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200f2+TC vs 200-400VR

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by gugs, Mar 29, 2007.

  1. gugs


    Feb 24, 2006
    I am looking for a top quality 400mm solution with some flexibility.
    I am currently using a 70-200VR and a 80-400 and I want to improve IQ on the longer end. Having a nice fast lens for sport would be nice too...
    I was thinking of the following options:

    200VR + TC2
    300VR + TC1.4

    applications: sport and wildlife

    I am hesitating between the versatility and the ease of use of a zoom ("locking" the target @200mm, then zooming in), and the top quality of primes.
    Would it make sense to combine a 200VR with a 2xTC to have the best 200mm lens and also an excellent 400mm f4 ?
    Or the 300mm 2.8 to get a 420mm f4 ?
    Or is the best solution the 200-400VR

    I want VR anyway, as a kind of backup solution to be able to shoot hand held or with a monopod when I don't have time to set up a tripod for wildlife.

    Any suggestion ?
  2. simsim


    Oct 10, 2006
    you really want a 300 or 400 2.8...but thats a different story. I don't think a f/4 really passes well in most sports anymore. That being said, get the 200/2 and use it for some close stuff.
  3. I'm going to vote for 300 2.8 + TC 1.4 for quality, price, and versatility. Mine just arrived today. =)
  4. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Ah, the endless debate on primes vs. zooms...

    I think that the key element in your discussion is the use of the TC20EII teleconverter (TC). Most folks who I know that own this TC will say it's not quite as "crisp" as the TC14EII, and there are some who refer to it as "soft". The use of any TC will reduce the quality of the image to some degree, although the TC14EII is generally considered the best of the Nikon teleconverters with respect to holding quality.

    The 200-400mm f/4 AFS/VR, OTOH, is fairly crisp throughout its range.

    The saving grace for any of the alternatives that you mention is being able to shoot in somewhat lower light than the 200-400mm if you leave the lenses "naked" without a TC. The 200mm f/2 VR is particularly nice wide open, but then, it's 200mm instead of a 400mm maximum with the 200-400mm zoom.

    I've shot the 200-400mm with and without teleconverters now for about two-and-a-half years, and it's a wonderful lens. I shoot handheld a lot, contrary to what many people say about that being impossible, and I can get shots like these :



    That last shot was at 1/30 second, so you can judge for yourself just what the lens is like at full extension and using the VR function for all it's worth. And while I'd stopped down slightly, the lens has great crispness wide-open, as you can see in the first shot (look at the beak of the black crowned night heron).

    The lens works fantastically with a monopod, BTW.

    I don't downplay just how wonderful the 200mm f/2 VR and the 300mm f/2.8 lenses are, but for me, the flexibility of the zoom of the 200-400mm along with the AFS focusing speed and VR function has been a significant factor in the success of shots like these.

    John P.
  5. Igor


    May 15, 2005
    Ukraine, Europe
    I opted for 300/2.8VR + 1.4x and 1.7x TC's. Haven't regreted yet :smile:

    P.S. Stunning shots John!!!
  6. kramk

    kramk Guest

    Hi guy, I have everything you're considering. The first thing I'd say is forget the 200VR with a 2TC. It stinks compared to either of the other alternatives you list (for 400mm). Besides, you won't like the comparison of the naked 200 to that with the 2TC even if you can't compare to the other ways of making 400mm. The 1.7 and 1.4 do work well with the 200, however, but that doesn't get you to 400mm. I know some will show great examples with the 2.0 ... I can too. But the problem is yeild ... the 2.0 simply dissappoints too often to be reliable IMSO.

    My most general comment about choosing between these lenses is that there is no best solution .... other than knowing exactly what you want to shoot, in what light ... then the decision becomes more clear. Otherwise, they all work fine.

    best, mark
  7. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Igor :

    Thanks for the compliment !

    The other aspect of all of this lens decision stuff is for the photographer to become thoroughly conversant and comfortable with whatever lens that they shoot with regularly. The greatest lens in the world isn't going to make a difference if the shooter doesn't have the confidence that the lens will perform for them.

    In my case, I've been lucky enough to find the 200-400mm f/4 AFS/VR lens is a "good fit" for me. Sure, I'd like to have a 200-1000mm f/2.8 lens with AFS2/VRIII that weighs about 3 - 4 kg, but that's not imminently close to the market, AFAIK, so I "make do" with the lenses I have.

    Some of the wildlife shooting that I do is luck - the BCNH deciding to stoop on another intruding heron within shooting distance of me - but some of it's being prepared to use the gear at hand to take the photo when it presents itself. I've taken photos of hummingbirds with a 24-120mm AFS/VR lens, because that's what was on the camera, and I blazed away.


    Why not ? The worst that would happen is that I would delete the photo, and the best, well, you can see I didn't delete the shot ! :wink:

    Guy's been given some good advice about various lenses and lens/TC combinations, and if he's willing to get out there and shoot with one of those choices, I have confidence that he will get the photos, regardless of which choice is the "best"... :biggrin:

    John P.
  8. Tosh


    May 6, 2005

    When I owned the 200vr, I tried it with the TC-14e and TC-20e. I was pleased with the results of these combos, but everyone's standards are different. I liked the ability to "go light" with just the 200vr :eek:  , but still be able to gain some additional reach by adding the TC's. Here are some prior posts with images and tests.

    200vr with TC-20e images:

    Test of 200vr/TC-20e combo:

    Test/comparison of 200vr/TC-20e/TC-14e/70-200vr/180:

    200 with tc-14e images:
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  9. The 200-400vr is a better at 400mm than the 200mm + TC-20 or the 300mm + TC-14. So if 400 is your priority I'd go with the zoom. The advantage of the 200 or 300 is a faster aperture at shorter focal lengths.
  10. gugs


    Feb 24, 2006
    Thanks for the feedback. My main application will be wildlife...
    John, your shots are just awesome... this convinced me that the zoom is the right lens for me for wildlife.
    Glenn's pictures are pretty convincing too... so, the problem is that I will probably have to buy a fast prime later for sports... I guess my wife is gonna kill me :biggrin:
  11. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Guy :

    If you can find a 200-400mm f/4 AFS/VR to test, I'd strongly recommend that before purchase. I didn't have that opportunity. I was extremely lucky in that the lens suits me well, but I've loaned it to several people who found the size and weight too much for them, and I, of course, respect their decision. Each person has to work with a lens that best suits their shooting preferences.

    For that matter, if you can find a 300mm f/2.8 or the 200mm f/2 VR to test, run those through their paces as well.

    Sadly, I'm not local to you (I greatly enjoy Belgium, actually), or I'd just drop by and let you try shooting with my 200-400mm ! :biggrin:

    John P.
  12. gugs


    Feb 24, 2006
    Thanks for the suggestion John. Fortunately, I have a dealer in my neighborhood who has all three lenses and who is willing to give me 15 min with each lens to give it a try. I hope this will be enough to get a better idea, but based on my experience with the 80-400, if I can hand hold the 200-400VR for some time (I''ll do some power training), this will probably be the best choice for now.

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