A Site for Photographers by Photographers

Featured Equipment Deals

Interview with Environmental Photographer: Peter Essick Read More

Interview with Environmental Photographer: Peter Essick

A conversation with National Geographic photographer, Peter Essick, author of Our Beautiful, Fragile World.

Latest Equipment Articles

Sun Position Tracking Apps Read More

Sun Position Tracking Apps

These 5 apps, ranging in price from free to $8.99, are our top picks for tracking sun (and moon) light. Also ranging in complexity, some help you keep tabs on the ideal lighting of the day while...

Latest Learning Articles

State of the ART: Rag Mama Rag! Read More

State of the ART: Rag Mama Rag!

In his latest exploration, fine art photographer Pete Myers reviews and compares some of the highest quality rag-based photographic papers on the market today.


Nikon 300mm f/4 or Tamron 300mmf/2.8???

Craig Andrew Yuill , May 09, 1999; 09:09 p.m.

I've just spent a couple of hours in the photo.net archives and using the search engine to help me make a decision on a lens purchase, but I don't feel that I found all of the info that I need. I've decided that I will finally take the plunge and buy a long-tele lens specifically for nature & birding shots that require a long lens. I'm one of those (in?)famous hobbyists "on a budget". A local store is selling an AF-Nikkor 300mm f/4 and a MF 300mm f/2.8 Tamron. What makes these lenses attractive to me is that I'VE ACTUALLY USED both lenses for a day each out in the field. (They have both been retired from the store's rental department.) Having used these lenses I know that both are very good optically--I'd say they're about equal--and clean. The Tamron, although mechanically quite sound, is kind of beat up compared to the Nikon. I'm seriously considering buying one of these lenses. But which one?

Given that the Nikon lens is much lighter, more compact, has AF capabilities, and costs a few hundred $$$ less than the Tamron lens I would figure that the Nikon lens would be the obvious choice. But f/2.8 is f/2.8, and I've never seen a 300mm f/2.8 going for that little money, around $900US--certainly not one that I'm familiar with and would be comfortable with purchasing. (The Nikon lens is going for around $620US.) At times I've found that 300mm can be too short for some subjects, and I will certainly add a 1.4x and/or 2x converter to either lens. The cost of the Tamron lens with the very-good, matched 1.4x Adaptall converter is actually a little less than the Nikon lens and a used TC14B. Would the Nikon combo really be any better, or would the extra speed of the Tamron win the day by reducing the effects of camera shake (like during windy days) and subject movement (as many nature subjects are prone to do)? I think this is an even bigger consideration with 2x converters, even though Nikon's TC300 2x converter is probably better than Tamron's 2x Adaptall converter.

(Since I'm contemplating using converters maybe a I should consider getting a 400mm f/5.6 instead. ???)

Which lens do you think you'd buy under these circumstances. Nikon AF 300mm f/4? Tamron MF 300mm f/2.8 for a few hundred more? (Sigma or Tokina 400mm f/5.6?)

Responses


    1   |   2     Next    Last

Bob Atkins , May 09, 1999; 10:28 p.m.

I think you have to answer this yourself, there's no "right" choice. It very much depends on how much YOU value autofocus, whether YOU need the extra stop for the work you do, if YOU are prepared to carry the extra weight of the larger lens etc. An extra stop is useful, but so is AF.

Since you've had the chance to use both lenses in the field and evaluate their performance, you're in a MUCH better position than most people to make the choice!

The obvious answer is to buy both of them of course, but I won't even suggest that one...

Bruce J Leventhal , May 09, 1999; 10:40 p.m.

Craig,

I currently own both of the lenses that your are thinking about purchasing. I use to own a Tamron 300 2.8AF (& wrote a review of it that is posted on the Nature Net) but sold it because it had a defect. I replaced that lens with the 300f4.0 EDIF. While I love the performance of the Nikon lens, I missed the f2.8 aperture and brightness with converters. I still have my f4.0, though my wife uses it more than I do now. About 2 months ago I purchased an old style Tamron 300f2.8 + matched 1.4x for $1400. I have been very happy with its optical performance w & w/out the converter. I have not purchased a 2x for it as of yet, but plan to in the future.

Well, which lens should you buy? Only you know what you really want, but here are some things to consider:

1) the Nikon lens was built and designed by Nikon to work with Nikon cameras... this is a definite plus.

2) the Nikon lens is AF, and will allow you to use all metering modes with any Nikon body.

3) the Nikon lens is a very fine optic.

4) the Tamron is an equally fine optic and f2.8... do you really want an f2.8 lens (I did)... you need to be honest with yourself here.

5) at f2.8 w/ a 1.4x, you will have 420 f4.0!

6) the Tamron lens is heavy and bulky to carry.

7) the Tamron lens has an Adaptall mount... this is a plus-minus issue. On the plus side, the lens is flexible in the case of future camera purchases. On the minus side, the Adaptall mount is a weak link... you will experience a little play between the body and the lens.

Well, as you can see, I couldn't decide which lens to keep... so I now have them both... something to consider!?

good luck, bruce

Don Baccus , May 10, 1999; 01:57 a.m.

