I have a Nikon D90 with an AF-S NIKKOR 70-300mm 1:4.5-5.6G lens that came with it. I am interested in purchasing another lens, with more zoom, for wildlife and sports shots. What do you recommend? I don’t want to spend more than $2,000. Less would be even better. :)
You’re in luck that there are a few options in your range. If you want to get close and the 300mm you have now is not quite cutting it, I’d grab one of these;
- Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED Autofocus VR
- Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 AF APO DG OS HSM
- Sigma 50-500mm f/4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM SLD
That being said, I don’t shoot Nikon and have only had my hands on one of these lenses, the Sigma 50-500mm. What I am basing my recommendation on is your desire for longer range and willingness to spend more for quality. The good news is the Sigma 150-500mm is half of what you have to spend, but it is also the biggest lens.
All three have good reviews on Amazon and what you have to ask is how important is the lower end of the range? Normally I suggest choosing the lens with the shortest zoom range you can handle as they will tend to give better results. It’s not always true, but without having all those lenses side by side, it’s hard to test them.
If I were to go with a lens just for just wildlife and sports, I would start with the Sigma 150-500mm. I say start because a purchase like this should be given some latitude. You’re not just buying a 50mm. Honestly, I would rent the lenses from my favorite shop, BorrowLenses.com, for a 3 day trial when you can set aside the time. It will tell you more than this email can about how they feel in your hand (weight is important when shooting all day), how responsive the focus is (some people note the Nikon 80-400 is a bit slow) and how crisp the images are. In the mean time, here is a side-by-side comparison on DPReview.com to help with stats.
A note: the lenses are all at f/5.6 or f/6.3 at full zoom, making them a little dark. This is normal. The D90 has just ok noise reduction so shooting sports in non-daylight conditions might be pushing things. This is the nature of the beast (if you don’t want to spend $8000 on a lens). Just realize when you upgrade, the ISO noise performance will improve and make your lens feel newer by proxy. I used that 50-500mm on a Canon 7D with great noise reduction and was extremely happy with the ability to use higher ISO to compensate for the smaller maximum f-stop.
Let me know what you decide and how it goes.