Advice needed for 300mm+ range lens options

jeff5150jeff5150 Posts: 27Member
edited June 2015 in Nikon Lenses
Hello all,
New to the site and looking for any/all advice on what I am trying to accomplish. I am searching for advice on options for better shots at 300mm+. Subjects I am shooting include bald eagles, orca whales, zoo animals, etc. I currently have a Nikon D610 body and the 70-300mm VR model. I find this lens to be "ok" and consider I get what I paid for. However, I find images above 200mm are soft (even on tripod with remote release). So, I've been pondering some options considering I do most work handheld:
- Nikkor 300mm f4 prime (the new PF version) and using a teleconverter for longer ranges or finding a D7100 for crop factor. Downside is no range, upside with low weight and a Prime.
- Nikkor 70-200mm f2 or f4 with teleconverter
- Nikkor 80-400mm f4 - seems pretty heavy. This is the top end of my budget.
- Tamron 150-600mm - I actually bought this and results are "ok". I found the 4.3 pounds too much for hand held (strained my neck muscles), but, I love the range and image quality was acceptable when I could stabilize this weight. Said another way, I had less 'keepers' trying to stabilize the weight, but, the keepers were great. I had to compensate with higher shutter speed and ISO. So, Im considering returning it for a different option.

So, obviously, weight is an issue on the Tamron, but, and I find most of my opportunities to shoot these subjects don't lend well to using a tripod.
What advice do you folks have for these options or other options that I have not yet considered.
Appreciate anyone reading this rant and/or taking the time to respond.
Have a great day!

Comments

  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    I might suggest working on the physical aspects of handholding a lens if the above are too heavy. And, the new 80-400 f/4 is a very sharp lens. Here is how I do it, 13 lbs of body and lens:
    Cherry_Grove_iPhone_04.15.14
    Msmoto, mod
  • jeff5150jeff5150 Posts: 27Member
    That is interesting, I can see how you are supporting your arm on your body. I'll play around with that. Note, all the other options other than the Tamron I just got are much lighter than the Tamron. I think the 80-400 is almost a pound lighter, the 300mm prime is about 3 pounds lighter.
  • manhattanboymanhattanboy Posts: 981Member
    You are trying to get distance from a lower res FX camera without the weight of a super tele. That is a serious problem. My suggested solution is to look at the new 300pf and a refurb or cheap 7100. That would equal around the cost of the 80-400 and give you out to 600mm with the in body 1.3x crop all while giving you a better AF system to track birds versus the 610. If you want to keep only one body then go for the 80-400.
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 2,901Member
    You are trying to get distance from a lower res FX camera without the weight of a super tele. That is a serious problem. My suggested solution is to look at the new 300pf and a refurb or cheap 7100. That would equal around the cost of the 80-400 and give you out to 600mm with the in body 1.3x crop all while giving you a better AF system to track birds versus the 610. If you want to keep only one body then go for the 80-400.
    That sounds like an excellent idea.
  • jeff5150jeff5150 Posts: 27Member
    You are trying to get distance from a lower res FX camera without the weight of a super tele. That is a serious problem. My suggested solution is to look at the new 300pf and a refurb or cheap 7100. That would equal around the cost of the 80-400 and give you out to 600mm with the in body 1.3x crop all while giving you a better AF system to track birds versus the 610. If you want to keep only one body then go for the 80-400.
    That is an interesting suggestion. I was thinking of getting a backup body and eyeing the 750 or 7200 since its ISO range is much better. That being said, you mention the 7100 having a better AF system. Other than a few more points, it seems fairly comparable when looking at the specs, so, Im probably missing something.

