telephoto len & tripod

what telephoto len would you recommend for a d3200 I want to use it to
take pics of birds and nature. Also I need a tripod any recommendations.


  • For a tripod, I'm not up on the latest offerings. Moose has a video somewhere on this site I think that may offer some insight. My main input would be to get the best you can afford. A good tripod will serve for a long time and if you skimp you'll likely either end up not using it enough or replacing it anyway. If you're going to be using it for wildlife, look at really good (and really expensive) ball heads or gimbal mounts. A gimbal is about the only mount that will allow you really to follow motion well.

    Some of this will depend on where you use it and how much you intend to carry it. Some of the best tripods are big and heavy, but that's what you'll need for serious wildlife. If you need a very light one for travel, there are some pretty nice ones coming out these days from various makers including Manfrotto and Sirui. They won't hold big stuff for birds in flight and the like, but can be easily carried around for night shots and scenery.

    For a lens it depends a lot on what you can afford, but for birds, and especially birds in flight, something with good vibration control that can be hand held at least for a while works well. Tamron, Sigma and Nikon all makes some very nice big zooms. The latest version of the Tamron 150-600 is said to be very good. The older one is not bad, but the vibration control is not as good as some others, and it's not quite as sharp. Sigma has two versions, one relatively small and not too expensive, and one quite a bit more robust, and more expensive. I've heard they're both good. The Nikon 200-500 F5.6 is very good, has great vibration control, and has the advantage of a constant aperture. I have this one, and it's a good one for birds in flight because, although heavy and big, it's nicely balanced for hand holding. None of these are cheap, but the Nikon is (for them) surprisingly competitive.

    If you can settle for something shorter, consider staying around 300 at the long end. The 55-300 DX lens is decent, if not spectacular, will deliver a pretty nice sharp result, and it's not very expensive. Nikon has made a dizzying and confusing array of 70-300 lenses of which some are incompatible or not very good, but the 70-300 F4.5-5.6 AFS VR, recently discontinued (I think), is very good. This one is a full frame lens, a bit bigger than the 55-300DX, a tiny bit sharper but a good bit better made, and with much better auto focus, faster and more accurate. Other manufacturers also seem to like the 70-300 range, and there's a lot offered. But just make sure of the specifications, as almost everyone has made different versions of these, and some may not have AF motors. Nikon alone has made, I think five or six versions of which only the one I mentioned is fully compatible with the D3200.

    Birds in flight and things of that ilk are better captured hand held with the equipment we have nowadays.

    Remember if you're shopping around that the D3200 requires a lens to have a built-in motor in order to auto focus, so older AF lenses with screwdriver AF will not auto focus. Avoid, for example, the otherwise attractive older 80-400D, which is decent if not great, and only manually focuses. Similarly with other lenses from other manufacturers. Make sure of the specs if you want auto focus. Each maker has its own terminology.

    A couple of people here recently have posted about bargain priced preset telephotos. Some of those may deliver a decent shot from a tripod, but don't expect much luck with difficult subjects, or much convenience or speed. With no AF, no meter, and no full-aperture viewing, it will be very difficult to follow any motion. You're probably better off with a good shorter lens that works fast. A good sharp shot cropped will win over a closer one of poor quality.

    Also the D3200 does not work at all with the very latest AFP lenses with stepper motor AF. It won't focus at all either AF or manual. It does function 100 percent with "E" electronic aperture lenses such as the 200-500, though.
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