Telephoto lens opinions

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by edge540, Dec 3, 2006.

  1. edge540 macrumors regular

    edge540

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    Indiana
    #1
    Im looking for a telephoto lens for animal photography and I cant decide which one to get. I have several options that I have come up with, I hope someone can help me decide what to get.

    I could get one of these lenses for now, then get a better one later on.

    Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di LD Macro or
    Sigma 70-300 f/4-5.6 APO DG Macro

    Or, I could bite the dust and go for a

    Sigma APO 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM Macro, for a little more money.

    Has anyone ever used these lenses? If so, would you recomend them or should i try and get a Nikon 70-300 VR.

    Thanks
     
  2. LeviG macrumors 65816

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    #2
    well what type of animal photography. The extra 100mm would come in handy for distance type shots.

    I personally would probably do something a little different. I would go for a x-300/400 non macro lens (for the distance work - cheaper usually) and then add a fixed length macro lens (90mm for the close up work)) and some extension tubes (no glass so no loss in quality) to allow closer focusing
     
  3. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

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    #3
    For animal photography I would not waste your time with 200mm. I don't know specifically what animals you want to shoot, but if they're for nature-like photos you want nothing less than the 300mm. You also want a semi fast lens. You may not have a choice to use a tripod all of the time. I'm not sure exactly where you plan on shooting so I'm going to say that you should get the 70-300 vr from nikon. Is that VR I or VR II on that 70-300?

    If you want to buy something as sort of a bridge between you and a finer piece of glass then I'd recommend the Sigma over the Tamron just out of personal choice no other real reasons.
     
  4. edge540 thread starter macrumors regular

    edge540

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    #4
    But wouldn't it be better to have a fast lens such as the Sigma f/2.8 @ 200mm instead of having a f/5.6 @ 300mm. I would get both if money was not an option, but it is at this point. I would be pushing it itself getting the f/2.8. Does anyone know a fast 300mm lens thats a good price and would would be a good match for my D80?
     
  5. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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    #5
    Hopefully, you won't need a partcularly fast lens to photograph animals. Especially at a distance, you'll want greater depth of field and a closer view.

    70mm is fine, if you're shooting something tame at close range but it all depends on the type of animals and if they would find you a good snack.
     
  6. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #6
    For wildlife shooting or for shooting animals around your neighborhood or the Zoo? Animals, or animals and birds?

    Ideally:
    300mm f/4
    300mm f/2.8
    400mm f/28

    All can be used with teleconverters to extend the range... the two f/2.8 lenses are pretty expensive, but the f/4 is a darned good lens and is hand-holdable as well as useable on a tripod or monopod.

    The Tamron 200-500mm is a pretty good lens, too, as far as reach goes, and again is light enough to be hand-holdable. However, this is not a fast lens at all, so that could hamper your work.

    The new Nikon 70-300 VR has great promise, but I don't think it's actually available yet so no idea of its image quality and functioning.
     
  7. edge540 thread starter macrumors regular

    edge540

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    #7
    Ill be shooting wildlife animals. And again, I am on a budget so I cant spend a lot of money. I was looking for what best suited me max. around 700 dollars. Would it work if I got a 200 lens with a 2x converter on it. Then i would have a fast lens and if i needed, a greater reach?
     
  8. failsafe1 macrumors 6502a

    failsafe1

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    Jul 21, 2003
    #8
    Tell us more about the animals you want to shoot. Some pro animal shooters I know use blinds to get close to their subject or use remote set ups with IR triggers. If you are looking at a general use lens in the 70/200-300 range you would do well with the 2.8 with 2x tele-converters or the zoom with macro and extension tubes. Even with long lenses don't expect to get super close to certain animals no matter what. Longer with no TC is always best so a 300-600 would be ideal but that lens is a specialty lens that might not be useful for other things. Even with a fast lens you can always shoot low ISO and high shutter speed so depth of field won't be a problem. A slow lens would hamper your dusk and dawn situations. Times when certain animals might be active. Another consideration of a fast lens is the high shutter speed they afford you so action stopping will be easy withe the wider open lens and high shutter speed. This makes for nicer photos than having to jack up your ISO for the same shutter/f-stop combo. You can also enlarge a lower ISO photo more than you would want to with a high ISO (noise, artifacts etc). It is also helpful to look at Canon photo ads. They have nice animal photos with the tech specs so you can see what gives what results. There are animal magazines galore so pour over them at the book store and see what pros do.I have used Sigma and Tokina lenses and the Tokina 70-200 are solid lenses and would not hesitate to recommend them. I have not used the Sigma in that range but the several 28-70's I have used did OK. I simply wore them out in the course of my job. They were cheap enough to almost be desposible. Check KEH in Atlanta KEH.com for great used gear and eBay as a last resort. Shutterbug magazine is a good resource for technical info and want ads.
     
