot about what you need to obtain the photos you desire from this trip. If you feel the 70-300 lens on a DX body gives you good enough image quality you may want to buy a 70-200 f4 (a really sharp lens and only one stop down from a much more expensive 70-200 f2.8 and with lots of bright sun in Africa you shouldn't really need to shoot at f2.8 anyway) to mount on your D600 and use your friend's D7000 (or buy a new D7100) with your existing 70-300 lens.

    Post some photos on PAD of your practice with the D7000 and the 70-300 lens.
    Post edited by donaldejose on
  • ChasCSChasCS Posts: 309Member
    edited December 2013
    Yes, I see there are many wonderful usable choices within the said budget.
    I only wish I had lottery funds, to enjoy many more Nikon lens combinations.

    Thee AF-S 80-400mm is good enough for Kings... Good enough for me too... Hahaha

    http://nieuws.vtm.be/binnenland/53428-di-rupo-doet-koning-telelens-cadeau

    I wasn't going to buy a TC, NOW I'm considering it, seriously.
    Post edited by ChasCS on
    D800, AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR, B+W Clear MRC 77mm, AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR, Sigma DG UV 77mm,
    SB-910~WG-AS3, SB-50, ME-1, Lexar Professional 600x 64GB SDXC UHS-I 90MB/s* x2, 400x 32GB SDHC UHS-I 60MB/s* x1
    Vanguard ALTA PRO 263AT, GH-300T, SBH-250, SBH-100, PH-22 Panhead
    Lowepro S&F Deluxe Technical Belt and Harness ~ Pouch 60 AW 50 AW & 10, S&F Toploader 70 AW, Lens Case 11 x 26cm
    FE, NIKKOR 2-20mm f/1.8, OPTEX UV 52mm, Vivitar Zoom 285, Kodacolor VR 1000 CF 135-24 EXP DX 35mm, rePlay XD1080

  • Fred_BFred_B Posts: 24Member
    I wouldn't necessarily bother borrowing a body to use a DX lens. Just set the FX to auto crop mode and forget it. One thing to consider when you are looking around is the size of the lenses. I have a Sigma 50-500 and it's huge. Traveling with a lens the size of a field scope may not be ideal and they can weigh a ton.

  • proudgeekproudgeek Posts: 1,422Member

    Thee AF-S 80-400mm is good enough for Kings... Good enough for me too... Hahaha
    Given his inability to operate the ribbon and wrapping paper I have serious doubts about his ability behind the lens. :)

  • ChasCSChasCS Posts: 309Member
    edited December 2013
    He did seem a little "nervous", but perhaps there was some trepidation, just in case it was actually an inappropriate present, such as a gag gift, or other funny presentation.

    But he did seem pleasantly surprised with his Nikon lens...
    As he should, I only wonder which Nikon camera' s he enjoys using them lenses on??

    A couple of attractive, wealthy ladies are "present" too... Who also seemed amused...
    Post edited by ChasCS on
    D800, AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR, B+W Clear MRC 77mm, AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR, Sigma DG UV 77mm,
    SB-910~WG-AS3, SB-50, ME-1, Lexar Professional 600x 64GB SDXC UHS-I 90MB/s* x2, 400x 32GB SDHC UHS-I 60MB/s* x1
    Vanguard ALTA PRO 263AT, GH-300T, SBH-250, SBH-100, PH-22 Panhead
    Lowepro S&F Deluxe Technical Belt and Harness ~ Pouch 60 AW 50 AW & 10, S&F Toploader 70 AW, Lens Case 11 x 26cm
    FE, NIKKOR 2-20mm f/1.8, OPTEX UV 52mm, Vivitar Zoom 285, Kodacolor VR 1000 CF 135-24 EXP DX 35mm, rePlay XD1080

  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    @proudgeek

    The perfect gift for someone who has some dexterity difficulties in their latter years…VRIII ;)
    Msmoto, mod
  • obajobaobajoba Posts: 206Member
    edited December 2013
    Kinda late to the thread but, having spent 5 weeks in South Africa and 10 days on safari back in May/June, I will add my $.02...

    1) I used a 70-200/2.8VR that I bought used (like new condition) for like $1300, a TC-17eII, and my 24-70/2.8. The only time I wished for more reach it was because of a bird. If you're concerned about birds then you need 500mm+
    2)) I didn't use a second body, I changed between my 2 lenses and TC17 as long as it wasn't windy, a Giotto rocket blower handled everything just fine in the evening after shooting (for my purposes)
    3) I wish had a third, wider lens (14-24.)
    4) I'm honestly not sure that anyone *needs* pro quality glass for a safari. If you know your equipment and its strengths/weaknesses, you could shoot excellent high quality photos with Sigma or Tamron lenses and most people would never know it without reading the exif data. (CoastalConn's BIF photography comes to mind)
    5) Everyone worries about lens reach to get those "close-up safari shots" of the animals. Those shots got boring after the first day... Heck, you could go to the zoo or wildlife sanctuary and get those shots without a 500mm *anything*

    ....and make sure you know your camera, and all of your gear, upside down/inside out. Shoot 5,000 frames with it before you go. More than *****anything***** else, you need to be quick and able to adjust settings on the fly without looking. That's most important. I promise. :)
    Post edited by obajoba on
    D4 | 70-200 2.8 VR | 24-70 2.8 | TC-17e II
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    One of the nice advantages of the new 80-400 over the older version is that it can use the TC-14EII. Thus 560mm at f/8. With a crop sensor, this would be like an 840mm on full frame. The older 80-400 was not only less sharp, but could not be used with a TC.

    The OP asked for an interesting lens. "Cheaper but equivalent" If there were this piece of equipment, no one would purchase a 500mm f/4. Probably the only way to do this is to look for an older used non-VR Nikkor in that focal length or 600mm.
    Msmoto, mod
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