So I spent SO MUCH TIME agonizing over which lens to rent for the Costa Rica trip. I love the idea of getting to try a new, really nice lens out - and this is the excuse. :)
I ended up renting a 70-200 f2.8 VR lens from http://www.lensrentals.com
. I went back and forth between getting that one and an 80-400 f4.5-5.6 VR.
For you non-camera folks, VR (Vibration Reduction) is Nikon's version of image optimization, like Canon's IS (Image Stabilization). This helps incredibly when you're zooming far away when any little bit of movement on your part can cause blur, and at low shutter speeds too.
I was worried that the 80-400 is basically a farther-zooming but not-as-good-quality lens as my 70-300. But still, I thought, I need the zoom. For the animals, you know.
I had decided to put in the lens rental request before I went to bed on Thursday night. At 3 a.m., I was still agonizing over it. Then I went to my old Costa Rica pictures and realized that I didn't need MORE ZOOM; I just needed a faster shutter speed (and therefore lower aperture) because all my pics were pretty close (under 200mm) but blurry due to the darkness of the forest.
This, for example, was taken at 110mm, 1/60, f5:
It's not so blurry (it's the only one I got that wasn't), but could've been so much better with a lower aperture.
Even this one was only taken at 180mm:
f5.6, shutter 1/50. (Let me just say that without the VR, this picture would not have been as clear at 1/50. Yay, VR!)
So, the 70-200 2.8 will (hopefully) be perfect! I considered getting a teleconverter, but with shipping it would've been an extra $60, and I really probably won't need it. I mean, there were things last time I couldn't get pictures of because they were too far away - like the sloths and the howler monkeys WAY UP in the trees. But they are so far away that even a 400mm zoom isn't going to help me. You can get passable
pictures if you use that much zoom, but they're not good
... so why bother?
Like this one, which was taken at my full available 300mm and cropped:
I'd need a lot more than 400mm reach to get a good picture of the sloths. And those lenses, even to rent, are far out of my budget.
The way it is, I am paying $163 for a two-week rental. The lens is nearly $2,000 to buy, so I am very happy with this whole renting thing. :)
I kinda feel / hope that my photography has improved since we took that vacation a little over a year ago. I hope I still feel that way when I get back!!
My lens should be here Wednesday or so. The only problem is that I'm worried I won't want to send it back when my vacation is over...!