Is the 300/4 and exceptional lens or is this what all "Pro Glass" is like?
I never had any high end lenses in my Canon days, and this is the first time I've photographed with anything like this. Seeing as I'm in a better position now to invest in more expensive gear, this lens may have ruined my bank account for the next 20 years or so.
If someone happens to find my jaw, please do PM me. I do so sorely miss it.
I got out last Saturday afternoon and while the weather wasn't the greatest the pics I did manage to get were astounding in sharpness, contrast, color, clarity, etc...
Are all high end lenses like this? Is this what I can come to expect, or is there something exceptional about the 300/4 and I shouldn't get my hopes up?
LOL. I have bad news for you Andy. Yes, the pro lenses all almost all jaw-dropping.
Actually, the 300/4 occupies a sort of special place in the lineup right now. It has been around longer than almost any other lens without getting an update, and because of that its price is low compared to other lenses. Just because it hasn't been updated doesn't mean it is not an outstanding lens. It is, as you are discovering. But it lacks VR and will probably get updated in the not too distant feature as a 'G' lens (no aperture ring) with VR and a higher price. Whether they can make the optics noticeably better, I'm not so sure.
I do have a word of advice for you: If you get an opportunity to try the 300 f/2.8 lens, don't. And never, ever, ever try out the 400 f/2.8, 500 f/4 or 600 f/4 lenses. Your bank account will thank you.
I'm not sure if the 300 f/4 is in the "Pro Glass" category, the 300 f/2.8 might. While I would love the f2.8 version, my budget will not allow it. I opted for the f4 version and have been very happy with it. I have got excellent images on a D800 with it, The extra reach on a D7100 with the TC 14E II helps my wildlife shots. I think you will be very happy with this lens.
The 300mm f4 is really an excellent lens. I was amazed when I first got mine, just like you! Been using it for wildlife mostly birds & you'll see all the feather details. A TC-14E II is highly recommended if you'll shoot birds with that. In the same price range is another excellent lens if you need a medium telezoom & that is the AF 80-200mm f2.8D. If you're up to spending more, you can get the AF-S 70-200mm f2.8G VR II. It's got VR & sharper than the 80-200. Mind you the 80-200 is already sharp but the 70-200 VR II is sharper. Since you're using a D7100, a nice lens would be the 17-55mm f2.8 but it's not cheap. Of course, an affordable 50mm f1.8 is excellent in low light or the 35mm f1.8G. All the best, Rod
I have a 300mm f/4, and while I am very happy with the results (including being able to lug it around and hand-hold it for general photography), it is not pro-glass and doesn't give the results of the f/2.8 or any of the other exotic telephotos that Nikon makes like the 400mm f/2.8 or the 600mm f/4 which weigh a ton and which I cannot hand-hold. If I wanted to go big and good I would probably get the 500mm f/4 (assuming money is no object of course).
Whether or not the 300/4 is pro glass is really inconsequential. It has been a mode for opening my eyes. It really is incredible. I'm not saying other lenses I've used are BAD, per say, and my only Nikon experience aside from the 300/4 is the 18-105.
The point of my asking the question, really, is that now I know the difference a GOOD lens makes over a decent one. And if "pro" glass is generally pretty jaw dropping across the board (as I've no personal frame of reference), I know where to aim.
I'm pretty well convinced my next stop is going to be a 70-200 2.8... As soon as I decide which organs I really don't need.
> Whether or not the 300/4 is pro glass is really inconsequential.
Yep. It's certainly in the same league as the other lenses that everyone agrees are "pro." Here's my definition: if I do a paid job, and I do my part, nobody's going to ask me about what lens I used. They'll know I used a top-quality one. Only a Nikon optical engineer or a couple of the lens nerds like Roger Cicalla are going to have any real idea of which lens I actually used.
