300 f/2.8 vs. 200-400 f/4

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by Greg V, Apr 8, 2007.

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  1. Greg V

    Greg V

    32
    Feb 19, 2007
    SE Michigan
    I am contemplating swapping out my Nikkor 300 f/2.8 AF-S for the Nikkor 200-400 f/4 AF-S VR. Does anyone have any experience with the two lenses? I have read the reviews but I do not have any local store or rental place to test the two side-by-side. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
     
  2. eng45ine

    eng45ine

    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Greg, please give us an idea what you enjoy shooting....sports, wildlife?
     
  3. Zachs

    Zachs

    884
    Feb 25, 2006
    NC
    These two lens have completely different purposes...we def need to know what you want them to do for you.
     
  4. Greg V

    Greg V

    32
    Feb 19, 2007
    SE Michigan
    From a shooting side, I do a ton of sports and wildlife. I usually get at least one dedicated photo trip in per year to Yellowstone, Rocky Mtn NP, Alaska, Florida, etc. I also have three children involved in sports.

    The camera gear is the fourth child on all vacations.
     
  5. Greg, I did the same complation recently. The 200-400 is definately more versatile with framing, but if you're smaller in stature, not nearly as handholdable as the 300 although VR will help. I use the 300 AFS-II with a TC14II and I have no regrets (especially when I consider the 2300 in my pocket saved by not upgrading!). The best thing to do is rent one for a day and use it side by side with your 300 and see which one you favor, and if that difference is worth the money.
     
  6. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    Missouri
    good link here:

    https://www.nikoncafe.com/vforums/showthread.php?t=95261&highlight=200-400VR

    you get perhaps the best discussion from myself, PJohnP, Andreas, and others who use long lenses with the pros and cons on each subject that have been posted in the cafe.

    Basically if you will shoot outdoors in the evening, think hard about the 300 f2.8 VR, Since you have used a300 2.8 you know the size and limitations the choice is perhaps already made since you are asking, I prefer the 200-400VR for what I do, reasons above in the link.

    Cheers,
    Wade
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  7. Wade, just curious what being a new shooter vs old timer has anything to do with choosing between the 2 lenses? If I had to choose a lens for a newbie it would be the 200-400 due to pure versatility and forgiveness with regards to min DOF. The 300 2.8 is not an easy lens to make tack sharp unless you know how to handle it, and composing shots with it is in my opinion more difficult than a tele zoom since it requires you to place yourself in the right place, at the right time. I'll have a look at the other thread but that was my first instinct response =)
     
  8. CAJames

    CAJames

    Sep 6, 2006
    Lompoc, CA
    I had 300 f/2.8 AF-I and traded it (and a bunch of other stuff) for a 200-400vr. Both are great lenses, the question is why do you think the 200-400 would be better for you? The things I wanted were 400mm, VR, and the flexibility of a zoom. I realized I was usually using the 300 either stopped down or with a TC, and even though it is excellent with a tc-14 it isn't as good as the 200-400. So I guess it boils down to if you really need f/2.8 the only way you can get that is with the 300. If you don't need f/2.8 then the 200-400 offers a lot of flexibility.
     
  9. Greg V

    Greg V

    32
    Feb 19, 2007
    SE Michigan
    James,

    The flexibility is exacting why I am contemplating getting rid of the 300. I have found when shooting nature, you can always use more reach. Optically, I assume the 200-400 is sharp! How is it with teleconverters? On a D2x with high speed mode, you definitely have alot of flexibility.

    Reflecting back, I do not find myself using the 300 wide open very much. Where it does benefit is with the use of the teleconverters.

    I may just rent one for a week and put it to the test. This way I can get rid of the paralysis by analysis that seems to plague so many of us!
     
