D3X + 300 mm and Teleconverter or 400 mm
I have a D3X. For wildlife photography I'm using a Nikkor AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G IF-ED VR Lens. The 300mm is little short when photographing wildlife you don't want to scare away. I'm debating between the purchasing a Nikon AF VR Zoom-Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.5 ED lens or using the 70-300mm lens with a Nikon TC-14E II 1.4x teleconverter.
Weight is a significant problem when your 60+ and hiking into the woods for many miles in search of wildlife. The D3X is a monster in itself. But, I want to produce sharp 18 x 24 prints. The 70-300 mm lens weighs 1.6 pounds. The 80-400 mm lens weighs 3.4 pounds. The teleconverter is only 7.1 onces.
The 70-300 mm plus teleconverter will be lighter in weight, but I loose 1 fstop and some narrow depth of field. I want to photograph the animals and blur the backgounds as much as possible.
What do you think?
#1. "RE: D3X + 300 mm and Teleconverter or 400 mm" | In response to Reply # 0blw Nikonian since 18th Jun 2004Sat 19-Sep-09 07:32 PM
I'm about 99% sure that your lens won't even mount on the TC-14EII, or any other Nikon TC for that matter. Even if you went with the Kenko 1.4x TC, you'd have lost a stop from the TC itself, but you'll also loose another one as you will almost certainly want to stop down another stop to improve IQ.
I'd go for the 80-400. The TC only weighs 7 oz, but combined with the lens it's 2.3 lbs, so you're only gaining one pound. I know they add up, but with a D3x you really want the best in optics.
Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member
My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!
#2. "RE: D3X + 300 mm and Teleconverter or 400 mm" | In response to Reply # 1jackhx Charter MemberSat 19-Sep-09 08:25 PM
I have the same combination and recently tried to mount the 70-300 on a TC and it wouldn't work - which is what I thought but tested it anyway. For the time being I'm using my 70-200 with a 2X TC when I travel and want more reach than the 300 - but it makes a fairly heavy solution and you lose a a fair amount of sharpness with the 2X on the 70-200.
I've not shot with the 80-400 but have thought about it for the same reasons you mention. I have heard it is a little soft. I'd be interested in what you learn.
#4. "RE: D3X + 300 mm and Teleconverter or 400 mm" | In response to Reply # 2Sun 20-Sep-09 01:53 PM
The 300 mm + teleconverter is no longer an option as I learned it won't work. The reviews on the 80-400 are mixed. Some say the lens at 400 mm is a little soft. Others say is it excellent. All considered, I think I will go with the 80-400 mm lens.
#5. "RE: D3X + 300 mm and Teleconverter or 400 mm" | In response to Reply # 4Sun 20-Sep-09 02:20 PM | edited Sun 20-Sep-09 02:23 PM by briantilley
>The 300 mm + teleconverter is no longer an option as I
>learned it won't work.
I'm not sure which 300mm you mean, but just to be clear - the AF-S 300mm f/4D Nikkor works very well indeed with the TC-14E (or TC-14E II). If you do not need the zoom capability or VR, this would always be my choice for getting to 400mm (actually 420mm) at f/5.6. But since you have mentioned weight as an issue, the 80-400mm seems your best bet unless you want to consider Sigma's APO 120-400mm f/4.5-5.6 DG OS HSM.
#3. "RE: D3X + 300 mm and Teleconverter or 400 mm" | In response to Reply # 0
70-300mm lens with a Nikon TC-14E II 1.4x teleconverter
...hiking into the woods...
The Nikon teleconverters won't fit -- but even if they did you may have trouble focusing in lower light levels. Nikon requires at least f/5.6 to guarantee that their focusing system works, and with a teleconverter on the 70-300mm you'd be smaller than f/5.6.
The 80-400mm gives you f/5.6 at 400mm.
It gets dark in the woods -- so either of these combinations may leave you a bit wanting for light. You'll want a nice, lightweight tripod to help get really sharp images. A couple of companies make replacement tripod collars for the 80-400mm which are a nice improvement.
Another lens you might look at is the 300mm f/4 AFS. It gives you an extra stop at 300mm (compared to the 70-300mm), and it will take a TC-14E teleconverter making it into a 420mm, f/5.6.
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#6. "RE: D3X + 300 mm and Teleconverter or 400 mm" | In response to Reply # 3tgreenwald Registered since 12th Dec 2005Sun 20-Sep-09 02:52 PM | edited Sun 20-Sep-09 03:35 PM by tgreenwald
I want to photograph the animals and blur the backgounds as much as possible.
