Super Telephoto Lens Conversation

Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
edited October 2014 in General Discussions
Their are many of us...present company included, that have always had a fascination about and with telephoto lenses. This topic intention is to bring those needs/wants into light so we can have a healthy conversation about them.

Super telephoto lenses are without question expensive; so I humbly ask that we try not to have a tit-for-tat conversation about it to heavily, thus having the conversation go down a path that dilutes the many reasons why one would get one to begin with.

From a personal perspective, what I want to have under my belt, so to say, is to find out helpful shooting techniques (given good & bad weather), additional equipment to take on a shoot (outside the basics i.e. tripod's, monopod's, CPL's), proper distant to subjects in a given setting (portrait headshot & full-body). Landscape photography and nature usage...and surly effective way in shooting action photography.

The impact of teleconverter should yield itself to an educational conversation. Which to get...if not all of them; their impact on image quality, in relation to a telephoto that has the desired focal length covered.

Fine tuning: what is the best way to insure that a given lens and body are properly tuned to yield the best operational performance? Is sending them to Nikon as a pair(s) the best way? The impact of DX vs FX body to consider using? Please lets keep this from an FX vs DX pissing contest.

Their are many more that come to mind, but I'm hoping that this is a good place to start and other will add to it as well. It goes without saying that I will address the question above myself and those that follow in a later post.

Lastly, I would appreciate responses from those individual that have Used/Owned these lenses vs. those that have read about them only. That is not to say your input/question are not welcomed but if you have not mounted one on a body, them you just might want to listen in instead of hitting the keyboard. If you have shot using a different manufacture, by all means get in on the conversation.

Batters up....
Post edited by Golf007sd on
D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
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Comments

  • PhotobugPhotobug Posts: 4,585Member
    I always wanted something bigger than my Nikon 70-200mm F2.8 and did not have lots of cash and bought an off brand 500mm mirror lens. Size and weight were the advantage. But IQ sucked. You get what you pay for. If the sun was bright it got "okay" pictures. Overcast or low light, the contrast fell off and IQ was terrible. Even shooting on a tripod did not help.

    So after 9 months sold it for half of what I paid and bought a Tamron 200-500mm and bought the Nikon 1.7 TC for the 70-200 lens. Kept that Tamron lens five years and sold it right after the new Tamron 150-600 was introduced before the used price dropped to the cellar. I loved using the Tamron at 400-500mm on my D300. Took it to Bradenton, Florida and went birding with my Canon buddy and did more BIF in 10 days then I have done in 40 years. Used it in Yellowstone and Grand Tetons for wildlife and got speculator shots; both free hand and on a tripod. Also realized to avoid shooting wide open, 2 stops down was much sharper.

    When I sold the 200-500 I was going to wait to see what shooters thought of the new 150-600. Been impressed with what I have seen from an IQ. However, after reading members comments here i decided not to buy the new Tamron 150-600mm next year but get the Nikon 300 F4 and will use my 1.7 TC in bright daylight. Doing my recently read some good comments that the 1.4 TC is much better extender for BIF with the 300 F4. Focus tracking is more iffy with the 1.7 TC and the F4 lens.

    Doing most of my BIF pictures with a good tripod made it easy but I had a ball head. After observing all the dedicated Canon and Nikon BIF shooters using RRS Gimbal heads (PG-02- FG and PF-02-LLR) cradle clamps I realized that if I was going to do a lot of BIF that was the best way to go. I even saw some shooters who had the Versa Series 3 leveling base, pano-gimbal head and lever release clamps (TA-3-LB & PG-02 LLR). For occasional shooters, a good ball head and tripod would do. For serious work you need the above RRS gear.

    Also understand with the 400/500/600/800mm Nikon primes you really need the Gimbal mount for balancing and tracking. MsMoto and several others have mentioned that numerous times.

    I really want to get back to a 500/600mm lens but the Nikon primes at that length are outside my budget. Even used they cost an arm and a leg both new and used.

