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Old Tuesday 18th April 2017, 12:01   #1
Sultanen
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Nikkor 300mm f/4 AF (non AFS) for birding

Hi,
I'm looking into buying the older Nikkor 300mm f/4 AF lens.
http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/3004af.htm

I will mainly use it for birding, at the moment I have a Canon SX50 HS with excellent reach of 1200mm but I find that the images never get super sharp, they are often soft to some extent.

I'm planning to use this 300mm lens on my old Nikon D80 (1.6 crop) body.

This is my first lens for birding and I'm trying to keep the budget to a minimum, I have found this lens for about 300$ used and it feels like a good price. I'm also considering a TC, ive seen many recommending a 1.4TC to get a bit extra reach.


If I calculate it correctly my reach in 35mm equivalent will be 300x1.4x1.6=672mm so about half the reach of my SX50.

It will mainly be used handheld.

Does anyone have experience with this lens? What can be my expectations for BIF, is the AF quick enough on the D80 body? Is the reach enough to get good shots of wild birds? I will not be standing at a bird feeder but rather take it on walks/hikes in nature.

Any thoughts are appreciated :)
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Old Tuesday 18th April 2017, 13:15   #2
Vespobuteo
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The AF 300/4 IF ED has a very noisy auto focus motor (scares the birds if close). AF-speed will depend on camera, but generally it's not very reliable for BIF./moving subjects. It also shows CA (color aberrations) of all kinds. Both lenses will take pictures, but I definitely prefer the AF-S version, it's better in every way, and can be found for 5000-6000 SEK used.
(I have owned both of these lenses)

Last edited by Vespobuteo : Tuesday 18th April 2017 at 13:19.
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Old Tuesday 18th April 2017, 14:35   #3
nikonmike
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How happy are you with the cannon if you get closer to the subject,i would have thought it could beat the D80 and your going to have to get closer with it.
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Panasonic G80, 100-400
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Old Tuesday 18th April 2017, 16:05   #4
Sultanen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vespobuteo View Post
The AF 300/4 IF ED has a very noisy auto focus motor (scares the birds if close). AF-speed will depend on camera, but generally it's not very reliable for BIF./moving subjects. It also shows CA (color aberrations) of all kinds. Both lenses will take pictures, but I definitely prefer the AF-S version, it's better in every way, and can be found for 5000-6000 SEK used.
(I have owned both of these lenses)
Thanks for the answer!
It sounds like i might need to rethink the budget a bit if its really that much of a difference.. I guess that it will keep it's value over time quite well so it might not be to bad if i decide to sell it in the future.

Regarding the focal length, is the 300mm+1.4TC good for birding, do you get close enought or do you feel that you, most of the time, has to little reach?

Quote:
Originally Posted by nikonmike View Post
How happy are you with the cannon if you get closer to the subject,i would have thought it could beat the D80 and your going to have to get closer with it.
Well, im really happy with the reach but the outcome of most pictures are a bit to soft for me to be really happy with them as an "accomplishment". I can even do BIF quite well in sports mode and the feathers are frozen fine but you almost always have that softness =/
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Old Tuesday 18th April 2017, 18:00   #5
Vespobuteo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sultanen View Post
Thanks for the answer!
It sounds like i might need to rethink the budget a bit if its really that much of a difference.. I guess that it will keep it's value over time quite well so it might not be to bad if i decide to sell it in the future.

Regarding the focal length, is the 300mm+1.4TC good for birding, do you get close enought or do you feel that you, most of the time, has to little reach?

Well, im really happy with the reach but the outcome of most pictures are a bit to soft for me to be really happy with them as an "accomplishment". I can even do BIF quite well in sports mode and the feathers are frozen fine but you almost always have that softness =/
Depends on your expectations and usage. With and APS-C sensor camera I think a 300mm/f4 is practical for walk-around bird photography and BIF as you get 450mm "effective" focal length, and the weight is quite OK.

Those super-zoom cams are practical though for documenting birds, I usually carry a small Pana TZ70 compact of that reason. But the noise and diffraction usually kill the image quality.

Last edited by Vespobuteo : Tuesday 18th April 2017 at 18:04.
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Old Friday 28th April 2017, 11:30   #6
Sultanen
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Did you guys try the 300mm/f4 AF-S compared to the nikkor 80-400mm 4.5-5.6 VR lens? It gives alot of flexibility with the same loss in F-stop one would get with the 300mm + 1.4TC.

The lens i found that was of resonable cost was the older version:
http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/80400vr.htm
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Old Friday 13th October 2017, 17:04   #7
multibit
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sultanen View Post
Did you guys try the 300mm/f4 AF-S compared to the nikkor 80-400mm 4.5-5.6 VR lens? It gives alot of flexibility with the same loss in F-stop one would get with the 300mm + 1.4TC.

The lens i found that was of resonable cost was the older version:
http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/80400vr.htm
I have the 80-400G and the 300mm f4 PF. Both are great lenses, I find the 300mm PF with and without the TC-14e iii to be sharper than the 80-400G although the 80-400G is no slouch.

Heres a shot D500 80-400G at 400mm f5.6
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Old Saturday 14th October 2017, 08:09   #8
Watts
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sultanen View Post
Did you guys try the 300mm/f4 AF-S compared to the nikkor 80-400mm 4.5-5.6 VR lens? It gives alot of flexibility with the same loss in F-stop one would get with the 300mm + 1.4TC.
I have the 300mm f4 afs and the non-afs 80-400. Where speed of focussing is important the 300mm wins easily and when matched to the 1.4 converter gives extra reach with no obvious loss of sharpness. I do not think the benefits of vr on the 80-400 outweigh advantage of fast focus, especially for birds in flight.
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