I have the good fortune of living within about 90 miles of West Yellowstone and Jackson Hole. I am a longtime amature photographer and I just retired. I intend to buy a big Nikon lens and have settled on the 200mm - 400mm f4 zoom (I think that I could have had Kirby build me a big 338 for less money than this lens) to go along with my new D200. The D200 came with the 18mm-200mm Nikon zoom with vibration reduction. I also realize that a big lens needs a serious tripod (Gitzo GT-3530LSV and a Wimberley head). Long range photography is sort of like long range shooting in that everything costs more (alot more). So here is the $64 question, do you think that between these two lenses that I will be pretty well setup for wildlife photography? If not, what am I missing. In addition, what are your feelings on the Nikon 1.4 teleconverter? Does it provide a true benefit or does it just soften the resolution of a great lens?
I have the 200-400VR lens and like it a lot. In fact I used it several times out here in Rocky Mountain National Park this week. Elk, deer and full-frame coyote. Nothing great in wildlife. I am here this time for scenics.
That lens is considered by many to be the best mammal lens on the market. The 1.4 extender works well with it. Normally when using an extender you may want to stop down one stop, although I don't. I have seen reports saying that this lens is so sharp that you don't have to stop down one stop with an extender. I would suggest you buy the 1.4 extender.
The elk bugle season is right around the corner, especially for you being so close to Yellowstone. So get off the couch and get out there. We'll look forward to seeing your shots next month.
Thanks for the feedback on the 200-400 VR Nikon. Several of the local professional wildlife photographers use it and have nothing but praise for it. I have one on order and the dealer said that they normally take about a month. Which, as you stated, should put me in just about the peak of the rut in Yellowstone Park. I do intend to primairly shoot photos of mammals with some birds thrown in.
I was glad to hear your feelings about the 1.4x Nikon telextender. I have used the old TC-200 Nikon telextender in the past but never had a top line lens to attach it to.
The way I originally posted this thread seemed to exclude everyone but Len and that was not my intention. If any other list members are serious big game photographers I would like to hear your opinions on what to take in the field too. Is anyone else using the Wimberley gimbals-style tripod head? Experiences both good/bad using monopods?
Len - I hope that your stay in Rocky Mountain NP has been time well spent - sort of like the old saw on fishing where the worst day fishing was better than the best day in the office. Now that I am retired, I am hoping to spend more time in the field...
Len, thanks for the feedback on the Wimberley tripod head. I "played" with one today with a 200 - 400 VR Nikon mounted on a D200 and can really see the advantage of this type of head when dealing with a big lens. I should have one in hand at about the same time the 200 - 400 VR lens shows up.
I took three older Nion lenses and a F3 body to the camera store to be sold to help offset the cost of the new stuff. Three guns went to the gun shop too to help pay for all the new equipment.
When I got my D200 last week, it came as a kit an included an 18 - 200 VR Nikon zoom which is an f 3.5 - 5.6 lens. Is that fast enough for most wildlife photography of should I be looking at something like the 70 - 200 f 2.8 VR Nikon for low light situations? How much of your shooting is under such situations? Is this also an area where, like your sunset photo, that multiple photos can be combined?
Location: Inukjuak, Canadian Eastern Arctic 59 parallel
I also have the D200 with the 18-200 VR and have taken some very good action shots with it no problem. As long as you have enough light and I was using it on S.P. and auto ISO. I have the 70-200 f2.8 which I use for indoor sports or with my 1.4x outside for that extra.
Live Long & Prosper
To Go Where No Man Has Gone Before.
I haven't used the 18-200 for wildlife yet, so don't know.
I have a 70-200VR that I don't seem to use much for anything. I need to start to use it or decide to sell it. Next month I am going back to Colorado mainly for fall color. But I will stop again in RMNP for elk on the way out. If I don't use the 70-200 on that trip, the handwriting is on the wall and I will sell it.