A few months ago I purchased a Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR. This is a professional quality lens and certainly the most expensive lens I have ever purchased. It is a heavy lens, but not so heavy that I have to leave it at home on all of the backpacking trips. I have carried it above tree line on Mount Baker, and I did not find it so heavy that it is not worth carrying. Most people will claim that it is not really a long enough lens for shooting photos of birds, but with patience and a little luck even 200mm can produce some pretty good bird photos. None of the photos here were shot using a tripod. It is just not realistic for me to use a tripod for most of my photos since I am usually hiking. A tripod would make these photos sharper, but these are still pretty sharp. The VR makes on this lens allows me to shoot hand held photos like this while i am hiking.
In my experience the varied thrush is one of the most reclusive shy birds around. They tend to sit high in the trees and not make themselves visible very often. This bird is very common in the forests of Washington, and I have still never seen one there even though I hear them on almost every trip to the woods. Yesterday while walking with my dogs in Tofino, BC I scared this one that was sitting on the trail in front of me. I had the Nikon 70-200 on my camera and was able to shoot this photo.
This eagle photo was shot as I was walking to breakfast. This is one place where 50% more zoom would have been nice.
A couple of months ago I took this lens up to the north side of Mount Baker on a work trip. I was hoping to shoot photos of ptarmigan. Conveniently upon getting to camp a group of ptarmigan showed up. Unfortunately I did not have enough time with this lens in hand to get perfect photos, but this one was pretty good.
I have also used this lens at a political fund raising event and was fairly happy with the photos even though I am still in the process of learning the ins and outs of shooting indoor flash photos. In this case the lens far exceeded the photographer.
In the next couple months I will continue to post photos from this lens as I get more comfortable shooting with it.