Fastest focusing super telephoto?

Started Jan 25, 2012 | Discussions
Waterengineer Contributing Member • Posts: 882
Fastest focusing super telephoto?

I am looking to rent the fastest focusing super telephoto lends for a couple of weeks. I have two excellent birding spots where the shooting window is sort of narrow due to closed in trees and brush which means I need fast response time for bird-in-flight photography. Also, one of the spots is sort of a tunnel, and thus sort of dark.

I am working with the assumption that the f2.8 lenses will focus fastest for me on a D7K. Also, I am working with the assumption that the 300mm will focus faster than the 400mm, if only because the focus motor has to move less mass.

I can make either lens work for my situation(s).

I am looking for 'real world' experience(s). Has anyone compared the two lenses and their respective focus speeds?

Thanks.

henne Regular Member • Posts: 213
Re: Fastest focusing super telephoto?

200VR is the fastest, followed closely by the 70-200VRII.
And then you are right, the 300VR is next up, and 400VR is a bit slower.

But are you sure you need fast AF, and not just great tracking AF?

There is big differences on camera bodies when it comes to initially acquired focus and the tracking-abilities. And of course, the longer the more difficult things gets.

I use my 70-200VRII when it comes to really fast tracking, both because of the handholdability and the focus-speed. The 400VR needs support and is much more difficult to get tracking properly, when motion is fast.
But of course it also is down to the longer focus-throw of the big tele.

MasterOfGoingFaster Senior Member • Posts: 1,255
Pro body AF vs D7k for BIF?
1

You might consider renting a pro-body camera (D3s) for its much faster AF module. Other Birders might share their experience of D7000 vs. D3/D3s/D700 with long lenses for birds in flight. I'll bet it's a huge difference.

As for speed, my manual focus 500mm f/4 hits infinity faster than any AF-S lens. ;D

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Cenk
Cenk Senior Member • Posts: 1,608
Re: Fastest focusing super telephoto?

Fastest focusing super telephoto?

Fastest focusing telephoto is 70-200 VRII, but this lens is not a "super" telephoto...

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tcom Veteran Member • Posts: 7,491
How about AFS 200-400 in regards of AF speed?

henne wrote:

200VR is the fastest, followed closely by the 70-200VRII.
And then you are right, the 300VR is next up, and 400VR is a bit slower.

Where would the AFS 200-400 fit in this series?

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Steve Bingham
Steve Bingham Forum Pro • Posts: 27,199
Re: Fastest focusing super telephoto?

The 300mm f2.8 is legendary for its fast focusing. With the D7000 this would be a a nice choice. However, serious birders might want something a little longer, like the Nikon 400mm f2.8 . . . this would be my choice. Make sure you also have a solid tripod and a gimbal mount (Wimberly Sidekick) for the lens. Otherwise you will find it extremely difficult to acquire rapid focus. You might also consider a Better Beamer, a fresnel accessory for your flash unit. This can add a little fill to twilight shooting - and add nothing in daylight.

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/accessories/wimberley.shtml
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sebastian73 Contributing Member • Posts: 598
Re: Fastest focusing super telephoto?

As already Henne wrote...

My experience with the D3s, the fastest is the VR 200/ f2. I see no difference in AFS speed between the AFS 70-200 VRII and the AFS 300/2.8 VRII.

But as others already written in this thread, for birding I suggest an AFS 300 VRII perhaps with TC1.4II/TC1.7II or if you have the money, then a AFS 400 VRII
--

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tyb Senior Member • Posts: 2,620
Re: Fastest focusing super telephoto?

I can only comment out to 200mm

200F2 naked faster than my 70-200 VRII on D3s

with the TC17 hard to say but still seem faster but not an apple to apple anymore.

Do you want reach with minimum croping with slightl less light or a shorter focal length, more managble lens but more crop.

Whats your budget 2K, 5K, 10K

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RBFresno
RBFresno Forum Pro • Posts: 12,736
Re: Pro body AF vs D7k for BIF?

I need fast response time for bird-in-flight photography. Also, one of the spots is sort of a tunnel, and thus sort of dark.