    When I upgrade to FX next year and add the 300 F4 the D7100 remains in my bag for shooting over 200mm while the D750 will be for every thing shorter.

    Here are the links for the PG-02 Pro/L: Pano-Gimbal with Pro/L:
    http://www.reallyrightstuff.com/s.nl/it.A/id.9075/.f

    PG-02 LR: Pano-Gimbal Head w/ B2-LR-II
    http://www.reallyrightstuff.com/s.nl/it.A/id.9073/.f

    PG-02 FG: Full Gimbal Head:
    http://www.reallyrightstuff.com/PG-02-FG-Full-Gimbal-Head.html

    The above are not all your gimbal mount options, but is a starting place.

    Sorry for the long post but background always helps. Golf's post is looking for lots of different discussion points and I expect this one is going to grow rapidly. For me, I would not be surprised that in 2016 there is a 150-600mm Tamron or the 80-400 VR Nikon in my radar.
    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 |
  • haroldpharoldp Posts: 984Member
    I also was fascinated by them but had no mission, as my wildlife shooting involved air travel and they are just too big.

    Last year I found a significant Eagle habitat that I can drive to in day trip and went for Nikon's 400/2.8 VR (not the FL). My copy of 400/2.8 is so good I will never trade it.

    I was thinking about the 600/4, but decided that the 400/2.8 is more versatile as I can turn it into a 560/4 with a 1.4 converter.

    The 400/2.8 works very well with TC's and is magic with the TC-20eiii. I know intellectually that there must be some degradation but I can hardly see it in well focused shots.

    You are absolutely right about needing a gimbal head with such lenses, manipulating a ball head in 3 dimensions on a moving subject is no fun. I would rather use a pan tilt head than ball for this purpose but gimbal is best. Use a leveling base and you are done.

    There are many good gimbal heads, but I am using the RRS assembly for their amazing machining quality, and the versatility for pano's which I also love (I have been toying with the idea of a gigapixel pano using the 400/2.8 and many frames.).

    AF fine tuning is essential, and easy on primes. I tune 1 stop down because it averages the focus shift (there is some), and that is how I usually shoot to get some DOF.

    My usual kit for birding is D810 / 400/2.8 with tc-20eiii on an RRS gimbal head (with RRS levelling base) , and in a 'holster', or around my neck, a D3x with 80-400G and 1.4 extender (currently tc-14eii, I am tuning up the eiii) for when things get close or overhead.

    It has been great fun and educational, and friends ask fior prints which I enjoy.

    I hope this is helpful.


    Regards ... Harold
    D810, D3x, 14-24/2.8, 50/1.4D, 24-70/2.8, 24-120/4 VR, 70-200/2.8 VR1, 80-400 G, 200-400/4 VR1, 400/2.8 ED VR G, 105/2 DC, 17-55/2.8.
    Nikon N90s, F100, F, lots of Leica M digital and film stuff.

  • PhotobugPhotobug Posts: 4,585Member
    edited October 2014
    This was mentioned in another forum...so I will highlight the point. During my research on the Nikon 300 F4 there were comments about the factory supplied collar not being robust and allowing movement. This was confirmed by a another member who has the 300 f4. Both of us have read that people have put a wedge in between the boot and the lens to reduce the movement. There is actual movement when the collar is secured to a tripod.

    The more elegant solution is to replace the Nikon collar with the RRS LC-A10 collar and foot combo package, $195. You can view this solution at:
    http://www.reallyrightstuff.com/s.nl/it.A/id.3216/.f
    Post edited by Photobug on
    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 |
  • haroldpharoldp Posts: 984Member
    RRS also makes a collar for the 80-400G which is a vast improvement on Nikon.

    The RRS long lens support is critical for the Nikon 200-400/4 and helpful for the 400/2.8

    url is

    http://www.reallyrightstuff.com/s.nl/it.A/id.4517/.f?sc=26&category=621

    ..... H
    D810, D3x, 14-24/2.8, 50/1.4D, 24-70/2.8, 24-120/4 VR, 70-200/2.8 VR1, 80-400 G, 200-400/4 VR1, 400/2.8 ED VR G, 105/2 DC, 17-55/2.8.
    Nikon N90s, F100, F, lots of Leica M digital and film stuff.