  • DaveyJDaveyJ Posts: 880Member
    I'd opt for the D7200 and some lens. My reaction to Msmoto's photo of her and her rig......was this gal knows what she is doing.....and I would NOT BE trying that approach never again. My big honking camera and lens days are over. When we show up at an event we are using a big truck and trailer and lots of gear. My 35mm digital gear though is now rapidly giving way to our other newer high tech gear. The DX D7100 or the D7200 are the right body for me for DSLR. I myself also bring along a D3200 and often that is used with the very modest 18-55VR with very good results and it can use the 10-20 Sigma very well. But 13 lbs of body and lens??? It could take great images. But I would not want the weight and expense. this means I have settled for quite compromised results.....The lens i would want on a D7200 to kind of swing MsMoto's direction would be a 80-400 but Nikon's price for that camera and lens means I will keep on passing. Meanwhile we are spending MORE with gear Nikon never will make. Also it is gear that is attracting a LOT of new buyers!
  • DaveyJDaveyJ Posts: 880Member
    edited June 2015
    Also would like to add. When we show up at an event NO ONE is yet using what we are now. Yet we know other places there are guys like us who are using the same new gear. The times they are a changing!

    The MsMoto photo above is very impressive! What is the purpose of the glove like camo part of this rig? This is the reason I have stayed with Nikon Rumors! There are contributors here that can really shed some new light on our hobby and passion!
    Post edited by DaveyJ on
  • mustangdarenmustangdaren Posts: 27Member
    edited June 2015
    I love my 150-600 Tamron. I agree with you, it is heavy after a while. Get you an Optech shoulder harness. That is what I use on my D610 and when I don't need the shoulder part, it snaps off to make a hand strap. I try to shoot at F/8 with it always and have about 90% keepers thanks to the image stabilization compared to about 70% with my 80-200 f/2.8. I think the image quality is close to my 80-200 and a little better than my Nikon 28-300VR. I can't think of any lens with range greater than 400mm that will be lighter. You could go DX but I wouldn't trade my dynamic range and high ISO for DX.
    Post edited by mustangdaren on
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,021Moderator
    In my experience, if you are shooting in decent light and up to ISO3200, the DX/FX ISO noise difference is small enough to ignore. I have seen D810 shots on PAD that are worse than you can get on a D7100 using a bit of technique (ettr).

    24mp low res? I'd call it plenty.
    Always learning.
  • proudgeekproudgeek Posts: 1,422Member
    edited June 2015
    If this were me, I'd get the new 300 f/4. Seems pretty easy to handle and the images I've seen so far look great. Pop a TC14 on a DX body and you're talking some real reach. I think this is the best option given your budget and weight constraints.

    Post edited by proudgeek on
  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,172Member
    Sigh ... I am bothered by the niggles I get with the inacurate info .. so can I get that out of the way first .. :-)
    1) its not 80-400 F4 there is no such lense its either 200-400 F4 or 80-400 F4.5-5.6 I think we are assuming it the latter
    2) There also no 70-200 F2 its either 200 F2 or 70-200 F2.8 again we are all assuming the latter..?

    ok now that is out of the way .. :-)

    I have also considered this issue of getting 300mm+ and looked at the 70-300 but decided againt it beacuse of the exact things you have found.

    My solution so far? well I think the 300mm F4 with TC1.4 and/or TC1.7 is where I am heading. I would have liked if nikon updated the TC1.7 to eiii like the others but I have heard rumours that that is probably not hapenning. so Its TC14 or TC20.

    Although for now I am fairly happy with my 70-200 F4 +/- TC14(kenko) on my D610 and D7000. I am planing to get the D7200 for even more reach and will probably get the TC17. Then save up for the 300 PF.

    For nice reach I use my Nikon1V1 with the 70-200 F4. I got the N1V1 just to experiment with the N1 format and I like it. waiting for the N1V4 before I upgrade it from experiment to tool... although I may just get the N1J5.

    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.

  • haroldpharoldp Posts: 984Member
    When handholding BIF and other wildlife, my usual kit is D810 with 80-400G and tc-14eIII extender stopped down 1/2 to 1 stop. ISO as needed to get faster than 1/1000th.

    IQ is excellent and it is manageable.

