Advice on new lens for wildlife photography

Started Nov 8, 2018 | Questions thread
CMCM Senior Member • Posts: 5,718
Re: Advice on new lens for wildlife photography

I probably won't be a lot of help because I've been testing out a bunch of lenses and debating a choice for several months now, and I'm still undecided. I have a D7500 and AF-P version of the 70-300 lens. It a great lens, but only good for fairly close subjects. I am new to BIF shooting so I'm not at all experienced at it, but about a month ago I rented the Tamron 150-600 G2. I was shocked at the size, weight and overall handling of it. That said, I was able to shoot just fine with it, but due to weight after maybe an hour I was getting tired of handling it. Photos I got were so-so, mainly due to this being my first time ever trying to shoot with such a lens. The light on the day I used it wasn't optimal either. When I turned in the lens, I wasn't sure at all, although I did like a lot of its features.

A week ago I rented the Nikon 200-500. The weather was perfect, sun was perfect. The Nikon is .6 lb heavier than the Tamron, and somehow seemed a bit more awkward to handle and I definitely felt that .6 lb weight increase. I was tired again after an hour, my hands actually were aching so I switched to my featherweight 70-300, which also took great photos in the good light I had. BUT....with the Nikon I got shots like I've never gotten before, and a LOT of very good ones. My BIF shooting skills haven't improved that much since using the Tamron, so I have to attribute my success to the Nikon lens and its performance.

So in a ideal world I'd love to have the Nikon for an occasional lens. But like you, I suspected I'd often be reluctant to use that big lens and depending on the circumstances, I'd opt for the smaller 100-400 for most shooting.

Then I started comparing the Sigma C 100-400 and the newer Tamron 100-400, trying to decide if the 400mm gave me enough extra zoom to be worth buying it. I'm still undecided about which one as the place I rent lenses from doesn't have these two as rentals so I can't actually use one. I played with the Sigma in their store, and it seemed nice enough. But I still want to see and handle the Tamron.

I also have a Nikon P900, which has a 24-2000 f/2.8-6.3 zoom in a fairly small, 2 lb package. Once you have that much zoom available to you, I can tell you that 600mm instantly seems terribly limited. The P900 is a good lightweight camera, not all that great in low light, but the way I see it, the long DSLR zooms are also somewhat the same, they aren't fast and require good light to really shine. I bring this up because I've mostly decided that I may possibly get a 100-400 (probably Tamron, due to its good reviews and supposedly better AF performance) so I'd have 400mm for closer subjects (when I rented the Nikon, I found that a lot of my best shots were around 400mm or less anyway, so most of my good shots could could easily have been done with a 100-400). And then I have my P900 for the way far off subjects. People may scoff at it, but that camera can really produce very nice photos if you take the time to learn to use it well and set it up optimally. You have to know its quirks and limitations, but those can be worked around if you take the time and effort.

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!

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