Is the 300/f4 "sharper" than, say, the 105/f2.8 AFS Micro, the 14-24/f2.8, or the 400/f2.8, I don't really know, even though I've used all of them a fair amount. It doesn't matter - they're all killer sharp, and are NOT the limiting factor in any photography I do.
> I'm not saying other lenses I've used are BAD, per say, and my only Nikon experience aside from the 300/4 is the 18-105.
There are only a few not-very-good Nikon lenses, throughout their 50+ years of production. The first 8/f8 circular fisheye; some of the original 43-86/f3.5 pre-ai's; the 70-300 AF G (the $120 one). I actually can't think of any others, although there are certainly some poor samples of the 24-120 non-VR and 24-120 variable aperture VR out there.
And Jon is right: if you can't afford to spend the money, don't EVER try the big guns, like the 200/f2, the 400/f2.8, etc. Once you've crossed that Rubicon, it's really hard to go back.
_____ Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member
My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!
Wed 13-Nov-13 12:47 AM | edited Wed 13-Nov-13 12:47 AM by westcoast
Maybe some people define Pro by the cost, and others define it by the results. I have used a number of expensive lenses, and the quality of the images is right there with the 300 f4 AFS. If you don't need to use a 1.7 or 2.0 TC the f4 version will deliver virtually the same results 99.9% of the time and will save you a lot of money.
The main advantage of the 300 f4 over the f2.8 300 and 400 lenses is its portability. This is a long lens you can handhold and yet still have "pro" lens sharpness available. A number of the contributors to the Nikonians "Wildlife" forum use this lens and the image quality is clearly up there with the best.
I love my 500 f4 VR but it is pretty much only useable on a gimbal and sturdy tripod and reduces my mobility a lot. I would have bought a 300 f4 today if the store could have found the one they showed as being in stock.. I want it as a shorter alternative to my 500 for larger game and more mobility.
I also checked out the new 80-400 AF-S today. In comparison with the older one which I have used for years it has very much faster AF, is more comfy to hold (in spite of being heavier) and seems to be better built. Tests show it to be pretty sharp but I see a lot of better shots taken with 300 f4 on various forums.
>There are only a few not-very-good Nikon lenses... the 70-300 AF G (the $120 one).
I have one of those -- I was ignorant and naive at the time. What amazes me is that this nasty piece of work is still listed as a current Nikon lens! (It's $170 now, and overpriced.) I assume that means they are still making them, or they have a warehouse of them somewhere they can't unload. It was one thing when people were buying these to put on their N70, but now?
If you want to have a good laugh some time, compare the MTF charts for the AF 70-300G to those for the AF-S 70-300 VR lens. Even better, and to be a little more on-topic, compare it to the AF-S 300 f/4.
My point is that all lenses are capable of producing great images... The 70-300 AFG has a bad reputation, but with good technique it can be persuaded to perform well.
My theory is that most people that hanker for the newest gear or a new update only do so because they think the latest offering will mask their failings... This applies in all walks of lifed, not just photography... Golf is a prime example... As is photography...
>I'm pretty well convinced my next stop is going to be a 70-200 >2.8... As soon as I decide which organs I really don't need.
Neal's suggestion of the 70-200 f/4 is not a bad suggestion. Maybe some would claim the f/4 is not "pro" glass, but my 2.8 mostly stays on the shelf unless I'm shooting in low light. The f/4 version is significantly easier to carry, focuses as well, and gives results that are every bit as sharp and clean as the f/2.8. Plus, you'll be able to keep one of your kidneys.
I have a 300/4 lens and think the quality is excellent on my D600. I do use the teleconverters with it for increasing the focal length. I have slowly upgraded my lenses with the f4 family of lenses and feel it is a good compromise for the quality and price. I don't shoot sports in low light so the f2.8 is not necessary. I do shoot with a high shutter speed for birds, so the VR is not an issue.