    ... 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.

  • jeff5150jeff5150 Posts: 27Member
    Sigh ... I am bothered by the niggles I get with the inacurate info .. so can I get that out of the way first .. :-)
    1) its not 80-400 F4 there is no such lense its either 200-400 F4 or 80-400 F4.5-5.6 I think we are assuming it the latter
    2) There also no 70-200 F2 its either 200 F2 or 70-200 F2.8 again we are all assuming the latter..?

    ok now that is out of the way .. :-)

    I have also considered this issue of getting 300mm+ and looked at the 70-300 but decided againt it beacuse of the exact things you have found.

    My solution so far? well I think the 300mm F4 with TC1.4 and/or TC1.7 is where I am heading. I would have liked if nikon updated the TC1.7 to eiii like the others but I have heard rumours that that is probably not hapenning. so Its TC14 or TC20.

    Although for now I am fairly happy with my 70-200 F4 +/- TC14(kenko) on my D610 and D7000. I am planing to get the D7200 for even more reach and will probably get the TC17. Then save up for the 300 PF.

    For nice reach I use my Nikon1V1 with the 70-200 F4. I got the N1V1 just to experiment with the N1 format and I like it. waiting for the N1V4 before I upgrade it from experiment to tool... although I may just get the N1J5.

    Apologies that truncating the aperture on my descriptions bothered you so much. Appreciate the advice nonetheless.
  • manhattanboymanhattanboy Posts: 981Member
    When handholding BIF and other wildlife, my usual kit is D810 with 80-400G and tc-14eIII extender stopped down 1/2 to 1 stop. ISO as needed to get faster than 1/1000th.

    IQ is excellent and it is manageable.

    ... H
    The OP has the 610, which has much less cropping ability then the 810.
    That being said, you mention the 7100 having a better AF system. Other than a few more points, it seems fairly comparable when looking at the specs, so, Im probably missing something.
    The 7200 is superior, but the cost is significantly more than the 7100. IMHO if you are short on cash then there are deals to be had on the 7100. Understand that even with an 810 at my disposal, there are many days that I prefer the 7100 for reach and leave the 810 at home. Take a look at this video on youtube:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NayBAmzBKhA
    The 300 pf is amazingly short. I have not touched the old 300f4 since its arrival, but I will say that I feel the images out of it are less sharp than the old 300f4. The old one for you will suffer the same size/weight problem that you are currently having so is not an ideal solution unfortunately.
  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,172Member
    You are trying to get distance from a lower res FX camera without the weight of a super tele. That is a serious problem. My suggested solution is to look at the new 300pf and a refurb or cheap 7100. That would equal around the cost of the 80-400 and give you out to 600mm with the in body 1.3x crop all while giving you a better AF system to track birds versus the 610. If you want to keep only one body then go for the 80-400.
    That is an interesting suggestion. I was thinking of getting a backup body and eyeing the 750 or 7200 since its ISO range is much better. That being said, you mention the 7100 having a better AF system. Other than a few more points, it seems fairly comparable when looking at the specs, so, Im probably missing something.

    Not sure what you mean by points but the number of AF points are the same on the D7100 and D7200.
    The main diference between them is the new processor, and the ability to AF at lower light levels -3ev(D7200) vs -2ev(D7100). The new "processor" also includes new better algorithmes for processing images. Finally the new processor is said to be twice as fast and less power hungry.

    So to sumerise. the diference between the D7200 and D7100 is that it AF slightly faster and more acurately and with more confidence than the D7100. D7200 even beats the D4S when in challenging AF situations. I dont know how it compares to the D750 as the specs say that the D750 is better but, it is at least as good maybe better 'cos its newer.



    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.

  • haroldpharoldp Posts: 984Member
    With the 80-400G and tc-14eIII, the resolution of the the D610 is more likely to be lens, than sensor limited.

    Without the TC, not so much.

    I also use this combo on a D3x.

