I am an entry level photographer who'd like to start taking pictures of birds.

I have a Nikon D40 and am on a budget.

I noticed on the B&H site that the non-VR Nikon 70-300mm lenses are around $150 or so.

Is this worth considering? I have trouble with camera shake even with the kit lens, although I do have a tripod.

Is there another lens I should evaluate, or a lens/extension tube combo?


  • Are you referring to this lens? As noted by @djboss, it states: "Note! AF not supported by D40,D40X, D60, D3000 & D5000 cameras." Dec 29 '11 at 21:06
  • That's the one. I should have RTFD. :-)
    – qa_test
    Dec 30 '11 at 16:02

I had the 70-300mm non-VR lens, and it was poor. A very cheap build, and very soft at 300mm. I took sample pictures on a tripod at 300mm, and compared them to my 80-200mm at 200mm, and decided it was almost better to shoot with the 200mm and crop (in other words, cropping the 200mm shot so the subject was the same size as the 300mm shot, the 200mm was about the same sharpness).

The lens autofocuses very slowly due to the minimum aperture, especially at 300mm (f/5.6).

The Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 is a good choice if you want to try a used lens, as they are built like tanks. Could add a 1.6x teleconverter. The 80-200mm is a good lens for sports (fast AF) and portraits (nice bokeh) too. There are AF-D and AF-S versions, you'll need the AF-s on your D40.

The Sigma 150-500mm is a good lens. It's also slow, but has OS (VR) and a lot of reach. You can hand hold it at 500mm in good light. It is an HSM lens so will AF on your D40.

The Nikon 70-300mm VR is a great lens. It's completely different than its non-VR brother. It's AF-S so will AF with your D40.

  • mikew, thanks for the additional recommendations, I'll check them out.
    – qa_test
    Dec 30 '11 at 16:04

In my experience an f4-5.6 lens at 300mm is challenging to use, especially without VR. A tripod will certainly help, but hand holding was difficult for me in anything but very bright light.

A potentially bigger issue though: Looking at the availble Nikon non-VR 70-300 lenses, I don't believe any of them are AF-S. This doesn't mean you can't use them, but it does mean that your D40 won't be able to autofocus. How serious this is is an issue of preference.


I would recommand the Nikon 70-300mm VR.

This is a good price http://www.gumtree.com/p/for-sale/nikon-18-70mm-and-nikon-70-300mm-vr-for-trade-with-nikon-18-200mm-vrii-or-accept-500-pounds-cash/93768437

  • Even thoght the AF will not work on the OP's camera? great recomendation. Jan 3 '12 at 15:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.