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Thread: nikon 300mm f4 and 1.4tc

  1. #1
    evan47's Avatar
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    nikon 300mm f4 and 1.4tc

    does anyone use this combination for butterflies/dragonflies? i am thinking of getting one to compliment my current macro lens arsenal. (micro nikkor 60mm af-d, micro nikkor 105 af-d, sigma 150mm + 1.4tc).
    i have sometimes heard of the nikon 300mm f4 being called the "butterfly" lens but can find few examples of work taken with it, or info regarding image size at minimum focusing distance with or without a converter.
    i know it is a good starter birding lens with the 1.4 tc but is the 1.7 tc good too?
    also, some users say the quality of the tripod mount is better on the newer version than the earlier examples, is this correct? thanks, evan.

  2. #2
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: nikon 300mm f4 and 1.4tc

    Hi Evan,

    I have no experience, but I know some people will use an extension tube with their telephoto for subjects like dragonflies and flutterbys. The tube shortens the minimum focus distance and allows you, subject permitting, to get closer - which effectively gives more magnification.

    Tubes are cheaper than a TC, but less versatile of course - as you'll no longer be able to focus to infinity.

    The TC option should allow that, so it gives you a longer lens for birds too.

    I don't know what the trade-offs are in terms of light, I think both will lose you some light for a given 'magnification' increase, it may be "six" for one - and "half a dozen" with the other.

    I don't believe it changes the minimum focus distance of the lens, but I hope someone that does it will be along shortly.

    I mention the extension tube idea in case you already have a set.

    Cheers,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 10th February 2013 at 02:00 PM.

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    Re: nikon 300mm f4 and 1.4tc

    Hi evan, i'm a canon shooter, but i've seen alot of photos with the nikon 300. It is a very sharp lens, and has a magnification ratio of .27 and a close focus distance of 4.8 feet. As compaired to the canon version of .24 and 4.9 feet.

    I use my 300 all the time for light macros and flowers. It should work very well for you , and maybe better with an extention tube.(i plan on buying one, but haven't yet.)

    I can give you a few examples of what my lens can do, if you wish? The nikon version should be very similar.

  4. #4
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: nikon 300mm f4 and 1.4tc

    Hi Evan...

    Since I am a Canon guy, I cannot comment directly on the Nikon 300mm f/4 lens with or without an extender. However, I use a Canon 300mm f/4L IS lens that is quite similar in capabiliies to the Nikon 300mm f/4 and my lens is quite nice as a close-up glass when I want to remain a distance from my subject. Adding a 1.4x TC makes the lens even a better close up glass. I have an extension tube but only occasionally use it on my 300mm.

    My 300mm f/4L IS lens without any additions (TC or extension tube) will provide an image ratio of 1:4.1 and your Nikon 300mm f/4 lens will provide even a better image ratio (1:3.7) when shot without a TC or tube. Than means that my Canon will fill the frame with an area of about 91mm x 60mm from a distance of 1.5 meters and your Nikon will fill the frame with an area of about 87 x 58mm from 1.45 meters.

    NOTE: The terms: magnification and image ratio are closely related but, are not the same.

    BTW: Image ratio will be the same whether you use full frame or crop cameras. You will just cover more area when using full frame gear...

    In reality, this is quite good enough to shoot many butterflies. However, adding a 1.4x TC to either lens will increase the focal length to 560mm while maintaining the same MFD but, reducing the f/stop to f/5.6. This may or may not be critical depending on the light available and how you are supporting your camera.

    As Dave mentioned above, the big difference between extenders and tubes is that you will mantain the ability to focus to infinity with the extender and lose that capability with the extension tube. Additionally, another big difference between extension tubes and extenders is that you will increase the image ratio with an extender while being able to shoot from a the same minimum focus distance distance. The extension tube will require shooting from a closer distance (distances depend on the tube or tubes used) which may or may not frighten little creepy-crawlie creatures...

    I have not tried shooting my 300mm lens combined with BOTH the 1.4x TC and my extension tube but that experiment is waiting to take place. I own only a single extension tube and use it with the 1.4x TC on my 90mm f/2.8 Tamron lens. The Tamron Macro lens cannot be used with that TC without the addition of an extension tube. I will simply not physically fit...

