of cameras, stars, and leopards: What lenses should I get for wildlife and nightscape shots?

SuchascenicworldSuchascenicworld Posts: 3Member
edited April 2014 in Nikon DSLR cameras


Despite three trips to East and Southern Africa, I have yet to purchase a decent camera for both landscapes and wildlife! I plan on changing this by purchasing a Nikon D7000. I chose this camera body because I am relatively new at photography (although I know the basics and the majority of the lingo) and I don't feel comfortable spending a ton of money anyways (even if I could!).

In any event, I am searching for a telephoto lens for wildlife as well as a wide angle lens for landscape shots. However, there are so many options (and prices!) that I don't really know what to do (especially while factoring in my novice skills and pricing). For wildlife photography..I know that zoom is key and I will undoubtedly be focusing on a lens that gets the job done. However, I also want to practice with action shots of some of the carnivores that I study and for that, I have no idea what to look for. Moreover, I plan on purchasing a wide lens shot for "nightscapes". The Serengeti is stunning at night and I have always wanted to capture the serenity of it all. Once again, I do not know where to start. So in sum, does anyone have any lens recommendations (that factors in budget) for:

A. Nightscape shots of ecosystems..think http://mindrone.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/nightscapes-3.jpg
B. your standard safari shots of animals (from a very safe distance..)
C. Action shots http://mavimet.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/leopard-and-wild-dogs.jpg

I apologise for an incredibly long message but any information/advice would be incredibly appreciated!
Post edited by Suchascenicworld on

Comments

  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,006Member
    When you don't have a budget in mind, it's hard for people to provide useful advice.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,172Member
    edited April 2014
    I would suggest going with the D7100 and the 18-300 .. should cover all bases without the need to change lenses.. :-) The D7000 is also a good choice if you cant stretch for a D7100.
    Post edited by heartyfisher on
    Moments of Light - D610 D7K S5pro 70-200f4 18-200 150f2.8 12-24 18-70 35-70f2.8 : C&C very welcome!
    Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.

  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,085Moderator
    +1 heartyfisher.
    I have the D7000 and the D7100 and bought the D7100 for its superior low light hi ISO performance. Because you said nightscape, the D7100 is obligatory as you can get better noise results from it at 6400 that you can from the D7000 at 1600.

    As you also said that you can't/won't spend a load of money, get the 70-300VR and the kit lens for the D7100 - either the 18-105 or 18-140 if funds allow. I use the Tokina 11-16 f2.8 for my nightscapes as you need the faster aperture and the ultra-wide field of view.

    HTH.
    Always learning.
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member


    , I also want to practice with action shots of some of the carnivores that I study and for that, I have no idea what to look for. !
    Budget 18-300

    Mid Price Nikon 80-400mm AF-SFX VR G ED N ( Expensive, but worth every penny)

    Money no object 200 -400 f 4

    Wide angle Tokina 11-16 f2.8 gets very good reviews ( but I have not used one )

  • ChasCSChasCS Posts: 309Member
    edited April 2014
    Welcome to the forum.
    +1 for the new AF-S 80-400mm, would be great on the Serengeti plains.
    You could also rent the expensive larger lenses, like the 400mm f/2.8, 600mm f/4 VR.
    These lenses begin to get heavy, especially for extended hand holding, and may require a monopod or an attendant! ;-)

    There must be many relatively lightly used cheaper, D600 cameras about...

    Chas
    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

  • Rx4PhotoRx4Photo Posts: 1,200Member
    +1 and +1 for what heartyfisher and spraynpray said regarding the D7100. I own the D7000 and although an excellent camera I'm not a fan of its high ISO low light performance beyond 1600. Also consider a couple of technical things...many of those really cool fast action safari shots we see are photographed with high end lenses at wider apertures so if using more economical lenses which might have to be stopped down o f/8 or f/11 for improved sharpness, then you'll likely need to shoot at higher ISOs anyway.

