Absolute sharpest Nikon lens between 100mm and 300mm under $1000 used?

Started Jun 4, 2013 | Discussions
RudyPohl
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Absolute sharpest Nikon lens between 100mm and 300mm under $1000 used?
Jun 4, 2013

I'm looking for a crazy-sharp, medium telephoto lens under $1000 on the used market. Is the 105 micro the way to go, or the 300 f4, or are there other lenses to consider?

Thanks,

Rudy

FujicaST605
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Re: Absolute sharpest Nikon lens between 100mm and 300mm under $1000 used?
In reply to RudyPohl, Jun 4, 2013

Another to consider would be the 180 F2.8 AF-D.

Not sure which is the sharpest, but I would guess the 105, but any of them should work fine.

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StillLearning
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Re: Absolute sharpest Nikon lens between 100mm and 300mm under $1000 used?
In reply to RudyPohl, Jun 4, 2013

You narrowed it down with $1000 limit.  But the 105 micro would probably be your sharpest for under 6 feet.  The 105 f2 DC would hold it's own with it after 6 feet to 20 feet and probably better after to infiinity. Remember the micro lenses are designed for optimum for close up not infinity.  That's all I use mine for.

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PHXAZCRAIG
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Re: Absolute sharpest Nikon lens between 100mm and 300mm under $1000 used?
In reply to RudyPohl, Jun 4, 2013

Probably any of the macros in that range are 'sharpest'.   But maybe only at close focus distance.

What's the application?

Chasing 'the best' in a narrow definition like 'sharpest' is actually pretty silly.    You need to couple your request with a specific type of subject, and shooting condition.   I'd be looking for 'sharp enough for me'.

But, in general, 'sharpest' is going to be a prime, stopped down a bit, shot on a D800e, at base ISO and a close-ish distance, used on a tripod with a fast shutter speed and mirror-up, remote release...

Nikon 105, Sigma 150, Sigma 180, Nikon 200F2, 300F2.8 all come to mine.

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RudyPohl
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Re: Absolute sharpest Nikon lens between 100mm and 300mm under $1000 used?
In reply to PHXAZCRAIG, Jun 4, 2013

PHXAZCRAIG wrote:

Probably any of the macros in that range are 'sharpest'.   But maybe only at close focus distance.

What's the application?

Chasing 'the best' in a narrow definition like 'sharpest' is actually pretty silly.    You need to couple your request with a specific type of subject, and shooting condition.   I'd be looking for 'sharp enough for me'.

But, in general, 'sharpest' is going to be a prime, stopped down a bit, shot on a D800e, at base ISO and a close-ish distance, used on a tripod with a fast shutter speed and mirror-up, remote release...

Nikon 105, Sigma 150, Sigma 180, Nikon 200F2, 300F2.8 all come to mine.

Right now I have a 70-300 VR and by careful focusing and PPing I am getting some fairly decent results in terms of sharpness.

My shoot buddy just bought the Nikon 70-200 F4 VR and I almost stopped breathing when I saw the sharpness of the images it produces yesterday afternoon out at a wildlife area.

BUT, I can't afford the $1400 plus taxes this puppy costs, so I'm looking for alternative solutions.

My 70-300 VR is already pretty sharp on my keepers so if I'm going to buy anything additional it would have to be significantly sharper with a higher keeper rate. If it can double as a macro lens that would be good, but it also has to be really sharp for subjects 5-75 feet away too.

And finally, I have to be able to get one used for under $1000. (If cost was not an issue I would likely buy the new 80-400 VR II).

Thanks for help guys,

Rudy

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StillLearning
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Re: Absolute sharpest Nikon lens between 100mm and 300mm under $1000 used?
In reply to RudyPohl, Jun 4, 2013

Okay now I know what you want it for.  If you can find a good used 300 F4 that would probably fill the bill.  A new one would run around 1100 to 1200.  You could add a tc 1.4 and not lose much quality for a 420 F5.6 lens.  I wouldn't put a TC 2X on a 105 micro but it will handle a tc 1.4X fine.  But that leaves you at about half your 70-300 at the long end.  70-300's vary from sample to sample.  Mine was okay but my brothers was superb.

Remember your D7100 can expose a weakness in many lenses.

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RudyPohl
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Re: Absolute sharpest Nikon lens between 100mm and 300mm under $1000 used?
In reply to StillLearning, Jun 4, 2013

StillLearning wrote:

Okay now I know what you want it for.  If you can find a good used 300 F4 that would probably fill the bill.  A new one would run around 1100 to 1200.  You could add a tc 1.4 and not lose much quality for a 420 F5.6 lens.  I wouldn't put a TC 2X on a 105 micro but it will handle a tc 1.4X fine.  But that leaves you at about half your 70-300 at the long end.  70-300's vary from sample to sample.  Mine was okay but my brothers was superb.

Remember your D7100 can expose a weakness in many lenses.

A new 300 f4 here in Ottawa costs $1400 plus 13% taxes = $1585.

Besides, I'm not necessarily wanted to replace my 70-300 VR as it is an exceptionally good copy, pretty sharp when you nail the focus.

But I'm thinking about getting something significantly sharper for shooting closer subjects likes pets, fairly tame water birds like ducks and geese, birds at feeding stations (minus the feeders), AND if I could get a macro capability thrown into the mix for the same price that would be a bonus as I would enjoy doing macros.

So maybe, a better question would be this: Does the 105 f2.8 micro produce razor sharpness on a subject 30-50 feet away, or only on really close subjects like flowers and bugs? I don't know because I have never used a macro lens.