You might consider renting a pro-body camera (D3s) for its much faster AF module. Other Birders might share their experience of D7000 vs. D3/D3s/D700 with long lenses for birds in flight. I'll bet it's a huge difference.

As for speed, my manual focus 500mm f/4 hits infinity faster than any AF-S lens. ;D

Hi!

First, a disclaimer: I haven't used a D7000. Currently using a D3.

However, from my own experience with other "non-pro" camera bodies, and from what I've heard from those that have used th d7000 vs the D3 or even D300, your D7000 body may limit you more than which of the fast lenses you use with regard to focus accuracy. The 70-200VR, 200VR, 300VR, 400VR, 500VR, and 600VR are all capable of fast enough focusing for getting bird in flight shots. How they vary in their reach and handling varies a lot.

Also, if the light is really low, the larger aperture lenses and/or a D3/D3s will help.

Your choice of lens will depend to a large extent on how much reach you need.

though the DX view of the d7000 helps with pixel density, in general, I find it easier to use the larger FX viefinders to help track birds. I immediately noticed the difference when I switched from the DX D2h to the FX D3.

Also, for birds in flight, there's a big difference to the ease of hand holding a 70-200VR or 200VR compared to a 400VR. For me, I can reasonably hand hold a 200-400VR, but with frequent rests for my back and wrists. Even a car window helps me. If I have to use the 200-400VR or the slightly heavier 500VR for long periods, I'd prefer some type of support.

There's a bit of a learning curve to handling longer lenses for birds in flight .....

Nikon D2h ,Nikkor 200-400mm f/4G ED-IF AF-S VR
1/1000s f/4.0 at 400.0mm iso250

Nikon D2h ,Nikkor 200-400mm f/4G ED-IF AF-S VR
1/1600s f/4.0 at 400.0mm iso200

Nikon D3 ,Nikkor AF-S 500mm f/4G ED VR
1/1000s f/4.0 at 500.0mm iso200

Best Regards,

RB

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Skarstrom Regular Member • Posts: 103
Re: Pro body AF vs D7k for BIF?

Amazing photos RB

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DotM Regular Member • Posts: 231
Focus Distance Limiter Swtch

If the distance to subject is fairly static you can make use of the on-board limiter switch - infinity to 10m (varies depending on the super-tele) for example is pretty rapid on my 300f2.8 500f4 and 600f4

OP Waterengineer Contributing Member • Posts: 882
Re: Focus Distance Limiter Swtch

Thanks to all who have replied. Several interesting ideas.

I think I will try the 300 f2.8 and a 1.4TC and see how it goes, as I like to shoot hand help off a monopod. The combination will five a little flexibility. Again, thanks.

AmatureMike Regular Member • Posts: 342
Re: Fastest focusing super telephoto?

The initial acquisition of the D7000 will be your problem more so than the super-telephoto lenses, as per what RBFresno indicated. I own both the D700 and D7000 bodies.

From experience, the 200-400mm F4 VR2 will "initially" focus faster than the 70-200mm VR2. The 300mm VR2, I've yet to test since it was not avail. at the time. This signifies that aprature size sometimes is not the final determinant of the focus/slewing speed of the lens (which I'm sure you already know).

The weakness in the D7000's AF system is when it grossly detects de-focus (completely blurry in viewfinder), it will take a bit longer to slew the fine-focus in the AF-S motor vs. the likes of CAM-3500FX (which is much faster to initiate the initial focus). It almost tends to feel like processing/calculation power is more robust in the FX bodies. Although slightly out of topic, I feel this is where Nikon (up the the point of the D3s) were slightly lacking: its initial focusing with LONG super-telephotos tends to "budge" take longer to get the lens from grossly-defocused to focused, but the Nikon tracks better than the Canon when it locks on and servos. This however is not seconds long, only fractions of it (which to most photographers may not be a huge problem).

Also tracking capability with single central AF point (Lock-ON on short), the FX bodies track smoother and more finely vs. the D7000's AF: although the D7000 is still extremely capable and fast.

henne Regular Member • Posts: 213
Re: Focus Distance Limiter Swtch

Focus-limiter is a nice thing, but remember it only helps to reduce the time it takes to perform a full hunt.
Actual AF-tracking and acquisition is the same.

henne Regular Member • Posts: 213
Re: How about AFS 200-400 in regards of AF speed?

tcom wrote:

henne wrote:

200VR is the fastest, followed closely by the 70-200VRII.
And then you are right, the 300VR is next up, and 400VR is a bit slower.

