New member lens question.... Safari / Wildlife
Hello to all!
I am sure this has been done but I am in a quandary and need advise from DX shooters. I have researched this to the max and find myself frozen on the final choices so I need some help from folks who have shot these on the D7000.
I am going on safari with friends next year and am getting my gear together so I can shoot enough to be proficient (or as proficient as I can get) with my wildlife shots. Since I have time I plan on taking some classes etc. For me, this is a once in a lifetime trip so I want to get the most out of it that I can.
I have the good fortune of having access to two D7000 bodies and am trying to decide on lenses. I will be trying to minimize lens changes which is why I am going with the two bodies.
Short body: 16-35 f4 VR or the 16-85 f3.5
Long body: 70-200 f2.8 (jury still out on version VR1 or 2) or the 300mm f4
both using either the TC14E11 or TC17E11
I have shot a little bit with all of them and like how they all feel so now it's all about versatility and shot quality.
FYI / The 300mm f2.8 is out of my price range and I don't think I will get enough use out of it to justify the cost. (I would like to stay married )
Shooting from beanbags and a Gitzo 3551 monopod with a Markins Q10 ballhead (shot gimbal style) RRS feet/plates and RRS L bracket on the short camera so I can mount it to the side on the monopod. I don't like to shoot off the top of the monopod because it leaves me feeling unbalanced and because this way I can shoot it like a gimbal head without the extra weight.
Any advise / recommendations gladly accepted!
#1. "RE: New member lens question.... Safari / Wildlife" | In response to Reply # 0Rassie Nikonian since 08th Jan 2006Fri 14-Dec-12 07:49 PM
I would take the 16-85 mm for the short lens, and the 70-200 would be a nice continuation of that, but......
Sometimes you need a really long reach with wildlife, and I don't think 200 mm, even with a 1.7X TC will cut it. I believe you'll need the reach of the 300 mm, at least coupled to the 1.7X TC.
Unfortunately if you take the 16-85 and the 300 mm you will have a gap between 85mm and 300 mm, and that's not desirable either. I guess you need to determine whether the 16-85 will work ok with a TC. If so you can use the TC to narrow that gap.
On the other hand, have you thought of renting a lens or two? If you can do that you can make a more suitable selection.
Visit my Nikonians gallery.
#3. "RE: New member lens question.... Safari / Wildlife" | In response to Reply # 1Sat 15-Dec-12 03:43 AM
I have thought about renting and will before I commit to either the 300 or 70-200. I got a chance to take some shots in a Florida swamp this summer and really enjoyed it so I would like to invest in gear to explore more of wildlife photography. (The blue herons were amazing!) I have always enjoyed taking architectural photos but this was a whole other level. I found that my gear wasn't long enough or fast enough to capture what I was seeing. Of course being a better photographer and not having a 75 pound black lab chasing everything in site might have also helped.
I am really trying to keep to two or at most three lenses. Since I also enjoy landscapes I wanted a wide angle that could double as a close encounters lens then one lens dedicated to (less close) wildlife.
I do have an 18-200 which may just be the answer.
#2. "RE: New member lens question.... Safari / Wildlife" | In response to Reply # 0
In 2011 I went to Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa and used only the D70/18-70mm and D300/80-400VR. My son used his 200-400mm with 1.4/tc and often had too much focal length for closer animals.
I have done an analysis of the focal lengths I used photographing the animals (excluding birds and landscapes). Here are the ranges and the percentage of total photographs
Less than 50mm -- 10%
50mm – 69mm -- 16%
70mm – 99mm -- 17%
100mm – 199mm -- 18%
200mm – 299mm -- 13%
300mm – 400mm -- 26%
Of course you always wish for more focal length for birds. I photographed a little over 100 species of birds and I imagine over 90% were at 400mm.
A selection of my Africa photos can be seen in my gallery. The EXIF is intact so you can see which camera/lens was used on each of the photos.
I carried an empty bean bag and filled it with rice in Africa. I also carried a short monopod that I could rest on the seat when we were in a safari vehicle.
#4. "RE: New member lens question.... Safari / Wildlife" | In response to Reply # 2Sat 15-Dec-12 04:19 AM
Thank you for the breakdown it has really helped! The photos in your gallery are fantastic!
Using that breakdown the 16-85 gets me about 1/2 way there with good optics. The 300 without the TC on a DX body gets me past 300 (still with good optics and the TC option for more length).
I may have to rethink.
#5. "RE: New member lens question.... Safari / Wildlife" | In response to Reply # 0
To add to the above, it depends where you are going. In 2005 I shot in Botswana with the 70-200. Most of the keepers are fine; for some I was too far away and resorted to significant cropping.
But bear in mind that, generally speaking, in Botswana you get closer to most of the animals. For any other safari country, a 200-400 or longer would be required. That said, using an exotic lens requires practice to develop good long lens technique.
A New York City Nikonian and Team Member
Please visit my website and critique the images!
#6. "RE: New member lens question.... Safari / Wildlife" | In response to Reply # 5Sat 15-Dec-12 06:28 PM
Thank you Jon
I have over a year to get myself into shape for the trip which is why I was looking to get the lens now and get time / practice behind it. We are still refining exactly where we are going.
#7. "RE: New member lens question.... Safari / Wildlife" | In response to Reply # 0
I use a 300F4AFS, occasionally with a 1.4TC, as my primary wildlife lens. I had a TC1.7 and I sold it because I found it to be a bit of a challenge (i.e., a lot of work) except on a tripod, mirror lock etc...
I also have an 80-200F2.8, It's decent with a 1.4TC, but I think it is still too short.
Before I purchased the 300F4 I used a Sigma 50-500. Candidly, I miss the ability to zoom and compose, changing the TC in and out is a dust consideration. I often shoot from a kayak, so in my case dust is not the issue .
At my skill level, using a monopod or beanbag,the IQ was about even between the Sigma and the 300F4 (especially if you back off a bit from full zoom at 500mm). Except in early morning when the extra stop of light available via the 300F4 w/o the TC is an advantage when focusing.
With that said, add optical stabilization to the equation and I think things will change from a IQ perspective. I think the new stabilized Sigma 50-500 will have an advantage.
I just ordered a new Sigma 50-500 OS lens because B&H is currently selling them at a holiday price of $1299 right now... and some people say this new version is better, optically, than the older version that I previously owned.
See the sale price in-cart...
Note that I have no particular interest in promoting B&H, I am only mentioning it as a option because this is a pretty good deal, and you may have considered/ruled out this lens based on price.
This is a pretty decent lens. It's no prime but it is a popular wildlife lens.