Thanks,

Rudy

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StillLearning
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Re: Absolute sharpest Nikon lens between 100mm and 300mm under $1000 used?
In reply to RudyPohl, Jun 4, 2013

Even though it is optimum for closeup the 105vr will will exceed the sharpness of your 70-300vr beyond closeup. I had a 70-300 for a number of years along with the 105vr.    I think you would be more than satisfied with it's results.  Warning: If you use the 105vr for the adult face , don't be surprised if you see more pores then you bargained for.

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Iain G Foulds
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Re: Absolute sharpest Nikon lens between 100mm and 300mm under $1000 used?
In reply to RudyPohl, Jun 4, 2013

... Come on Rudy. You are just stalling.

... 70-200 F4. Crazy sharp,versatile, and the 300 F4 is 50% heavier.

... $1000 is just an arbitrary line.

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LarryPhoto
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Re: Absolute sharpest Nikon lens between 100mm and 300mm under $1000 used?
In reply to FujicaST605, Jun 4, 2013

I agree, unless you are good at manual focus, then the Nikon 180 F2.8 AIS ED is pretty good too.

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PHXAZCRAIG
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Re: Absolute sharpest Nikon lens between 100mm and 300mm under $1000 used?
In reply to RudyPohl, Jun 4, 2013

OK, look for a used 300F4 AF-D, the version prior to the AF-S model.   That will be under $1000, AF on bodies with screwdriver focus motors, has excellent optics, has a good tripod mount, etc.

It can be used with a Kenko 1.4 TC to get 420mm of excellent sharpness.

As far as I know, it's about as sharp as the AF-S version, which is excellent all around.    I imagine it would blow away the 70-300vr, plus do it with a much wider aperture.

Shorter than that, you might be able to find a 180F2.8 AF-D.   Possibly a long Sigma macro, though I don't know how well they perform at non-macro distances.

If you are trying to do birds, and only have 300mm to start with, you'll need excellent optics to crop heavily.    I don't think you should try to go for even shorter focal lengths...   The 300F4 is where you need to be.

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blue_cheese
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Re: Absolute sharpest Nikon lens between 100mm and 300mm under $1000 used?
In reply to Iain G Foulds, Jun 4, 2013

Iain G Foulds wrote:

... Come on Rudy. You are just stalling.

... 70-200 F4. Crazy sharp,versatile, and the 300 F4 is 50% heavier.

... $1000 is just an arbitrary line.

It is true, if you have your heart set on something, anything less you will always view as a compromise and the little voice will never stop nagging you. You may end up spending money now and still end up with the 70-200 down the road, consider what you want/need and just get it upfront, stalling wont do you good.

I agree though that the 70-200 seems a bit overpriced.

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JimPearce
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No Craig, it was never a D lens...
In reply to PHXAZCRAIG, Jun 4, 2013

It's the 300 f4 EDIF-AF. Very well built, sharp and takes a Kenko/Tamron Pro 1.4x TC very well. But decidedly slow focusing.

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Jim

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JimPearce
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You're going down the wrong path here Rudy...
In reply to RudyPohl, Jun 4, 2013

What you need is to get to 400mm minimum, and no 70-200 plus TC is the right way to get there. The road to bird photography (with Nikon) is definitely a 300 f4 plus TC. And you 70-300 VR isn't as good as you think it is.

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Iain G Foulds
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Photographing or Birding?
In reply to RudyPohl, Jun 4, 2013

.  The thing is that Rudy wasn't asking about a "birding" lens, but a sharp, versatile lens.

There is a difference between going out photographing- alert and open to all opportunities, or going out birding. The 300F4 is not a lens to go out photographing, and it is too heavy to enjoy carrying around for hours. Which is why I traded mine for the 70-200F4.

Jim is right for birding, but not for photographing.

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Deleted-pending
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You might have a look at older AIS lenses
In reply to RudyPohl, Jun 4, 2013

the 135mm 2.8 AIS is absolutely fantastic, the 105mm 2.8 micro is one of the sharpest modern lenses on the market. I was frankly extremely surprised by the new 18-300mm VRII lens (300$ rebate right now), it is amazingly sharp from centre to edge.

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JimPearce
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Well, it's good to be clear about your objectives Iain...
In reply to Iain G Foulds, Jun 4, 2013

If I were a landscape photographer, I'd be interested in the 70-200 f4 VR. As I'm not, my 70-200 f2.8 VR will do if I'm shooting autumn leaves (for instance). But I don't reach for my 70-200 when I intend to shoot birds except as a backup lens in the blind for birds that stray too close. Of course, there are places (in Florida for instance) where you can do very well with a 70-200 at certain times of day. I've always admired the photographers who can handle a larger, tripod-mounted lens and body and a separate body with a shorter lens on it at the same time. But even then, the lens is likely to be a 100-400 IS Canon.

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Jim

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PHXAZCRAIG
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Re: No Craig, it was never a D lens...
In reply to JimPearce, Jun 4, 2013

I stand corrected.

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JimPearce
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Sorry to be pedantic Craig...
In reply to PHXAZCRAIG, Jun 4, 2013

We're on the same page here. I still miss mine: my brother has it, and I've never found the 70-200 VR that ousted it from my kit nearly as useful. I think it can be had used for $500 to $600.

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Jim

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padavid
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Re: Absolute sharpest Nikon lens between 100mm and 300mm under $1000 used?
In reply to RudyPohl, Jun 4, 2013

RudyPohl wrote:

I'm looking for a crazy-sharp, medium telephoto lens under $1000 on the used market. Is the 105 micro the way to go, or the 300 f4, or are there other lenses to consider?

Thanks,

Rudy

Other than the AF-S 300 f/4 with/without TC14, I'd go with a Sigma 150 Macro (pre-OS), but good luck finding one used for a Nikon. The people that do have them, don't get rid of them.

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dave

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