Telephoto lens for Nikon P5100
June 15, 2008 2:58 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to buy a telephoto lens for my Nikon P5100 . There's a bunch on ebay & Amazon - Tokina, Opteka, Fotodiox - for between 40 & 100 bucks. Are any of these lenses/ brands worth their dollar? ($100 is my max, so the $250 Nikon branded lens is not in the running.)
posted by forallmankind to Shopping (3 answers total)
In buying a new lens, you pretty much get what you pay for. You buy a cheap lens, it won't be as sharp or as well made as a more expensive lens. If I were you, I'd save up for a better lens, or shop for a better used lens. You just might find a good telephoto lens at a price you can afford.
posted by exphysicist345 at 5:53 PM on June 15, 2008

What you are looking at are not "telephoto lenses", they're supplemental or "auxillary" lenses. I doubt you'll see a difference between them, get the cheapest one.

Are you using your camera at full 12.5MP? Cropping may give you similar results.
Set ISO to 100, turn off all the in-camera sharpening, enhanced color and contrast.
Make tests using a tripod or self-timer to see the excellent capabilities of your camera.

Also, the 4x digital zoom can be useful in some cases, have you tried it?
posted by Fins at 7:42 PM on June 15, 2008

Cheap add-on lenses can be just fine for many purposes, but you shouldn't expect miracles.

You especially should not expect excellent results when you're adding an extra lens onto a point-and-shoot camera which, like yours, does not actually have filter threads on the end of its lens. It really ought to be impossible to attach any sort of add-on lens doodad to such a camera, but you can get lenses that stick on by means of various half-baked methods - adhesives, magnets, harsh language...

Nikon's own add-on lenses screw onto a standard thread, which you can add to your camera by using the relatively inexpensive (at least compared with the Nikon lenses - the TC-E3ED costs as much as a whole new point-and-shoot camera!) UR-E20 adapter ring. You could probably get a UR-E20 and then screw a cheap lens onto it; I don't know what size its threads are, though, or exactly how it works, so this may turn out to be very annoying or plain impossible.

The lack of threads on lenses of the type your camera has is partly because the lens retracts into the body of the camera, so even an add-on filter could foul the mechanism. The retracting mechanism is also typically not very robust, so adding significant weight to the end of the lens could cause damage. There are many point-and-shoot cameras that do have threads on the end of the lens, but I can't think of one that has a retracting lens and threads.

"Super-zoom" point-and-shoot cameras with telephoto focal lengths equal to 300mm-plus lenses for 35mm film cameras are now mainstream, affordable items, though. If you want to be able to shoot birds or sports or whatever, and don't want to take the significant leap to a DSLR, consider a super-zoom point-and-shoot. I'd recommend you drop $20 or whatever on an add-on lens and just give it a shot if you had a camera that was meant to accept one, but you don't, and I don't know what the deal is with the UR-E20 and affordable non-Nikon add-on lenses.
posted by dansdata at 11:58 PM on June 15, 2008

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