Both Bob and Bruce make it plain that the right answer is "buy both!" (I may yet add an EF 300/4 IS to my bag despite owning an EF 300/2.8 that you'd have to kill me to get).

But that's not probably the affordable answer, and sorta presumes the rest of your lens kit's filled (mine's not, that's why I've not added the 300/4 IS to my kit!)

I'd say in your case it comes down to trying to decide which will hurt you in your shooting style the most: losing AF, or losing length? Because adding TCs to a 300/4 is less attractive than doing so on a 300/2.8. 420/4 is a VERY nice length and speed combination, much nicer than 420/5.6, if you like to shoot in early morning/late evening or nice soft overcase light. The 420/5.6 AF combo may well achieve focus faster than you will with the 420/4 MF combo, but you may well be left shooting at a slow enough shutter speed to make getting a good frame hard. You'll achieve focus with AF in this case in order to have more time to really concentrate on making things as immobile as possible before shooting.

My own personal experience shooting birds, etc, makes me value lens speed over AF. Of course, many of you know I've spent the money to get both, but if I had to choose between one or the other, I'd choose lens speed in an eyeblink.

All this is said in the context of your satisfaction with the optical quality of the Tamron 300/2.8 with converter. I have no personal experience with that lens therefore no opinion on its optical performance.

Zack Lau , May 10, 1999; 09:28 a.m.

I've used the Nikon with extension tubes to take butterfly shots with great results. But, adding a TC-14B gives up AF, and the lens doesn't provide distance info to the camera (no D or P version as of April 1999).

Andrei Frolov , May 10, 1999; 01:37 p.m.

I've pondered the same dilemma (except that I wanted 400mm lens) not that long ago. Perhaps answers to my question would be helpful to you as well. In the end, I chose fast glass over autofocus, and bought somewhat obscure Tamron SP 400/4 lens (really cheap too, $950 in near-mint condition. Lucky me :). Do I regret this decision? No. The lens turned out to be outstanding optically, and very ruggedly build.

I'm not familiar with Nikon stuff, but if you lose autofocus with 300/4 and TC, your choice seems clear to me: if both are manual focus with TC, get the fast one. Unless you really don't want to carry extra weight around, that is.

Rick Moore , May 11, 1999; 12:42 p.m.

I purchased a used Tamron MF 2.8 about a year ago with 1.4 and 2.0 converters for $850. It was an outstanding buy and too good to pass up. I use the lens for nature photography and also some sports work including indoor basketball. That makes the 2.8 aperture invaluable. It's also great to sometimes have a 5.6 600 even though there is a drop in quality.

However, I now find myself looking favorably on a Nikon AF 4.0 for the autofocus, less weight and Nikon optics. I'd feel a bit more confident of my exposures with the Nikon lens on a Nikon body. I suspect eventually I'll take Bob Atkins' advice and own both.

Marke Gilbert , May 12, 1999; 09:19 a.m.

I just faced almost the same situation- I just sold my Nikon 300f4 and purchased a Tokina 300 f2.8AF lens used for around 1200.00US. Was this a good decision? Without a doubt-- I have been able to squeeze out a few more shots with reasonable shutter speeds than before, and the resluts with a kenko 1.4X have been fine. The down side is of course the added weight-- make sure your tripod head can handle it.

I also of course would like own both, but I have no regretted this trade off in the slightest.

Deen Hameed , May 14, 1999; 03:33 a.m.

here i go off at a tangent again...

have you considered the results from the Tamron vs. the Nikon?

Now I personally have no experience with any lens longet than 200mm, but I am looking at a purchase (300mm) soon, so this is of some concern to me.

while I am sure the Tamron is a very good lens (I have the 90mm/2.8 SP and love it extremely much), there was a marked difference in photos shot with the Nikon and Tamron (as printed in Outdoor Photographer a few months ago)... I couldn't really tell what it was, but i preferred the Nikon's results over the Tamron...

Importantly, I found the pictures taken by the Tamron immediately recongnisable (as something was lacking)...

Was it me, or is there *really* such a big difference in results (not necessarily sharpness, lens speed, AF, contrast)...

Will the people with both the lenses please comment.

Deen

Bruce J Leventhal , May 14, 1999; 11:36 a.m.

The following is a response to Deen's Question:

Deen, did you read the lens review of the Tamron lens on the Nature Pages of Photo.net? I discussed the optics of my Tamron lens there. I have both the Nikon 300 f4.0 and the Tamron 300 f2.8... on a side by side comparison w/ same film, same subject, same light, I can't tell which images were shot with which lens. As I'm not a big fan of O.P., I have not seen the images that you are referring to, but... were the images with the same film in similar light? Frankly, I find myself taking more risks with my 300 2.8 because it is a stop faster... therefore I will shoot it in marginal light...

Quite honestly, I hate the... is this lens better than that lens question, because while optically one lens may not be as good as another, it just might fulfill the niche you need it to fill! If you need a 300 2.8 and can't afford $2500... a 3rd party lens will fill your vacant need.

regards bruce


    1   |   2     Next    Last

Back to top

Notify me of Responses