Nikon AF-S 300mm f4 with 1.4x TC

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by avishek_aiyar, Oct 3, 2012.

  1. I want to buy this lens+TC combo and I know it's great optically wide open, which is important for me since I am not too happy with the
    performance of my Sigma 150-500 at 500mm.

    But the absence of VR bothers me, especially given that I have >600mm lens on my Nikon D300.

    Any thoughts on the absence of VR? Is that a deal breaker?

    My subjects will mostly be wildlife and birds and I love taking action shots.

    I would really appreciate your advice.


  2. I have almost the combination you describe, the AF-S 300mm f4+14x TC + a proper tripod collar for the lens, not the worthless one that came with the lens when I bought it.
    At the high shutter speeds you need for action shots or birds in flight, VR doesn't help at all.
  3. Hi Hector,
    Yes...I agree....but what about the slightly lower "border-line" speeds which I might need under low light.
    What is lowest shutter speed I can get usable shots with?
  4. I agree with what Hector said. VR doesn't help for BIF. This thread from a few days ago discusses it a bit:
    Which is my advice: a $40 monopod will make the VR argument a moot point. It will also help you with tracking moving subjects while using a lens with such a narrow angle of view.
  5. What Hector said. The tripod collar is unfortunately really a must, and adds quite some to the bill.
    Any thoughts on the absence of VR? Is that a deal breaker?
    ... I love taking action shots.​
    VR for action shots isn't doing very much as you should be in the 1/1000th and faster range of shutter speeds already. Low light action shots still will need these speeds to freeze the action, so your only solution there is bump the ISO. But frankly, the resulting 420mm f/5.6 lens you have is not a low-light lens.
    Personally, I find the 300mm f/4 quite handholdable, also with the TC14. It's not too heavy. It does require good handholding technique, you need to consider squeezing the shutter gently, breath calmly etc., place feet steady and so on. I can get away with ~1/400th (on a D300), but not too often. To be sure, I try to keep the combination at 1/800 or faster.
  6. Some people reported use a piece of plastic that inserted below the lens and between the original mount, springs up the lens mount making it less wobble and more stable. Believe it or not.
  7. A secondary support between the foot and the barrel will prevent the
    tripod mount vibrations but you have to
    take it out to rotate the lens (if you don't
    want to leave marks). By adding a layer
    of velvet you can maybe solve that
    problem also. But third party tripod
    mounts are much nicer.
  8. I tried slamming a plastic cork between the original Nikon foot and it improved matters, but still at slow-ish speeds (in between 1/2nd and 1/50th), it just didn't give sharp results. Replaced it with the Kirk - problem properly solved.
  9. To be effective the second support piece
    should have the profile of the barrel (to
    prevent lateral vibration). The
    construction I used matched the barrel
    radius (negated). It made the Nikon
    collar more stable than the (already
    excellent Burzynski collar but the latter
    was good enough, smaller, had the arca
    dovetail built in, and rotated more easily.
    For stability a single point support is
    never as good unless it has a long
    contact i.e 5cm around the barrel of the
  10. Thanks a lot folks....I think I have all the info I need.
    You are right now the combo being a bit slow......Ideally I would like the 300mm f2.8, but I cannot justify the $1000 difference in costs....
  11. One more clarification: AF vs AFS....I have read a lot of reports on it, but although the general trend favors the AFS for supposedly faster focusing speeds, there are some people who claim that AF is fast enough...

    Any thoughts on that? I have a D300 and plan to get another D300 or even a D7000 as a second body.
    I favor the AFS simply because there are AF TCs available that can couple with the AFS 300mm, but just from the point of view of usability for the kind of shots I am interested in, I wonder if the extra $500 is worth it?
  12. I use the 300mm AF-S with a 1.7x and 2x. I found that at shutter speeds lower than 1/125s that I could only get sharp shots with my heavier cameras like the F4s, F100+MB15, and D700. My N80 and D70 didn't have enough weight to dampen the vibrations from the mirror. I did find that placing a bean bag (approx 2lbs) along the top of the lens allowed me to get sharp shots at any speed with any camera but that is awkward in practice.
    If you have the grip for your D300 it should be heavy enough.
    Regarding the AF vs AF-S, The AF version is quite slow and is really only useful on cameras with powerful focusing motors like the F4s and F5. However, if you don't rely on autofocus then the AF version would be worth considering because of the price difference.
    I will second everyone elses comments on the tripod collar. It is junk. I have the Kirk replacement for it.
    Hope this helps.
  13. A peripheral, but I hope related, query - and I know Shun will "gong" me if it's thought I'm off-thread.
    I, too, have the 300mm F4 AF-S - and recommend it very highly, although the recommendation would come with the words 'monopod' or 'tripod' attached. (Use - hobbyist birds, including BIF, and other wildlife with D7000 + 1.4 extender. I simply don't spend enough time in the gym with weights to handhold this for long.)
    However, many of the other respondents recommend ditching the Nikkor lens collar and switching to the Kirk.
    But - and here's the question - if I'm happily hooked up to the Manfrotto system, would not switching to Kirk mean a whole different set of plates, etc? (Arca Swiss, etc.?)
    Again - apologies if I have hijacked the thread in any way.
  14. Hi Chris,
    Thanks for your comments and no need to apologize since I had similar doubts in my mind. I have a Gitzo tripod with a Manfrotto ball head and I'd be very reluctant to switch to the Arca Swiss system.
  15. lwg


