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Lens for Bird photography.

Martyn Fox , Dec 15, 2008; 03:36 p.m.

Could anybody give any advice on a suitable lens for Bird photography? It would be mounted to a D200 body and price would be an issue. Meaning i cant afford the nikon 400mm 2.8, the 500mm f4 or the 600mm F4. I was thinking about nikon 300mm f4 with a tele converter possibly or i have looked at the 80-400 VR. Maybe the Sigma 50- 500mm but quality may be an issue with the sigma lenses, i personaly dont have a problem with sigma optics but i have not used any of their tele lenses. I think a buget of around a £1,000 to £1,500 would be the most i would spend.


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Carl Becker , Dec 15, 2008; 04:02 p.m.

I have purchased and used a Nikkor 300mm f4 with TC, a Nikkor 400mm f5.6 ED-IF and currently a Nikkor 500mm f4 P with TC on either a D200 or currently a D700. I try to capture images of small birds while walking in the woods. I have had some success. The longer and faster the lens the better. If you have a feeder and can get close then the 300mm is great. For best value I would look for a 400mm Nikkor manual focus or thrid party with AF. I am finally happy with my efforts using the 500mm f4 P. It is very much worth the saving for the cost of a used lens. Sigma made a 500mm f4.5 AF.

Arun Seetharam , Dec 15, 2008; 04:06 p.m.

I would go for a 300 f4 AF-S VR. No question.
Cheaper, sharper, prime-better, great glass. Fantastic for flying birds....a little heavier. I also use the 80-400 4.5-5.6. Cant compare it to 300 f4, but gives a good range, good glass but slow. 300 f4 with teleconverter? Naaah......makes it softer.
A good birder knows how to get close to a bird without disturbing it. I have seen some great up-close shots with 105mm or the 80-200!!!!!

Joseph Smith , Dec 15, 2008; 04:23 p.m.

My recommendations are based on personal use of the D 200 and these lenses. More focal length is always a plus for birds: Nikon 500mm F 4.0 P lens, a manual focus lens, but electronic on your D 200; and/or the Nikon 300mm AF f 4.0. Both of these lenses take the Nikon 1.4x tc, the TC 14B. Another lens is the Nikon 300mm AFS f 4.0 lens. But it takes the AF tc, the Nikon TC-14E II. Joe Smith

John Vanacore , Dec 15, 2008; 04:51 p.m.

>>>I would go for a 300 f4 AF-S VR. No question

I don't believe a VR version of this lens is available yet. If it was, it porbably would be priced inline with a manual focus 500mm f4P

The 300mm f4 is a great lens optically, and with a TC, would really put you at the minimum for birding. I started out with this combo, an soon realized it wasn't enough. I ended up with a 500mm AF-I and TC. THis is more of a realistic combo.

Good luck JV

John Vanacore , Dec 15, 2008; 04:57 p.m.

I should have said also, is you may be abale to find a 400mm f3.5, which often can be found at a reasonable cost also. THis too is a manual focus lens.

AGain, good luck

Arun Seetharam , Dec 15, 2008; 05:04 p.m.

Oh yea yea....sorry, no VR. Just AF-S on 300 f4.

Lil Judd , Dec 15, 2008; 05:59 p.m.

I will offer two suggestions within your budget.
1, the Nikon Nikkor 300mm AF-S f/4 (as others have suggested) with a TC
2, the Tamron SP AF Di LD (IF) 200-500mm f/5-6.3
Either will do very well for you.
Good luck
Lil :-)

John W. Wall , Dec 15, 2008; 06:14 p.m.

This guy uses a Nikon D80 and 70-300mm f/4-5.6G: http://www.kitundu.com/galleryb.html

William Pahnelas , Dec 15, 2008; 06:32 p.m.

i used a 70-300 AF-S VR lens to shoot this hawk as it came flying toward me. it was actually a bit unsettling as it came so close, i thought it might fly into me!
the slow variable aperture, with f/5.6 on the long end, is its biggest shortcoming. bright, sunny days are required for really good results.
the 300/4 is about as heavy a lens as i would ever want to hand carry. i have the "D" type, with screwdriver AF that's slower than i'm used to; i imagine the AF-S would probably focus as quickly as the 70-300 VR. but with a TC, i'll bet it would be kind of a clunker. but i haven't tried it.
a guy at a camera store once tried to sell me a used plastic tamron 200-500 lens with a max 6.3 aperture. not only did it look like a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, the build quality reminded me of toy rifles i used to play with as a child. and that 6.3 aperture is a non-starter with nikon's AF system. i'm not sure you want to go there... but maybe.

70-300mm VR, 1/2000s f/8

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