Nikon lenses: 70-200 vs 70-180 micro

Started Jul 26, 2012 | Discussions thread
OP David H Dennis Regular Member • Posts: 293
Re: Butterflies... Nikon lenses, tips, tricks and misc - Part-1.

Wow, thanks for all the detailed information!

My previous camera was a D300. The main reason I bought the D4 was for the high ISO capabilities, but I also love the high speed and overall feel of the pro body. I consider it well worth the money, but it was undeniably expensive. It's quite a bit lighter than the D3S - really, it's not much heavier than a D300 when you're using a pro lens like the 70-200. Get a softer strap than Nikon's - I found it made a world of difference in the amount of neck strain I get.

I understand the D700 is somewhere between the D300 and D4 in low light performance, so I think I would save my pennies for it instead of compromising with the D300S. You might also want to consider a used D3S - they are workhorse cameras and have a significantly longer lifespan than the D700. Try one in the store and you might get hooked like I did. The high ISO ability isn't much different from the D4, but the D4 focuses better and has much better video capability. I have taken some really nice video with the D4.

The D4 is big and heavy and so it would be pretty tough to carry two bodies, although of course high-end professionals do it all the time.

I have not been able to get close enough to the the butterflies to crop well in camera. The 24-70 has too wide a field of view, and my 70-300 (old-style, non-VR cheapie) has too long a minimum focusing distance. Autofocus has never worked well for the butterflies because the camera doesn't realize they are the subject since they are so small in the frame. This is why I'm pretty excited about the 70-180 - I expect to focus manually, so sluggish autofocus won't be too much of a problem.

I enthusiastically endorse your idea of optimizing the viewpoint to get floral backgrounds. This is particularly important for venues like Butterfly World where there is a lot of concrete in back of the butterflies. When I see a butterfly that's not going to leave immediately, I always try to move around so I can get to the more attractive backgrounds. Unfortunately that is not always possible for the really skittish butterflies like the Blue Morpho (which is the second butterfly in my first set of shots).

I have never used a polarizer before - but I don't think I suffer from excessive reflections or blown out highlights in my photos, either, due to the incredible dynamic range of the D4. So that may be a problem my equipment solves on its own.

Excellent advice about spooking butterflies - they always want to return. I encountered that same situation yesterday in my neighbor's back yard where I took the last two photos (the second being a more processed version of the first). I spent an hour chasing butterflies and they always left but returned shortly thereafter. Eventually one landed for more than a few seconds and I got my shot. I got it with the 24-70 and I was able to get pretty close to the butterfly. This is a situation where I think the 70-180mm would have really helped.

Have you used the 70-200 f/2.8 or is it just a lens you'd like to own? I'm curious because I'd like to know if the roughly 4.5 foot focusing distance helped you much compared to the 4.9 foot focusing distance of the 70-300. The 70-200 is really, really expensive, but it's a general purpose lens and one part of me would rather have it than the extreme specialist 70-180, which really is designed essentially for butterfly/insect shooting and nothing else. Everything but the focusing distance (and price, of course) is far superior in the 70-200.

If there was something I could put in front of the lens to make it adjust to closer focusing, that would be great, but the extension tubes and bellows seem really clumsy. I'd appreciate your thoughts.

Thanks again!


 David H Dennis's gear list:David H Dennis's gear list
Leica Q Leica X-U (Typ 113) Nikon D4 Fujifilm X-T1 Nikon D5 +5 more
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