200-400 4.0 VR versus 500 4.0 ?

May 9, 2005
King of Prussia, PA
I've checked past posts and haven't seen this comparison. I've seen photos from posters on both lenses and all the photos are simply outstanding. My current long lens is the 80-400 VR, which is attached to my D2X probably 90% of the time. In addition to it's reach (400mm) I use it for close-up(7.5 foot distance) shots also.

Wish I could buy both lenses, then I wouldn't have this dilema. Weight difference is negligible, 200-400 7.2 lbs., 500 7.6 lbs. The 200-400 has VR the 500 doesn't. Minimum focusing distance, now here's a biggie...200-400 6.5 feet, 500 16 feet. Even bigger is the cost difference 200-400 $5K, 500 $7K. Has anyone ever purchased a used 500 f4. AF-S II?

The 200-400 would still allow me to do close-ups of flowers, etc. and still get excellent bird photos. JFenton's photos of birds with the 500 are simply breathtaking, however, that's all I'd be able to use the lens for, I think.

How easy or hard are each of these lenses to handhold? I've heard the 200-400 is front heavy, don't know about the 500. Just think, in HSC mode the 500 f4.0 becomes a 1000 f4.0, the 200-400 becomes an 800 f4.0.

I don't know which to purchase, which is still a few months off. I think I need to hit the lottery, big time. I've got some realllyyy bad lens lust going on here :D
May 8, 2005
Orlando, FL
I'm not a birder, so I'd go for the 200-400 very time. You have that range already covered, but the 200-400 has unquestionably superior optics and is faster to focus. I have two friends with the 600 AFS and hand-holding would not be an option unless you are another Arnold :shock:
Feb 12, 2005
Myrtle Beach, SC

I am one of the people who have both. I was fortunate to be able to have a good year working lots of OT so I got the D2x and the 200-400 this year to go with the 500mm AF-S I already had.

I hand hold the 200-400 all the time even though it is a little heavy, it is much more compact then the 500. The 500 I really can't hand hold to often but have done it a couple times.

I just posted a few shots in the Bird forum a week or so ago, all are hand held with the 200-400. Both are awesome lenses and have different strengths. The 500 is for birds, the 200-400 can be for most anything except the smaller birds.

Whichever one you choose the good news is you'll be delighted! :D
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