    One other point - a personal thought - some of my favorite safari photos are not close-ups of the animals. Might as well be in a zoo. The more appealling photos to me are still wider angle, including the animal and its home environment. Those let the viewer know without a doubt you're not shooting in "inner city zoo."
    D800 | D7000 | Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 | 24-70mm f/2.8 | 70-200mm f/2.8 | 35mm f/1.8G | 85mm f/1.4G | Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM | Zeiss 100mm Makro-Planar ZF.2 | Flash controllers: Phottix Odin TTL

  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    My thoughts…..
    D7100
    AF-S DX NIKKOR 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED
    AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR
    AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR
    If you want a fast "normal" lens, the Sigma 35mm f/1.4
    …...and Induro Grand Turismo AGT114 Aluminum 8M Tripod with Ball Head
    Msmoto, mod
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,085Moderator
    +1 and +1 for what heartyfisher and spraynpray said regarding the D7100. I own the D7000 and although an excellent camera I'm not a fan of its high ISO low light performance beyond 1600. Also consider a couple of technical things...many of those really cool fast action safari shots we see are photographed with high end lenses at wider apertures so if using more economical lenses which might have to be stopped down o f/8 or f/11 for improved sharpness, then you'll likely need to shoot at higher ISOs anyway.

    One other point - a personal thought - some of my favorite safari photos are not close-ups of the animals. Might as well be in a zoo. The more appealling photos to me are still wider angle, including the animal and its home environment. Those let the viewer know without a doubt you're not shooting in "inner city zoo."
    Yup. In support of the D7100 decision, if you have a lot of light, using a high ISO is nothing to be afraid of. When I got mine, I took a sting of shots in decent light at all ISO stops up to 6400 and sent them to a Canon shooting friend of mine AND HE COULDN'T TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEM!
    Always learning.
  • SuchascenicworldSuchascenicworld Posts: 3Member
    Thank you so much for the information! I truly appreciate it - I found some decent prices for the D7100 so I believe that I will purchase it. I will read the prices and reviews (and take a look at some example shots!) for all of the lenses mentioned.Thank you so much!
  • dissentdissent Posts: 1,268Member
    I have a D7000 and D7100; love 'em both. Budget wildlife for me means having the 70-300VR (which I have now; posted a few shots from it on PAD in the last couple of days), and going to get the Nikon 300mm prime with a 1.4TC soon. Wouldn't mind having the newer 80-400 at all, but it's kinda pricey.

    Incidentally, don't just think wide angle for "landscape". Landscapes can be shot at pretty much any focal length, depending on the subject.
    - Ian . . . [D7000, D7100; Nikon glass: 35 f1.8, 85 f1.8, 70-300 VR, 105 f2.8 VR, 12-24 f4; 16-85 VR, 300 f4D, 14E-II TC, SB-400, SB-700 . . . and still plenty of ignorance]
  • ThomasHortonThomasHorton Posts: 323Member
    "I also want to practice with action shots of some of the carnivores"

    I would recommend a long lens... a very long lens. Plus a wireless remote with a large range. :)
    Gear: Camera obscura with an optical device which transmits and refracts light.
  • SuchascenicworldSuchascenicworld Posts: 3Member
    Thanks!

    I looked at the Nikon 80-400, however, it might be a bit pricey as of now. I am thinking that I might be at the $800 tops range for either a new or a used Telephoto lens. I was looking into the Sigma 150-500 mm, but I feel that I will be sacrificing clarity for the price. Moreover, I should also mention that I also hope to take photos of some of the smaller fauna (birds, small mammals, etc) around my area. Has anyone tried the Sigma 150-500 mm?
  • PhotobugPhotobug Posts: 4,603Member
    Thanks!

    I looked at the Nikon 80-400, however, it might be a bit pricey as of now. I am thinking that I might be at the $800 tops range for either a new or a used Telephoto lens. I was looking into the Sigma 150-500 mm, but I feel that I will be sacrificing clarity for the price. Moreover, I should also mention that I also hope to take photos of some of the smaller fauna (birds, small mammals, etc) around my area. Has anyone tried the Sigma 150-500 mm?
    If you are thinking of the Sigma 150-500, then pause and wait for the newly announced and soon to ship Tamron 150-600mm lens that replaced the Tamy 200-500. Canon lens mount reviews are available for this new lens and Nikon mount will ship soon.
    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 |
  • adsads Posts: 93Member
    "Has anyone tried the Sigma 150-500 mm?"

    I tried the 150-500, but ended up buying the 50-500 which is a far superior (but more expensive) lens.

    +1 for Photobug's suggestion - I would go for the new 150-600 Tamron over the 150-500 Sigma - the shots from the new Tamron look good, and the reach will definitely be worth it for wildlife shots.