Andy, before you spend big bucks on the 70-200 F2.8. rent or borrow a 70-200mm F4. I have both, and the 2.8 stays at home now. The F4 version is at least as sharp, and is much easier to work with and carry around. It is great with a TC-14 and surprisingly decent with a TC-17. It is a remarkable lens in every way.
And yes, the 300mm F4 is a wonderful tool. I actually have two of them, because when I was doing a lot of motorsports and aviation work I'd run a TC-14 on one and shoot the other at 300mm. My two 300s are easier to deal with than a single 300mm F2.8 -- and I've used the latter a lot. I've never been able to see any difference between results from the F2.8 and F4 300mm lenses. I regularly borrow the 2.8 from NPS when they are at an event I'm covering because the 2.8 works so wonderfully with the TC-17 converter, but for everything else I much prefer the F4.
My reasoning behind the 2.8 was that my son and I spend a lot of time "on safari"... He's 5, and we go to wildlife refuges and state parks and explore the wilderness and photograph the animals and plants every weekend.
The 300 is a bit long for this kind of carry around work.
So basically, it will be my "forest lens". I needed something faster than 5.6, which is what the bulk of my 18-105 is in the range I usually use it. even going down to f4 is the difference between ISO 1600 and 800.
Most of where we are has poor light even at noon in the summer. Overgrown trails, woodlands, deep ravines, etc.
I was considering the sigma 50-150 2.8 II. It doesn't have OS though and I often find times where I have to push the shutter speed so low to get good exposure that could be a problem. Then they updated it with OS, but it ended up being the same size and weight as the 70-200, so I started looking at the various options there. That's such a shame, because the non OS 50-150 seemed like the perfect size and weight for what it was.
It looks like the 70-200 f4 is pretty darn close to that second gen 50-150 AND has VR... and this gets the NAS juices flowing...
I find this lens's limitation at taking birds in flight (BIF). First is the reach, and if using a TeleConverter, it slows down the camera's auto focous. Then there's lack of VR, forcing me to use higher shutter speed and iso settings.
In a more controlled environment: tripod, cable release, mirror-up, stopped down one to two stops (shooting at f/5.6 or f/8). It performs remarkably well.
By knowing the strength and weakness of your equipment, you will get the most joy out of it. The 300 f/4 is great at what it can do. I bought the 300 f/4 about 3 years ago and it has served me well.
>Do I consider this a "pro" lens? No. > >I find this lens's limitation at taking birds in flight (BIF). >First is the reach, and if using a TeleConverter, it slows >down the camera's auto focous. Then there's lack of VR, >forcing me to use higher shutter speed and iso settings.
I don't really understand your reasoning. Just because a lens doesn't fit a particular use perfectly doesn't make it a non-pro lens. If the 300/4 isn't a pro lens because you don't find it ideal for BIF, well, a 24-70/2.8 isn't ideal for BIF either, but it's still a pro lens.
My principal use of long glass is sports shooting. The 300/4 excels at that in daylight. The image quality I get from that lens is only slightly less than what I get from my 400/2.8. More to the point, it's substantially better than the "non-pro" choice of a 70-300. But at night or in the gym, I use the f/2.8 or faster glass because it's the tool best suited for the job.
On some level, it's pretty silly to argue about "pro" vs "non-pro," but I think some people take "non-pro" to mean "not all that good," and that doesn't fit the AF-S 300/4.
>By knowing the strength and weakness of your equipment, you >will get the most joy out of it. The 300 f/4 is great at what >it can do. I bought the 300 f/4 about 3 years ago and it has >served me well.
If this works, here's a photo I took earlier this week with the 300 f/4 of a couple bif. This is only the 2nd time I've tried to shoot bif - and the first time with this lens. I think it works pretty good for this.
Here's another one, taken the same day. This grasshopper hopped onto the path in front of me, the only lens I had was this 300 f/4 so I used it. It's unusual to see one of these insects this late in the year in N Idaho. I'd read the 300 f/4 could be used like this, but didn't believe the reports I'd seen. I'm a believer now.