    I believe that you can determine the maximum reproduction ratio of a lens with a TC added by dividing the bare lens reproduction ratio by the power of the TC. That "should" mean that you can get a ratio of about 1:2.64 using your 300mm lens with a 1.4x TC. (3.7 / 1.4 = 2.64). Please don't hold me to this. Mathematics is not my strongest suit!

    I had a bad time when visiting a butterfliy preserve at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park last year. I brought only my 300mm lens with desire to travel light. However, there were so many people shooting the butterfies (who were so used to humans that they landed on our heads and lenses) with P&S cameras at six inches or so, that I had big time problems getting a shot without a P&S shooter in the frame. I ended up with very few usable images. This image is not great but can provide a general idea of the image size available from a bare 300mm lens. The image has been cropped slightly...

    nikon 300mm f4 and 1.4tc

    I was also consistantly bumped by P&S shooters who generally do not have the shooting courtesy of more dedicated photographers. The Image Stabization of my lens is quite nice but, will not compensate for being bumped by another shooter. However that was my fault, not any fault with the lens. This year I will take my 90mm Tamron Macro lens...


    BTW: the B&H Camera & Video (New York City) website notes the minimum focus distance (in feet or meters) along with the Magnification and Reproduction Ratio under the specifications section for most lenses. This is a handy reference for me...

    nikon 300mm f4 and 1.4tc

    I refer to the B&H specifications quite often because, the specs are always shown in the same place and same format. Finding the specifications on manufacturer's websites or lens reviews sometimes takes some exploration. The above illustration shows the B&H specs. for your Nikon 300mm lens...

    I cannot remark on the Nikon 1.7x TC but, I don't like the image quality from a Canon 2x TC on my lenses. I don't have a 70-200mm f/2.8L IS ii and 1.4x TC iii which produce very acceptable IQ.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 10th February 2013 at 04:58 PM.

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    Re: nikon 300mm f4 and 1.4tc

    Quote Originally Posted by evan47 View Post
    does anyone use this combination for butterflies/dragonflies? i am thinking of getting one to compliment my current macro lens arsenal. (micro nikkor 60mm af-d, micro nikkor 105 af-d, sigma 150mm + 1.4tc).
    i have sometimes heard of the nikon 300mm f4 being called the "butterfly" lens but can find few examples of work taken with it, or info regarding image size at minimum focusing distance with or without a converter.
    i know it is a good starter birding lens with the 1.4 tc but is the 1.7 tc good too?
    also, some users say the quality of the tripod mount is better on the newer version than the earlier examples, is this correct? thanks, evan.
    Evan, have you thought about the Micro Nikkor 70-180mm f/4.5-5.6D? It is an old discontinued lens, the only true zoom macro lens that Nikon (or anyone else for that matter) ever produced. It's my favorite macro lens that I use all the time for my visits to the Cockrell Butterfly house here in Houston. It is still available on the used market at substantially more than the last selling price before it was discontinued because it is so rare now. Here is one listed at KEH:
    http://www.keh.com/camera/Nikon-Auto...9027676N?r=FE#
    Be sure to read the review posted on the lens also, I agree with it completely. I have recently bought a Micro Nikkor 200mm f/4.0 thinking that I would like it better than the zoom, but I was mistaken. It was too heavy and just about mandated the use of a tripod, and I was having a really hard time getting a sharp focus on it. I ended up returning it in exchange for the Micro 105mm VR, but I think I still like the zoom one better. And looking at your macro zoom arsenal, actually you should have more than enough, no? The best thing about the 70-180 is the ability to zoom in case your subject is too large or too small, without having to move around too much.

    I thought I just throw in another option for you.

  6. #6
    evan47's Avatar
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    Re: nikon 300mm f4 and 1.4tc

    thanks for the replies.
    the 70-180 is a nice lens, i do not think it will give a big enough image at minimum distance and will not take a teleconverter as it is too slow.
    the 300 f4 with a converter seems to be one of, if not the best choice for me as it will also double up as a modest length birding lens, plus it will out perform my 70-300vr.
    the sigma 120-300 f2.8 looks tempting too but seems to be unreliable and a bit on the big side.
    gonna think about it until the end of march and then decide.

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