  9. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #9
    Unfortunately, many lenses in the $700 range are not going to be "fast" lenses. (The wider the lens' aperture can go, the "faster" the lens is considered. A lens which is f/1.4 or f2.0 is pretty fast, and f/2.8 usually marks the defining point beyond which lenses are considered to be "slow," such as f/4, f/5.6, f/8.) Usually fast prime lenses [f/2.8, f/2.0, f/1.8, f/1.4]are well over $1000. Putting a 2x converter on a relatively slow lens is going to cause problems because the teleconverter reduces the amount of light coming into the lens, affecting the f/stops. For instance, with a 2.8 lens, putting a 2x TC on it means that the lens effectively becomes an f/5.6 lens. Putting a 2x TC on a lens which is already f/4 kicks it into f/8, which will work fine in brightly lit situations, sunny days, but not on cloudy, overcast days, especially if the animal is moving.

    It is important to realize that wildlife and nature photography is one of the more expensive pursuits in photography. Not only does the photographer need a good camera body and good, fast lenses and TCs, he/she also needs a good, sturdy tripod. Many wildlife and bird photographers use a Wimberley gimbal head on their tripod rather than a ballhead for ease of use in quickly being able to follow the bird's or animal's movement.
     
  10. failsafe1 macrumors 6502a

    failsafe1

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    #10
    You might find something in the third party brands in the $700 range but doubt it. Especially in the fast 2.8 range. You will need a 2.8 lens if you plan on putting a 2x converter on it because you will loose two stops so the 2.8 lens is now a 5.6. You could simply stick with bright sun with slower lenses and a TC but this is really limiting. I am a photojournalist who has done some bird photography for a friend on a wildlife preserve with a borrowed Nikkor 400 2.8 from my Nikon Professional Service membership and that was incredibly not enough lens even with a 2xTC on it. So depending on what you are doing a duck blind might help or the remote triggers but those are time consuming options. It is always tough to need the good gear cause it ain't cheap. Another solution would be to get all the lens you can and then fractal or interpolate the image to "enlarge" it. This is a horrible solution but may help you some.
     
  11. bhdean macrumors newbie

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    Houston
    #11
    A teleconverter can be very handy; but also keep in mind it does reduces your aperture by 1-2 f/stops depending on your magnification. A 2x with a f2.8 would make your lowest f/stop a f5.6.

    The Nikon 300mm f4D is a very good lens and affordable. The older version 300mm f4 ED can be picked up for about 500 USD used. KEH.com usually has a few and they are a very good store to buy used from.

    I don't know anything about Sigma or other 3rd party lens; I can't help you there. Either way, I would suggest trying out the lens first. If you have a camera shop; that lets you rent lens and have them go for it. The only way you will know; if you are happy with the lens is to shoot with it first.
     
  12. failsafe1 macrumors 6502a

    failsafe1

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    Jul 21, 2003
    #12
    You may also find wildlife photographers who would let you see what they do. Don't know if you have a photo club or wildlife club in your area but that may be a start. Don't know what gear you are shooting but there is a nice forum for sports shooters (similar gear to wildlife at times) that covers other topics in addition to sports. You could find out about specific long lenses there.

    www.sportshooters.com
     
  13. edge540 thread starter macrumors regular

    edge540

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    #13
    Thanks for all your adivce everyone. Knowing what I know now, It would seem that with a Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 that can be had for around $700, then with a 2x tele converter would be a good match. That way I would have a fast lens when 200mm is enough, and a good lens f/5.6 when I would need 400mm.
    I will be shooting safari animals mostly with the lens. And when that is up, I hope to be able to go plane spotting at airports when I have the time. I'm just looking for the best I can get now, on a college budget.
    I would go looking around at stores, but unfortunately there is only one in the area, and I dont remember if they have anything that im looking for, but I will check very soon.
     
  14. failsafe1 macrumors 6502a

    failsafe1

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    #14
    Good luck with the lens. Local stores are good for trying out the lens. Get a good tripod and go have fun!:D
     
  15. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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    #15
    Make sure you get a really high quality tele-converter so it minimises distortion.
     
  16. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Redondo Beach, California
    #16
    You are really going to need the faster lens. THe best shooting opportunities are always morning and evening when the sun is low in sky.

    Outdoor exposures in the evening with clouds ca run about f/4 at 1/400 and 200ISO. Of course it all depends on condidtions and you can crank up the ISO but you can see that an f/5.6 lens is marginal.

