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300 f/4 after 70-200VR-Is this the logical next step?

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by AFS, May 1, 2005.

  1. Hi.
    I've currently got an AF-S 80-200 2.8D. I'm going to at some point upgrade this to the VR and if I can do it soon for a good price I'll do it. But I'm wondering on the logical next step on the tele range.
    I shoot at school some, and starting next year I think I'll be shooting a lot of sports. We have numerous good athletic programs, and I'll do a lot of shooting on the field and some in the gym. For the gym my 2.8 lens will probably suffice, but outdoors there's a lot of field and the potential for some great action shots.
    I've been thinking about the 300 f/4, probably AF-S budget permitting (otherwise i'd have to get the older AF version used), and I wanted to hear some comments, especially from any sports shooters out there. Interested in how it does as far as sharpness, focus speed, and general results.
    Thanks in advance for your advice.
  2. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005

    The 300 f4 is one of the best lenses for the $$ that you can buy for sports and wildlife shooting. You can generally find them used in the $700 - $850 range. A used 70-200VR is much harder to find. No doubt that the 70-200VR is a great lens (I love mine), but it is not nearly as good if you need the length.

    Check out some of the posts in the Birds and Animals forum that use the 300 f4 (Backdoctor has a number of good examples).
  3. JeffKohn


    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    I can't speak to the image quality of the 300 F4 but if you already had a 70-200VR I would think that getting a telconvertor might make more sense. You could get 280mm @ f/4 (TC-14) or 340mm @ f/4.8 (TC-17) and you'd still have the benefit of VR. Maybe the 300F/4 would have an edge optically (particularly over the TC-17), but you'd be paying quite a bit extra for what could be a relatively minor improvement, plus it would mean carrying another heavy lens.
  4. The converters work even better on the 300 f/4 giving you a 420 f/5.6 and a 500 f/6.8. And the quality is extremely high with 1.4 and very high with the 1.7. Now if it only had VR...
  5. jkamphof

    jkamphof Guest

    Personally I love my 300 f/4. I have the AF-S as the speed is really necessary for in flight birds or moving animals. If I am outdoors hiking the lens lives on my camera, so much in fact I bought a second camera just to hold it all the time.
  6. I have the 70-200, 300f4, 1.4 Kenko and 1.7 Nikkor and too little experience to be a real expert but I have an opinion(surprise).

    a. If 300mm is your goal the TC is economical and maintaining VR is great.

    b. Addendum to "a".... I think the 300f4 is better than the VR+TC...just a first impression.

    c. Remember the Dirty Harry quote "a man's got to know his limitations", well, I'm not likely to buy ant big 2.8 long lenses any time soon...the 300f4 is the most economical step into the big leagues for me.

    d. The 300f4 + 1.7TC is unarguably the easiest way to jump to a respectable 500mm. That's my reason for purchase.

    Here are a couple of first shots. The downsizing doesn't do them justice.

    The first is handheld at 500mm wide open with 300f4+1.7 ISO 640 for speed 1/3200th f6.7(focused snappily at 6.7 on D2H)
    The second is a quick snap with the 300.f4. Quick for obvious reasons.

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  7. JeffKohn


    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Hadn't really considered the 300/f4 + TC-17 because I thought max aperture would be an issue. Glad to hear it works for some, though I'm curious if anyone has any experience with this combo on a body that doesn't have CAM2000 (D70, presumably next D100 replacement).
  8. I'll try it on my D100 tonight (if someone doesn't reply sooner).
  9. I don't know if it's the next logical step, I have the 70-200 2.8 VR and I am also thinking about the 300 f4.
  10. jkamphof

    jkamphof Guest

    I think it is prefectly logical. I am going backwards, I have the 300f4 but now shopping for the 70-200. Both lenses have varying uses. I only use my 300 f/4 for nature whereas the 70-200 is much more versitile.
  11. You might want to consider this:

    Sell your 80-200 and put the proceeds toward a 70-200VR and when you can, add a TC1.4e. That gets you 280mm at the long end and it's as bright as the 300 F4 AND it has VR AND it's a zoom. This lens also has a nice rotating tripod collar. Now you get the benefits of both of the lenses you are considering PLUS VR.

    The next logical upgrade from this setup would be one of the 300 F2.8 lenses. Consider the AFS and VR versions if you want to go all out. Why not the 300 F4? Because, for fast moving sports action, an F2.8 lens will track focus more quickly and accurately. Even if you're shooting at F4 or F5.6, the autofocus sensors will track the action with the lens wide open. More light on the AF sensors means higher contrast (higher S/N ratio) and better performance on any camera body. Or course, if you were primarily shooting birds sitting in trees, the F4 lens would be fine as the fast focus tracking isn't as important here.

    Actually once you have the 70-200VR and TC1.4 you might want to make your choice a 400mm or 500mm since you're almost at 300mm already with the 70-200 + TC1.4. If you're going to go longer, you'll probably want to go long enough to notice the difference and you won't really get that with the 300 F4 and to add a TC to that lens will get you an even darker viewfinder and compromise autofocus performance even more.

    I don't think you'll find very many photographers who don't love their 70-200VR for sports. At least those sports where you can stand on the sidelines. You get the flexibility of a zoom plus the AFS motor, VR, and a superb piece of glass that stands up well to being extended with the TC1.4 and TC1.7. I just can't see spending the money and lugging around another piece of glass to get to a fixed focal length 300 F4. But, I'd find it pretty hard to spend the $$ necessary to go the next logical step if that means spending $6000 for a 400 F2.8 or 500 F4.

    One other thing to consider is that the D2X in crop mode would give you a similar effective angular field of view with the 70-200VR + TC1.4 combo to what you'd get with a D-100, D-70 or D2H and a 400MM lens. Maybe the D2X would be the next logical step if you don't already own that body.

    Hope this helps.

  12. Thanks Dave...I have the TC14 and you are probably right, the 400mm would be the best next step.
  13. Thorgal


    May 2, 2005
  14. I'm really, really impressed with this lens wide open.
    It's the cheapest way into the big leagues IMHO.

    Hand held 1/250th f4 (dark with storm looming)

    BTW the noise was invisible before I inadvertently brought it out by dragging down on the peripheral area curves to de-distract the background.

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  15. Well, I'm just a student. A D2X is way out of my range right now. A 300 2.8 seems like a better choice now that i've seen what the prices are on used AF-I and AF versions, even afs.
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