Advice on new lens for wildlife photography

Started Nov 8, 2018 | Questions thread
dwa1 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,451
Alternate / 2-phase approach for you to consider...


I was glad to see your reply here today. Welcome to the DPR forums.

I have an alternate / 2-phase approach for you to consider.

BG info...

Since reach is so important (especially with birds)... Know that MP density for cropping reach is more cost-effective than fast glass. This is provided that the lens being used is capable of great IQ / sharpness with accurate AF, fast SS and with good support when appropriate.

I went from a 12 MP D300 to a 24 MP D7100. Later, I then replaced my "no longer needed as a backup" D90 with a refurb 24 MP D7200 (for the AF Fine Tune and the much larger shot buffer). The cropping reach is amazing (given the above conditions / parameters). Now I shoot with 2 body lens combos: D7100 with a Sigma 150 f2.8 macro and the D7200 with the Nikon AF-P DX 70-300 VR.

Going from your 16 MP D7000 to a 20.9 MP D7500 is not much of a jump.

Nikon's new AF-P 70-300 lenses are far superior to their previous AF-S model - which you know is really like having a 70-220 lens (soft over 220 through 300). These new AF-P models are all sharp at 300mm, have very fast, smooth, quiet AF. The 2 DX models are feather-weights and (imho) are way under-priced.

So consider this 2-phase approach to getting more reach, great IQ in a light-weight rig...

Phase 1 - While you save up for Nikon's new 500 f5.6 PF light-weight lens, replace your D7000 with a refurb D7200 instead of a new D7500. Then get one of the new AF-P 70-300 lenses. I would recommend the FX version due to the slightly higher IQ, f5.6 at 300mm and for the physical VR switch. The DX VR model (which I have) does not have a physical VR switch - requires a Menu VR Switch - D7200 firmware update did not include this Menu VR Switch. D7500 and D500 have the Menu VR Switch. I would get the FX version or the DX (non-VR version).

Phase 2 - When you have the funds, buy Nikon's new (and quite impressive) light-weight 500 f5.6 PF lens.

Having a 70-300 lens that is sharp at 300mm wide open with a 24mp APS-C sensor will give you a great low-cost reach option as an interim solution until you can get the 500 f5.6 PF lens. Having 70mm at the wide end will also come in handy at times.

Make sure that you learn to use RAW files - not JPGs. Otherwise, you will be losing way too much detail in each capture. Feather / fur detail are much desired elements in wildlife images. Most photogs always try to get the eye / eyes in sharp focus. The extra cropping reach pixels also give you more flexibility for rule-of-thirds framing in the editing phase.

Just my thoughts and experiences based on the info that you have provided to us so far.

Good luck with your gear choices and I hope this helps in some way.


 dwa1's gear list:dwa1's gear list
Nikon D300 Nikon D7100 Nikon D7200 Sigma 150mm F2.8 EX DG Macro HSM Nikon AF-P 70-300mm F4.5-6.3G VR
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