Shooting the moon 55-200mm VR or 70-300mm VR

Started Sep 25, 2007 | Discussions
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perch New Member • Posts: 20
Shooting the moon 55-200mm VR or 70-300mm VR

hey everyone,

i was considering the 55-200mm VR or the 70-300mm VR. i think everyone would agree that the 70-300mm VR is the better of the two lenses, but it is substantially more expensive.

i need this lens for all around shooting, but i have been thinking about how much i would like to photograph the moon.
would the 55-200mm VR be sufficient to get a good shot, reasonably close?
do i need to shell out the extra cash the get the 70-300?
opinions on the shorter end of these lenses? 55 and 70, sharpness, usefulness?
are they good for portraits? how is the bokeh?
really any comments on these two lenses would be appreciated.

does anyone have a good shot of the moon with the 55-200mm VR? i have seen some with the 70-300mm VR and i was very impressed.

thanks!

kewlguy Senior Member • Posts: 1,761
Re: Shooting the moon 55-200mm VR or 70-300mm VR

About the moon;

You'll need at least 800mm to have the moon large enough in an APS-size sensor. A 600mm might do it, but the image should be cropped, and some details lost.

One of my best moon image was taken using a 800 f/5.7 semi-APO telescope paired to Kenko 2x TC (effectively 1,600mm). I've taken some using a 770mm f/7 APO telescope too.

This one below is taken at 1,600mm (uncropped full image) - with slightly bad atmospheric condition (high humidity/haze):

This one's taken with 770/7 ED telescope with 0.8x reducer (616mm f/5.6):

This is with cheap 910mm f/11.4 achromatic telescope at ISO1600:

Just my 2 cents,

Winston
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gmosc Veteran Member • Posts: 5,950
Re: Shooting the moon 55-200mm VR or 70-300mm VR

Gee,

I think it's fun to be able to "shoot the moon" but gosh, it's a small part of why you have a lens. As you mention cost is a big factor (for me too!) and then there is size, zoom range, VR, etc...

consider the other reasons for getting the lens before shooting the moon. If the lens that best suits your normal shooting isn't good for moon shots, then simply enjoy other people's moonshots. What makes your photos special are often the people you shoot (family and friends). If you are a pet person then shoot your pet. There are millions of moonshots but far fewer of your family friends pets, etc.

By the way, by chance, I shot jupiter and got the 3 of it's moons using my (now deceased) panasonic FZ-20. I've considered trying it with my D50 and i thought it would be better and easier. I haven't gotten around to it, and the few shots I tried didn't surpass the few that i tried with my panasonic. Of course I could pay lots and get the shot, but in the end it's was fun stumbling upon Jupiter and it's moons, Trying to get those snowballs to look like sharp points of lights would best be done with astronomy tools (telescopes, motorized tripods etc.) But in the end they would still only be points of light.

Nothing special but here it is..

Go ahead and ask more questions about which lens might best suit you based on your other needs, lots of people will be willing to help.

Guy Moscoso

fraserj1 Senior Member • Posts: 2,565
Re: Shooting the moon 55-200mm VR or 70-300mm VR

perch wrote:

hey everyone,
i was considering the 55-200mm VR or the 70-300mm VR. i think
everyone would agree that the 70-300mm VR is the better of the two
lenses, but it is substantially more expensive.
i need this lens for all around shooting, but i have been thinking
about how much i would like to photograph the moon.
would the 55-200mm VR be sufficient to get a good shot, reasonably
close?
do i need to shell out the extra cash the get the 70-300?
opinions on the shorter end of these lenses? 55 and 70, sharpness,
usefulness?
are they good for portraits? how is the bokeh?
really any comments on these two lenses would be appreciated.
does anyone have a good shot of the moon with the 55-200mm VR? i
have seen some with the 70-300mm VR and i was very impressed.

thanks!

Once you've taken 5 or 10 shots of the moon in its different phases, how many more will you want to take? Don't let that one limited application be the primary reason you buy or don't buy a lens. Here are some reviews for each of the lenses mentioned:

http://www.photozone.de/8Reviews/lenses/nikkor_55200_456vr/index.htm

http://www.photozone.de/8Reviews/lenses/nikkor_70300_4556vr/index.htm

By the way, 200mm is way too short for moon images, and 300mm, while better, isn't very good either.

