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Old Sep 5, 2008, 5:14 PM   #1
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Hello,

I am attending an air show in the near future and I am going to renta lens that will get me closer to the action. I just upgraded from a D50 to a D80. I still have lenses and have used my 70-300g at an air show with decent results. I want to get a little closer. I know the 2.8s are the way to go, but they are huge and not expressly designed for hand holding. I imagine it will be bright and sunny so that should not be a problem.

I am looking at the Sigma 50-500 and the Nikon 80-400. The sigma is a little longer of course, and appears to be faster. Is the nikon sharper or are they pretty equal? The sigma seems like the way to go, but I wanted to user opinions.

And I could have waited for the D90, but I didnt see it as being that much better then the D80 and I could care less about the HD video capability. I have a camcorder for that.
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Old Sep 5, 2008, 7:36 PM   #2
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Are you talking about this 80-400mm VR?
http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/80400vr.htm

Ken Rockwell states that the auto-focus on this is slow. If you are taking pictures of fast moving aircraft, this lens may not be able to do the job you want.
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Old Sep 6, 2008, 9:46 AM   #3
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I realize it's slow, but is it slower thenthe 70-300G that I already have? I made that work more by following the target then waiting for it to cross through the frame.

Is the Sigma much faster? It will get closer and that is in its favor now. If it focuses faster as well then that is as good as an answer for me.

As an example of the 70-300G below is a link to some pictures I got at the last air show I was at. This was the D50 and the standard 70-300G. These are cropped a little and resized for web use.

http://picasaweb.google.com/anm8ed/FleetWeek#
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Old Sep 6, 2008, 6:21 PM   #4
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Link didn't work for me. The other issue with the 70-300 is it isn't that sharp.

There's really no need to rent a 2.8 lens. If you've never tried to hand-hold a 400mm 2.8 an airshow isn't the time to start. As a rental, my vote would go to the 200-400 but that's a beast of a lens too. If you can find a place that rents the Bigma it's a nice lens. The 80-400 is really the only other Nikon zoom with longer reach.
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Old Sep 7, 2008, 9:01 AM   #5
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The link worked for me. The picures look great. I think you just need to take the lens you have. If it's not broken... why fix it. And as Jim said, it tough to hand hold a longer lens than you have now and tougher to track the buggers when you get closer too.
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Old Sep 16, 2008, 12:17 PM   #6
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JohnG wrote:
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Link didn't work for me. The other issue with the 70-300 is it isn't that sharp.

There's really no need to rent a 2.8 lens. If you've never tried to hand-hold a 400mm 2.8 an airshow isn't the time to start. As a rental, my vote would go to the 200-400 but that's a beast of a lens too. If you can find a place that rents the Bigma it's a nice lens. The 80-400 is really the only other Nikon zoom with longer reach.
I have the 200/400 and compared to a 400mm prime it is light and usable. I use it mostly for motor racing but when they have fly pasts and displays at the racing I find it not too heavy for a short time. I wouldn't use it long term hand held though. In addition, adding the TC14E makes it one superb lens that is light-ish and very easy to handle. You could of course use the 70/200 with a TC17E which might work and which is pretty light. Anything less than a total of 300mm with or without a TC will be useless.
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Old Sep 17, 2008, 11:53 AM   #7
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A little advice if the show hasn't already happened. I was finally able to see your gallery. When shooting choppers or prop planes you want to use a slower shutter speed - around 1/160-1/200. This will retain some blur in the rotor/prop which looks more natural. Having a completely frozon rotor on an in-flight chopper just looks a bit odd.

Good luck and let us know what lens you went with.
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Old Sep 22, 2008, 1:38 PM   #8
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I had the same thought regarding shutter speed. I have a gorgeous photo of a helicopter doing lake rescue training in Lake Michigan - but it's ruined because the rotor was perfectly frozen in the image. It looks goofy and the first thing I notice is that flaw. It's also the 3rd, 4th, 7th, and 12th thing I notice :-)
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