Lenses for wildlife shooting

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  • dbaker1221dbaker1221 dbaker Posts: 4,482Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 13, 2011
    I recently picked up a nikon 300 f4 for outside summer sports. I find it to be very good for my back yard birds.
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    **If I keep shooting, I'm bound to hit something**
    Dave
  • HarrybHarryb old and lazy Posts: 22,700Super Moderators moderator
    edited September 13, 2011
    I see that no one has reported on the Nikon 200-400 F/4 VR lens so far so I might as well have a go at it. I picked up a used 200-400 VR I lens late last year so here is my non-technical non-pixel peeking report.

    Overall I like the lens a lot. It has very good IQ from 200- 300mm. Images obtained at the far end of its reach appear a tad softer to me. This not to say that the IQ at 400mm is not good just not as good as the images closer in. From 200-300mm its IQ is on par with the IQ of my 500mm f/4. The lens works very well when shot wide open.

    The AF is fast and accurate and it does OK on flight captures. The lens is a heavy beast at 7.4 lbs but its 1 lb lighter than the 500mm f/4 and around 3 inches shorter. You can shoot with it handheld for a short period of time if you are into pain and discomfort. I have taken a few sequences with it handheld but I don't recommend it as a common practice.

    The attached tripod foot from Nikon, to be kind, sucks. Its too short and there is a bit of wobble with it attached to a tripod. If you get a 200-400 be prepared to spend a few hundred more $ for a Kirk or Really Right Stuff foot.

    The 200-400 works fine for me with the 1.4 TC. The IQ and AF are only marginally impacted. The IQ with the 1.7 TC is OK but the negative impact on AF speed is to much of a compromise for me. Thom Hogan reports that it works well with the new Nikon 2.0 E III TC but I haven't tried one on the 200-400 myself.

    It has become my main lens due to the flexibility the 200-400 reach gives me. I still prefer the 500mm for bird captures but living in Florida where I can get reasonably close to my subjects the 500mm was overkill in too many instances.

    Here are few captures with the 200-400
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    Harry
    http://behret.smugmug.com/ NANPA member
    How many photographers does it take to change a light bulb? 50. One to change the bulb, and forty-nine to say, "I could have done that better!"
  • cyncyn Beginner grinner Posts: 4Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited September 20, 2011
    Heron in flight
    "Heron in Flight." This image was captured with a Nikon D90 camera and a Nikon 18-200 telephoto lens while visiting a friend in Middle River. I'm not able to afford a long lens which has taught me how to approach and observe from a close distance. I was following this guy along the bulkheads and watched as he cleaned his feathers. It was amazing to capture this magnificent bird in mid-flight. I'm happy with the point of focus, getting all of him in the frame, and being able to see a great amount of detail in the feathers!
  • fldspringerfldspringer Big grins Posts: 69Registered Users Big grins
    edited March 4, 2012
    600 f4 VR Nikkor - Yep, Big and Stupid
    I went through the pages, and I don't think I saw this one represented, so here goes...

    I'm big and stupid. Big enough to lug this thing around, Stupid enough to pay that much for one lens ne_nau.gif .

    I had a prior post on Olympus equipment and had a change over to Nikon. The reasons were future availability, and autofocus. The logical replacement fot the 300 f2.8 Zuiko was the 600 VR.

    Its a big, heavy lens that demands support (I'm not THAT big to handhold the beast). I use both a gimbal head on a tripod and a monopod, depending on what I'm doing. Its fast to focus and keeps up with motion sequences...

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    Minimum focus distance is about 16 ft, and that impacts the ability to fill the frame with small birds. Becaues of that I use the TC-14 (for 850mm) and TC-17 (for 1000mm) teleconverters. The quality of the TC-14 images is very good, and ok on the TC-17 as long as your close to the subject.

    D3s/600 VR/TC-14

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    Another

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    And the TC-17 (1000mm)

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    Another at 1000mm

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    x
  • BadradBadrad Beginner grinner Posts: 9Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited August 22, 2012
    Osprey view quadrupled with FD 400mm
    i-Mp4rpMT-L.jpg Granted, this is a bit noisy, blown out whites, soft, etc etc. but hey ... it was shot about 100 YARDS away, using an old FD series 400mm, with a doubler, PLUS 2.0x digital zoom on a Sony NEX-7 ... OK, doing the math, thats about 1600mm ... and a little extreme, but some days it takes extreme, not to mention cheap. (Ran it thru Topaz Clean for a wee bit of "curly smooth".) This is scoping distance, and gives me a way to check bands on some of those high or distant nests.
  • Ric GrupeRic Grupe Hampshire Prairie Posts: 9,522Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 9, 2012
    Canon EF 200-400 f/4 L
    I may live long enough for this lens to surface!

    Just what I want/need....I think.:D

    This is the first I've heard of it for some time now....so I thought I would share it.

