My progression was from a Nikon 55-300 to a Sigma 18-250 (a good walking around lens) but you always want more reach as a wildlife photographer. The beauty of an 18-250 or an 18-300, which I carry on one of my bodies now, is it is all purpose and it teaches you to be stealthy and get close. My main lens now is a 150-600 Sigma Contemporary which is now only $910 on Amazon for your Canon. I'd stretch a little and do that or maybe a refurbed Canon 100-400, a very sharp lens. I did have a Sigma 150-500 that I got used at KEH.com and it served me well for about a year and a half. I was able to sell it for 2/3 of what I paid, so don't be afraid of reputable used and refurbished dealers. Hope some of this helps you in your decision. And get good at getting close to your subjects, even with a longer lens, close is always better. Good luck!
Great points David, your shots from all the major zoos and shelters in Texas has been very inspiring. I need to take up that angle in addition to my love of being in the wild in the state and national parks and refuges. Keep up the good work!
. I've gotten a series of different lenses over the years there. If you get Excellent or Excellent Plus from them I defy you to tell it from new. Also refurbs from Nikon or through Amazon or other authorized resellers like cameta.com. Good luck!
Look out if you own a D500, aftermarket batteries won't work, has to be original equipment EN-EL15. Third party batteries work fine in my D7200, D500 rejects anything but the real deal.
I've been using the Sigma 150-600 Contemporary since it was released about 2 years ago, first on a D7200 and now on a D500 and it rocks as long as you have a reasonable amount of light, since its wide open aperture starts at F5. I've tried extenders, they cut the light down by another stop or two and really mess with the autofocus and quality of the image. Better to have a good camera body with low light sensitivity (think D500 or equivalent Canon or Sony) so you can crop to get a little extra reach. My 2 cents...
I've been very happy with a Sigma 18-300, originally $579, there was a recent price drop to $399. I have the Nikon version and it is sharp and would give you a little more reach. The AF is fast, a good walking around lens.
I've always been happy with them too. If you stay one model behind the latest and greatest, you can save a lot of money and still have great equipment. I always judge a vendor by what they do when things go wrong. Anybody can be great when all is well. Your story gives me even more confidence in KEH. If you are lucky enough to live near a large camera shop, they go out on the road occasionally and take trade-ins in person and sell used gear.
Computer repair guy here. I've had several Nikons and they go wonky sometimes. I have one of the first D500s and love it. Have you tried resetting to defaults? This has fixed weird stuff on 2 previous Nikons for me. Page 230 of the manual says to hold in on the Qual and The Exposure Compensation buttons for 2 seconds to restore the camera to factory defaults. Some combinations of settings don't play well together and this may do the trick for you. Pulling the battery won't have the same effect. Good luck!
Appreciate the advice. Enjoy reading the opinions of quality photographers and enthusiasts.
I am getting up to speed on LR5. Did not know that LR had the HDR functions. Have been doing a bit of research and found reference to Photomatix as stated by Pic-a-dude
LR5 didn't have it, it was added in LR6 or in the Adobe CC subscription, which is the best $10 a month you can spend. Good luck.
I would love light and small also, but am staying in shape with a Nikon D500, Sigma 18-300C and a Sigma 150-600C and am using a D7200 as a backup, usually with the 18-300 on it. I mostly use the Sigma 150-600 on the D500, due to it's incredible low light performance, advanced AF system and 10fps in RAW for 200 shots at a time without stuttering. The D500 plus the Sigma 150-600C is right around $3000. I'll keep lugging this around until I can't do it anymore. I use a monopod on occasion, but the AF system is so good that even hand-held, if you lock onto a bird in flight, it won't let go and a high percentage of the shots are tack sharp. I loved my D7200 (and still do) but the D500 is head and shoulders above it. My 2 cents.
I use the Sigma 150-600C with a Nikon D500 and I couldn't be happier, it's very sharp throughout the whole focal length range. It works best with lots of light, but the low light capabilities of the D500 help offset that somewhat. I keep the Sigma 18-300C on a D7200 for wider angle shots and have the 150-600 for birding and other wildlife where the zoom comes in handy. I personally don't think you can go wrong with any of the major manufacturers for your Nikon body. Spend as much as your budget will allow on good glass, bodies come and go...
Also check out KEH.com for good deals on used and refurbished gear. Cameta has been a good source as well. I'm blessed to live here in Austin, when I want to buy from a brick and mortar store, the service and support at Precision Camera is hard to beat.
I have the D7200. Bigger buffer and builtin wifi are the main advantages, a little better low light performance, also. All are important to me as a wildlife photographer. I can't believe there are any refurbed D7200s yet. I have over 60,000 shots on mine and it's going strong. Id spend the little extra. I'm considering a refurbed D7100 as a backup body, you really can't go wrong either way. And yes, I've used Adorama before, they get high marks around here.
I have average, newer Sigma equipment and their USB dock. It can update firmware, they just improved the autofocus on the 150-600. You can also micro-adjust the lens. Both useful features.