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Thread: Telephoto lens advice

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    Telephoto lens advice

    I currently have a Nikon 70-300 telephoto lens. I would like to get another telephoto lens that offers me greater magnification/zoom facility as I like to capture all types of wildlife from afar. I therefore need advice on what my fellow photographers feel would be a suitable lens on a budget?

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    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Telephoto lens advice

    Quote Originally Posted by bingham2259 View Post
    I currently have a Nikon 70-300 telephoto lens. I would like to get another telephoto lens that offers me greater magnification/zoom facility as I like to capture all types of wildlife from afar. I therefore need advice on what my fellow photographers feel would be a suitable lens on a budget?
    400, 500, 600mm how much focal length do you need?

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Telephoto lens advice

    I assume you are shooting with a crop-frame camera, so from a range standpoint, you are at the top end of the "affordable" long lenses that Nikon makes. The next step up is the 80-400, which was just recently updated (I own the original version, which required an in-camera focus motor). It is in the $2400 range for the newer model and the older one runs for about $800. less. Sigma makes two super-zooms (the 50-500mm and the 150-500mm). I cannot recommend Sigma (our 150-500 has broken down twice). Any other Nikon lens that is longer gets into the very many thousands of dollars (pro shooters and rich amateurs).

    The one comment I will make; you should have plenty of reach with your current lens. If you are having problems, you are simply not getting close enough to the wildlife. Longer lenses, with their narrow angle of view are tough to shoot with unless you are on a tripod (or monopod); composition is not easy when your camera is shaking and getting a blurred shot, even with VR is not great either...

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    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Telephoto lens advice

    What's the budget in numbers? Under US$1000 and supertele don't go together, and anything over 400mm is going to cost a BOMB, (or be a Sigma).

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    Re: Telephoto lens advice

    Never had a problem with my Sigma 150-500 so far. In fact the only lens which has caused my a problem is a Canon L lens which is at the repairers now, for the second time and will cost me over 300 to fix!

    That Sigma 150-500 is a bit slow on auto focus and it does require fairly good light as it is best in the F8 to f11 range.

    Otherwise, a lot of bird photographers go for a 400 mm prime lens then add a 1.4x converter when needed to get them over 500 mm.

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    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
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    Re: Telephoto lens advice

    We should clarify if you're after more magnification, or more reach. They're related, but not identical. If you want high magnification for close subjects, then we should be recommending macro lenses. If you want more reach, then you're looking for super-telephoto lenses (above 300mm). Only cheap super-telephotos are vintage, manual-focus lenses, which are pretty difficult to use.

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    Re: Telephoto lens advice

    I probably should have made it clear that I would not be looking at a Nikon lens but something more affordable. And yes it is for more reach (still getting used to terminology)

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Telephoto lens advice

    Hi "bingham",

    Could you do me a favour please?
    Could you click Settings (right at the top), then Edit Profile (on left) and put your first name in the Real Name field and where you are (roughly) in the Location field? - thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by bingham2259 View Post
    I currently have a Nikon 70-300 telephoto lens. I would like to get another telephoto lens that offers me greater magnification/zoom facility as I like to capture all types of wildlife from afar. I therefore need advice on what my fellow photographers feel would be a suitable lens on a budget?
    Crucial to us advising you sensibly is know which model camera you have, as this may affect the lenses that will Auto-Focus (AF) on it.


    I shoot wildlife and have faced similar issues, I tried a 42x zoom bridge camera (Nikon P510) which goes to 1000mm full frame equivalent focal length. As Manfred mentions though, this can be a problem since even finding the subject in the V/F with such a narrow angle of view can be a big issue.

    I also found the P510 Auto-Focus is absolute rubbish compared to my 70-300mm lens on a D5000.
    I recently upgraded my DSLR camera to a D7100, which has a useful "1.3x" crop mode to achieve a bit more reach (600mm FFE instead of the usual 450mm) and this has rendered the P510 unnecessary since I can get far better quality 15 MP RAW shots at 600mm FFE and crop to 1000mm FFE if need be - and I'll likely get the shot before the bird/dragonfly has flown away to boot!

    If you do consider a 350 bridge camera as an alternative to a 2000+ telephoto lens for whatever camera you have; there is also the Canon SX40HS to consider, I gather the Auto-Focus is somewhat better than the P510.

    If, to save some money, you consider a prime telephoto lens, perhaps with a TC (Tele converter), be advised that these can be rather less versatile than a zoom is if/when the action gets closer to you.

    In my view, getting closer to your subject is the way to go (cheaper too); research your 'prey' so you can achieve this. If we knew where you were, it might be more obvious this bit of advice might not be as practical for you as it is for me in UK though

    Be advised; I also would not recommend Sigma, I had one once and it would never accurately focus, even after I had sent lens, then lens and camera off for 'calibration' of the AF. Now I buy only Nikon lenses, there is a saying "buy cheap, buy twice".

    I realise much of the above is not what you want to hear, but, if you care about image quality, it is the reality I'm afraid.

    Welcome to the CiC forums from ...
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 5th October 2013 at 08:51 PM.

  9. #9
    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
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    Re: Telephoto lens advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries
    In my view, getting closer to your subject is the way to go (cheaper too); research your 'prey' so you can achieve this. If we knew where you were, it might be more obvious this bit of advice might not be as practical for you as it is for me in UK though
    True. The most dangerous animals in the UK are probably football fans.

    Doing your research and learning how to get close are extremely important points. That'll let you get away with a 300mm lens for a long time, and will still be a critical skill once you step up to a super-telephoto. Check out some of Moose Peterson's tutorials on wildlife photography. You may be surprised at how close he gets, but on the other hand, he does own a Nikon 800mm f5.6 AF-S ($17,900).

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