I read this part of the post and realize that in order to accomplish this your going to have to shoot at f2.8 or f4. Since you want a blurred background this leaves you now considering a 300 or 400mm f2.8. Sigma has a 120-300mm f2.8 that is pretty good also. I have also owned the 300mm f4 AFS and D and they are both gone. I too wanted blurred backgrounds and they did not deliver as well as the f2.8 . So you might want to really consider a 300mmm f2.8( if its too heavy just stick a D40 on it.) I have owned 2 copies of the 80-400mm VR and have gotten rid of both. The focus would always pi $$ me off and AFS is the only way to go. The 80-400mm has great potential when tripod mounted and in good light at f8 (my opinion and I have great photos to proove it) Sometimes I'm ready to chuck all my SLR gear and get a point and shoot as the weight is literally a pain,but the photos I get are so nice that I tolerate the weight. So while your (hopefully) young enough to lug all the stinking gear around in the woods spring for the big glass and if you hate it you can sell it and not take a beating or buy used and it will hold it's value. I just sold my 2nd copy of the dreaded 80-400mm as I found it impossible to get birds in flight reliably and I blew some of an eagle being hounded by some seagulls (damn) I love the light weight but hate the way it handles low light.
But, I want to produce sharp 18 x 24 prints.
Not wanting to start any controversy but I have been blowing up my Coolpix 995 photos to 30 by 40" on canvas and they look great so you should have plenty of room to crop your D3X if that is the issue here and not 300 vs 400 (or 500 or 600 or 800) and enlarge them to make good big prints. Coolpix was 3MP! If you want some tips on upsizing photos ping me via PM.
Good luck with the new camera
(73 de N4VHDMM2)
Capt Tedd Greenwald
#7. "RE: D3X + 300 mm and Teleconverter or 400 mm" | In response to Reply # 6nutcracker Registered since 21st Dec 2005Tue 22-Sep-09 03:04 PM
Seems to me that matching D3X with 80-400 zoom would be a shame,
That camera body deserves the 200-400 lens. The combination may be heavier than the more modest lens, but balances really well, which reduces the apparent weight in the hands. And bird images (and all others too) are truly stunning.
#8. "RE: D3X + 300 mm and Teleconverter or 400 mm" | In response to Reply # 7Wed 23-Sep-09 12:05 PM
That was my first choice. But, my biotech business is crashing and $6,000 is too expensive for me right now.
I found a cure for migraine headaches and cancer and going bankrupt over it.
Photography helps me keep sane.
Life is quite interesting...
#9. "Sell the D3X and get glass!" | In response to Reply # 8tgreenwald Registered since 12th Dec 2005Wed 23-Sep-09 01:02 PM
You could also use a 200mm f2.0 VR AFS G lens with a 2X TC for your 400, I forgot to mention it.
I suggest quickly selling the D3X while it's worth a lot. You can now pick up D2X for under 1000USD which I find amazing (and I purchased one). Get a good used body like D200/D3/D300/D2X and the glass you want. The glass is going to hold value but the bodies are not. I wish my stocks held value as good as my lenses . I have not shot with the D3X but have shot with the Canon MK1 Ds III and find that cropping is not as good as telephoto. I have shot with the 200mm f2 and a TC2X and it's great but I needed more length for birds.
#10. "RE: D3X + 70-300 mm and Teleconverter or 80-400 VR" | In response to Reply # 8Sat 26-Sep-09 06:52 AM | edited Sat 26-Sep-09 07:05 AM by RRRoger
I don't have a D3X but assume the Nikkor 80-400 would work the same on it.
This lense really came to life on my D3.
I have two and they both work very well full range.
Lots of photographers use this lense successfully for birding.
I use mine for motor sports.
tgreenwald must have his settings wrong or he is shooting with a D2X or both.
You might also try the D3X crop mode.
You can setup the function button for a very fast switch.
10 megapixels is quite a bit to work with.
I could print posters with my 4.1mp D2H
The newest Teleplus 1.5X Kenko works on the 70-300.
The 80-400 is better than the 70-300 + 1.5x or 70-200 with 2X converter at 400mm.
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#11. "RE: D3X + 70-300 mm and Teleconverter or 80-400 VR" | In response to Reply # 10Sat 26-Sep-09 08:27 AM
>I don't have a D3X but assume the Nikkor 80-400 would work
>the same on it. This lens really came to life on my D3.
I would not make that assumption. The greater pixel density of the D3X compared with the D3 means that a lens that suits the D3 may not work as well on a D3X. When you say it "came to life" on a D3, which camera were you using it on before, and what were the limitations?
