The best choise of Nikkor 200m + ?

Started Apr 1, 2020 | Discussions
Nikon3500guy
Nikon3500guy New Member • Posts: 23
The best choise of Nikkor 200m + ?

Hi

I am considering a zoom telephoto lens (200mm +) for photographing birds, etc. What will be the most common "all-round" choice for this purpose (and not overly expensive and heavy!). Brands other than Nikkor are also an option? I have a Nikon D3500 camera and already an 18-140mm lens.

 Nikon3500guy's gear list:Nikon3500guy's gear list
Nikon Coolpix P5100 Nikon D3500 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-140mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-P 18-55mm F3.5-5.6G VR +1 more
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Mark Scott Abeln
Mark Scott Abeln Forum Pro • Posts: 16,647
Re: The best choice of Nikkor 200m + ?

You have a 140 mm, and a 200 mm won't get you much more reach.

Do you have photos you can share with us, so we can get an idea of the size of the birds in your uncropped images?

 Mark Scott Abeln's gear list:Mark Scott Abeln's gear list
Nikon D200 Nikon D7000 Nikon D750 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D +3 more
Nikon3500guy
OP Nikon3500guy New Member • Posts: 23
Re: The best choice of Nikkor 200m + ?

Hi

I do not have any photos immediately, but imagine a pheasant or dove (about this size) and larger animals (deer etc.) - at distances around 50-100m (maybe up to 150m for deer, etc.)?

(I would like 4-500mm, but they are extremely expensive and probably not an option?)

 Nikon3500guy's gear list:Nikon3500guy's gear list
Nikon Coolpix P5100 Nikon D3500 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-140mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-P 18-55mm F3.5-5.6G VR +1 more
Swift One Regular Member • Posts: 489
Re: The best choice of Nikkor 200m + ?
1

Are you aware of the Nikon 200-500 5.6?  Its quite bit of lens for the price.

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Nikon3500guy
OP Nikon3500guy New Member • Posts: 23
Re: The best choice of Nikkor 200m + ?

Swift One wrote:

Are you aware of the Nikon 200-500 5.6? Its quite bit of lens for the price.

Okay - you mean this: AF-S NIKKOR 200-500MM F/5.6E ED VR?

 Nikon3500guy's gear list:Nikon3500guy's gear list
Nikon Coolpix P5100 Nikon D3500 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-140mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-P 18-55mm F3.5-5.6G VR +1 more
Swift One Regular Member • Posts: 489
Re: The best choice of Nikkor 200m + ?

Nikon3500guy wrote:

Swift One wrote:

Are you aware of the Nikon 200-500 5.6? Its quite bit of lens for the price.

Okay - you mean this: AF-S NIKKOR 200-500MM F/5.6E ED VR?

That very one.  IMO, its about as close as you are gonna get before you start dropping 2K and up. I am liking mine the more and more I use it and understand it limits. The Sigmas (100-400, 150-600) I hear are pretty nice too.

 Swift One's gear list:Swift One's gear list
GoPro Hero7 Black Apple iPhone 11
Mark Scott Abeln
Mark Scott Abeln Forum Pro • Posts: 16,647
Running the numbers

Nikon3500guy wrote:

HiI do not have any photos immediately, but imagine a pheasant or dove (about this size) and larger animals (deer etc.) - at distances around 50-100m (maybe up to 150m for deer, etc.)?

(I would like 4-500mm, but they are extremely expensive and probably not an option?)

OK, the general rule for sizing focal length depends on the subject size, subject distance, and sensor size:

Subject width / subject distance = sensor width / focal length

Which gives us focal length = sensor width x subject distance / subject width

This is the law of similar triangles, which may be familiar from geometry. This formula is for 'filling the frame' with your subject. You can get away with a shorter focal length to allow room for good composition and cropping.

Your camera's sensor is 25.1 millimeters wide by 16.7 mm high.

The length of a pheasant is around 0.5 meters, while doves are about 0.3 meters wide, and full-grown red deer or elk are roughly 2 meters wide.

At 50 meters:

Pheasant: focal length = 25.1 mm x 50 m / 0.5 m = 2510 mm

Dove: focal length = 25.1 mm x 50 m / 0.3 m = 4183 mm

Deer: focal length = 25.1 mm x 50 m / 2 m = 627.5 mm

At 100 meters:

Pheasant: focal length = 25.1 mm x 100 m / 0.5 m = 5020 mm

Dove: focal length = 8367 mm

Deer: focal length = 1255 mm

At 150 meters:

Deer: focal length = 25.1 mm x 150 m / 2 m = 1882 mm

OK, with the possible exception of deer at 50 meters, the idea of photographing these animals and "filling the frame" with them is not financially practical. Certainly you can crop and get a decent enough shot of them, so for a half-frame shot, you'd need half the focal length, and for a quarter of the frame you'll need a quarter of the focal length, which is far more practical and still might get you decent enough image quality.

