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Thread: Safari : 80-400 or AFS 80-200 + 2x TC?

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    Safari : 80-400 or AFS 80-200 + 2x TC?

    Hi there,

    I will be on a Safari ( or trying to ) to Tanzania and Kenya on July.

    I'm a rangefinder user ( M8 / MP ) and will take these for the scenics and portraits.

    I have bought on xmas a DSLR for Macro and Tele work and got a Nikon D2h together with a Nikon 60mm Macro.

    Now.... for the Safari.

    Should I get a 80-200 AFS 2.8 plus a TC or a 80-400 and no converter ? Or even a 300 F4 with a 2x TC ?

    Changing the DSLR not an option, since I got the D2h for a cheap bottom rock price... but in regards of a Tele, what should I go for ?

    I reckon that with a AFS 80-200 I will have much faster AF speed, even with the TC on... but isnt reach the most important thing on a Safari ?

    Renting not an option, at least I dont know any store that rents big lenses in Portugal... so getting a 500 or 600, its a no no.

    One STRETCHY option is getting my budget a bit higher and get a 300 2.8 AF ( not AFS ) with a 2x TC... worth it ?

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    Subscriber Member Corlan F.'s Avatar
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    Re: Safari : 80-400 or AFS 80-200 + 2x TC?

    Except if you plan to shoot at dawn/sunset a lot, you should have plenty of light so a good compromise could be a 300mm f4. Some people here use it and probably have tried the various TC.

    And maybe the 1.4 or 1.7 could work just fine.

    Otherwise, in case you need instant zoom and the extra reach, the 80-400 seems the logical way to go as per your requirements. It should match the D2H body nicely.

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Safari : 80-400 or AFS 80-200 + 2x TC?

    I would go for the 80-400. You'll need the reach most of the time, and a 2x TC will degrade the image quality (except possibly the new one, but that only works with AF-S lenses). An alternative is the Sigma 150-500 which seems to be very sharp at f/8, and probably sharper than the Nikkor at 400mm. It focuses faster as well.

    When all this is said, I must admit that I ended up buying a Nikkor 300mm f/4.0 myself (AF, no AF-S), for sports not safari. It was relatively cheap, is very sharp and renders the most beautiful colours. Results are rather good also with a Tamron 1.4x TC.

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    Senior Member viablex1's Avatar
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    Re: Safari : 80-400 or AFS 80-200 + 2x TC?

    Well the only thing about the 80-400 is the speed of focusing it sometimes has to hunt a while and I don't think that they have an AF-s version of it as of yet.

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    Re: Safari : 80-400 or AFS 80-200 + 2x TC?

    Humm another very interesting option is a 300 F4 AF-S with a 1,4 or 1,7 TC ... decisions decisions... thanks to all that replied though

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    Re: Safari : 80-400 or AFS 80-200 + 2x TC?

    If these choices are restricted by budget - I think I'd go with the 300/4 AFS plus TC 17EII - if you can stretch further get the 80-200 (used) as well

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    Re: Safari : 80-400 or AFS 80-200 + 2x TC?

    I second the suggestion for the Sigma 150-500

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    Re: Safari : 80-400 or AFS 80-200 + 2x TC?

    Quote Originally Posted by proenca View Post
    Humm another very interesting option is a 300 F4 AF-S with a 1,4 or 1,7 TC ... decisions decisions... thanks to all that replied though
    You don't want to use the 1.7X with the 300 f4, I tried it and you take too much of a hit on the AF performance. The 1.4X is great on this lens though.

    Cheers,

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Safari : 80-400 or AFS 80-200 + 2x TC?

    Not sure of your budget but there are some reasonable bargains to be had with used Nikon 70-200 VR at the moment which will work well with the D2h and 1.4/1.7 converters. If shooting from the back of a Land Rover you'll appreciate the VR plus the f/2.8. This is a super sharp DX lens and free of any of the corner softness/vignette that manifests itself only on FX. I used this lens extensively for many years and loved it.

    Obviously the 300/4 has better reach and is also a great lens. Don't underestimate though the lighting conditions for Safari because you will need low light capabilities and combined with the TC you'll be pushing the bounds of AF/f-stop under those conditions.

    I'd be wary of using a TC-20 on any of these lenses though. I've only had success with the 1.4/1.7 converters unless using the faster exotic longer glass.

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    Re: Safari : 80-400 or AFS 80-200 + 2x TC?

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    Not sure of your budget but there are some reasonable bargains to be had with used Nikon 70-200 VR at the moment which will work well with the D2h and 1.4/1.7 converters. If shooting from the back of a Land Rover you'll appreciate the VR plus the f/2.8. This is a super sharp DX lens and free of any of the corner softness/vignette that manifests itself only on FX. I used this lens extensively for many years and loved it.

    Obviously the 300/4 has better reach and is also a great lens. Don't underestimate though the lighting conditions for Safari because you will need low light capabilities and combined with the TC you'll be pushing the bounds of AF/f-stop under those conditions.

    I'd be wary of using a TC-20 on any of these lenses though. I've only had success with the 1.4/1.7 converters unless using the faster exotic longer glass.
    +1 for the 70-200mm f/2.8 with the TC's. Fast enough even with the TC's. More flexible then the 300mm f/4 (which is also great with the TC-14E). The 80-400 doesn't have the IQ of the 70-200 (IMHO). The 200-400 is also a great (although expensive) choice. If i could only take one lens on a safari it be the 200-400. The Sigma 120-400 and 120-500 are also possible choices. I owned both briefly (not up to Nikon glass); but, versatile and reasonably small for their reach. Have fun on safari. Cheers.

    http://mdriscoll.zenfolio.com

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    Member Roel's Avatar
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    Re: Safari : 80-400 or AFS 80-200 + 2x TC?

    I wrote this piece on my blog after I went on safari in Africa about 3 years ago... hopefully it might be of use to you:

    http://roelphoto.com/blog/2006/12/af...uipment-2.html

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Safari : 80-400 or AFS 80-200 + 2x TC?

    Roel's blog entry sums Safari shooting pretty well - you need versatility. I spent a week at Sabi-Sabi (would go back in a heartbeat) and another trip to Pilanesburg and based on those experiences I would say that it's important to determine the type of terrain you'll be visiting too - i.e. some have far more open bush and plains than others.

    Thinking about the range needed, another option might be the Nikon 70-300VR which you can couple with a Kenko Pro 1.4x teleconverter when needed. It works pretty well if you can live with the AF speed. That said, you'll want to avoid changing lenses much out in the field unless you want to be removing dust spots later - so maybe the 80-400VR would be a good compromise for a trip like this, especially with the D2h.

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