I am currently using Pentax K5-11 and Sigma 150-500 for birds and birds in flight. A few of my snaps are posted elsewhere on this site. I would love to receive your help and input because:
I would like to upgrade in particular to get:
• Faster focus
• Strong continuous focus
• Good focus with low noise in failing evening light (presently I miss quite a lot of shots)
• Good picture quality
• Good zoom reach
Happy to invest somewhat to achieve this and I am thinking of:
• Nikon 610 (smaller files and cost compared with D800)
• Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80–400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR
• Nikon Converter 1.4x or 2.0x
Is this the best combination for what I want to do? Is there a better combination I should consider within this kind of price range?
I look forward to your input!
That is a great combination of gear, which currently would be hard to improve on, although a D7100 would give you greater 'reach' with the same resolution. Albeit with the cropped sensor.
Let us know what your decision is and let us see some of the results from the new equipment.
Just a few words of caution before you fix your plans on using teleconverters on the 80-400 zoom lens. The lens has a range of f4.5 to f5.6. If you use a 1.4 teleconverter on this lens your effective f-stop, for autofocus purposes, will be from f6.3 to f7.8. The autofocus system on DSLRs has a limitation, caused by the position of the autofocus sensors, which requires at least a minimum lens opening for it to work. That limitation varies between camera bodies. For example, the minimum lens opening on the D800 is f8. That means that the lens opening when the lens is wide open must be at least f8. (The autofocus system operates when the lens is wide open) So if I were to use the 80-400 with a TC-20EIII the autofocus would not work at all because the effective f-stop range would be f9 - f11.2. If I were to use the TC-17EII the autofocus would work at the 80mm (f7.65) end but as I zoomed toward 400mm (f9.5) the autofocus would quit at the point where I reached f8. I was not able to quickly find the minimum f-stop the D610 requires for autofocus, but unless it is as good as the D800 you may get little use out of teleconverters. If, for example, it requires at least f5.6 (the previous gold standard) not even the TC-14EII will provide autofocus with this lens. Manual focus with birds in flight is pretty much a lost art and very difficult to learn. So check on this limitation for any camera body you plan to buy including any DX body.
This is all very interesting but it has nothing to do with the original post. You should have started your own thread rather than tack onto the end of this one.
Hi Phil: Mcveed is right that your post is interesting and especially so once I realised your key points. I will aim to try out kit before buying, though I do look to reviews, and advice given here. I liked the first of the two websites you mentioned. It took me a bit of time to get the hang of things around Shuttertalk too -- I regretfully ended up with lots of repetition in my posts. So, many thanks for your interest. I do hope you will introduce yourself on the appropriate area of this site and start up some separate feeds as Mcveed suggests. All the best. Jeff
Hi guys: I am close to making a decision here despite my marginal tendency to indecision (anyone else suffer from that?). And it looks like my decision (today most likely) is going to be to go for the combination I set out in my starter post on this thread: Nikon D610: 80-400G; 1.4x.
The responses on this site have been encouraging and my local dealer and others confirm this set is fit for purpose: notably I snap birds and birds in flight with a some people and places (not least gardens) thrown in. I wanted really fast focus; great grab and tracking; good reach; low light performance; and critically, an uplift in picture quality from my present more than satisfactory Pentax combination.
If I still hesitate it is because 1. our local dealer does not have the big lens in stock, nor the extender, so I have not been able to try these items, as advised by one of our members in particular 2. I don't really feel I have any realistic measure of quality improvement for my pound: is it worth the extra? 3. The dealer and others seem to have little scope to entice with prices to buy the three items together (bearing in mind I will also need card, cable release, 50mm lens and so forth); it is a lot of money 4. I have been slightly put off buying used gear but anyway these items don't seem to appear that often for sale second hand anyway and 5. I am advised that in dying evening light when birding can be nicely rewarding, I may need to abandon the extender 6. There is a suggestion of intruding noise as ISO's rise (again in evening light perhaps) and 7. Our local dealer's offer of £750 for around £3,000 worth of Pentax gear bought in the last 18 months did not exactly make me reach for my (digital) cheque book. I shall likely either keep it or sell privately; my son may be interested.
