Need Advice on Birding Lens : Nikon 500/4 or ???

Started Aug 24, 2006 | Discussions
Jola013
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Need Advice on Birding Lens : Nikon 500/4 or ???
Aug 24, 2006

I would love to get a nice birding lens, but they are really too expensive for me. I presently use a 300/4AFS + TC1.7, and this is often OK, but I would like to get something better.

I have considered the Nikon 500/4, but for that sort of money I would like it too have VR. Or is that silly, its probably too heavy to handhold, but I may use it in a car, etc, so it would still be useful.

So what do I get ? The Nikon is really too expensive, and the Sigma is too close in price to the Nikon, it's just not worth it, also in terms of resale value.

Other ideas / good advice ?

ExposureMeter
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Look at the Sigma 500mm f4.5 (nt)
In reply to Jola013, Aug 24, 2006

Much cheaper and very good.
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Hokum
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Sigma 500 f4.5 or 50-500?
In reply to Jola013, Aug 24, 2006

The sigma is a different beast to the nikon, lighter and smaller, and much better to hand hold.

If you want a cheaper more portable option the sigma 50-500 may be worth a look, or if you need VR the 80-400.
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Andy in the uk
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Re: Look at the Sigma 500mm f4.5 (nt)
In reply to ExposureMeter, Aug 24, 2006

Precisely, superb lens. You can get a used non DG version (but make sure it's EX HSM) for great prices.
Read here for more info on what I regard as the best affordable prime for birds
http://www.digiscoped.com/Sigma500.html

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Jola013
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Starting To Think That ...
In reply to Hokum, Aug 24, 2006

The Sigma 500/4.5 is the way to go.

I guess that means that I will have to get new TC's as well ?

I have Nikon 1.4 and 1.7, and Kenko 2X. None of those will work, right ? So I have to buy a Sigma TC 1.4 as well ?

Hokum wrote:

The sigma is a different beast to the nikon, lighter and smaller,
and much better to hand hold.

If you want a cheaper more portable option the sigma 50-500 may be
worth a look, or if you need VR the 80-400.
--

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Jola013
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Thanks ...
In reply to Andy in the uk, Aug 24, 2006

Sound like the Sigma 500 is the way to go. Unfortunately, here where I live the second-hand market is not great I will probably have to buy new.

I have also read your article.

So you are saying that I can modify my Nikon TC1.4E to work with this lens, and AF with a D200 ? That would be great, and may swing it for me.

Andy in the uk wrote:

Precisely, superb lens. You can get a used non DG version (but make
sure it's EX HSM) for great prices.
Read here for more info on what I regard as the best affordable
prime for birds
http://www.digiscoped.com/Sigma500.html

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Nick-on till I die
http://www.digiscoped.com

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Andy in the uk
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Re: Thanks ...
In reply to Jola013, Aug 24, 2006

You shouldn't have any problems using the modified tc-14e, I certainly didn't. It will still AF fast and accurately. I couldn't vouch for the TC-17E though.

I used to recommend the Kenko Pro300 teleconverters, and certainly didn't have any problem with these with the 500/4.5 on a Nikon mount Fuji but there seems to be some compatability problems around these days with them and newer Nikon cameras. I purchased my TC-14E because a Kenko wouldn't work with the 500/4.5 and my D2x.
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Ryder
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Re: Need Advice on Birding Lens : Nikon 500/4 or ???
In reply to Jola013, Aug 24, 2006

Hi:

I bought a used Sigma 500/4.5 for 1,850usd and it is about the best $$ I've spent. If you are not in a hurry they come up on Ebay from good sellers fairly regularly or at least they used to. The new Nikon 1.4 will work with it with an adjustment.

Remember you need a gimble and good pod.
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Craig Ryder

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Jola013
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Re: Thanks ...
In reply to Andy in the uk, Aug 24, 2006

Andy in the uk wrote:

You shouldn't have any problems using the modified tc-14e, I
certainly didn't. It will still AF fast and accurately. I couldn't
vouch for the TC-17E though.

I could modify the TC-14E and then go from there. Maybe I can transfer that ring to the TC1.7E just to test it.

As for the Kenkos, I have a Pro 300 2X, so I can just try it. But I wouldn't expect wonders from that. I had it on my 70-200VR the other day and the results were terrible.

You say that using the TC-14E you lose the correct aperture and lens information (even though it works fine). I presume that you retain that information if you use a Sigma 1.4X ?

Do you know how the quality of the Nikon and Sigma TC 1.4's compare ?

I used to recommend the Kenko Pro300 teleconverters, and certainly
didn't have any problem with these with the 500/4.5 on a Nikon
mount Fuji but there seems to be some compatability problems around
these days with them and newer Nikon cameras. I purchased my TC-14E
because a Kenko wouldn't work with the 500/4.5 and my D2x.

