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Thread: what is the best nikon lens for bird pictures

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    Member derek68's Avatar
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    what is the best nikon lens for bird pictures

    just trying to find out what other members views on what the best nikon lens for bird pictures i have a nikon d300s and a sigma 150mm-500mm lens but would like to get a nikon brand any help would do

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    what is the best nikon lens for bird pictures

    600 f/4 I'd say


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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    400 f/2.8 I'd say

    in real world terms.. currently an AF-S 300mm f/4 would be hard to beat for usability, price, and value for money
    Nikon D800E, D300, D70s
    {Nikon} -> 50/1.2 : 500/8(CPU'd) : 105/2.8VR Micro : 180/2.8ais : 105mm f/1.8ais : 24mm/2ais
    {Sigma}; ->10-20/4-5.6 : 50/1.4 : 12-24/4.5-5.6II : 150-600mm|S
    {Tamron}; -> 17-50/2.8 : 28-75/2.8 : 70-200/2.8 : 300/2.8 SP MF : 24-70/2.8VC


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    Nikon 80-400 (not sure what the other specs are)
    Nikon fanGIRL
    Nikon D700, Nikon D300s
    + many lenses
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    what is the best nikon lens for bird pictures

    ok, if $ no issue, I reckon

    600 f/4
    500 f/4
    400 2.8 with 1.4tc
    300 2.8 with 1.7tc
    200-400 f/4
    300 f/4
    80-400
    70-200 with 2x tc
    ........
    70-300 vr

    In that order, but I'm happy to debate, lol



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    Member NikonUser's Avatar
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    If you can handle the weight then nothing beats the 600/4. If you want something lighter then the 500/4 is also a great option.
    Australian Nature Photography

    Nikon D7000
    Nikkor 12-24, Nikkor 28-70/2.8, Nikkor 50/1.8, Tamron 60/2, Sigma 100-300/4, Sigma 180/3.5 macro, Nikkor 500/4, 1.4x TC, 1.7x TC

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    thank you i was looking at 400mm 2.8 but some reviews were saying it was to heavy to use for birding

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    what is the best nikon lens for bird pictures

    Quote Originally Posted by derek68
    thank you i was looking at 400mm 2.8 but some reviews were saying it was to heavy to use for birding
    It's not so much that it's heavy, compared to the 600 it's about the same. It's that it's front heavy due to the size of the front element. I have one

    The 500 is very hand holdable and light in comparison and also takes the tcs well


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    In the real world (i.e., if you are spending less than $3000 on the lens), your best current choice for a Nikon body is the Sigma 150-500.

    • 600/4 VR - superb but incredibly heavy and over $15,000
    • 500/4 VR - vastly more practical but still very heavy and $13,000
    • 400/2.8 VR - too short for most bird work, really a rainforest specialist item. Incredibly heavy and difficult to work with, over $13,000
    • 200-400/4 VR - excellent lens, but a bit short and very heavy for a 400/4. At almost $10,000 it is very, very expensive for what it is.
    • 300 2.8 VR - really too short for birding. Almost unusable without a teleconverter. But very practical if you can accept the idea of buying a lens that doesn't do what you need without adding extra glass - not really a great starting point. Quite heavy. $8000 plus teleconverters.
    • 300/4 VR. There isn't one! Go figure.
    • 400/5.6 VR. There isn't one! Go figure.
    • 80-400/4.5-5.6 VR. Nice glass let down by the very low-tech focus mechanism. For birding you need fast, accurate focus. No ifs or buts, it is something you need. Around $2,500 but you'd do better with a Sigma 150-500.


    If you want something better than the 150-500, your best plan is to switch to Canon for the elderly but still class-leading 100-400/4.5-5.6L IS - by far the most popular birding lens in the country. If you are going for the big iron (500/4 or 600/4) then Canon is a far better choice at present. But if you are patient and can hold on to your Sigma for a while longer, Nikkor should bring out some decent semi-affordable birding glass any year now. They have to - they can't go on as they are now, and the new aggressive Nikon have been bringing out lots of great new glass these last three years or so, it's has to be a good bet that a 400/5.6 VR or a new 80-400 isn't too far away.


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    Bird Nerd Richard Hall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tannin View Post
    Sent from my computer using a keyboard and a brain.
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    I say AF-S 600/4 or AF-S400/2.8 VR with 1.7TC (dual use as sports lens)

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    The 600 VR is the "King" for general birding, especially small birds. It's heavy to carry around and to set up, but what a superb glass ! It really loves TCs, even the new aspherical 2x.
    I love the 200-400 VR for bird in flight and close range shooting, but it doesn't like to work with TCs.
    Cheers
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    D2Hs, D2Hs, D2X, D7000, D800 | AF-S 14-24/2.8 | AF-S 18-300 DX | AF-S 24-70/2.8 | AI-S 50/1.8 | AI-S 105/2.5 | AI-S 105/4 Micro-Nikkor | AF-S 85/1.4 G | AI-S 50-300/4.5 ED | AI-S 180/2.8 ED | AI 80-200/4.5N | AF-S 200-400/4 VR | AF-S 600/4 VR | TC-14EII, TC-17EII, TC-20EIII, Kenko 2x | SB-800+Better Beamer | Tripod Dutch Hill+Dietmar Nill Head


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    what is the best nikon lens for bird pictures

    Quote Originally Posted by Sar NOP
    The 600 VR is the "King" for general birding, especially small birds. It's heavy to carry around and to set up, but what a superb glass ! It really loves TCs, even the new aspherical 2x.
    I love the 200-400 VR for bird in flight and close range shooting, but it doesn't like to work with TCs.
    Yip, my mate with a 600 is getting very nice results with the new 2x, also on the 70-200 making it a pretty useful 140-400 full frame

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    What is wrong with the Sigma?

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    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi View Post
    Yip, my mate with a 600 is getting very nice results with the new 2x, also on the 70-200 making it a pretty useful 140-400 full frame

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    Yep, the TC-20EIII is an amazing 2x converter :

    600 VR+TC-20EIII




    70-200 VRI+TC-20EIII

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    Sigh ..... very impressive pictures, Sar, but they do not constitute evidence of the quality of the teleconverter. They merely provide evidence of your skill as a photographer (something we already knew about). There is no reason at all why you couldn't take these same shots using a different lens and a different teleconverter for the same results we see here.

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    what is the best nikon lens for bird pictures

    Quote Originally Posted by Tannin
    Sigh ..... very impressive pictures, Sar, but they do not constitute evidence of the quality of the teleconverter. They merely provide evidence of your skill as a photographer (something we already knew about). There is no reason at all why you couldn't take these same shots using a different lens and a different teleconverter for the same results we see here.
    Even with the older 2x tc?


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    Can't speak for the older Nikon TC but Sar's shots are the same sort of result I'd expect (and get) from my 500/4 and the Canon 2X teleconverter. (Samples on my website if you can be bothered looking at them.) People say the Kenko Pro 2X is very good too, but I've never used it myself, so I can't comment from experience.

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    My experience is that my 1.7 isn't great unless it's stopped down, it's pretty average wide open on my 400

    I have a kenko 1.4 which is sharp

    I have an old manual mc7 kenko 2x that has all the magic of the bottom of a coke bottle

    I did borrow an older nikon 2x tc ii and thought it pretty average also, but can't recall whether it was worse than 1.7 wide open

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    Member JorgD's Avatar
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    Does Nikon still AF at f8 or do you end up manually focusing everything when you have a 600 f4 with a 2x converter? Just wondering, as I am a Canon user and find that my cameras don't AF at f8. I believe the 1D can, but I don't have one of those.

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