Cropping heavily is often necessarily in wildlife photography, and ¼ of your camera's frame is about 1500 pixels across which might be quite good if your optics are good and if you don't look too closely at your final image. 1000 pixels might be ok as well, especially for Instagram or other social media, and so you divide all of the focal lengths above by 6, but that is pushing the image quality.

One inexpensive option is a catadioptric lens, that is, a lens that incorporates a mirror like a telescope, and you can get a 500 mm lens for less than US$300. However, image quality is rather poor, as its bokeh is ring shaped, they have a large, fixed f/stop, and you have to manually focus. See here for samples photos taken with this kind of lens, and judge for yourself:

https://www.flickr.com/groups/10494981@N00/pool/

Another option is getting a long lens, and then adding a high-quality teleconverter to it, which increases the focal length but at the expense of increasing the f/stop, which means you might have difficulties in poor light, especially if you don't have a good camera support.

 Mark Scott Abeln's gear list:Mark Scott Abeln's gear list
Nikon D200 Nikon D7000 Nikon D750 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D +3 more
Nikon3500guy
OP Nikon3500guy New Member • Posts: 23
Re: The best choice of Nikkor 200m + ?

Swift One wrote:

Nikon3500guy wrote:

Swift One wrote:

Are you aware of the Nikon 200-500 5.6? Its quite bit of lens for the price.

Okay - you mean this: AF-S NIKKOR 200-500MM F/5.6E ED VR?

That very one. IMO, its about as close as you are gonna get before you start dropping 2K and up. I am liking mine the more and more I use it and understand it limits. The Sigmas (100-400, 150-600) I hear are pretty nice too.

Okay - thank you

 Nikon3500guy's gear list:Nikon3500guy's gear list
Nikon Coolpix P5100 Nikon D3500 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-140mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-P 18-55mm F3.5-5.6G VR +1 more
Nikon3500guy
OP Nikon3500guy New Member • Posts: 23
Re: Running the numbers

Mark Scott Abeln wrote:

Nikon3500guy wrote:

HiI do not have any photos immediately, but imagine a pheasant or dove (about this size) and larger animals (deer etc.) - at distances around 50-100m (maybe up to 150m for deer, etc.)?

(I would like 4-500mm, but they are extremely expensive and probably not an option?)

OK, the general rule for sizing focal length depends on the subject size, subject distance, and sensor size:

Subject width / subject distance = sensor width / focal length

Which gives us focal length = sensor width x subject distance / subject width

This is the law of similar triangles, which may be familiar from geometry. This formula is for 'filling the frame' with your subject. You can get away with a shorter focal length to allow room for good composition and cropping.

Your camera's sensor is 25.1 millimeters wide by 16.7 mm high.

The length of a pheasant is around 0.5 meters, while doves are about 0.3 meters wide, and full-grown red deer or elk are roughly 2 meters wide.

At 50 meters:

Pheasant: focal length = 25.1 mm x 50 m / 0.5 m = 2510 mm

Dove: focal length = 25.1 mm x 50 m / 0.3 m = 4183 mm

Deer: focal length = 25.1 mm x 50 m / 2 m = 627.5 mm

At 100 meters:

Pheasant: focal length = 25.1 mm x 100 m / 0.5 m = 5020 mm

Dove: focal length = 8367 mm

Deer: focal length = 1255 mm

At 150 meters:

Deer: focal length = 25.1 mm x 150 m / 2 m = 1882 mm

OK, with the possible exception of deer at 50 meters, the idea of photographing these animals and "filling the frame" with them is not financially practical. Certainly you can crop and get a decent enough shot of them, so for a half-frame shot, you'd need half the focal length, and for a quarter of the frame you'll need a quarter of the focal length, which is far more practical and still might get you decent enough image quality.

Cropping heavily is often necessarily in wildlife photography, and ¼ of your camera's frame is about 1500 pixels across which might be quite good if your optics are good and if you don't look too closely at your final image. 1000 pixels might be ok as well, especially for Instagram or other social media, and so you divide all of the focal lengths above by 6, but that is pushing the image quality.

