Nikon D3000

edited November 2015 Posted in » Nikon Lens Talk
Hello, I need a little help. I want to buy a lens for my D3000, to take pictures of wild life. Debating on whether to look for 70-300mm zoom or go with a 500mm fixed telephoto lens. Due to price, it does not have to be auto focus. Thanks for any input.


  • edited November 2015
    This depends a little on how you intend to use the rig. A 500mm fixed focus lens will give you a great quality image, if you can keep it steady, if you can focus it in time, and if you can afford it. I occasionally borrow my wife's 500mm f/4 P manual focus lens, and it's splendid, but it is enormous! You can't really hand hold it except in the brightest conditions and even then it's a handful. It's also very expensive even now, as are most of the best telephoto primes. Birds on nests, grazing animals, lunar eclipses, yes. Chasing things, and birds on the wing, no.

    For my own use I have an ancient 400mm f/5.6 A lens that is dreadfully slow to focus, and does not meter with my D3200, but is sharp as a tack. But even now it's expensive.

    Remember that a 300mm in the DX format will give you the equivalent of a 450mm lens on full frame, which is pretty good reach. I have had good results from the DX 55-300mm lens, which is quite quick and easy to use and has good VR.

    If you want a real bargain in a lens that will not autofocus with your rig but will meter correctly, consider the old 70-300mm f/4-5.6 D ED lens, or its successor the G version (no aperture ring and no ED glass). Relatively inexpensive when new, the D ED was actually quite decent. The G is said to have been fairly decent but made more cheaply. Like many cheaper lenses, it has a rotating front element so polarizing is not practical, and is not at its very best at 300mm, though it's not bad. KEH has the D ED for about a hundred bucks used, and the G even cheaper.

    I have the old D ED, which I have used on an f/4, and almost decided to keep for the D3200, but the 55-300mm was heavily discounted, and I wanted the AF and VR for traveling.

    The 70-300mm AFS VR is well regarded, and of course much more expensive, but you get VR and autofocus that works, and it's said to be sharp all the way through its range.

    Your first job will probably be to decide how much automation you need. If you want to be able to meter at all, you'll need at least an AF or an AIP lens with electronics. The older AF lenses won't auto focus, but they'll function otherwise. If you're expecting to shoot freehand, VR is nice if you can afford it.

    If you're willing to go 100 percent manual, there are some great bargains in older manual lenses, from bank breaking exotic to bargain bin cheap. I bought a decently sharp Vivitar 400mm f/5.6 with TX mount a few years ago for $5, which is probably at least 80 percent as good as my cult-status Nikkor, and about $450 cheaper. You can get one from KEH for 60 or so. That 500mm f/4 P, when it comes up occasionally, will still set you back a couple of thousand.

    If you're shopping for real bargain new lenses, do be careful that there are some T mount lenses out there that have preset apertures, which means not only that they don't meter with your camera, but that you will have to remember to stop them down after focusing, as the camera will not interact at all. Now that also is not necessarily a deal breaker if you want lots and lots of reach at bargain prices (though I also suspect the image quality might be less than great too), but it's slow to operate and not well suited to action.
  • edited November 2015
    Thank you, I guess I still need to shop.
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