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2600mm lens for distant wildlife

edited October 2014 Posted in » Nikon D3200 Forum
Any thoughts about using 2600mm lens with D3200 for long distant wildlife shots?


  • edited October 2014
    The 2600mm is awesomely huge.

    If I am reading this right and guessing what is intended, this lens is going to be entirely manual. It's going to be a T-mount with preset or manual aperture. It will neither autofocus nor meter with a D3200, and you will have to hand set the aperture after composing. Your first tip is to get used to guessing exposure with "sunny 16" estimation, and to reading the histogram display. You cannot entirely rely on the preview itself, which does not always show the exposure level as well as a histogram. Your goal is to have a histogram that drops to zero just shy of the right margin, which means you're as high as you can get without blowing highlights.

    At high magnification, this lens will be extremely, painfully slow. It will be rather hard to focus, because the view will not be very bright, and the focus confirmation light will probably not be reliable if it lights at all.

    You'll need a good tripod to make this work best, and preferably one with a gimbal mount so that the lens does not flop on the tripod. That's probably not going to happen, because the best tripod and gimbal for this purpose will cost way too much. You'll at least need as much tripod as you can possibly find. The longer the lens, the more effect even tiny jiggling will have on the image.

    Depth of field will be very shallow at highest magnification, and focus critical.

    You're going to have to experiment to see what ISO speed you can get away with. Back in the days of film such a lens would have been pretty impractical, but these days you should do better with a high enough ISO. It will still be a stretch to get a shutter speed fast enough to catch any motion and to damp the motion of the camera and lens, and maximum ISO will be pretty grainy.

    It's going to be a challenge, I think. The only other tip I can think of is to set the shutter to multiple firing in order to increase your chance of getting a shot free of vibration, and to get the infrared remote release (very cheap). Every possible thing you can do to eliminate camera vibration will help.

    I presume this is the Opteka lens you are contemplating. If so, it is, as far as I know, unique. ]For starters, I think I'd suggest you leave off the teleconverter and see how it performs as a 1300. That's still amazingly long and pretty slow, but likely to be a bit sharper even if the teleconverter is very good. So I would stick with that unless you absolutely need it longer. Practice with that.

    Finally, I should mention that my favorite normal lens is a preset-aperture manual 35mm. PC-Nikkor. It's not so convenient for quick hip shots, but do not be intimidated by the utter manual-ness of it all. Once you're used to it, results can be good.

    With the dark little viewfinder, you might find you need more eyepiece magnification. There is a threaded eyepiece adapter called the DK-22, to which one can add the old 2x magnifier (DG-2), which will help a great deal. The pair will cost you about 70 bucks, but it's worth considering because the D3200 viewfinder is not a happy one to focus manually.

  • edited October 2014
    You must be referring to the Opteka 650-1300mm f/8-16.
    Add the 2x teleconverter and it becomes a 1300-2600mm f/16-32 lens.

    It’s important to identify what you’re trying to photograph. The tiny aperture means that action shots are probably out of the question.

    It alright for capturing a stationary subject that’s far away. You’d have to stabilize it with a tripod and use a relatively slow shutter speed to compensate for the tiny aperture.

    Specs aside, I highly doubt that the glass being used in this lens is of the usual standard used in photographic equipment. I’d wager that it’s more like the glass used in binoculars or budget telescopes. So I wouldn’t expect tack sharp images even if you’re able to get the exposure and focus right. Add in the cheap teleconverter and things would likely be worse.

    I guess my point is you need to be wary when it comes to budget lenses like this one. If you fully understand the limitations of it and still believe that it’s of utility to you, then go for it. Don’t focus just on the long focal length and the low price. I’m afraid you’re going to get it and then realize it’s useless to you. At that point, you’ve wasted $250 and now you’ve got a huge 2-foot long lens sitting at home with zero resale value.
  • edited October 2014
    I think @ohyeahar has some good points, and I would add a couple more.

    First, it's telling that in the SLR world good lenses are not nearly as long as this. You can of course get just about any length you want somehow, but useful speed is very very expensive the longer you go. Sigma has come up recently with a super zoom that goes to 800mm. and it's considered a bargain at only about $8000. The Nikon 800mm f/5.6 prime lens goes for a cool $18,000.

    The lens in question resembles one of the other ways you can get immense reach at the cost of speed, and that is a camera adapter for a spotting scope. I've known people to use these, and the same problem arises here. It's fun, it's a nice novelty, but it's dead slow and not very practical.

    One of the other things that you must take into account when using an extremely long lens is atmospheric haze. Remember those long, long, long shots you see occasionally in movies, where a plane takes off and you can see the heat ripples on the runway? Notice how hazy those mountains look in the distance? There will be a lot of air between you and your subject.

    Finally, not to be too wet a blanket, it's useful to remember that for the DX format, optical diffraction loss begins to appear somewhere between f/11 and f/16. As you stop a lens down past there, the added depth of field will be offset by overall blurring. It's a tradeoff you must sometimes make, but if your longest focal length comes in at f/32, you've got a problem.

  • edited October 2014
    Thanks to all of you for your comments. I have decided to hold off on my purchase until I can afford a better lens!!
  • edited October 2014
    I think that's wise. The enormous length of the lens in question is tempting, but I think it would be very hard to use well and quality would suffer.

    There's a kind of old rule that extra lens length, including teleconverters, usually results in less loss than cropping (or what in the pocket camera world is referred to as "digital zoom." ). As digital sensors become more dense and sharper, this is changing. Remembering the 1.5x effect of a DX sensor, I think you might find that a much shorter lens will still reach very deep, and be easier to use.

    If you can find a decent telephoto in the 300-400mm range, and a good 1.4 or 2x teleconverter, you'll end up with quite a lot of reach, and the 24 megapixel image will still have some room for cropping.
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