  • PhotobugPhotobug Posts: 4,585Member
    Regarding tele converters I understand the older TC-14EII ($477) is recommended for the Nikon 300 F4 - confirmed on the Nikon web site (PDF conversion table). The Nikon TC-14EIII ($497) is not recommended.

    So my question, has anyone tried the TC-14EIII on the Nikon 300 F4? How was the results? I find it strange that the newer TC is not recommended for use on the 300 F4. Looking for some enlightenment .
    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 |
  • KillerbobKillerbob Posts: 732Member
    edited October 2014
    I originally got my Tamron 70-300mm for my D7000, along with a TC. Then when I entered the FX world, I mistakingly got the 80-400mm, where I should have gotten the 70-200mm. The 80-400mm is a good lens, and I have used it extensively, but the variable max. f-stop irritates me.

    In Greenland we have great distances and some birdlife, and I have used my 80-400mm for the distance nature shoots. But there is still nothing making up for simply getting closer...

    Lastly I got a great offer on a 500mm, to which I got the TC (so I have some AF). That is a good combination, but it is big to lug around, and you have to be going out with that purpose.

    In summary, I like the 80-400mm bar the var. f-stop. The size is decent and the photoes clear and tack sharp. The 500mm is too big, but for those specific shoots it is perfect, even if it is the old version I have...
    Post edited by Killerbob on
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    edited October 2014
    I mistakingly got the 80-400mm, where I should have gotten the 70-200mm. The 80-400mm is a good lens, and I have used it extensively, but the variable max. f-stop irritates me.
    I have both
    the 70 -200 f 2.8 is great indoors but not really a long enough fro most wild life
    I did try it with a x2 converter but the results were disappointing
    I would love a 400 mm f 2.8 but its big heavy and expensive
    I am not sure if the 80-400mm counts as a super tele but it was what I could afford
    I don't find f 5.6 too much of an issue as the VR is excellent
    This was taken a dawn today f5.6

    image

    D800 80- 400 @400mm f5.6 1/1600 ISo 2800

    Post edited by sevencrossing on
  • DenverShooterDenverShooter Posts: 345Member
    I use the Wimberley WH-200 on a Gitzo GT5541LS carbon fiber tripod to support my Nikon 400mm F/2.8, Nikon 600mm F/4 and Nikon 800mm F/5.6. I have been know to handhold the '400 and '800 when I couldn't maneuver the tripod into the space available but I will be knocking back Ibuprofen the next day.

    The Wimberley is a terrific device allowing one to exactly set the center of gravity for a given lens providing perfect balance and effortless panning.

    Denver Shooter
  • haroldpharoldp Posts: 984Member
    @sevencrossing

    The 80-400 works very well with the tc-14eii, I close down 1/2 stop and sharpness and contrast become very good.

    I am hoping for a slight improvement with the tc-14eiii, but have not tried it yet.

    This is the longest combo that is easily hand held.

    It is essential to AF fine tune these combo's

    .... H
    D810, D3x, 14-24/2.8, 50/1.4D, 24-70/2.8, 24-120/4 VR, 70-200/2.8 VR1, 80-400 G, 200-400/4 VR1, 400/2.8 ED VR G, 105/2 DC, 17-55/2.8.
    Nikon N90s, F100, F, lots of Leica M digital and film stuff.

  • haroldpharoldp Posts: 984Member
    @sevencrossing

    Is this what we call a stag photo?

    ... H
    D810, D3x, 14-24/2.8, 50/1.4D, 24-70/2.8, 24-120/4 VR, 70-200/2.8 VR1, 80-400 G, 200-400/4 VR1, 400/2.8 ED VR G, 105/2 DC, 17-55/2.8.
    Nikon N90s, F100, F, lots of Leica M digital and film stuff.

