I bought the 300mm F4 and TC 14E II from Adorama on Monday via BuyItLater 6 month interest free. Free shipping arrived the following day! After reading the Mack reviews, I decided to pass on it. Too unreliable, plus they have your lens for weeks and weeks.
I did search all over Boston for rental of those two lenses--nobody had any. The lens rental place in Tennessee would have cost over $100 for four days, plus I would have had to wait a few days to get them.
Went out Wednesday to do the 300 hand-held, and yesterday with the 300, TC 1.4 and tripod. I was surprised that the hand-held worked so well, even at speeds below 1/500. And the weight was manageable: four straight hours of shooting without a break, and no muscle fatigue during or after. But the tripod results were superb, the best image-quality shots of my life, even on a day of medium overcast, and speeds as low as 1/160. As many had mentioned, AF is a bit slower when the TC is in use, but not as slow as I expected. Many reviewers had warned about the Nikon 300 tripod mount. But my Manfrotto/Bogen has a quick-release plate, and that platform is plenty sturdy, as NONE of my 140 shots suffered from camera motion-sickness.
I could not be happier with the above two lenses. As I get used to the DOF nuances, I'm sure I'll be even happier. At this point in time, I think that the only way that I would ever move up to the 2.8 300 and higher would be if my income range suddenly increased, and I were travelling to exotic locales. For local shooting, the 300 Prime and 1.4 TC are a perfect match.
Once I've studied and figured out how to post to "my gallery", I'll put some BEFORE (Nikkor 55-200mm F4-5.6) and AFTER (Nikkor 300mm F4)images in there. BTW, is there a how-to for preparing images for "My Gallery" uploads?
Thanks again, Marty, for taking me from zero to sixty in such a short time. (Or should I say 60 to 300?)