    The new Nikon 80-400 is also impressive, but far from cheap...
  • YetibuddhaYetibuddha Posts: 388Member
    Hi Scenic World. I used the D7000 and he 70-300vr on a trip to Namibia in 2011 with great success. I also used the 20mm f2.8 for wide scenes as well. However, I photographed most wildlife scenes at the 300mm end so you might want to think about simply the 300f4 for the telephoto. I use that now exclusively for wildlife. Many of those photos appeared n PAD after that trip and are on my Flickr site. On the other hand if your budget for lens is not too limited, you could go for the more expensive suggestions.

    Good luck and have fun on the photography.
  • ChasCSChasCS Posts: 309Member
    Yes, the AF -S 80-400mm in not cheap, but think of it as a grand future investment, in your ongoing growing hobby.

    Chas
    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

  • dougjgreendougjgreen Posts: 21Member
    edited April 2014
    One option that you have, given that your D7000 has a focus motor, is to get a nice second hand copy of the earlier 80-400mm VR lens (AF-D version, not AF-s). You can get them for $750 or so, which is about 1/3 what the AF-S version sells for.

    The only other alternatives to consider are the Sigma 50-150 and the new Tamron 150-600 which is getting nice reviews.

    For landscape stuff. I also really like the Tokina 11-16mm, but the very similar 12-24mm Tokina is also quite good, and more versatile. Add either the 35mm f1.8 or the 50mm f1.8 (again, because you have a focus motor, you can get the older AF-D version of the 50mm for under $100 clean used) for when you need something in between and with a wide aperture, and you've got the bases covered.
    Post edited by dougjgreen on
  • tcole1983tcole1983 Posts: 981Member
    One option that you have, given that your D7000 has a focus motor, is to get a nice second hand copy of the earlier 80-400mm VR lens (AF-D version, not AF-s). You can get them for $750 or so, which is about 1/3 what the AF-S version sells for.

    The only other alternatives to consider are the Sigma 50-150 and the new Tamron 150-600 which is getting nice reviews.

    For landscape stuff. I also really like the Tokina 11-16mm, but the very similar 12-24mm Tokina is also quite good, and more versatile. Add either the 35mm f1.8 or the 50mm f1.8 (again, because you have a focus motor, you can get the older AF-D version of the 50mm for under $100 clean used) for when you need something in between and with a wide aperture, and you've got the bases covered.
    I say no, no and no. The only one I would say +1 might be the Tokina 11-16, but I still wouldn't.

    Don't get the old 80-400 slow focusing and the new one is light years ahead...worth it from everything I have heard. The F1.8G lenses are all great...get them if you want some primes. I am not one to skimp on lenses...I hate budgets, but it is worth saving the extra for the lenses you really want. I had the Tokina 12-24 and it was sharp, but I wish I hadn't bought it. I think some of the long 3rd party lenses are good. There are many PAD of birds by a member here with either the Sigma or Tamron and they all look excellent.

    I am not totally helpful, but just know that 300 mm isn't all that long if you can't get close to something...even on DX. I love my 300 F4, but I still want more when shooting animals and birds especially can be the hardest.
    D5200, D5000, S31, 18-55 VR, 17-55 F2.8, 35 F1.8G, 105 F2.8 VR, 300 F4 AF-S (Previously owned 18-200 VRI, Tokina 12-24 F4 II)
  • dougjgreendougjgreen Posts: 21Member
    edited April 2014
    Why do you wish you hadn't bought the Tokina 12-24mm lens? It was a better lens than the Nikkor 10-24mm both optically and mechanically, and it cost significantly less.

    If you haven't ever used the older 80-400mm, how do you know it's not quite good for the money? Yes, the AF is slower - maybe not fast enough for Birds in flight, but fine for most other things. And optically quite good. The OP is looking for a safari lens, not a birding lens. The latter is far more demanding on AF performance.

    It's very easy to tell other people to spend an extra $1500 of THEIR money, but unless the are doing photography for a living, they are probably better served saving it.

    And sure the 50mm f1.8 AF-D is not quite as good as the AF-S G version, but it's still a very good lens, and dirt cheap (easily found for $80 or so).
    Post edited by dougjgreen on
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