Best Birding lens if money weren't a problem

Started Feb 13, 2008 | Discussions
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Peter Levins Regular Member • Posts: 416
Best Birding lens if money weren't a problem

Now I'm not saying I won the lottery (if only) but I've been in the process for a while now of saving money to get a dream Birding lens.
My question is this...

Between Nikkor and Sigma, if money weren't a issue what would you have as your ULTIMATE birding lens.
Serious replies only please.
Thank you

PhotoGo Senior Member • Posts: 1,688
Re: Best Birding lens if money weren't a problem

I've gotten good results with the 70-200 vr lens.
I'm staying with it.
It's 2.8 throughout.

Peter Levins OP Regular Member • Posts: 416
Re: Best Birding lens if money weren't a problem

That's your ultimate lens? Not much in the way of range there.

PhotoGo wrote:

I've gotten good results with the 70-200 vr lens.
I'm staying with it.
It's 2.8 throughout.

Teddy Senior Member • Posts: 1,844
Re: Best Birding lens if money weren't a problem

I admire Ray's images, and he's using the 200-400.

But I'm a poor man, I might settle for the 80-400 if there's a new version of it.

Also, consider the 400, 500, or even the 600, plus a TC.

-- hide signature --

just me
Teddy

========

'just press that freakin' (shutter) button' - An image poorly captured, is still better than an image not captured at all.

 Teddy's gear list:Teddy's gear list
Nikon D7200 Nikon D300 Nikon AF DX Fisheye-Nikkor 10.5mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED VR +4 more
jerfy Regular Member • Posts: 415
Re: Best Birding lens if money weren't a problem

My guesses would be:

Nikon 600 f4 VR for long range and top IQ
Nikon 200-400 f4 VR for general zoom
Sigma 200-500 f2.8 if you have a big truck to move the lens around.

richard stern Contributing Member • Posts: 556
Re: Best Birding lens if money weren't a problem

Depends on your style of bird photography. If your prime interest is bird photography and you don't mind stalking a bird, getting low, spending time, waiting for the right light, ignoring all the other good birds around, etc., then not only do you need a good lens (money no object probably the new Nikon 600VR with a 2X converter), but also a heavy tripod and something like a Wimberley gimbal head, and a Better Beamer flash unit.. All this would be about $15000 before including the camera body. I would in some ways love to be able to do that, but it would take away from my enjoyment of birding in the field (to say nothing of affordability, for me).. Also, how do you take that stuff on a plane? Check out sites such as Birds As Art, or Jody Melanson's gallery.

If, like me, your prime interest is birding, but also taking the best shots you can while out in the field, you need something that is lighter, hand-holdable and more portable. A Nikon 300mm. f4.0 + Kenko Plus 1.4 would be as good as anything, - so would the lens that I use - the Tamron 200-500mm. SP f5.6-6.4 IS. It doesn't have VR, but at high ISOs on a D300, that's OK. Many people also use the Bigma (Sigma 50-500) in this situation. Price for any of this would "only" be $1500 or so.

Another alternative, which takes a lot of practice, is digiscoping. That's using a point-and-shoot + an adaptor attached to a high quality spotting scope (the high end Kowa, Leica, Swaovski etc. are around $1500-2000). The people who are really good at it can get images just as good as high quality dSLR lenses. Again, a tripod is a must, but many birders carry a scope and tripod anyway.

Of course, your CS3 and top end computer and screen for a few thousand dollars more should be added, to get the very best out of the lens you buy.
--
Richard (rb_stern), http://www.pbase.com/rb_stern

 richard stern's gear list:richard stern's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 Nikon D7100 +1 more
degsy_safc Senior Member • Posts: 1,374
Re: Best Birding lens if money weren't a problem

WOW - you must be really close to those birds if the 70-200 is your best lens where money is no object

For me it would be a toss up between 2 lenses - either the AF-S 200-400 VR f4 or the AF-S 500 VR f4. The 200-400 for the flexibility and the 500 for the additional reach - both yield good results with the 1.4 and 1.7 TC's.

I think the AF-S 600 VR f4 will be just a bit to prohibitive on weight and believe it or not have too much reach, with no zoom facility to pull back a bit when necessary.

Now if Nikon made a good quality 300-800 f5.6 similar to that made by Sigma - then that would be my lens of choice.....

This is a really interesting post as i'm considering my next major lens purchase - but i've got a bit of time on my hands - so i'm looking forward to reading this thread with interest.. Thanks
--
Cheers Derek

MrHughJ Regular Member • Posts: 134
Re: Best Birding lens if money weren't a problem

First, you should try to identify the birds that will be your subjects. If it is warblers and samll shorebirds, both of which can be skittish, I would recommend the 600mm lens with teleconverters. Next would be the 500mm lens and then the 200-400mm lens. The 70-200, with teleconverters can be great for flight shots, provided that the subjects are large and close to where you are set up.

I haven't posted many images into my flickr account, but beel free to look at has been posted at: mrhughj.

Hope that helps.

Hugh

Thomas Toolan Regular Member • Posts: 208
Re: Best Birding lens if money weren't a problem

degsy_safc wrote:

WOW - you must be really close to those birds if the 70-200 is your
best lens where money is no object

That's because he spent the money he saved on an invisibilty cloak.

