Advice on new lens for wildlife photography

Started Nov 8, 2018 | Questions thread
Phocal Veteran Member • Posts: 3,141
Re: Advice on new lens for wildlife photography

Erwin86 wrote:

Hi everyone,

I'm quite new to this forum (although I've been reading it longer than I'm registered as user), but I hope you guys can help with some advice.

I'm currently shooting with a Nikon D7000 plus an AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED as telezoom. This combination has been fine for years for me, but since I visited some national parks in Canada and USA I'm getting more and more attracted to wildlife photography. The 70-300 is a bit short on focal length plus image quality drops quite badly above 200mm. That's why I'm looking for a new lens.

I mostly shoot larger animals like deer, elk, bears etc, and sometimes also birds (not really birds in flight though).

I already did a lot of research on which lens to choose, but there are just so many pro's and cons for each that I really can use some help from more experienced users. However, I reduce my selection to the following options now:

- Sigma 150-600 Contemporary (or the Tamron 150-600 G2)
Pro: a lot more focal length, not that pricey, good quality according to reviews ; cons: heavy, not really fast)

- Tamron 100-400 (or the Sigma version, but Tamron seems to be a bit better)

Pro: Light in weight (only a bit heavier than my 70-300), easier to carry in a camera bag, good quality ; Cons: in terms of focal length not a big improvement (although in quality it is a lot better I think), not really fast.

- Tamron 70-200 G2 with TC-X20

Pro: Great quality, fast without TC and still F/5.6 with TC (which is better than the other two at 400/600mm), dual purpose since it can replace the 70-300 as well for shorter focal lengths ; Cons: IQ gets worse with TC, a lot heavier than my 70-300, perhaps too short for wildlife.

I also considered the Nikon 200-500 and Sigma 150-600 Sport, but those become just to heavy for me. I think I won't take them out that much just because of the weight. The Nikon 70-200 F/2.8 also crossed my mind, but is way too expensive for me.

The best option for me would be the Tamron 70-200, because I can use that as normal telezoom (without TC) as well. My 70-300 isn't really fast and that 70-200 would be a big step forward. I also use the range of 70-200 very often, for example when shooting at a zoo or something like that. However, I really doubt if the 70-200 with TC can match the IQ of the other 2 options at 400mm.

Do you guys have any advice on this or perhaps other suggestions? Thanks in advance!

You seem concerned about weight but have not mentioned budget.  People can make all the recommendations in the world but without knowing your budget it really doesn't do much good.  Also, have you considered a change in system since weight seems to be important?

I can highly recommend switching to m4/3.  It will give just as good if not better IQ as your current camera while giving you great reach at a much lower weight.

If budget is a concern you can pick up a used EM1 (original model) for around $500 and pair it with one of the older 4/3 lenses like the 50-200 SWD.  m4/3 has a 2x crop factor so that lens would give you a 100-400mm full frame equivalent with amazing IQ.  You can also add the 1.4x TC and 2.0x TC to give you a maxium reach of 560mm or 800mm.  All in with the MMF-3 adapter (needed to use the 4/3 lens on a m4/3 camera) would be around $1,200.

If budget isn't a concern you could pick up any of the m4/3 cameras and pair it with the Panasonic 100-400, which would give you 200-800mm in full frame equivalent.  Or for the best IQ you could use the Olympus 300mm f4.0 and MC-14 (1.4x TC) for either 600mm or 840mm full frame equivalent.

Any of the above options would be lighter than anything else with similar focal lengths and provide you with great IQ.

I personally use the original EM1 paired with either the Olympus 300mm f4.0 IS Pro or the older Olympus 4/3's lens the ZD 150mm f2.0.  I switched from Canon full frame and APSC about 5 years ago and couldn't be happier.  I also have the 50-200 SWD and use it when I need a zoom but since getting the 300/4 and 150/2 I mostly use it bare lens.  But I have shot it a lot with the EC-14 and EC-20.  You can check out my Flickr where I have albums separated by lens with a separate album if I used a TC with the lens to get an idea of the IQ from the lenses I talked about.  Well other than the Panasonic 100-400 which I don't own and have never used.  The Panasonic is going to be between the 300/4 and 50-200 SWD in IQ and basically on par with the Sigma 150-600 Sport.  Oh, forgot to mention that all the combos I mentioned are also fully weather sealed when paired with a weather sealed body if that is important to you.  For me a weather sealed system is one of my top priorities since I shoot a lot from the kayak and in the rain.

Oh, you could also get either the Olympus 75-300 or Panasonic 100-300mk2 for a very very light setup that would give you a maximum reach of 600mm full frame equivalent.  The IQ would be on par with the Sigma 150-600 Contemporary.

Just some food for thought...………………..

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