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Totally NDR, Safari Lenses?


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#1 NWDiver

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 06:38 AM

So preparing for our big trip to Africa next month, will get a few days of diving in Mozambique but mainly looking for opinions on Dry lenses and other "must have" gear to take. Weight is an issue and some airlines won't allow the Pelican case. My line-up of lenses are, 10.5Nikon, 10-17Tokina, 17-55Nikon, 18-200Nikon, 80-400Nikon, 60mm, 105mm.

I have two D200 bodies and can pick up a slightly used 70-200VR for a deal from a friend, don't own a teleconverter (?) What is the opinion of the 70-200 w/teleconverter vs. 80-400?

Edited by NWDiver, 23 July 2007 - 06:42 AM.


#2 james

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 07:28 AM

Hi,

I shoot Canon but have recently done a safari w/ two digital shooters (my wife and I).

From what I understand, one of the most important safari lenses for Nikon shooters is the 200-400 F4 VR. I would suggest looking at renting one for this trip, otherwise buy one and sell it when you return.

The 70-200 w/ 2X will not yield the sharpness that you'll want. The 80-400 will be better, but is still not perfect.

For wides, you won't need the 17-55 if you're bringing the 18-200 - you can save weight there. If you want to go really wide, instead of using the fisheyes, flip to vertical and shoot a series of shots to make a pano.

Cheers
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#3 NWDiver

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 12:50 PM

I like the idea of the 200-400 but US$4600 Wow! The question is what could I get for it if I sold it one Ebay? Don't want to take $1000 loss.

#4 davichin

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 01:07 PM

I went to Zimbabwe-Zambia-Botswana and used D200 with:

sigma 10-20, nikon 10.5 for WA, heli rides...
18-200 for all around.
50 1.4 for portraits (small and light)
sigma 100-300 and sigma 1.4x for tele
105vr for macro

I would really like to have a 200-400vr!!!
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#5 CeeDave

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 01:20 PM

I don't know how it will go in Mozambique, but in Botswana we commonly got quite close and I didn't need to use teleconverters with the 70-200 VR. Only the giraffe shots here were taken with the 2X (which, as James says, will soften the image). The elephants, leopards, and hyenas were all at < 200mm. And I have to say (though I was initially skeptical), the AF-S and the 2.8 on the 70-200 make a lot of difference in the low lighting that you get some of the best opportunities at. Another photographer had a better body (D200 vs my D70) and I could focus quickly with the 70-200 and she often could not autofocus the 80-400 at all (and theh 80-400 was loud, which did spook an animal once). Even with the 2X TC on (which makes both the 70-200 and 80-400 at 400 f5.6), the 70-200 AF-S on the D70 whipped the 80-400 on the D200 (on focus speed; it will not be quite as sharp). The 200-400 is a fabulous lens, if one can afford it and tote it. The ideal compromise might be the 70-200 with a 1.4X or 1.7X -- or, less flexible but very light and relatively frugal, is the 300 AF-S f4 (great minimum focus distance, too), if you can give up the VR. The 200-400 is possible, but somewhat challenging, to hand-hold, even with VR (the 70-200 and 300 are both about 3.2 pounds, the 200-400 is over 7). I've only handled the 200-400 once, as its owner watched me like a hawk. Availability of this lens is also very limited, right now.

EDIT:
Thom Hogan, who is in my opinion is one of the more sensible Nikon reviewers, has this to say on his site, byThom (keep in mind he's referring to the corners of 35mm full frame):

Performance with the TC-14e teleconverter is nothing short of astonishing. How good is it? Well, I can't see any differences between the 70-200mm at 200mm with a TC-14e and the highly regarded 300mm f/4 AF-S! That's both unexpected and unprecedented. In other words, if you need a 300mm f/4 AF-S, just get the 70-200mm and a TC-14e. You'll get a more versatile lens and lose no sharpness.

With the TC-20e teleconverter, the results are still good (see above), but sharpness is slightly compromised in the corners. I would characterize the results as being an "better-than-adequate" 400mm f/5.6. You might be able to do better with a dedicated 400mm or the 300mm f/4 AF-S with a TC-14E, but the 70-200mm and TC-20e combination will get you by if you don't have one.


END OF EDIT

I think the best bet, with what you have, is the 70-200, ideally with at least one AF-S teleconverter (I'd say 1.7, 1.4, and 2.0, in that order).

Chris

Edited by CeeDave, 24 July 2007 - 08:42 AM.

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#6 james

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 01:30 PM

I bought a Canon 400mm DO IS L for my safari and sold it 6 months later for $100 less than I bought it for. I didn't baby it, but I did buy a lens coat to protect the finish.

At the incredible cost of a safari, and it's a once in a lifetime experience, I'd go for the 200-400 if you can afford the up-front cost and assume a bit of risk (although not much and DEF get insurance).

For more info on Safari Photo equipment check out last week's article at www.luminous-landscape.com It's a bit overkill but has some awesome tips.

James
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