Experience: Middle of the pack amateur. I have taken lots of decent photos but have lots to learn.
Primary camera use: Landscape, wildlife and macro (sometimes botanize at work).
What do I want this lens to do for me? Primarily wildlife. Birds, but at this point not a lot of BIF. Needs to be sharp and I like to travel light since I would use this for vacations and at work. I have taken some decent photos with 18-200 VR1 but want to get in a little closer.
I have narrowed my choices to the 300 f4 with tc14-eII or the 70-200 f2.8 with tc17-eII. Both have pros and cons. If I buy the 300 f4 I would keep the 18-200 VR1, if I buy the 70-200 f2.8 I would sell it and use the 18-55 for closer work. I was hoping that some of you with similar gear needs could share your experiences with these lenses and help in my decision making. Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.
Unless you are shooting in low light (f2.8) I'd say stick with as long a focal length as you can given, your typical subjects. If you need something for stop action in low light....then definitely get the f2.8. For outdoor work in sunshine (or even clouds)...the 300 f4 will be fine even with the light loss from the teleconverter.
For birds, 300/4 all the way. It's a superb lens. And once you have it, you will probably not be using your 18-200 and 55-200 that much anymore. Also, while not being a macro lens, the 300/4 has a short minimum focus distance (compared to other long telephoto lenses), and works great for macro when adding an extension tube (I use PN-11).
>Forgot to mention that I don't have a tripod and don't plan >to buy one so all shots would be hand-held.
This will be fine for birds in good light. I usually shoot them at around 1/1000s to freeze their motion. And at those speeds, tripod or VR are not needed. In fact, the 300/4 is my light gear for when I don't want to take the tripod (when I use the 500/4, at least a monopod is a must).
But forget any macro / closeup use with this or any other lens if you don't have a tripod.
I agree with everything Tom has said in his two posts. I own both the 70-200 VR1 and the 300 f/4, which I have used with the TC 1.4, 1.7 and 2.0. It is best with the 1.4. I use it mostly hand held but sometimes use it on a tripod or a monopod. However I have used it for close up, quasi macro hand held as well.
Here is the 70-200 VR 1 with TC 2.0 hand held taken in Iceland:
Thanks for your input. Based on input here and my ongoing research I have decided to go for the 300 f4 and a tc14. Just need to find them for a reasonable price (hopefully used but neither seems to pop up a lot on the used market).