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Old Apr 7, 2009, 4:27 PM   #1
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Hi everyone,

I'm pretty new to photography with dSLR cameras. I recently bought the D90 and I'm very happy with it. I am using a new Tamron 18-200mm lens which I really like as well. However, I'm going to Africa this summer and I'm thinking I would like to get a bit closer to some of the wildlife. I'd like to get maybe a 400mm or 500mm lens, but I don't want to spend a whole lot, since I already broke the bank on the camera and Tamron lens (and the trip!). I was originally thinking of getting an old AI/AI-S 400mm/f/5.6 or f/6.1lens and using it manually. You can pick them up on ebay generally for less than $100-150US or so. I understand that most of them fit the D90, it's just that nobody really wants them anymore.

I see you can also get these 500mm/f8 lenses on ebay brand new made by Opteka (Japan) or Tokinen (Korea) for less than $100US. This seems awful cheap, and I go by the old saying "if it seems too good to be true, it probably is." Anybody used these lenses and how is the quality. I recognize I'm not taking National Geographic quality photos with anything in my range (or with my skills), but I still want something that takes decent pics.

I'm leaning towards just getting an older lens, recognizing it will also likely be a bigger and heavier. Any advice or words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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Old Apr 7, 2009, 4:43 PM   #2
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kpj047 wrote:
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I was originally thinking of getting an old AI/AI-S 400mm/f/5.6 or f/6.1lens and using it manually. You can pick them up on ebay generally for less than $100-150US or so. I understand that most of them fit the D90, it's just that nobody really wants them anymore.
Welcome to the forums.

By "manually", you do realize that in addition to using manual focus (via a viewfinder without a split prism type focusing screen, which can make it more challenging), you would not have a functioning meter with the D90 using one, right? You'd need to move up to a D300 to get metering with non-CPU lenses.

So, unless you want to use a separate light meter, you'd need to estimate the needed exposure (aperture/shutter speed) and/or use trial and error for the correct settings for a given lighting condition (using the playback features/histogram as a guide).

Also, some older lenses may have coatings that leave something to be desired, leading to more loss of contrast from flare in harsher lighting compared to many newer lenses. You'd have to take each one on a case by case basis to see how well it works with digital.

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Old Apr 7, 2009, 6:30 PM   #3
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It is very much a "get-what-you-pay-for" game in SLR lenses. The sweat spot for a Nikon telephoto right now is the 70-300mm VR. That would be the minimum I'd be willing to risk to compromise a photo safari with.

Garry
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Old Apr 8, 2009, 6:18 AM   #4
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When talking about long tele lenses, cheap and good is are terms not typically used together. The mirror reflex lenses vary in quality from brand to brand, and even from lens to lens. You're typically limited to f8, and these lenses usually have the weird circles in the background of images. Some people have had some luck using them, but I would avoid them for the most part.

Tamron used to make a 200-400 f5 lens (it has since been replaced by a 200-500), that can be found in the used market for around $300. It is big and heavy, and you'll need a tripod/monopod to get decent results.


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