    10 mp DX used to be considered pretty good.

    The only lens I ave used that outresolves sensors even with TC's is the 400/2.8 .
    ... 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.

  • manhattanboymanhattanboy Posts: 981Member
    edited June 2015
    With the 80-400G and tc-14eIII, the resolution of the the D610 is more likely to be lens, than sensor limited.

    Without the TC, not so much.

    I also use this combo on a D3x.

    10 mp DX used to be considered pretty good.

    The only lens I ave used that outresolves sensors even with TC's is the 400/2.8 .
    ... H
    I am not sure I agree, and in fact the 610's resolution is less likely to be lens limited... big FX photosites packing in only 24 MP and not 36 or 42 or >50MP. Remember that the 7100/7200 has the same number (24MP) in roughly half the area. It requires a finer lens as there is much less slop allowed for photons hitting the wells. But you raise an interesting question: is an image with the 80-400 and a 1.4 TC on a larger pixel sized FX camera better than a bare prime on a DX using the 1.3x built in crop. I would argue that a 7100 with a bare prime would at least smoke the 610 with a zoom and TC for AF, but am honestly not sure about the IQ.
    Post edited by manhattanboy on
  • haroldpharoldp Posts: 984Member
    I use the 80-400 and a 1.4 TC combo regularly, and also crop the bare 80-400 when I get caught short. Used properly, the larger image projection with TC is clearly better than the crop. Keep in mind that BIF also often means high ISO's for shutter speed. I use these combos on a D3x, and a D810 depending on circumstance.

    .... 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
    @manhattanboy

    I misread the last part of your post. apologies.

    You are correct in that on any camera I have used, the 80-400G bare will Autofocus better than with a TC.
    With TC, this lens is best used with single point AF, other modes work, but badly. The net is that with TC, I do get slightly more misses, but the 'hits' are better.

    The relative importance of these properties is both situational and personal. I use the center point (on the eye if I can) , shooting FX mode even though I often crop a DX size frame, but not always from the center.

    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.

  • One_Oh_FourOne_Oh_Four Posts: 70Member
    I use the 80-400 AF-S with my D800 (and D7000) but am contemplating switching to the 300PF (+ TC1.4). I really don't know at this moment what would give a better IQ. If you think about a DX camera, I'd think a D7200 would fit your needs better than a D7100 because of it's larger buffer. For BIF that would be a big deal for me, in any case!
  • haroldpharoldp Posts: 984Member
    @One_Oh_Four

    I am intensely interested in your experience and comparison of the IQ of the 80-400 AF-S with the 300PF (+ TC1.4).

    Regards ... 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.

  • SWRSWR Posts: 5Member
    How's this for an out-of-the-box option: Nikon P900 :O
  • CoastalconnCoastalconn Posts: 527Member
    Oh, I'm late to this party, but I agree with MSmoto about working on technique. When I shot Nikon, I found the 150-600 very light and manageable to shoot. Her lens weighs more than mine, as I'm only pushing 11 pounds with my 500 F4 and the 7dm2(I still always shoot handheld) I guess it's all perspective.

    Anyways the D7100 and the Tamron was a very good combo and I found it better than the D600 and the D800 in actual real world shooting. As MustangDaren suggested, get a shoulder harness. I use a $12 variant with a bolt from the hardware store still to this day with the big lens. I'm sure the D7200 would be even better, but the D7100 is a bargain right now if you can live with the small buffer.. Here is what I did with that combo.. https://www.flickr.com/search/?user_id=63476818@N08&sort=interestingness-desc&text=d7100 Tamron 150-600&view_all=1

    I really liked the 300 F4(non PF) when I shot it, but personally I hate using teleconverters and you do loose the flexibility of the zoom. The 80-400 should be a good lens for you if you don't mind the rather steep price tag for it..

  • PhotobugPhotobug Posts: 4,520Member
    Excellent photos @Coastalconn. +1 multiple times.
    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 |
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