Nikon 55-200mm *for wildlife

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by waloshin, Dec 10, 2008.

  1. waloshin macrumors 68040

    Oct 9, 2008
    Nikon 55-200mm Compact Telephoto Zoom Lens With Vibration Reduction (AF-S DX VR)

    Would this lens be alright for wildlife photography, i have a limited budget.

    Will be used on Nikon d40.

    O sorry i didn't give a price range, as i am on a limited budget a budget in the price range of the Nikon 55-200MM VR.
  2. PCMacUser macrumors 68000


    Jan 13, 2005
    I would choose wildlife over the lens... those were the options, right? :)
  3. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    Anything slower than f/2.8 is going to be a challenge shooting when wildlife is most active (early morning, early evening) and after f/4 it becomes significantly more difficult- most consumer and the 80-400VR prosumer zooms are f/5.6 to f/6.3 at the long end. Going from f/2.8 to f/4 requires twice the light, going to f/5.6 requires twice the light again.

    Anything under 300mm is going to be a challenge for wildlife that's wary of people and/or small. If you can sit in a blind or have excellent stalking skills it'll be ok, otherwise you have to have places available where the wildlife is pretty tame and used to people. Some folks will tell you that anything under 600mm is going to suck- I've had good luck at 500mm and 400mm, and I'd hate to be stuck at 300mm.

    You could use this lens at the zoo and get ok pictures, though you're going to have to deal with distracting backgrounds a lot of the time if you can't find great shooting angles. Good wildlife shots require shallow depth of field to isolate the subject most of the time (there's an occasional "behavior in situ" sort of shot that works, but it's rare.)

    In the "too slow for the morning but lots of reach" category are the Sigma 50-500 (f/6.3, but not too bad at 500mm and around $1000, the 80-400VR (sloooow, won't AF on the D40 around $1100.) Hands-down the Sigma is the better lens (I own both.)

    In the "Not enough reach, but fast enough) category is the Sigma 70-200/2.8 (around $720) That might allow large/close approach stuff and you're at 280mm at f/4 with a 1.4x TC- if that lens goes well with a TC, that may be the best lowball option, but you'd have to add the cost of a Tamron/Kenko 1.4x TC.

    In the "Enough reach, and almost fast enough" category is the 70-300mm Nikkor ($450) - Thom Hogan doesn't like this lens at 300mm though, so I'd try it in a store to see if it'll produce acceptable results to you.

    Finally, there's the 300/4 AF-S which is about $1100. The 300/4 is a great lens and the sensor on the D40 may let you go high enough ISO to get good shots with it.

    The only thing worse than wildlife is the subset "birding" in terms of equipment cost, size and performance. If your budget is small, you can bait if your ethics allow, or you can deal with the subset of creatures that'll allow a close approach (generally a vehicle is the best platform for that in the places that works,) or sit in a hide waiting for good light.
  4. blashphemy macrumors member

    Dec 5, 2006
    in other words waloshin, it's like coming to us and saying, "hey I've got $5,000 and I need a fast sports car." Ordinarily, it's out of your price range (if you want to do it correctly), but you can jury rig some glass and a forced situation together (like buying an old, used sports car with 90,000 miles on it) if you truly want.

    For about $250, that 55-200 is about the best you can do. I have it, and it's meh-OK for zoo photography. Proper zoom lenses for wild life are going to run you at the very, very least $750 and that's for a lens from a lower-quality manufacturer (I only buy Nikkor glass for a reason).

    Good luck :)
  5. pdxflint macrumors 68020


    Aug 25, 2006
    Oregon coast
    200mm is way too short a reach for any decent wildlife photography unless you can get really close. If wildlife photography is your main goal, you will be very unhappy. A serious wildlife photographer will often have more expensive long lenses than even pro sports photographers, and certainly the tripods and other gear to go with it. It's not a cheap hobby.

    On the other hand, if you are on a limited budget and can find other uses for the gear also, you can do some limited stuff with the 55-200, and it's quite sharp. Just know your limitations. I have the non-VR version, and for the most part it seldom comes out of the bag. It takes good images, but it doesn't seem to have much real use for me. Too short on one end (200,) and too long on the other (55.)

    This is just my opinion, of course... :)
  6. DYER macrumors 6502

    Oct 4, 2008
    London, UK
    in that price range I guess it will be as good as you can get...
    the fact is many people will say it is way too short it is not sharp / fast enough and so on. And in some situation it wont be.
    However in others it will be more than enough.
    Hell I went to my local park today for a few hours to take a few shots and took a 18-70 and 70-200 (i dont have much longer than 300mm at home and i do have faster wideangle lenses but just couldnt be arsed) and I am pretty happy witht the results when it comes to how close/far i had to be from the subjects due to 200mm being the longest I had with me.

    I think you will be fine to start out with and then in time you will buy a better lens. (i really want a 200-400 atm...)
    Anyway I would say it will probably do what you want it to do for a time being.
    good luck

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