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on May 21, 2014 in Gear Head Wed

GearHead Wednesday 14 -19


Got a gear question you want/need answered? I want to help and answer it. Send your gear questions to me at Gear Questions and I’ll do my best every Wednesday to answer as many questions as I can. I ~really~ appreciate those who email with a basic salutation, makes me feel like the free advice is appreciated. Keep in mind the answers are just my $.02 worth and you have to take what works for you and your photography and embrace it and ignore the rest. So here’s this weeks questions ….

Hi it is Joe. I have a gear head question for you. I realize it is today but maybe for next week. I am a hobbyist. I shoot with a Df and a D3s. I have been considering a long lens…I have the 200-400 but I just cannot get a tack sharp image with the Nikon 2 x converter. The 1.7 works fine. My question for you is this (keep in mind I am a hobbyist) Would I be better off with something such as an older 600mm like this one: (Sorry link deleted). Would it be a sharp lens? or maybe get a Dx body and consider it an expensive teleconverter the 200-400 and 1.7?

200-400Ver-Hi Joe! My first thought would not to be another lens like the 600mm. Rather, it would be look at your support system for your 200-400 / 2x combo. Then I would look at your long lens technique. And finally, I would look at which 2x you’re using because if it’s not the TC-20eIII, that might be causing you the sharpness issues. Keep in mind that 99.9% of shooters when they use a 2x have sharpness issues and it all comes down to long lens technique. Your angle of view has greatly diminished so the slightest movement in the gear is greatly magnified. Keep in mind the old saying, “just one sharp image means the problem is most likely pilot error.” I shoot the 200-400 w/the TC-20eIII all the time producing great results. Have no doubt you can too!

I have the Nikon 800 mm 5.6 lens. Can you suggest a bag to put it in on a plane trip (carry on)?

Alan, I think you should check out the video I just posted. It’s the best answer I have for you right now, the Think Tank Accelerator.

Which – Nikon 800mm, 600mm or 500mm as my primary lens?? I use a Nikon D4s as main camera with a 500mm f/4 & 2x converter (f/8 at 1000mm) as primary lens often free-held or with a monopod and a Nikon D800 with sigma 50-500mm as secondary. We do wildlife photography (sorry link removed) What are the trade-offs for a Nikon 600mm f/4 with 2x or 800mm f/5.6 with 1.25x (both end up at f/8 and all three are less than lighting fast focus unless it is bright light)? Based on weight differences (8.6, 11.2 or 10.2 #s) and relative image quality, is it worth moving to a larger prime? A couple pounds make a lot of difference when slogging through the jungle or up a mountain and hand-holding seems out for the 600 and probably for the 800 (I am 150#s & 71 years)? How do these three lenses compare with the respective convertors pushed up to around 1000-1200mm? Is it worth the extra weight (lets assume the $$$s are not a factor)?

600VerTed, wish I had the answer for you. In fact, I wish the many other times I’ve answered this question here on GearHead Wed could help. The prime lens you select directly effects how you visually communicate and that’s a real personal thing. Without knowing you, your abilities or style of photography, I can’t simply buy XXX. The best I can do is to give you thoughts to ponder and the advice to rent before you decide.
Now when it comes to the 600f4VR and 800f5.6AFS, comparing these two killer lenses as prime of with the TC-20eIII or TC-.25 (can’t be purchased separately), we’re talking 1200mm / 1000mm f/8 respectively and both killer combos! As I mentioned in many posts a year ago while shooting side by side with my shooting partner Kevin, his results with the 600/2x were just as marvelous as mine with the 800/.25. There is no “advantage” in one combo or the other for sharpness or weight.

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I’ve received a lot of what I call “repeat’ questions, once asked a few times and answered a few times already here on GearHead Wed. I appreciate that the question might be new to you, but all the questions and answers have been archeived and read by clicking on this tab which is at the top of the website. So if you sent in a question in the last week but don’t see an answer here, it’s because it’s one of these repeats so I would encourage you to check out the archive as your answer is there waiting for you!