  • TomBTomB Posts: 44Member
    @sevencrossing

    Is this what we call a stag photo?

    ... H
    Dude, that photo should have had a NSFCIM (not safe for coffee in mouth) warning on it. Not the sort of thing you expect to see early in the a.m. at work.

    Www.timbersnakestudios.com
  • haroldpharoldp Posts: 984Member
    @TomB

    And once seen, can never be unseen.

    ... H
    D810, D3x, 14-24/2.8, 50/1.4D, 24-70/2.8, 24-120/4 VR, 70-200/2.8 VR1, 80-400 G, 200-400/4 VR1, 400/2.8 ED VR G, 105/2 DC, 17-55/2.8.
    Nikon N90s, F100, F, lots of Leica M digital and film stuff.

  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    Does putting a 2x teleconverter on a 150mm lens qualify? :-)

    Under the smaller is better rule, the 70-300 @200mm on a DX, stopped down a click or two, is plenty sharp and I can hand hold it all day long. Just sayin'. No this is not a DX vs FX thing, but what can you realistically hand-hold in this category? Denver Shooter not withstanding ;-). I think I would max out at a 300mm... F/4 =;
  • haroldpharoldp Posts: 984Member
    The 80-400G with the tc-14 is easily hand held.

    .... H
    D810, D3x, 14-24/2.8, 50/1.4D, 24-70/2.8, 24-120/4 VR, 70-200/2.8 VR1, 80-400 G, 200-400/4 VR1, 400/2.8 ED VR G, 105/2 DC, 17-55/2.8.
    Nikon N90s, F100, F, lots of Leica M digital and film stuff.

  • henrik1963henrik1963 Posts: 559Member
    edited October 2014
    I have been lusting for long primes for a long time. The price you have to pay have held me back some. But more important - weight has been the deciding factor. To be honest I dont think I will use it enough to get my moneys worth.

    I am hoping for a new and improved DX camera and a new 300F4. With a TC1.4 that will get me to 630mm. In combination with my 70-200 I should have a versatile combo.

    That or a new 80-400.

    The way I think: No use in having an expensive super duper lens that gets very little use. Better to have a compromise lens that will get me a lot of pictures.

    For the same reason I have been toying with the idea of using the Nikon 1 system. But I think I will have to wait a couple of generations for that to work out - I need proper AF with F-mount lenses and better image quality.

    We all know who we are - I am not into super heavy gear.
    Post edited by henrik1963 on
  • scoobysmakscoobysmak Posts: 214Member
    edited October 2014
    I have found using anything over 300mm required much better skill than just holding the camera and hitting the shutter, 300mm in good light isn't so bad but once its dusk or dawn the skill set has to "step up" or you might come home with a memory card full of file 13 material.

    My last outing with a lens of any size was a 200-400mm, but all I had with me was a ball head and it was a sports related subject, fast moving and at night. It took a couple days of shooting before I got better with what I had to work with, but nothing spectacular came from it either. A gimble head would have been a life saver but I knew I was behind the curve before I even setup. That experince was more for the memories than to take that award winning shot.

    I feel the teleconverter and DX Vs FX option is somthing I want to test more when I get a chance. I would love to really get out with an FX camera, put a TC on it. Then go back and just shoot the same scene with a DX camera and no TC to see what works the best. I have a feeling it might be more lens related, some lenes work better with TC's than others.



    Post edited by scoobysmak on
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    edited October 2014
    Mmmm….

    Supertelephoto…. 800mm the "econo" method…

    Superbikes 06.01.13-19

    D4, 400mm f/2.8, TC-20EIII, f/11, 1/1000, ISO 1800, Subject distance 250 feet (76 meters)

    Better seen here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/fantinesfotos/8917728761/sizes/o/

    Tripod with Induro Gimbal head….used mainly so I could just walk away from the set up without having to place the camera on the ground. Plus, I shake too much to hand hold 800mm….