  10. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    Missouri
    Thanks, Nate, I wasn't clear about why the 300 2.8 Vr vs the 200-400 in regards to new shooters, but the focus speed and ability to use the TCs and maintain fast focus is much easier for new shooters who aren't good at tracking and being precise on focus and metering. Also the 200-400 with a 1.7 is much harder to use and maintain focus in darker conditions than the 300 2.8 with 2x or 1.7.

    folks who are used to snappy focus will be a bit surprised at how the 200-400 with a 1.7 behaves, it can work, just takes some practice.

    The lens is also a bit longer/heavier and more difficult to handhold and balance because of it's size too.

    Your point on the narrow dof is a good point and I probably was a bit misleading in my comments about new shooters, thanks

    Wade
     
  11. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    Missouri

    good links Paul, and in regards to Ron and his thoughts on the 200-400, I finally got him to admit that perhaps his 200-400 that he used wasn't as sharp as some of the others, because I cannot find any optical difference between the 200-400 and the 300 f2.8 including VR model. mine is lazor sharp and takes the TCs well up to 1.7.

    Like anything there is always model variation.
     
  12. general

    general

    Apr 30, 2005
    Nebraska
    I own both and

    I would suggest the 200-400. The 300 f/2.8 is a wonderful lens and tack sharp but the 200-400 is far more flexible. I use mine for wildlife and usually have the TC-1.7E II on it (the 1.4 is equally good). Both are great lenses but for daylight and wildlife, go with the 200-400.
     
  13. I have both and use them primarily for nature shooting. Most of my thoughts have already been covered. The 200-400 will give you Popeye arms after a while. The 300 is no feather-weight as you know, but maybe it's the extra length that makes the zoom feel so much heavier.

    When I'm shooting inland birds, I typically look for shady or overcast light to avoid the problems direct sun can cause. Under those conditions, I find that the 200-400 has some AF problems if I put a TC on it, even a 1.4x. It seems to be more affected by this than my 600 f4 for some reason. But in full light, it's a definite keeper.
     
  14. acena

    acena

    Mar 14, 2006
    New Jersey
    Try MikeMac. He had a 200-400 then went out and bought a 300/2.8. He does both sports & wildlife. I'm a fixed focal lens bigot so I am biased.

    Alex
     
  15. CAJames

    CAJames

    Sep 6, 2006
    Lompoc, CA
    Hi Greg,

    For the record, yes it as very very sharp. So far I've used it with the tc-14, and like it better than my 300 + tc-17 (560mm vs 500mm). The focus isn't as fast, but it is still very good (on a D2hs) and the results are outstanding. I haven't tried it with the tc-17 yet.
     
  16. Chris_B

    Chris_B

    Mar 12, 2006
    Arlington, VA
    James - is it fair to say that the 3000 + 1.7TC is not as sharp but focuses faster than the 200-400 +1.4TC? That is what I took from your statement and I wanted to make sure that is what you meant. I am looking for the best lens for flight shots and in this instance, the 300 may be better for me. Apologies if I misinterpreted your post.
     
  17. I've had both and sold the 200-400, as it didn't suit my needs as well. Both are exceptional in image quality and sharpness. I hike and walk alot with my lens, and the 300 has become my favorite of all time. I definitely found it acquired focus quicker, particularly for birds in flight, even with a 1.4 or 1.7 attached. I was usually leaving the 200-400 at home, so sold it. The 200-400 might be preferable for perched birds, larger animals, or cars/planes in good light.
     
  18. Greg V

    Greg V

    32
    Feb 19, 2007
    SE Michigan
    Thanks for all the comments. Now all we need to do is get Nikon to make a 200-400 f/2.8 to take care of the slower focus! That will be an inexpensive lens!!
     
  19. CAJames

    CAJames

    Sep 6, 2006
    Lompoc, CA
    And light!! So, yes the 300 + tc17 does focus faster than the 200-400 + tc14. I've only had the 200-400 for a few months, but so far I like using it at 400 better than the 300 + tc17 for birds. I guess the IQ makes up for the extra mm. Do you spend much time in the Birds and Animals forum? If not you should. You'll see lots of examples of pretty much every possible combination of lens and tc, and comments on what works for whom shooting what.
     
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