Note: I don't own either the 80-400mm or the D3X myself, which is why I wrote "may" above. If we haven't tried this lens on the D3X, we really don't know either way
#13. "RE: D3X + 70-300 mm and Teleconverter or 80-400 VR" | In response to Reply # 11Sat 26-Sep-09 11:07 AM | edited Sat 26-Sep-09 11:27 AM by RRRoger
The D3X and D3 are supposed to be the same except for sensor.
They use the same body, Auto Focus, and controls.
It should be very safe to "assume" that the 80-400 will work the same
and will also "come to life" on the D3X.
The problem of greater Pixel density and more megapixels is that they will show all equipment flaws and user errors in greater detail.
Moving from a 4mp D2H to a 12mp D2X made me re-evaluate my shooting techniques, thus helping me become a better photographer.
I am hoping that when I get a 24mp camera the same happens again.
I used the 80-400 on the D2H and D2X before the D3.
The focus was slower, but "fast enough" for sports.
The relative lense comparisons were the same on all 3 cameras even though each had a different sensor.
I think Brian is trying to suggest that you take your D3X to your local store and "try before you buy".
That way you will be able to find out what works "for you".
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#16. "RE: D3X + 70-300 mm and Teleconverter or 80-400 VR" | In response to Reply # 13Sun 27-Sep-09 12:33 PM
>I think Brian is trying to suggest that you take your D3X to
>your local store and "try before you buy".
Brian is/was suggesting that in general we should put more trust in comments from those who have actually used a particular combination of camera and lens, rather than those who have not. I cannot speculate how well the 80-400mm works on a D3X, because I haven't tried it - and neither has Roger.
#12. "RE: D3X + 300 mm and Teleconverter or 400 mm" | In response to Reply # 0
I do a lot of woods walking / wildlife photography, and have found the Nikkor 80-400 VR to be an excellent lens for this use. Complaints about being soft at 400mm are I believe, often based on the feeling that VR is a cure all. 400mm is still 400mm, and requires proper camera support and shutter speed for good results.
There are sharper lenses out there, no doubt, but not much that can deliver what the 80-400 delivers, considering its size and weight. I primaraly use a D2Xs, which I try to keep at 800 ISO, or lower. With a D3x, you benifit from at least a couple more stops of speed, making this lens even a better choice. My only question would be it's performance on a 24mp sensor....I am assuming it would carry over it's very good performance as delivered on a 12mp sensor.
#14. "RE: D3X + 300 mm and Teleconverter or 400 mm" | In response to Reply # 12wapiti Nikonian since 21st Dec 2002Sat 26-Sep-09 12:23 PM
I have an 80-400 VR and I never use it. I cannot, personally recommend this lens.
Practically, all of my photography is of wildlife. If you are shooting small birds, I don't think that a 400 is sufficient. I realize that you are on a limited budget, but I would not consider anything less than a 500mm, with the exception of the Nikon 400f2.8 with TC's.
I use a Nikon 500f4.0 with/without TC's. I purchased my used which is usually the case with my equipment.
If you own a D3x, it makes no sense to me to attach anything less than the best onto it.
The cost of that camera would have gotten you a D300 and a used Nikon 500f4.0, if you could find one and that is often the problem.
Bill in Austin, TX
"When you come to the fork in the road, take it."
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#15. "RE: D3X + 300 mm and Teleconverter or 400 mm" | In response to Reply # 14
#17. "RE: D3X + 300 mm and Teleconverter or 400 mm" | In response to Reply # 15FUJS5 Registered since 09th Dec 2007Mon 28-Sep-09 07:26 PM
I use a D3x with a 300 2.8 however the weight is a major problem + tripod
soon learnt that a rucksack with the weight on both shoulders helped a little but never carry the weight on just one shoulder especially if you are doing some walking mileage. However
Results convince me its worth the pain
Smile it can only get better
#18. "RE: D3X + 300 mm and Teleconverter or 400 mm" | In response to Reply # 0
I don't mean to start a controversy, just want to give a kindly meant thought that you are welcome to ignore: You will get superior images from a consumer DX camera like D90 with a good lens like Nikon 300 f/4 AFS, than with the D3X and one of the variable aperture zooms being discussed here.
Bay Area Nikonian
#19. "RE: D3X + 300 mm and Teleconverter or 400 mm" | In response to Reply # 18ECC233 Registered since 11th Jan 2007Sat 03-Oct-09 08:06 AM
The 80-400 is OK on a D3X but (a) it is slow and spends a lot of time searching if you use AF (b) it is really c**p with a TC on it unless you are working in lighting conditions like the middle of a desert.
It is convenient in terms of weight and size but I only use it now if i am walking long distances.