    I think it has the potential to be a great wildlife lens.

  • kdogkdog artistically challenged San Jose, CAPosts: 11,057Administrators moderator
    edited September 13, 2012
    Ric Grupe wrote: »
    I may live long enough for this lens to surface!

    Just what I want/need....I think.:D

    This is the first I've heard of it for some time now....so I thought I would share it.

    I think it has the potential to be a great wildlife lens.

    Where've ya been, Ric. This thing was announced almost two years ago. Certainly the ultimate safari lens. But, not sure about general wildlife, and certainly not birds. You'd be far better off for birds with a 500 or 600 F4, which you can then put a TC on and have way more reach than this and at the same aperture. Price will most likely be in the $10-12K range, so probably more of a special occasion rental for most of us.
  • puzzledpaulpuzzledpaul low down bum Posts: 1,526Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 13, 2012
    When not doing macro, started off with a 40D + 400 /5.6 ...but no IS and no AF with a 1.4x. Eventually bit the bullet and bought a used 500 f4.

    V. rarely use anything else these days (with 1Dm3 now) except when circumstances allow for the 'ol 40D with a 300 f4 (non IS) which allows me to get even lower / closer to water level because of smaller body form factor / lens dameter.

    200 - 400 price is way out of my reach ... and not as useful (for me)

    pp
  • Ric GrupeRic Grupe Hampshire Prairie Posts: 9,522Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 13, 2012
    kdog wrote: »
    Where've ya been, Ric. This thing was announced almost two years ago.

    Hence:
    I may live long enough for this lens to surface!
  • HarrybHarryb old and lazy Posts: 22,700Super Moderators moderator
    edited September 13, 2012
    kdog wrote: »
    Where've ya been, Ric. This thing was announced almost two years ago. Certainly the ultimate safari lens. But, not sure about general wildlife, and certainly not birds. You'd be far better off for birds with a 500 or 600 F4, which you can then put a TC on and have way more reach than this and at the same aperture. Price will most likely be in the $10-12K range, so probably more of a special occasion rental for most of us.

    I shoot with the 500 f/4 and the 200-400 f/4 regularly. Each has their strengths and weaknesses. In Florida we have some larger birds (herons egrets, storks and cranes). For them the 500mm can be a hindrance in getting the capture especially flight shots. With the 500mm if a subject takes off you can end up with clipped wings because you are in on it so tightly. Also with a 500mm you have a limited field of view and if you are off just a tad it you can miss a flight shot, With the 200-400 I an zoom back to 200mm, locate my subject and then zoom in for the capture. The 200-400 is also lighter, easier to tote round and can be handheld more effectively than the 500mm.

    The 500mm has slightly better IQ and I've found its AF to be a tad faster. For the smaller birds its the lens I go with. The 200-400 IQ is better in the 200-300mm range and sufffers a tad at 400mm.

    The cost of either the 200-400 or the 500 is ridiculous (I bought both of mine used and saved a bunch of $). Neither one is a joy to travel with.

    In the end my favorite wildlife lens is still the 300mm f/4. Its light, has excellent IQ, fast AF, and works well with all the TCs. I have to take more time to get in closer to my subjects but it is a joy to use and its the best bargain out there for wildlife shooting.
    Harry
    http://behret.smugmug.com/ NANPA member
    How many photographers does it take to change a light bulb? 50. One to change the bulb, and forty-nine to say, "I could have done that better!"
  • kdogkdog artistically challenged San Jose, CAPosts: 11,057Administrators moderator
    edited September 13, 2012
    All true, Harry. I've been over-lensed with my 500 at Bosque before too. It's a nice problem to have. Like you, I know Dan Plumer loves his Canon 300 F4.

    The Canon version of the 200-400 with the built-in switchable TC will be especially nice. Sometimes I wish the camera manufacturers would stop building all these really cool lenses. It's hard to afford everything.
  • Ric GrupeRic Grupe Hampshire Prairie Posts: 9,522Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 13, 2012
    kdog wrote: »
    All true, Harry. I've been over-lensed with my 500 at Bosque before too. It's a nice problem to have. Like you, I know Dan Plumer loves his Canon 300 F4.

    The Canon version of the 200-400 with the built-in switchable TC will be especially nice. Sometimes I wish the camera manufacturers would stop building all these really cool lenses. It's hard to afford everything.

    The Upcoming Canon 200-400mm lens (with built-in 1.4x adaptor) - An Olympic Review


    Now that I have returned from the London Olympics, one of the most frequently asked questions from other photographers is "How did you like the new Canon 200-400mm lens?" So, I thought that I would take a little more time (now that I am not running all over London) to give you my impression of this lens.
    Canon200400mmf4
    It was not a finished product, as all of the Canon 200-400 lenses at the Olympics were hand built models for us to use, and the Canon people asked me to give them my feedback.