Tom

 Thomas Toolan's gear list:Thomas Toolan's gear list
Nikon D800E Nikon D3 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Nikon AF Nikkor 35mm f/2D +11 more
breivogel Senior Member • Posts: 1,847
Re: Best Birding lens if money weren't a problem

200-400VR, plus 1.4 and 1.7 TC.

 breivogel's gear list:breivogel's gear list
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 Sony RX100 III Nikon D800 Nikon D5100 +14 more
chuck kling Regular Member • Posts: 475
Re: Best Birding lens if money weren't a problem

Hi:

I'm using a D200 and 300mm f2.8 vr plus nikon 1.4x and sometimes 1.7x t.c.s, SB800 flash, better beamer and manfrotto gimbal style head and carbon fibre tripod and monopod.... suits me to a T....... for warblers, shorebirds, owls, etc.

... may upgrade to a D300, in a while.

chuck.

kennethw Contributing Member • Posts: 627
Re: Best Birding lens if money weren't a problem

Must be this since it specifically says it's "Developed for long distance wildlife photography" .... http://www.zeiss.com/c12567a8003b58b9/Contents-Frame/8baac109cb80bddfc12571e100393a1b
--------------------

Amateur Photographer, constructive criticism most welcome: http://www.pbase.com/kennethw

macfred Regular Member • Posts: 416
SigmaMonster 300-800mm

Although I don't have one, Lil shows some examples taken with the Sigma 300-800mm lens in a thread today. Maybe this is the answer

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1039&message=26773063

Kelley Hoffman Senior Member • Posts: 1,285
Re: Best Birding lens if money weren't a problem

breivogel wrote:

200-400VR, plus 1.4 and 1.7 TC.

Ditto that for my choice(s) if money was not an object.

Kelley

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The start of my galleries: http://www.zenfolio.com/kshoffman
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Jersh Regular Member • Posts: 187
Re: Best Birding lens if money weren't a problem

Well, I really enjoy bird photography and currently my longest lens is the 300mm f4 AF-S + 1.7x TC. I am currently saving up for the 200-400 f4 VR. I'm a starving graduate student so the savings aren't adding up too fast right now, mainly just coming from a few freelance photo gigs I land here and there. I'll be done with my Ph.D. soon though, and as soon as that happens and I land a decent job the savings should hopefully add up quicker. After I save enough to get the 200-400 f4 VR I'll start saving again, this time for the 600mm f4 VR. I might as well get it while I'm still somewhat young enough to lug it around without much of a problem. I know it might be greedy to have both but I don't care! The 600mm f4 + 2x TC on a 1.5x crop body will be phenomenal for small birds.

Teddy Senior Member • Posts: 1,844
It's

coined by Romy Ocon (a DPR member too, he use Canons), a Philippine birder.

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/lenses/sigma-300-800.shtml

His gallery:
http://www.pbase.com/liquidstone/sigma_300800birds

Blog:
http://romyocon.blogspot.com/

-- hide signature --

just me
Teddy

========

'just press that freakin' (shutter) button' - An image poorly captured, is still better than an image not captured at all.

 Teddy's gear list:Teddy's gear list
Nikon D7200 Nikon D300 Nikon AF DX Fisheye-Nikkor 10.5mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED VR +4 more
Teddy Senior Member • Posts: 1,844
It's "Sigmonster"

I messed up the subject line.

========

'just press that freakin' (shutter) button' - An image poorly captured, is still better than an image not captured at all.

 Teddy's gear list:Teddy's gear list
Nikon D7200 Nikon D300 Nikon AF DX Fisheye-Nikkor 10.5mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED VR +4 more
Digitalanimal Contributing Member • Posts: 800
Re: Best Birding lens if money weren't a problem

I have the 300mm 2.8 II and find my self slapping on a TC (1.4 or 2.0, don't have the 1.7 yet).

No holds barred, then the new 500mm VR, and if you still have some spare change, grab a 1.4 or 1.7 or 2.0 TC and there you go a 500-1000mm zoom.

If not, then the sigmonster 300-800 would be a reasonable substitute, and you would have money left over to go on a birding trip.

As others have posted, solid tripod and mount (gimbal/wimberley style).

So, let us know when u pull the trigger.

Regards

Humanoid
Humanoid Veteran Member • Posts: 4,664
Re: Best Birding lens if money weren't a problem

chuck kling wrote:

Hi:

I'm using a D200 and 300mm f2.8 vr plus nikon 1.4x and sometimes 1.7x
t.c.s, SB800 flash, better beamer and manfrotto gimbal style head
and carbon fibre tripod and monopod.... suits me to a T....... for
warblers, shorebirds, owls, etc.

... may upgrade to a D300, in a while.

chuck.

Hey chuck,

I pretty much have the same setup and recently got the better beamer. Are you using a flash bracket with it? I find its angled a bit low when attached to the SB-800.

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Just another Shooter.

 Humanoid's gear list:Humanoid's gear list
Nikon D3 Nikon D300 Nikon D700 Nikon D2X Nikon D200 +8 more
jeffjmr Contributing Member • Posts: 602
Hey, Hows about some samples!

Talk is cheap. Show us what you've done with your setup so we wannabes can make informed choices.

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