|The Nikkor 80-400 f4.5-f5.6.|
After reading various reviews, I decided to finally settle for the aging Nikkor 80-400. When this lens is mounted on my D300 (which has a crop sensor of 1.5x), this lens effectively becomes 120mm-600mm - which is ideal range for shooting wild-life (or snooping into your neighbors house).
A brand new Nikkor 80-400 costs around $1,600. Considering that this lens has been out for more than 8 years (and probably due for a refresh), I decided to look at eBay for second hand alternatives. After bidding on a number of options (and losing), I finally figured out that they sell for around $1200. Finally, I managed to snag one for $1000, which I felt was a pretty decent deal. Shipping to Kuwait cost an additional $150.
I finally got the lens few days back and today was the first opportunity I had to try out the lens. The weather was nice (though hazy). To really understand what 600mm really means, the following series of photos will do a much better job of demonstrating the power of a quality telephoto lens.
|Panoramic view of Kuwait City taken at 17mm.|
Since the image is 14 mega-pixel in size, there is plenty of room to crop. I took a 100% crop of the HSBC building.
|100% crop of the image taken at 17mm.|
Now for the real test. I removed the wide angle lens and replaced it with the 80-400mm lens, and took a picture at 400mm.
|Image taken using 80-400mm (full zoom at 400mm)|
What happens when we take a 100% crop of the above image?
|100% crop of image taken @400mm|
That is totally unbelievable!!
No wonder the Kuwait Government is mulling banning dSLR's in pubic. This building is over 3 kilometers from where I am standing and I can clearly read the tiny text below the logo.
Now I can't wait to land in Goa to try some wildlife or bird photography.
This is not to say that the lens is without its faults. First and foremost is that it lacks AF-S, which means focusing is slow and will not work for fast moving objects. Secondly, it is pretty slow at the telephoto end (f5.6) which means it needs lots of light for optimal performance and will likely give poor results in low-light situations.
You can read an expert review of this lens from Thom Hogan. To summarize Thom,
"Recommended; a decent telephoto zoom with a useful VR function; but not for action shooting, as the AF is too slow."