I'm currently investigating what the best long tele-lenses could be for my D80. The goal is to get at least to 400mm, better even to 500mm.
Why am I thinking about this, when I've got the Tamron 500mm mirror? Well, you know, this is a lens for the "manual"-fans out there: Manual focus, manual exposure. I'm more of a point-and-shoot-guy: My attention span is not long enough to focus properly... (yeah, then I should have bought a P&S
So here's my preselection (all zooms in the end!), figures in brackets denote weight, length, price in EUR!
Up to 400
Nikon AF VR
80-400mm 4.5-5.6D ED (1340g,171mm,1450€)
Tokina AT-XD 80-400mm 4.5-5.6 (1020g,137mm,550€)
Sigma AF 80-400mm 4.5-5.6 EX DG APO RF OS
Sigma AF 135-400mm 4.5-5.6 Asp APO RF (1210g,181mm,520€)
Nikon AF-S VR
200-400mm 4G IF-ED (3275g,358mm,5800€)
Up to 500
Sigma AF 50-500mm 4.0-6.3 EX DG APO HSM RF (1842g,219mm,1050€)
Sigma AF 170-500mm 5.0-6.3 DG Asp APO RF (1315g,230mm,680€)
Tamron SP AF 200-500mm 5-6.3 Di LD IF (1237g,227mm,770€)
Ok, forget about (5): too heavy, too long, too expensive but super IQ, a real dream-lens
Unfortunately only 2 (affordable) lenses have IS: (1) and (3) and both are met with mixed reviews: PhotoZone favors (1), ePhotoZine says bad things about it, (3) is not bad, but got some remarks on its OS.
(2) and (4) do not hold up in the IQ-department
(6) and (7) also found mixed reviews, (7) also being quite heavy and (6) deteriorating at 500mm
That leaves only (8 ), the Tamron 200-500 which looks quite good at PZ and ePZ, with pictures nearly matching (5)
It also focusses to 2.5m giving a 5:1 magnification!
So either this (without IS) or wait for the successor of (1) with improved VR and hopefully more stable IQ-reviews...
I'm not happy
An alternative could be the
Nikon AF-S VR 70-200mm 2.8G IF-ED (1470g,215mm,1800€) plus Nikon AF-S TC-20E II tele-converter 2x (355g,55mm,370€)
But this combination has 1825g, 270mm, 2170€ and I found no test how the lens performs with the converter...
And I didn't mention the Sigma AF 300-800mm 5.6 EX DG APO HSM IF because it's 5880g, 544mm, 6000€ and has no IS