So, dithering apart, why would I on a crazily beautiful spring morning, actually decide to raid my piggy bank and order this set up? My reasons are: 1. No-one has offered a better combination 3. I don't want to spend more 4. I don't want anything bigger, heavier or with more pixels (and bigger file sizes) 4. The camera and lens are highly praised for picture quality, fast focusing, and tracking 5. I think that I do not actually use the long end of my Sigma 150-500mm for birds in flight, only for sitting ducks. I am not quick enough to focus on rocket-fast chicks hurtling through the air with my zoom at 500mm or near. I reckon I usually grab and snap at maybe half that and crop. This doesn't change my hunger for reach, but it does mean I can move forward in my degree course in photography compromise. If needs be, I will keep or add a Sigma 150-500mm for the Nikon. 6. I can see more clearly now that quality improvement in my people and places and garden snaps are more important in my reckoning than I at first appreciated. 7. My local dealer's suggestion of K3 as an expedient on cost and incremental improvement rather than big bang change to FX did not resonate simply because of review conclusions on fast focus; and I don't want to be writing to you all again in 18 months about another prospective uplift: let it be 3-4 years at least!
I suppose lastly, it has to be said, that my hunger for and enjoyment of photography is creeping up on me: blame my recent Peru adventures in part; and I have a trip to the wilds of Romania coming up from 20th May - maybe Danube Delta or the Fagarasului Pass - both awesome beyond belief - so I want to be well set up by then.
May I thank you all for sharing. Please don't stop now! Am I doing the right for the right reasons? Have a good day....Jeff
Personally, I would not buy a converter, without trying it. Ed.
Thanks for that Ed, if the converter arrives and I don't rate it I will leave it in the shop I imagine. However, It is a newish item for Nikon and highly recommended so I expect to get some use out of it. Also interesting, Nikon have a spring cash-back offer on the D610. However, they don't have any in stock, neither does our local dealer. He is scouring other dealers to obtain one! How much sense does that make? Jeff
Mike, that's a helpful response, thank you. I will post some birds in flight snaps somewhere on the site so you can see how far I have managed to go with this using my current kit (K5-11 usually but this week a K30 plus Sigma 160-500mm so moderate focus facility). It will also demonstrate how I see the dilemma of reach and clarity. In short, I getting useful snaps of birds in flight - some passable house martins and sand martins yesterday - but getting really interesting and captivating ones is a different story. As to reach, I will try to post a whitethroat with nesting material from yesterday taken with Sigma 500 as full stretch and cropped hard - and the bird was only about 25yards away albeit obscure in a hedge - you would be doing very well indeed to get much closer to a white throat. All the best and thanks again. Jeff
Apr 28, 2014, 12:46
(This post was last modified: Apr 28, 2014, 12:50 by Freeman.)
Hi all I have now posted a few shots of birds in flight on the site: you can find them on the Assignments 6- speed page. I have also posted two shots of a whitethroat at full zoom 500mm there, which I took a couple of days ago with a Pentax K30. The shots posted are there to indicate my progress so far after year and a half with a camera, and to give some sense to the discussion points I make in this thread about reach v clarity and reasons for my choice of kit combination. The reality is that the shots are reasonably sharp despite the relatively slow focusing capacity, but there is a lot of noise, exposure is not always right and editing is definitely variable. But see what you think. Comments and advice most welcome, both on the shots and all the more on the discussion. Regards, Jeff
Bit lost!! Post a Link to the page, does not show on your "Postings" page?? Ed.
Ed, I am not sure how to respond to your comment. I am still trying to work my way around the site for a start. But I know that if you go to Gallery and scroll down you will find my shots there under Assignment 6 - speed. I hope you can find it! Jeff
The edge is off the majority of your pics, lack of sharpness/detail. The EXIF info is not present, so no idea of your settings. With listed equip, would expect better. You are not too far out!, Ed.
Hi Ed, thanks for that, and well of course they are hand held often at part or full zoom with moving objects, some very small birds. They have often been strongly cropped too. I think that is why the lack of sharpness and detail. But I fully accept there is a long way to go. That is what the thread is about, yes? All the best! Jeff