    Let me start off by saying that I fell in love with this lens, and here is why:
    • Having the built-in adaptor may not seem like a big deal since it is just a 1.4x adaptor built in to the end of the lens vs putting it on when you need it, but having the ability to flip the switch and immediately go from 200-400mm f4 to 280-560mm at f5.6 is AWESOME! I will give you an example of how I was using this. In water polo, when I was shooting the action on my side of the pool (in photo position behind the net), the lens was switched to 200-400, but as soon as the action moved to the far side of the pool, I immediately flipped the switch and get in closer to the action. So easy and effective! Whenever I was shooting a sport at a larger venue, with a fixed focal length lens, I was clamoring for the ability to zoom in or out to change the framing or composition. The focal range of the 200-400 lens was addictive.
    • The lens is tack sharp. (Check out the attached image).
    • It is not overly heavy (as far as these beasts typically go).
    • The zoom ring is really responsive and smooth and goes from 200-400 quickly and easily.
    • Typical L series bullet-proof construction.
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    Canon 1D X w/ Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM - ISO 200 - f/4 - 1/5000s
    (CLICK ON THIS TO SEE A LARGER VIEW)



    The only drawback of this lens is that it starts at f4 and not f2.8. But, if this lens DID shoot at f2.8, it would likely be WAY more expensive and kill the sales of many other Canon lenses. I have to admit that there were a couple of times when I really wanted to depth of field of a 2.8 lens, but still happily chose the versatility of this lens over a faster lens speed.

    People have asked me about the quality of the image stabilization, and I honestly can not tell you. Because I was on a monopod, I generally chose not to use IS, hoping to increase the speed of focus. But, since this is a new L series lens I have to assume that it will be just as impressive as any of the newer IS lenses from Canon.

    I know that different photographers have varying opinions about prime lenses vs. zoom, but I am a zoom guy. I love having the ability to change the framing and composition with the lens. And at the Olympics, you have so little chance to get out of a fixed position, that I wanted the option to zoom. One of the Canon guys asked me what I thought of it, and I said, “this thing is $%^#ing amazing” and he said “can we quote you on that?” :)

    Now the big question – HOW MUCH WILL THIS COST? And nobody seems to know yet, not even the Canon guys over at the Olympics.
  • slopokislopoki Major grins Posts: 102Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 1, 2012
    Nikon 300mm f4 AF-s
    D300602ccrn-X2.jpgAfter humping a 600/4 around for years I decided to go light and flexable so I pulled my 300/4 off the shelf and started using it. Now it's my main lens for birds. I use the tc-14e with it and shoot wide open and I like the results. Here's a few with the 300/4 and 14e.

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  • HarrybHarryb old and lazy Posts: 22,700Super Moderators moderator
    edited October 2, 2012
    The 300mm f/4 remains as one of my favorite lenses. Excellent IQ, fast AF and easy to handhold. Works best with the 1.4 TC but does OK with the 1.7. On the newer cameras (d4, d600, and d800) the AF is a tad faster and you can also use the 2.0 TC. Having a hand holdable lens with a reach up to 600mm isn't too shabby. It is the best bargain wildlife lens out there.
    Harry
    http://behret.smugmug.com/ NANPA member
    How many photographers does it take to change a light bulb? 50. One to change the bulb, and forty-nine to say, "I could have done that better!"
  • HarrybHarryb old and lazy Posts: 22,700Super Moderators moderator
    edited November 7, 2013
    Tamron has announced that it is developing a 150mm -600mm f5-6.3 lens. No pricing yet on it but it only weighs 4.3 lbs. It might be a good budget options for photographers need some reach

    http://www.dpreview.com/news/2013/11/07/tamron-to-develop-150-600mm-f5-6-3-ultra-telephoto-zoom?utm_campaign=internal-link&utm_source=news-list&utm_medium=text&ref=title_0_1#press
    Harry
    http://behret.smugmug.com/ NANPA member
    How many photographers does it take to change a light bulb? 50. One to change the bulb, and forty-nine to say, "I could have done that better!"
  • e6filmusere6filmuser e6filmuser Posts: 2,368Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 16, 2014
    "Wildlife" is often taken to be those subjects normally featured in wildlife documentaries. This tends to mean larger birds, mammals and reptiles. However, there is a host of interest in insects and other arthropods and in plants (mostly flowers), down to mosses, liverworts and lichens. Then there are the fungi and slime moulds. I may use special lenses for some purposes but for close-ups, moderate telephoto and macro, I find a Vivitar Series 1 (Kiron) manual focus 105mm macro, sometimes with a TC and/or an achromat +5 supplementary close-up attachment covers most of my everyday shooting. I add flash for hand-held, small apertures at high magnification.