    The Really right stuff collar fort his lens works very well. It also has a removable foot that's compatible with the 70-200 VR (first version). The included foot also has a threaded hole so you could add the Manfrotto plate to the foot. I don't know about the Kirk version.
    This is my favorite lens. It's fantastic for how close it can focus, and it's very sharp on the D800E, even with the TC14E.
  16. I've no personal experience with this, but if you're feeling locked into the Manfrotto system, have you looked at the Manfrotto 293 telephoto lens support? (It seems to hold the end of the lens and clamp the camera.) I've no idea whether the combination would be as stable as the Kirk multi-support replacement collar, and it's certainly not as specialised to the lens, but it might solve your problem.

    For what it's worth, I'm just moving to Arca-Swiss plates, including an L-plate for my camera. The RRS replacement lens feet and L-plates still seem (I hope) to have threaded holes that would take a Manfrotto plate - I may be relying on that when it comes to mounting my 200 f/2 on my MF393 (not that this is a "normal" Manfrotto plate) and also wanting to stick it on an Arca-Swiss head, and for my Manfrotto macro rail (also not a hex plate, admittedly). Depending on your configuration, it may be possible to switch systems more incrementally than you'd think. It's a bit hard to see from their illustration, but it looks as though the Kirk 300 f/4 collar might be similarly equipped with a threaded hole. [Edit: LG got in while I was called away mid-message, but I'm reassured that the RRS holes are what I expect!]
  17. Avishek, I am very happy with my 300m f/4 ED-IF AF (not AFS) on the D300. I shoot birds, once in a while BIF. Generally, I'll use a monopod, but not always. If you are concerned about cost/value, you can buy and sell this lens without losing money. Or, rent the AFS version for a weekend and see how much you like it.
  18. The Kirk collar does have a threaded hole.
  19. Thanks, Nick - good to know if I get one of these!
  20. Hi Sebastian,
    The only reason I wanted the AFS version was because of its compatibility with the TC-14E. 300mm (or 450mm) might be a bit on the shorter side for me.
    This excellent thread has got me thinking and I wonder if I am barking up the wrong tree by going after the "better" optics of the 300mm f4 vs my Sigma 150-500mm.
    I revisited some of my shots and the speeds are all well short of 1/500.
    And I am quite surprised at the sharpness of the shot even at the low speed. Add to that the fact that I actually shot it at 500mm from a boat that was constantly bobbing around in the water. I did use a monopod with a ball head. Mild sharpening applied in PS, but the picture was still quite sharp (to my eye) even before sharpening.
    I wonder if I would be better off sticking to my Sigma and investing in a camera with better high ISO performance instead (like the D800)? Also investing in better lens support.
    Many thanks to all for this excellent discussion.
  21. I had used the 300mm for about 3 years and mostly with tc's. All I can say is that 300mm + tc-14e is the best affordable lens combo for wildlife and bird photography in Nikon's line-up. Comments as "vr doesn't work for BIF" is not really true. One of the advantages of vr is to stabilize the view which is very important for BIF shots. If you need to shoot with slow shutter speeds such as those less than 1/500sec, then make sure you place the lens on a very stable tripod or a beanbag, then use the remote shutter with the camera set in the quiet mode (or the mirror up mode) so that the shutter slap can not create vibrations. This way, you can go down to 1/60 sec. or less, and still get sharp results. I expect the vr version of this lens to be announced soon, but it is not worth waiting in general, it may take years, who knows.
    The next jump would be the 500, 600 or 800mm options. Of these three, I would recommend the 500mm f/4 vr, bacause this is the lightest and the least expensive of the three and can be use with tc's when necessary, especially the tc-14e performs wonderfully with this lens. You can also get the non-vr version of the 500 which would cost you even much less which is a very smart option in fact, if you can find one. The reason I am emphasizing on the 500mm is that if you really like taking bird pictures, then one day you will want to upgrade this 300mm, and you will end up selling this lens and buying one of the exotic teles, so if you can afford, get the 500 or 600 now, and don't waste extra money later. If you can't, then buy the 300mm, and don't bother much with vr, this is a wonderfull lens.
  22. I have used Sigma 150-500mm in Canon mount, and at 500mm it was too soft. Nikon 300mm AF-S is very sharp even with 1.4x mounted and still quite sharp with 1.7x.
    FWIW, despite the bad press that 80-400 gets, it is not so bad. I have this lens and it works quite well in the field.
  23. If I stick to crop sensor bodies, then the 300 with the 1.4 tc is already a 600mm lens and I think that's great reach.

    The sigma is a 750 on my D300, so I don't really have to use it at 500mm.....I can shoot at 400 and crop. I did notice that
    it isn't super sharp at 500, but my copy isn't that bad.

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