Where would the AFS 200-400 fit in this series?

I have never tried the 200-400, but my guess is that it will be in the same league as the rest of the long f/4-teles. Which are pretty fast, but nothing like a naked f/2.8-lens. f/4 naked is still faster than a f/2.8 with even the smallest TC though.

henne Regular Member • Posts: 213
Re: Pro body AF vs D7k for BIF?

MasterOfGoingFaster wrote:

You might consider renting a pro-body camera (D3s) for its much faster AF module. Other Birders might share their experience of D7000 vs. D3/D3s/D700 with long lenses for birds in flight. I'll bet it's a huge difference.

I have been shooting my 400VR with a D3a and a D7000 as backup, and sold of the D7000 due to unreliable AF-issues. But the focus-speed was ok, just not reliable on my sample of the D7000.

Apart from the missing "Focus+Release"-priority-option of the AF-module, the AF could be pretty decent on the D7000 I think. Although I sold mine instead of having it repaired, some reports on the Internet claims that they get very good when repaired by Nikon.

OP Waterengineer Contributing Member • Posts: 882
Re: Pro body AF vs D7k for BIF?

This is very interesting information on the D7K focus motor. I have not heard or read that information before. I swear mt D90 focuses faster than my D7K. I will have to do a test with my 300 f4 and report back.

Leos Senior Member • Posts: 2,073
Re: Pro body AF vs D7k for BIF?

RB ... those pictures... drool !!!

Guidenet
Guidenet Forum Pro • Posts: 15,748
Re: Fastest focusing super telephoto?

Hey Craig, sorry to get to this so late. I just read your ping. Also was on a shoot down Miami way for the past couple of days, actually two shoots. One for me and one for someone else. LOL a baby event.

Unfortunately, I have no experience with a 400 f/2.8. I chose the 300 f/2.8 AFS VR because it was damn fast for me on birds in flight. It generally allows be to get it targeted, tracking and exposed before the bird becomes a butt shot and it does so in fairly dim light. It's not quite so quick with a converter mounted even in good light. I don't know why.

In good light my 80-200 f/2.8 AFD 2-ring is also darn fast but not as fast. The one-rings were pretty slow. I don't know if the D7000 has as robust of a focus motor as the D300 a D700 has though. With the D700, it's so fast you can feel the torque as the motor spins the lens focus.

I've used the 200-400 and don't think it is nearly as fast as the 300 f/2.8 and some say it is not as fast as the 400 f/2.8 either. You're a stop slower, afterall too.
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Guidenet
Guidenet Forum Pro • Posts: 15,748
Re: Fastest focusing super telephoto?

The length a lot depends on where you live. I live and bird in central to Southern Florida and mostly wading and sea birds often during mating seasons. Heck, I've often birded with an 85 f/1.4 and wanted a 50 mounted. At other times I've cursed myself for leaving the 500 and converters at home. The point is there is no correct focal length for birding everywhere. I'd say 300mm is about right much of the time here. Waterengineer, another Craig, is from about 100 miles or so north of me and does well with his 300 f/4 with and without converters. We've not shot together but share a lot on another forum.

I sometimes go on ringing expeditions to islands in a small boat as the only photographer. I tend not to carry my big glass as it's dangerous enough in choppy off-shore conditions as well and not so safe boarding and disboarding on a rocky or sandbar island trying to catch shots while others ring and enter journal info. I carry a 70-300 VR for that work. Poking around near nests, like I mentioned, might take a 50mm or a little longer. For gulls, one of my favorites is the 85 f/1.4 AFS or the 80-200 f/2.8. It depends on whether I've got food. They'll eat out of your hand if you let them.

The whole point is to get as close as possible. Do everything you possibly can to get there. You stalk, you get a hide or blind, you sit still, whatever it takes. You resort to big glass when that's the only way. We all have to sometimes, but there is no Best length for everyone and all the time.

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