Bird photography lens choice?

This is a discussion on Bird photography lens choice? within the Digital Cameras, Lenses & Accessories forums, part of the PHOTO FORUM category; Hi guys, I have a question about wildlife/bird photography... Would you tell an amateur photographer to always go the route of teleconverters before advising them ...


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  1. #1

    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Princeton, NJ
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    PHOTO EDITING OK
    Hi guys, I have a question about wildlife/bird photography...


    Would you tell an amateur photographer to always go the route of teleconverters before advising them to look for a bigger lens? Are there bigger prime lenses with good optics that don't cost an arm and a leg that I can keep an eye out for on craigslist, classifieds, etc?

    I'm finding initially that 300mm is a bit short to get as close as i'd like without spooking them.


    Thanks
    Nikon D300s | Nikon D700
    Nikon TC-14E II | Nikon TC-20E III
    Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 | Nikon 70-200, f/2.8 VRII
    Sigma 50mm f/1.4 | Sigma 85mm f/1.4
    Nikon 500mm f/4 AF-S II


  • #2
    Photographer of sorts
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Hampshire, UK
    Posts
    732
    PHOTO EDITING NOT OK
    I'm not a fan of teleconverters.

    They're a "cheap" way of getting some extra focal length, that's for sure, but they have other "costs". Teleconverters only work well with lenses which have superb optics to start off with so they tend to be designed to work with long, fast, primes and the occasional top-end zoom.

    The bald facts sort of go as follows.

    A 1.4x TC will cost you around 10% in image quality, a 2x TC will cost you around 20% in image quality.
    A 1.4x TC will cost you 1 stop of maximum aperture and a 2x TC will cost you 2 stops in maximum aperture.
    To retain autofocus on most cameras you need an f/4 or faster lens with a 1.4x TC and an f/2.8 or faster lens with a 2x TC.

    To be a bit more specific, stick a 1.4x TC on that 70-300mm Nikkor zoom in your signature and you'll end up with a 98-420mm f/6.3-f/8 manual focus lens which will certainly need stopping down to f/11 for any kind of image quality. Stick a 2x TC on it and you'll end up with a 140-600mm f/9-f/11 manual focus lens which you'll need to use at around f/16.

    To answer your second question, there may be some cheap used primes around. I'm not that familiar with older Nikon lenses so couldn't recommend a particular one. Also consider some off-brand zooms. Sigma and Tamron make some reasonable zooms which wander out to around the 400 and 500mm mark.


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