telephoto lens for D7100, new Tamron/Sigma or used Nikon?

Started Aug 16, 2013 | Questions thread
The Big One
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Re: telephoto lens for D7100, new Tamron/Sigma or used Nikon?
In reply to MikeHS, Aug 19, 2013

I have a Sigma 150-500, after trying out a number of options.  Short story is, I like it.

Long story: I started out on Nikon with a manual focus Tamron 300/2.8, which was optically quite good at f/4 but was not great at f/2.8.

I figured, why bother with that huge lens when it was not great wide open, so sold it and got a Nikon 300/4 AF (i.e. the older one).  Optically good, but focus was a bit strange on my D7000 (not sure if it was the body or the lens).  Also, I found that I missed zoom: for my widlife photos, a fixed focal length makes some things very difficult if not impossible (e.g. changing the framing on an animal).

I then found a Sigma 100-300/4 locally, and picked that up.  When I shot it right it was great: at least as sharp as the Nikon prime.  However, it was hard to shoot, and again focus errors (most likely on the D7000, since it was happening with multiple lenses now) were causing me grief.

I eventually sold that one, and was without a telephoto lens for a while.  During this time I sent my camera in for AF adjustment.  Nikon says they did something, and while I still have to do some focus fine tuning, the consistency seems to have improved.

I was looking at different options, including 70-300 (Tamron or Nikon: both looked good, but I wanted the ability to get beyond 300, either through a TC or zoom), Sigma 150-500, Sigma 50-500, and Nikon 300/4 AF-S.

Luckily I have a great local store which carries all three of those lenses, so I went in and tried them all out.  I was expecting to find the 300/4 + 1.7x TC (to get to 500mm) to be superior, but it actually wasn't: the Sigma's actually pulled ahead (!).  Between the 150-500 and 50-500, I found that there was essentially no difference in IQ, at least for those copies, and so picked the cheaper lens.  (I would have liked going wide to 50mm, but couldn't justify the extra $500ish for that convenience alone).

So, I ended up getting the 150-500.  It may not be as sharp as some of the exotics and perhaps the new 80-400, but for the price you are getting a lot of lens.  Yes, it is heavy, but I have no problems handholding it: just keep your shutter speed up (which for me is not a problem, since with wildlife you need a fast shutter speed even if you have VR, since animals like small birds and such move very quickly).

You can look through some of my other threads for sample images with this lens.

Hope it helps!

Cheers

 The Big One's gear list:The Big One's gear list
Nikon D60 Nikon D7000 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G II Nikon AF Nikkor 24mm f/2.8D Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D +4 more
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