I have been lingering around the Nikonians Forum for the past few weeks and decided to finally register and ask some questions. I am very interested in Wildlife photography and wanted some input on lens choices for an F100. I've been researching various telephoto zooms but I am not sure which would be best for my price range. The most I would spend is around $750-800. Lens quality is my number one priority but I would also like a descent zoom range. The Tokina 100-300mm f/4 AT-X 340 AF II seems to fit my criteria, but I was wondering if there are any Manual focus lenses out there with a longer range, or perhaps, better quality that I should be looking at. I am also uncertain as to whether an 80-200 f/2.8 or a 100-300 f/4 would work best with a teleconverter.
Nikkors: A used 400mm f/5.6 ED IF AI-S, in Excellent condition should be anywhere between US$950 and US$1,100. A used 400mm f/3.5 ED IF AI, same condition, is around US$1,800 and US$2,100 A used 400mm f/2.8 ED IF AI-S, same condition, US$3,600 (That is why the 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR is not so expensive at less than US$1400, brand new) I have not seen many used Tokinas for sale in this focal length. Maybe you should peek at eBay.
Eric, I'd like to suggest a different combination that will give you better performance than a tele-zoom or an off brand 400 f5.6. Try looking for an old style AF300 f4.0 Nikkor. While these have slow AF, it will be fast enough with your F100. Add a Kenko pro300 1.4x converter and you will have a choice of 300mm f4.0 and 420 f5.6. I use this lens combo when I want to travel light and it will produce exceptionally sharp images! You should be able to get both pieces from around $750-800.
I recently purchased a Nikon 80-400 AF VR Zoom from B&H. I've been able to get closer to wildlife and forgo the tripod setup and just handhold for most of my shots. Only cost $1,119 after the rebate so not a bad price. Here is a shot I took of a deer which had bed down in the middle of the day during a light rain. I took the shot at almost 400mm, f/5.6, shutter around 1/60 (light kept changing so not sure if 1/30 or 1/60. Jeff
I fully agree with Bruce. A 300 mm is a wonderful lens for wildlife photography, and if you add a converter, you'll have a great combo for bird photography. A good converter on a good telelens will give you great pictures. I don't have any experience with the Kenko converter, but I use a TC14B on a MF 300 mm, with very good result.
You also need to know that long lenses ask for special techniques, heavy tripods ... A 300 mm is the best way to start in this field.
I have been trying to decide the same debate. I am almost decided on the 300 f4 and 1.4 TC. There is a good link here http://www.nikonlinks.com/lenstest.html that references the 300 f4 and TC combos. I am also thinking about a 2x for my 80-200 2.8 - currently with a 1.4x TC it works very well but I am not so sure about the 2x.
I have very sharp result with an AFS 80-200 + TC14E, but never tried a TC20E. You can expect the result will certainly not be as good. A fellow wildlife photographer who is also very pleased with the TC14E on his AFS 500mm, told me he only has good results with a TC20E, when the lens is focused nearby (5 - 7 meters) and the subject is near the center of the image. So don't expect too much of an AFS 80-200 + TC20E (and even less of an older AF 80-200 + TC20E).