Cameranserai Contributing Member • Posts: 609
Re: Shooting the moon 55-200mm VR or 70-300mm VR

Damned if I can find the picture but I got a good shot quite cheaply - an old 500mm mirror Nikon. They go for peanuts these days but are great fun.

perch OP New Member • Posts: 20
Re: Shooting the moon 55-200mm VR or 70-300mm VR

Winston,
Amazing shots!

As for the advice that i shouldnt purchase a lens for taking only a few pictures of the moon, i agree. some of this started because i was looking at some sample shots taken by users at amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/customer-images/B000HJPK2C/sr=1-1/qid=1190750578/ref=cm_ciu_pdp_images_0/103-7806445-0391808?ie=UTF8&s=photo&index=0&qid=1190750578&sr=1-1#gallery
i was very intrigued that such a lens would be capable of the shots i saw.

i am not looking to buy a lens solely for this purpose. however, since i am debating between the two (knowing that 70-300 is better, but the 55-200 is cheaper) such a use might sway me to purchase the 70-300mm. if the 55-200mm were capable then i would prefer to save the money (of course). at any rate, i would be shooting with the d40x. would a cropped version of a photo taken at the "sweet spot" of a lenses zoom help?

thanks to all that respond. i am new here and am amazed at how helpful everyone is.

basically, i have heard that neither is appropriate exactly, but based on what i have seen the 70-300 does achieve good results.

on a different note, does any have any experience with the Phoenix 500mm f/8 Telephoto Lens with Mount for Nikon? or any similar item?
again thanks

perch OP New Member • Posts: 20
Re: Shooting the moon 55-200mm VR or 70-300mm VR

winston,

are you referring to the Kenko 420-800mm f/8.3-16 Vari Super Telephoto Zoom Lens with Mount for Nikon? does it come with the 2x converter? have you found any other practical uses for it? have you shot anything else celestial besides the moon? how do you think it would function on a d40x?

thanks

Boris
Boris Veteran Member • Posts: 9,257
Re: Shooting the moon 55-200mm VR or 70-300mm VR

You will need a lot more reach. Here is one I took last night... D200, Nikkor 500mm f4P ,tc300 2x and tc14E 1.4x...wind hindered getting a really sharp one.
Boris

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perch OP New Member • Posts: 20
Re: Shooting the moon 55-200mm VR or 70-300mm VR

great shot boris!

Mattstrib New Member • Posts: 10
Re: Shooting the moon 55-200mm VR or 70-300mm VR

Hi, Here is a photo I took earlier this eveing using the 18-200 VR @ 200. Not enough reach for a good picture.

Regards

Matt

perch OP New Member • Posts: 20
Re: Shooting the moon 55-200mm VR or 70-300mm VR

Hey Matt,
was the picture taken handheld or on a tripod? and how much did you crop it?

thanks

does anyone else have experience taking moon shots with either the 55-200mmVR or 70-300 VR?

kewlguy Senior Member • Posts: 1,761
Re: Shooting the moon 55-200mm VR or 70-300mm VR

No, I meant the 2x Teleconverter Pro from Kenko for Nikon mount. It doubles the focal length of your lens (thus cuts the light by half).

DSLRs in astro are usable for moon and solar on static tripod/mount. On motorized tracking mount, DSLRs are used to take deep sky objects pics (talking about exposure as short as 30 sec to hours without any star trail).

As for planets, you'd need a webcam or dedicated CCD cameras capable of taking 30fps video.

If astro is not your goal, don't bother. Between 70-300 and 55-200, pick the one with better optical performance. Neither will be usable for moon and sun (only with special filter!). BUT, any camera lens (from as wide as 17mm to 200mm) is usable for taking wide field shots in astro. Again, the rule of thumb for non-trailing star is 320/focal length (in DX format) or 500/focal length (in full frame). For longer exposure you'll need a tracking mount.