    Oh, yes, I do AF Fine Tune with these, although this was shot before I had "tuned" the camera/lens combo
    Post edited by Msmoto on
    Msmoto, mod
  • tcole1983tcole1983 Posts: 981Member
    Anyone want to do a price list of super telephoto lens/teleconverter combos? Seems to be one of the most important factors in purchasing.
    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)
  • KillerbobKillerbob Posts: 732Member
    I got an older 500mm f/4P lens, and added a TC-16A with the AF mod. This is a great, relatively cheap combination giving me decent taste of a super telephoto setup. On the D800 it works fine, it isn't fast AF, but it is sharp. Absolutely need a decent tripod setup though:)
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,005Member
    My current solution is the Sigma 120-300mm F2.8, and while I sometimes use it with a 2X TC, I try to avoid that extreme because unless there is lots of light (F11 is required for good sharpness) the images are somewhat soft. I'd love to have a 500mm F4 VR Nikkor or the lighter Sigma 500mm F4.5 EX DG HSM, but don't have the kind of disposable income at this point.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • PhotobugPhotobug Posts: 4,585Member
    Need some help understanding Nasim Mansurov's comment on the 80-400mm F4. What does he mean that the 80-400mm AF-S has lens breathing issues. This is the second time I have seen this comment and don't understand what it means.

    He said:
    Although both lenses seem to perform well at 300mm and 420mm focal lengths when stopped down to f/8, as demonstrated in the above charts, I would still recommend the Nikon 300mm f/4D over the 80-400mm lens for two main reasons – autofocus performance / accuracy and better reach. Because of the lens breathing issue on the 80-400mm AF-S, the Nikon 300mm f/4D gives more reach with the TC-14E II attached, so 420mm on the 300mm f/4D is more like 500mm on the 80-400mm AF-S at short distances (this changes as the distance increases). Read more: http://photographylife.com/reviews/nikon-300mm-f4d/4#ixzz3HgGZ6foz
    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 |
  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,172Member
    i think he ie equating lense breathing to focus breathing where at closer distance the focal length shortens.
    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.

  • WestEndBoyWestEndBoy Posts: 1,456Member
    This is common. The 70-200 f/2.8 only reaches 130mm or so at the closest focus distance.
  • haroldpharoldp Posts: 984Member
    It seems to me that most use of supertele's will be at longer distances so that focus breathing is less of an issue.
    If 'reach' is what you need, The 80-400G with the tc-14 is quite good when stopped down 1 stop, and is the most economical (and versatile) long combo.

    I do not have the 300/4 but think that it's 'versatility' is being F4 (and sharp) at 300mm without TC. With TC14 it is probably on a par with the The 80-400G at 400 F5.6.

    When a 300/4 with VR comes out, this will be interesting.

    ... H
    D810, D3x, 14-24/2.8, 50/1.4D, 24-70/2.8, 24-120/4 VR, 70-200/2.8 VR1, 80-400 G, 200-400/4 VR1, 400/2.8 ED VR G, 105/2 DC, 17-55/2.8.
    Nikon N90s, F100, F, lots of Leica M digital and film stuff.

  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,005Member
    edited October 2014
    I do not have the 300/4 but think that it's 'versatility' is being F4 (and sharp) at 300mm without TC. With TC14 it is probably on a par with the The 80-400G at 400 F5.6.
    Nope, tests (see Photography Life) have shown that the 300mm F4 is much sharper with the 1.4x TC (420mm) than the 80-400mm VRII is at 400mm. As the old saying goes, "prime's vs zooms." The question is, which works best for what you are doing, and does price matter? If sharpness and price matter the 300mm F4 and TC is far less expensive and shaper. If you really must have a zoom the 80-400mm VRII is there, with compromises.

    Now I'm not hating on zooms, since I have a few F2.8 zooms myself, but if money was not an issue and I had the option to pick a telephoto zoom or prime, it would be the telephoto prime every time, regardless of whether the lens had VR or not.
    Post edited by PB_PM on
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
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