One inexpensive option is a catadioptric lens, that is, a lens that incorporates a mirror like a telescope, and you can get a 500 mm lens for less than US$300. However, image quality is rather poor, as its bokeh is ring shaped, they have a large, fixed f/stop, and you have to manually focus. See here for samples photos taken with this kind of lens, and judge for yourself:

https://www.flickr.com/groups/10494981@N00/pool/

Another option is getting a long lens, and then adding a high-quality teleconverter to it, which increases the focal length but at the expense of increasing the f/stop, which means you might have difficulties in poor light, especially if you don't have a good camera support.

Exciting maths. They provide an excellent overview of what it is all about. I'm afraid there's no way around saving for the right lens - around 500mm ...!

Thanks for the answer

 Nikon3500guy's gear list:Nikon3500guy's gear list
Nikon Coolpix P5100 Nikon D3500 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-140mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-P 18-55mm F3.5-5.6G VR +1 more
Nikon3500guy
OP Nikon3500guy New Member • Posts: 23
Re: The best choice of Nikkor 200m + ?

Swift One wrote:

Nikon3500guy wrote:

Swift One wrote:

Are you aware of the Nikon 200-500 5.6? Its quite bit of lens for the price.

Okay - you mean this: AF-S NIKKOR 200-500MM F/5.6E ED VR?

That very one. IMO, its about as close as you are gonna get before you start dropping 2K and up. I am liking mine the more and more I use it and understand it limits. The Sigmas (100-400, 150-600) I hear are pretty nice too.

Buy the way ... If we have to talk about (slightly cheaper) alternatives such as. Tamron or Sigma etc. What can you recommend there - or is it just saving together for the right thing (Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f / 5.6E ED VR)?

 Nikon3500guy's gear list:Nikon3500guy's gear list
Nikon Coolpix P5100 Nikon D3500 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-140mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-P 18-55mm F3.5-5.6G VR +1 more
Nikon3500guy
OP Nikon3500guy New Member • Posts: 23
Re: Running the numbers

Mark Scott Abeln wrote:

Nikon3500guy wrote:

HiI do not have any photos immediately, but imagine a pheasant or dove (about this size) and larger animals (deer etc.) - at distances around 50-100m (maybe up to 150m for deer, etc.)?

(I would like 4-500mm, but they are extremely expensive and probably not an option?)

OK, the general rule for sizing focal length depends on the subject size, subject distance, and sensor size:

Subject width / subject distance = sensor width / focal length

Which gives us focal length = sensor width x subject distance / subject width

This is the law of similar triangles, which may be familiar from geometry. This formula is for 'filling the frame' with your subject. You can get away with a shorter focal length to allow room for good composition and cropping.

Your camera's sensor is 25.1 millimeters wide by 16.7 mm high.

The length of a pheasant is around 0.5 meters, while doves are about 0.3 meters wide, and full-grown red deer or elk are roughly 2 meters wide.

At 50 meters:

Pheasant: focal length = 25.1 mm x 50 m / 0.5 m = 2510 mm

Dove: focal length = 25.1 mm x 50 m / 0.3 m = 4183 mm

Deer: focal length = 25.1 mm x 50 m / 2 m = 627.5 mm

At 100 meters:

Pheasant: focal length = 25.1 mm x 100 m / 0.5 m = 5020 mm

Dove: focal length = 8367 mm

Deer: focal length = 1255 mm

At 150 meters:

Deer: focal length = 25.1 mm x 150 m / 2 m = 1882 mm

OK, with the possible exception of deer at 50 meters, the idea of photographing these animals and "filling the frame" with them is not financially practical. Certainly you can crop and get a decent enough shot of them, so for a half-frame shot, you'd need half the focal length, and for a quarter of the frame you'll need a quarter of the focal length, which is far more practical and still might get you decent enough image quality.

Cropping heavily is often necessarily in wildlife photography, and ¼ of your camera's frame is about 1500 pixels across which might be quite good if your optics are good and if you don't look too closely at your final image. 1000 pixels might be ok as well, especially for Instagram or other social media, and so you divide all of the focal lengths above by 6, but that is pushing the image quality.

One inexpensive option is a catadioptric lens, that is, a lens that incorporates a mirror like a telescope, and you can get a 500 mm lens for less than US$300. However, image quality is rather poor, as its bokeh is ring shaped, they have a large, fixed f/stop, and you have to manually focus. See here for samples photos taken with this kind of lens, and judge for yourself:

https://www.flickr.com/groups/10494981@N00/pool/

Another option is getting a long lens, and then adding a high-quality teleconverter to it, which increases the focal length but at the expense of increasing the f/stop, which means you might have difficulties in poor light, especially if you don't have a good camera support.