Nikon D40X is a superb camera with great image quality. Always go for the best lenses you can afford
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fraserj1 Senior Member • Posts: 2,565
Re: Shooting the moon 55-200mm VR or 70-300mm VR

perch wrote:

Hey Matt,
was the picture taken handheld or on a tripod? and how much did you
crop it?

thanks

does anyone else have experience taking moon shots with either the
55-200mmVR or 70-300 VR?

There is a big difference between this 18-200 VR image and the one made with the 500mm w/ TCs - the one made with the 18-200 isn't as sharp as the one made with the 500mm, plus the image itself is much smaller than the one made with the 500mm. If the 180-200 VR was the same size as the 500mm image, you would see a significant quality difference between the two.

The comparison, in other words, is not apples to apples.

Mattstrib New Member • Posts: 10
Re: Shooting the moon 55-200mm VR or 70-300mm VR

Hi, It was taken using a tripodand and cropped at 1:1. So like fraserj1 said in the previous posting you will need a much greated focal length to get a good image.

Regards

Matt

digislr Veteran Member • Posts: 6,088
My 70-300VR moon shot from 45 min ago....

Honestly, 300mm is not good enough for great shots of the moon. Here is what you can expect with the 70-300 VR - This was handheld 45 min ago. Walked outside, spot metered, ISO400, snapped, walked in and opeed the JPEG in PS. Here it is resized.

Its sharp and detailed but not close enough. I can do a 100% crop, but it gets pretty soft at that point. Actually the image below was more than a 100% crop. I upsized the image to a 24MP file and then cropped and slightly resized. If you want to shoot the moon, get a 80-400 plus extenders - and if you want to get real close, use a telescope.

perch OP New Member • Posts: 20
Re: My 70-300VR moon shot from 45 min ago....

digislr wrote:

Honestly, 300mm is not good enough for great shots of the moon. Here
is what you can expect with the 70-300 VR - This was handheld 45 min
ago. Walked outside, spot metered, ISO400, snapped, walked in and
opeed the JPEG in PS. Here it is resized.

that picture looks good to me. i am not expecting to have the moon completely fill the frame. i am just left confused how the user photos of the 70-300mm VR on amazon got the pictures they did.

Its sharp and detailed but not close enough. I can do a 100% crop,
but it gets pretty soft at that point. Actually the image below was
more than a 100% crop. I upsized the image to a 24MP file and then
cropped and slightly resized. If you want to shoot the moon, get a
80-400 plus extenders - and if you want to get real close, use a
telescope.

thanks for your help, i enjoyed looking at your website.
thanks everyone that has posted

fraserj1 Senior Member • Posts: 2,565
Re: My 70-300VR moon shot from 45 min ago....

perch wrote:

that picture looks good to me. i am not expecting to have the moon
completely fill the frame. i am just left confused how the user
photos of the 70-300mm VR on amazon got the pictures they did.

Those Amazon images are cropped significantly, that's why the moon looks so large in the frame. Here is a full image of the moon made with a 300mm lens:

And here is one of the ones from Amazon that you're talking about:

Peter Clark55 Regular Member • Posts: 325
Re: shooting the moon with the Tamron 200-500

I use the Tamron 200-500 with a tripod from my Provence terrace when the mistral has cleared the air. A clear sky is essential.

You can see a shot at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/peter555/

The flickr display is not very good, I'm afraid, it looks better on my conputer.

Peter Clark

Peter Clark55 Regular Member • Posts: 325
Re: Shooting the moon 55-200mm VR or 70-300mm VR

Boris, wonderful shots, much better than my Tamron 200-500, but then the lens is much, much more expensive!

Peter Clark

perch OP New Member • Posts: 20
Re: shooting the moon with the Tamron 200-500

Peter Clark55 wrote:

I use the Tamron 200-500 with a tripod from my Provence terrace when
the mistral has cleared the air. A clear sky is essential.

You can see a shot at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/peter555/

The flickr display is not very good, I'm afraid, it looks better on
my conputer.

Peter Clark

nice shot, how far zoomed in were you?
you have a 70-300 VR, right? have you tried that on the moon?

peter

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