    Also it's not just the light. It's depth of field. It's nice to be able to isolate the subject or if you can't control the background to blur it out. It is very hard to select a background with a long lens because you have to move so far left or right

    You will also need a tripod. I think Bogen gives you the most for the money and a carbon fiber Gitzo is simply the best but is quite expensive. I just put up with the weight and tie the 10 pound Bogen to the Backpack.
    For animals people will all recommend a ball head but if there is anyplace where you can save money it's there. Good ball heads cost an arm and a leg and my Bogen #3047 head is a monster but is inexpensive and works well

    The Nikon VR will reduce blur from camera shake but not subject motion. If you are working off a tripod there will be no camera shake. I don't know your situation.

    One good thing about Nikon is the availability of good used lenses. If budget is an issue this is the way to go. One of the best deal on the used market is the 80-200 f/2.8 AF. THey go for about $600 and then you add a 1.4 teleconverter and you have a 300mm f/4.0 lens If both the 80-200 lens and teleconverter are Nikon the quality is good
     
  17. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #17
    You be better off with a used Nikon 80-200 then with the sigma. You'd save about $50 and get a better lens. A 2x converter uses up a LOT of light. If you want a cheap f/5.6 tele lens buy one. It will be cheaper than a good 2x converter. Why spend a four digit price for an f/5.6 lens? The 1.4x converter works well and only costs you one stop. and it'so optically near perfect
     
  18. Cybix macrumors 6502a

    Cybix

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    #18
    I'd be looking at the Sigma 50-500mm (aka BIGMA).. it's cheap, and has reasonable quality for this kind of photography. It all depends on your budget anyway.

    Good thing about the lens, is if your crawling around in bushes/dirt/tree's, whatever, you wont be too upset if you destroy it (due to the low price)

    do a search for some examples from this glass... it's not bad :)

    Maybe another option is a 70-200'ish, with an extender for the long shots. Haven't got any experience with a setup like this, but would certainly put the lens to multiple uses :)
     
  19. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #19
    The Bigma is pretty slow and also, oddly enough, even though it's a Sigma, doesn't work well with a Sigma TC! A friend was really frustrated recently when he was shooting with a Bigma and a Sigma TC and was not able to autofocus. He eventually returned the Sigma TC to the store and got a Kenko instead, and that works just fine.... Weird!

    The Bigma is nicknamed that for a reason. It's a heavy lens.

    Tamron offers a 200-500mm lens, and although like the Bigma, it's pretty slow, it is covering a narrower range than the Bigma, which might be helpful when trying to lock in focus on a moving animal or flying bird.
     
  20. Cybix macrumors 6502a

    Cybix

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    #20
    a friend of mine gets great shots with his bigma, of fast-moving radio controlled cars (upto 100kph type stuff).. not only are the cars fast, but they are small and hard to follow.

    Having said that his 'fave' lens is his 70-200 canon F2.8 L... :) fast, smaller, crispy clear

    I've had a bash with both lens and I know which I prefer. The bigma is BIG (and heavy)... forget having it hanging from around your neck!
     
  21. bozigle macrumors regular

    #21
    I got the Sigma 70-300 and... it seldom leave my bag!
    Sigma is pretty good when it come to EX lenses... others are not really up to the task
    Vibration reduction system are very helpful and are worth the price difference
     
  22. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

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    #22
    Agreed; good advice.


    Birds are incredibly demanding on hardware. My telephoto stack is merely ~450mm, and to make up for it in "backyard photography", I've cheated on my standoff distance to my birdfeeders. This year, I've set them up even closer than ever to my "blind" (bedroom window): they're now at roughly 4ft, right at the cusp of my len's minimum focus distance.


    It ain't lightweight, either.


    FWIW, I'd like to hear a little more from the OP in terms of just what kind of "wildlife" they're thinking of. I did my first African safari this past summer and found that between weight limits (small aircraft flights) and working out of a vehicle, using a tripod was pretty much out of the question, although I'll reserve comment if one is springing the bucks for a nearly completely private jeep. However, from a practical standpoint, we did get a lot closer to critters than I was originally hoping for, which meant that an effective stack of ~450mm worked well enough. Even so, the game drives are typically morning / late afternoon, so you're looking at needing to keep the f/stops fairly fast.


    -hh
     
  23. edge540 thread starter macrumors regular

    edge540

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    #23
    Thats exactly what I am doing. I will be going on a 4 day safari in the Masai Mara. So will be taking pictures of anything and everything that I see. Probably less birds and more land animals, and I will have a tripod with me for when the time comes to use one. I dont know what kind of transportation we will have but I probably will only be able to use a tripod when we stop for lunch or breaks.
     
  24. clownie macrumors member

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  25. edge540 thread starter macrumors regular

    edge540

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    #25

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