    The image shows how a rather special lens, a printing Nikkor 105mm (fixed focus, optimised for 1:1), on extension, can give decent performance with a Kiron x1.5 TC inserted next to the (m4/3) camera. (Hand-held with flash, camera in manual mode).

    Harold
  • lisamombasalisamombasa mombasaPosts: 17Registered Users Big grins

    What about the tamron 16-300mm?would that be good for wildlife?

  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Posts: 18,928Super Moderators moderator

    @lisamombasa said:
    What about the tamron 16-300mm?would that be good for wildlife?

    If you're talking about the Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro, according to DXOMark it gets pretty soft at the long end. They claim that the best convenience zoom lens in that range is the Nikkor 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR. Please note the "G" designation and that this is a $1000USD lens.

    So, if you shoot Nikon it (the Nikkor G) might be a consideration. (It appears that you do shoot a Nikon DX camera.)

    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Posts: 18,928Super Moderators moderator
    edited July 1, 2017

    To recommend a bit more:

    For bird photography, you might be able to set up a bird feeder (bird feeding station) close to a photographer's blind (an enclosure of almost any construction which the birds will come to disregard and which you can hide in). After a couple of weeks of feeding the birds may grow less wary and spend time at the feeder, allowing you to photograph the birds from your hidden position.

    For an inexpensive (relatively) 300mm lens, I have an old manual focus Nikkor 300mm, f4.5 AI telephoto and you can often find them for not too much money. On a 3000 series Nikon body it's not going to be easy to shoot with, but I think that it should be safe to mount. (Nikon shooters please advise.)

    I occasionally use an old Tamron 500mm, f8 SP (55BB) mirror (catadioptric) manual focus lens on my Canon cameras. Since it is an "Adaptall-2" type of lens it should be possible to find a Nikon adapter for it, should you find one. I also use an adapter with a "chip" which mimics an autofocus lens set in manual mode, meaning that the chipped adapter allows manual focus with autofocus assist; the camera body "beeps" when the camera senses the lens is in focus. I believe that similar chipped adapters are available for Nikon cameras, but I'm not as familiar with Nikon systems. Anyway, a 500mm, f8 is mostly useful in bright sunlight, so somewhat limiting, and the out-of-focus areas are generally "busy" with mirror lenses so foreground and background have to be carefully composed to make pleasing images.

    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter Posts: 14,028Super Moderators moderator
    edited July 4, 2017

    @lisamombasa said:
    What about the tamron 16-300mm?would that be good for wildlife?

    I have owned and used a 16-300 f3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD lens in Canon mount since November 2015. I have about 4500+ frames with it to date, and I like it so well I leave it on my 70D crop body with a BreakThrough polarizing filter on it almost all the time. It is my walk around snapshot camera of choice. I find it great at wide angles ( full frame equivalent of 24mm ) and in museums and art galleries, even at ISO 3200 + if I am careful and do my part. It is not as sharp at 300mm as my Canon f2.8 and f4 300mm primes, nor quite as sharp at the long end as my Canon 100-400 v2 zoom. But it is very small, light and easy to carry around, and with modern software with lens profiles - I use Lightroom CC routinely - I get what I think are very acceptable images. I sorted my images to find how many frames I shot with the Tamron zoom and how many of them were at 300mm. Most of my shots were shorter, but I have quite a few at 300mm too. My images are not as sharp as those I get with a full frame camera frequently because I am shooting in the dark at ISO >> 3200. so bear that in mind with some of these images.

    Here is a kitty cat ISO 6400, 300mm with the Tamron zoom on a 70D body. I do not find it lacks sharpness to my eye

    A crop of a bird shot in Norway at ISO 400 at 300mm 70D

    A pictograph in monochrome on the wall in Canyon de Chelly - shot at ISO 200, at 300mm on a 1DX - the vignetting on the full frame has been cropped off. I used the Tamron zoom on a full frame body because I was hours into the canyon and had no way to get the right lens for my 1DX, and it was the only telephoto I had with me. Nonetheless, I do not find the image is soft to my eye

    VLA telescope shot at 24 mm at ISO 200 on a 70D body.

    While the Tamron zoom is not the equal of Canon primes, I find it quite useful, inexpensive, and adequate. I plan to take it river rafting with me this summer because it is small, light weight, sharp, and has a very useful wide zoom range.

    Comments and criticism about the images and the lens sharpness are strongly encouraged.

    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Posts: 18,928Super Moderators moderator

    Wow, Pathfinder, these are impressive results!

    Your conditional comment, "... with modern software with lens profiles ...", means post-processed correctable images are more than possible, they can be automated and convenient.

    Nicely done!

    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • CavalierCavalier Life is a Bokeh Foresthill, CaliforniaPosts: 1,654Registered Users Major grins

    I use the Tamron 150-600mm and love it. I use it on a Canon 70D which is a heavy body - so I have to use a monopod most times when using this rather heavy lens.

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