Help with Nikon telephoto lens purchase, retired MF models vs new with VR + AF

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Lostsole
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Help with Nikon telephoto lens purchase, retired MF models vs new with VR + AF
5 months ago

Hi all,

I'm shooting a lot of gigapixel landscapes this summer and am looking to get more reach for more resolution, such as 500-600mm. Like anyone, I want to save money if I can on a lens purchase. Here is the scenario.

I will be using the D810, on a Nodal Ninja Ultimate M-2 with RD-8 II rotator (may use rotator with gimball head if the lens I get is too big for M-2) Tripod is aluminum and heavy duty.

Anyway, besides just gigapixel shooting, many of the shots will include focus stacking, so accuracy is paramount. I will be doing all I can to minimize vibrations, mirror lock up, cable release, etc., to avoid blur in shots. I will be using an on camera monitor now that the new D810's live view is workable.

I know the newer Nikon super tele lenses have VR and can sense being on a tripod, so to me that would be very helpful in ensuring sharpness. However, those lenses are super spendy. I can get retired lenses off Ebay that are manual focus for a fraction of the price. Most of what I do is manual focus and manual settings anyway. That said, I worry if lacking the VR will cost me some photos within the gigapixel images due to some random things, bumps, wind, etc., that the VR would have saved me on.

For any who have used the older lenses, are my worries unfounded or not given slow and careful technique? So, go for a cheapie with manual focus only, no VR OR is VR +AF the way to go for a lot more money?

I'll add that the shoots will be on trips away from home so I will often only get one shot to get it right and can't get a do over.

Also, have you found the older lenses to be as sharp or do the new coatings and glass on modern lenses really make a big difference?

Thanks for any advice!

Nikon D810
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