Preventing anomalies

Discussion in 'Seeking Critique' started by G&R, Feb 11, 2021.

  1. Unfortunately, everyone that I know that's tried Sigma/Tamron for nature/wildlife has ended up moving to a high end Canon/Nikon/Sony lens to match their cameras, as soon as they can afford it. Unfortunately again, that can be very expensive. For example, a high quality 100-400mm from Sony/Nikon/Canon will set you back well over $2,000, new. To save money, I generally recommend to friends and students that they look for high quality used equipment instead of new third-party brands. Highest quality used lenses tend to hold their value, so if you by a high quality used, name brand lens for $900 and use it for two-years before moving up to something even better, you likely can sell it for $800. That's not true of bodies, but highest quality lenses tend to hold their values.

    When I shoot my Sony 100-400mm G Master lens, I'm not thinking about what focal length is weak at what aperture. I shoot without worry at whatever FL and f-stop that I need.
  2. In certain jungles, I would consider flash, but, in general, bird photography is best without flash. The OP needs to raise ISO and shutter speed and get a better lens.
  3. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    David, for bird photography, do you know how often you use the zoom on that lens as opposed to using it at 400mm?

    I ask because (my background being predominately Wedding and Portraiture), the general mantra amongst those who gave advice re what lenses were 'beginner's must have' for Weddings, almost always included the 70 to 200 F/2.8 zoom: that is not and was not my view - when most W&P photographers analysed how often they used that lens and then at what FL it appeared it was essentially used as a 200 Prime.

    Understand, I am not questioning your choices for lens purchase, rather asking your view on the value for money aspect of buying an excellent quality 300mm or 400mm Prime, (rather than a zoom) for someone starting out in bird photography.

  4. For me, it's almost 100% at the maximum focal length of the zoom. There might be 5-10% where I could have zoomed out - but there was either no time or I simply wasn't fast enough or forgot. A bit different for airshow photography - a good deal is shot towards the lower end of the zoom range - but it is often more convenient to shoot with two bodies and two lenses then instead.
    For bird photography, 300mm is often too short (even on a DX crop sensor camera). And high-quality 400mm primes that don't cost an arm and a leg are rare (Canon's 400/5.6 being one exception; their 400/4DO is almost $7k). In Nikon-land, I am unaware of any reasonably priced 400mm prime lens; the only option there is to use the 300/4PF with a TC-14 teleconverter - and that rig sets you back $2.5k! The best budget option here is the Nikon 200-500/5.6 - or any of the third party zooms that go up to 600mm. For Sony, I'd rather buy their 200-600 lens than a third-party alternative - even if the lens cost a few hundred dollars more. To me about the only advantage of using a 80/100-400 instead of one of the longer zooms is that the size and weight of the narrower-range zooms are smaller. Nikon's 500PF lens, even though at almost $4K not exactly cheap, can nonetheless be considered a bargain - there simply is no competition.

    The rule of thumb with superteles (zooms or primes) - once the diameter of the front element is 100mm or more - expect prices in the $5k+ - $12k range for new lenses.

    As David points out - some money can be saved by purchasing used - and not because high-quality optics holds its original value but because in many cases, if old enough, does not and can be purchased for a fraction of its original price tag. So a Nikon 200-400 VR1 that cost almost $5K some 10 or so years ago, can now be had for around the price of a new 80-400/4.5-5.6. Or a 300/2.8 that was in the same price range some time ago, is now available for $2k (and works quite well with a 1.4x TC). Even older (and often heavier or lacking VR) 500/4 and 600/4 lenses can be had for 1/3 of their original price. Once they are in that price category, they can be used for a couple of years and resold for almost as much as one has paid for them (which is what David already stated above).

    Please note that I did not include m4/3 in my discussion above - I don't know those systems well enough to comment. Certainly, a 300/4 on a m4/3 will be a formidable lens for bird photography - I am just not sure I would want to deal with the small m4/3 sensor here.
    dcstep and William Michael like this.
  5. WW, I almost never shoot my 100-400mm at shorter than 400mm, when shooting birds. My main rig for birds is a 600/f4 plus a 1.4x teleconverter, yielding 840mm on a full-frame body. The 100-400mm is around my neck in case a coyote or deer shows up. I use the 100-400mm quite often to shoot sunsets and landscapes, yet, the first one of those I snatched from my archive was at 400mm:

    [​IMG]Bison In Front Of Rocky Mountains by David Stephens, on Flickr

    THE lens that I started with for birding was the EF 400mm f/5.6L Canon. It was a super sharp lens, but I craved more reach and moved up to the EF 500mm f/4L in a matter of months.

    Oh, for mirrorless Canon shooters, the R-mount f/11 (fixed aperture) 600mm and 800mm are EXCELLENT values, at $600 and $800 respectively. They're light, fast-focusing and they have excellent IQ, comparable to the $13,000 lenses, IN GOOD LIGHT.
    luis triguez and William Michael like this.
  6. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Thank you, Dieter and David for replying.

    ... coincidentally, for entirely different reasons, I was looking at those two R Mount Telephoto Prime Lenses yesterday - I concur 'excellent' value for money.

    dcstep likes this.
  7. G&R


    Thank you all for sharing your knowledge and experience.

    I rummaged through my "bits box" and found a vintage HOYA 200mm and x2 teleconverter. This setup produced some CA on branches at 400mm f5.6 ISO200 1m-2m distance, but not as much. I saw no animals today except for a bee that is perhaps not an ideal subject for long distance zooms.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2021
  8. G&R


    As an aside, that old lens combo produced a fantastic portrait of my unsuspecting wife with no CA at 400mm. The focus would have been to infinity, so I wonder if focus is more impactful than zoom?
    dcstep likes this.
  9. A good zoom can be a wonderful portrait lens. I've now got a Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM, which is exceptional, but, in my Canon days, I loved my EF 70-200mm f/4L IS for portraits. That was a very versatile lens.

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