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Jola013
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Re: Need Advice on Birding Lens : Nikon 500/4 or ???
In reply to Ryder, Aug 24, 2006

Thanks, I recently bought a nice tripod.

I would prefer to get a used Sigma 500/4.5, the problem is that the local used market is not good and it may be difficult (and risky) to get one from the US.

Remember, there is just as much risk to me as there is to the seller.

Ryder wrote:

Hi:

I bought a used Sigma 500/4.5 for 1,850usd and it is about the best
$$ I've spent. If you are not in a hurry they come up on Ebay from
good sellers fairly regularly or at least they used to. The new
Nikon 1.4 will work with it with an adjustment.

Remember you need a gimble and good pod.
--
Craig Ryder

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Hokum
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The nikon 1.4...
In reply to Jola013, Aug 24, 2006

Can be modified to work with the sigma, also it does not report to the camera so AF is preserved too.
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Andy in the uk
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Re: Thanks ...
In reply to Jola013, Aug 24, 2006

Jola013 wrote:

I could modify the TC-14E and then go from there. Maybe I can
transfer that ring to the TC1.7E just to test it.

Hmmm, not sure I'd go that far. I didn't own the TC-17 when I had the 500/4.5, but there may be more stopping it from fitting on the lens than just the small lug.

As for the Kenkos, I have a Pro 300 2X, so I can just try it. But
I wouldn't expect wonders from that. I had it on my 70-200VR the
other day and the results were terrible.

I used the Kenko 2x with 500/4.5 but manual focus was the only sensible way to use it.

You say that using the TC-14E you lose the correct aperture and
lens information (even though it works fine). I presume that you
retain that information if you use a Sigma 1.4X ?

Don't know about the Sigma tc, but they weren't known for their compatability, even with their own lenses. The camera meters fine with a Kenko, just that it doesn't go down on the exif, so it's not an issue when shooting. I was never concerned about what the exif says anyway.

Do you know how the quality of the Nikon and Sigma TC 1.4's compare ?

The Nikon TC-14E is optically invisible, the Kenko isn't far behind and the Sigma is probably about the same as the Kenko. If you have the TC-14E, I'd just chop off the lug and be happy with that.

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John Ellis
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50-500
In reply to Jola013, Aug 24, 2006

I have had a Sigma 500/4.5, a Nikon and now a Sigma 80-400 OS and two 50-500's. For all around use, the 50-500 is downrirght amazing. Mine was just about as good at 500 as my Sigma 500 prime and it is better than my Sigma 80-400OS for sharpness. Sold my N 80-400 and Sigma 500 on eBay; wish I had kept the 500, tho, as it was a beautiful piece of artwork and really looked professional. It just may have been a tad sharper at 500 than the 50-500, but unless you have them side by side, it would be hard to tell.

You won't go wrong with the 50-500, tho. Easy to travel with, too. I don't think you will be too excited about teleconverters with any of them, though. If the Sigma 500 was a f4 instead of 4.5, that would have been OK, perhaps, but AF is otherwise not much with either a Kenko or Sigma 1.4, and does not work at all with a 2X.
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Jola013
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Re: Thanks ...
In reply to Andy in the uk, Aug 24, 2006

Thanks for the advice. I'll probably just remove the lug from the TC1.4 and use that most of the time. If I really need the reach I will use the Kenko Pro 300 2X with manual focus.

Now to see if I can get the Sigma 500mm F4.5 at a decent price locally. Recommended retail seems to be about GBP2630 which is a bit steep.

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Jola013
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Sacrilege !!! Another alternative ?
In reply to Jola013, Aug 24, 2006

Considering that B&H sells the Nikon 500/4 for USD7200, what about the alternative of getting a Canon 30D (or wait for 40D) with a Canon 500/4L IS for less than the cost of the Nikon lens.

I'm not trying to be funny, but I am looking at buying a second body (D80 ?), and by doing this I get a second body, a similar lens, and IS (which I can't get from Nikon).

I obviously lose a lot of benefits that derive from having one compatible system, like the ability to use all of my good Nikon lenses on the Canon body. So the Canon body would become a birding body, and the D200 would be used for everything else.

Or is this just plain silly ?

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Andy in the uk
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Re: Thanks ...
In reply to Jola013, Aug 24, 2006

Jola013 wrote:

Now to see if I can get the Sigma 500mm F4.5 at a decent price
locally. Recommended retail seems to be about GBP2630 which is a
bit steep.

Yeah, the new 'DG' version rained on the party a bit, they were £1900, I sold my one for £1000 (should've kept it rather than selling at that price)

£2530 which includes UK 17.5% VAT is the cheapest I can see for the 'DG'

The U.K. used dealers are reputable and give limited guarantees, may be worth keeping an eye out (if they'll ship to RSA, though that wont come cheap)
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