The compromise that I make with the D3X in terms of reach/weight is to take a 300mm f2.8 with 1.7 TC. For birds the TC is usually needed but for larger animals you are fine with the 300. You also get a beautiful shallow depth of field to isolate the subject.
the attached doesn't really do the lense justic as it has been down-rezzed so much for the forum - but you get the idea
Attachment#1 (jpg file)
#20. "RE: You have a dilemma - or 2 or 3" | In response to Reply # 0
>I want to produce sharp 18 x 24 prints
Either of the zooms can (and do) produce sharp 18-24 inch prints - providing you view at the comfortable viewing distance assumed in standard depth of field tables - which is roughly 30 inches for an 18x24 inch print.
I assume what you mean is you want sharpness when viewed at 12-15 inches - a very high standard.
There is a chance you might get the quality you are looking for with either zoom - at f9.5-f11.
18x24 viewed at 15 inches increases the effects of camera shake and reduces depth of field so you need to have good technique - which leads to 2 dilemmas - a good tripod (you are not happy about weight) or high ISO which can reduce the detail you want.
One of the reasons some buy lenses like the 300 f4 AF-s is they have excellent corner quality (as in above 80% at 30 lpm) compared to lack luster 45% at 30 lpm in the corners for the 80-400 at 400mm one stop slower at f5.6 or a surprisingly good 70% with the 70-300 VR at 300 f5.6.
For the highest corner quality with close viewing (your likely reason for using the D3x) the 300 f4 is the best optical option.
Nikon do not produce MTF with converters but Canon do - based on Canon figures the TC14e should loose no more than 5% so still better than the zooms.
You still have dilemmas as the 300 f4 is not VR - so shutter speed compromises.
The 200-400 delivers well over 90% in the frame corners at 400mm f4 - which gets you extremely high optical quality - with the compromise of size and weight.
Photography is a bit like archery. A technically better camera, lens or arrow may not hit the target as often as it could if the photographer or archer does not practice enough.
#21. "RE: You have a dilemma - or 2 or 3" | In response to Reply # 20KnightPhoto Nikonian since 18th Dec 2006Sat 03-Oct-09 11:47 AM
>One of the reasons some buy lenses like the 300 f4 AF-s is
>they have excellent corner quality (as in above 80% at 30 lpm)
>compared to lack luster 45% at 30 lpm in the corners for the
>80-400 at 400mm one stop slower at f5.6 or a surprisingly good
>70% with the 70-300 VR at 300 f5.6.
>For the highest corner quality with close viewing (your likely
>reason for using the D3x) the 300 f4 is the best optical
>Nikon do not produce MTF with converters but Canon do - based
>on Canon figures the TC14e should loose no more than 5% so
>still better than the zooms.
Plus the other benefit is the 300 f/4 is very fast AF and only 3.2 pounds which is very good compared to the other options which only get heavier from 300mm f/2.8 on up.
I would also get the TC17E in addition to the TC14E.
I am currently going through the same 'size and weight dilemma' at the other end of the scale - 24-70mm - but am pretty well decided to bite the bullet. Every other time I have been thrown off by the weight of a lens (70-200, 500), I have been so happy with the optical results that I do not even notice the weight anymore
Best regards, SteveK
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#22. "RE: Converter, 80-400, Monopod, Strap" | In response to Reply # 21Sun 04-Oct-09 01:23 PM | edited Sun 04-Oct-09 01:26 PM by RRRoger
Like I mentioned earlier I recommend the newest version N-AF 1.5X TELEPLUS MC DG KENKO for your 70-300 and the 80-400 as a more versatile substitute.
I recently had a rotator cup repair done on my right shoulder. This weekend I was forced to dig out my old Manfrotto monopod. I lost the freedom to swing the D3 around to shoot both horizontal and verticle shots but it not only took the weight off but also gave me something to lean on and my picture came out better than usual. I shoot a high percentage of keepers, so this surprised me.
Also consider using a Boomerang or Nikonians strap. They take a lot of weight off the neck.
Being over 60 myself, I do not like carrying a lot of gear any further than my car. Those huge lenses are superior but heavy and difficult to handle. I needed a very heavy tripod and full wimberly head. I sold my 50-500, 120-300 and 300-800 Sigmas and my Nikkor 200-400 for that reason. I am also looking forward to a lighter weight (without grip) D700x to use for hikes.
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#23. "RE: D3X + 300 mm and Teleconverter or 400 mm" | In response to Reply # 0
I would try to avoid any TC as much as I can.It's not that you can't have any sharp,colorful or contrasted shot but it's more difficult.I would not use a TC for the extra range but for more cropping (subject extraction). (The D3x is an excellent camera but will show any flaws (perfect long range technique is a must) in the final result.)