Could this be an option ...

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR (around 1500 US dollars here in Denmark).

It's relatively "cheap" and pretty much covers the needs you describe (for a start)? Are there cheaper alternatives such as. Tamron or Sigma?

 Nikon3500guy's gear list:Nikon3500guy's gear list
Nikon Coolpix P5100 Nikon D3500 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-140mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-P 18-55mm F3.5-5.6G VR +1 more
Mark Scott Abeln
Mark Scott Abeln Forum Pro • Posts: 16,647
Re: Running the numbers

Nikon3500guy wrote:

Mark Scott Abeln wrote:

OK, the general rule for sizing focal length depends on the subject size, subject distance, and sensor size:

Subject width / subject distance = sensor width / focal length

Which gives us focal length = sensor width x subject distance / subject width

Exciting maths.

Hehe.

They provide an excellent overview of what it is all about.

Some folks these days go as far as calculating the angle *per pixel* to select both camera and lenses, with smaller values giving more "reach". There is some point where it doesn't make much improvement, even with a great camera and especially a great lens, because then you'll worry more about atmospheric haze and heat waves distorting the image.

I'm afraid there's no way around saving for the right lens - around 500mm ...!

Yeah, that sounds reasonable.

Be sure to look into teleconverters, as you might be able to get by with a shorter lens, but the best ones are matched to the lenses. Cheap ones are more useful as paperweights.

Finally, if the price of a lens is too much, you might look into a superzoom camera. The image quality might not be all that great at long zooms, but it might be possible to actually get the shot.

https://www.dpreview.com/reviews/buying-guide-best-enthusiast-long-zoom-cameras

Thanks for the answer

You are welcome!

 Mark Scott Abeln's gear list:Mark Scott Abeln's gear list
Nikon D200 Nikon D7000 Nikon D750 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D +3 more
Bobthearch
Bobthearch Veteran Member • Posts: 9,819
Re: The best choise of Nikkor 200m + ?

The most affordable option for a long zoom is the AF-P DX Nikon 70-300 VR. These are under $200 brand new on eBay (bought mine for $140, but they've gone up).

It's only 300mm though, so you'll have to get pretty close to the birds, and resign to a bit of cropping.  Here is a relevant topic with some samples:

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/4108366

And here's one I took with that same lens.

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LordKOTL
LordKOTL Senior Member • Posts: 1,616
Re: The best choice of Nikkor 200m + ?

Nikon3500guy wrote:

Swift One wrote:

Nikon3500guy wrote:

Swift One wrote:

Are you aware of the Nikon 200-500 5.6? Its quite bit of lens for the price.

Okay - you mean this: AF-S NIKKOR 200-500MM F/5.6E ED VR?

That very one. IMO, its about as close as you are gonna get before you start dropping 2K and up. I am liking mine the more and more I use it and understand it limits. The Sigmas (100-400, 150-600) I hear are pretty nice too.

Buy the way ... If we have to talk about (slightly cheaper) alternatives such as. Tamron or Sigma etc. What can you recommend there - or is it just saving together for the right thing (Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f / 5.6E ED VR)?

From what I gather there are fans of all of them for various reasons. I only have the 200-500, and some of the pros of it are excellent VR, and constant f/stop through 500mm vs. the Tamron and Sigma's. Some others who've used them say may have a bit snappier AF, and in the case of the 150-600's, can zoom a bit further, but they don't have that constant f/stop so I believe they let in less light at 500mm and up, which may be an issue if your camera struggles in lower light.

Truth be told I've seen excellent examples from them all. The other aspect is the lenses are large and heavy. Your technique and arm strength may be tested and may require more practice to hold all day (or a monopod). Having gone from an older 70-300 to the 200-500 required a refinement in my technique and more practice.

Flamingo Disapproves. Slight crop.  Handheld

Gull in Flight. Slight crop.  Handheld on a moving boat.

9 image composite of the 2017 eclipse. No crop.  Tripod shot.

^^All of the above were FF images. You'll have more reach shooting crop.

Good luck

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 LordKOTL's gear list:LordKOTL's gear list
Nikon D750 Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 105mm F2.8G IF-ED VR Nikon 85mm F1.8G Nikon AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED +3 more
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