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300mm f/4 vs. 300mm f/2.8 VR

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by greyhound rick, Aug 8, 2008.

  1. First off...if this question has been posted before, I sincerely apologize. Sometimes Im not very good at "searching".

    OK, heres my situation.....

    I shoot racing greyhounds 3-4 late afternoons/evenings per week. Im in decent shape with my 70-200mm f/2.8 VR and soon to purchase 85mm f/1.4 (for nights).

    What I really need is a longer lens that can get me to 300mm during the late afternoon (sunlight will be pretty decent). Im sure I can get away with f4 and 300mm is a good length for some of the spots I shoot at the track.

    Since I can get away with no VR due to using a monopod, tripod and fast shutter speeds, the question Id like you to answer is.......is there a difference (or much of one) between the image quality of a 300mm f/4 vs. the 300mm f/2.8 VR?

    If there isnt....I can save quite a bit purchasing the 300mm f/4, but if there is a difference I would rather save a bit longer and get the 2.8 VR.

    Please let me know what you think. I value your input!!

    My best to you always and again, Im sorry if this has been discussed before.

    take care,

  2. most of us go thru this exact dilema and many of us end up with the 2.8....
    what makes the problem harder is the 300/4 is a very good lens but what makes the problem easier is the 300/2.8 is quite possibly the best lens Nikon makes and is certainly the best 300 made by anyone. IMO the answer is YES, the 300/2.8 is alot better, noticeably better, noticeably faster focusing in all light, handles a TC like it's not there...save the 1k and put it towards the 4.5k and never look back
  3. For the type of shooting you'll be doing you'll need the speed of the 300 2.8, I shoot mostly birds and my 300 f/4 serves me well, excellent lens! Welcome to the Cafe!
  4. another great thread...
    the price difference is SUBSTANTIAL
    IF you can... or CARE TO "swing" the 300/2.8 cost... you shall be rewarded, i have no doubt

    good luck in your decision
    and don't let any of you influence your money spending... :tongue:
  5. adrianaitken

    adrianaitken Guest

    If you think you can cope with f4 try a 1.4 extender on your 70-200. See if it really works for you (reach and speed).
  6. I used to use the 300/4 and at F7.1-F8 it was a great lens. I have since sold the 300/4 and now own a 300 2.8AF-S (non-VR). To say that the lens is better is an understatement. The 300 2.8 is in a league by itself IMO. Focus is fast and seems almost instant. You may want to look around for a used lens like I did. I found a MINT copy with a MACK 2 yr warranty for $2600. Not cheap, but a bargain in my book for sure.
  7. Pete


    Jun 10, 2006
    Denver, CO
    I had the 300 F4 and it is an awesome lens. Also very easy to carry and works well with the 1.4 TC.

    300 F4 on D200

    I now have the 300 2.8 VR and it is everything they have said and more. Fast focus, bright view, works extremely well with the 1.7 TC. I traded off my F4 lens but sometimes wish I had kept it for when I travel light. I am hoping that Nikon updates the F4 with VR. I would consider having both lenses... Both are great lenses and would do the job for you but if you can swing the 2.8 VR, you will not be disappointed.
  8. jimeast


    Mar 17, 2008
    Metrowest. MA
    300 f/4 vs 300 f/2.8

    There is not much penalty in starting with the 300 f/4. It's a very good lens and if you want to step up, you should not lose too much money.

    It's about the same size as the 70-200, so it will feel like your current lens in terms of setup and handling and carrying around.

    I have also shot briefly with a 400 f/2.8 and I suspect the 300 f/2.8 like the 400 is amazing, but make no mistake the 300 f/4 is a pretty good lens.

    So, if your budget conscious or want to move up to a big lens in steps, the 300 f/4 should do well for you.

    Also, the 70-200 with a 1.4 TC did not handle great in my opinion for my childrens sports and that's what prompted me to move sooner than expected. For the dog track you may have better luck with that combo, if the tracking/panning is more predictable.

    Good luck and let us know.
  9. Hi Rick

    I use it(non-AF-S) to shoot the horses. Even though it can be handheld, I am usually on a tripod with it. It has worked successfully. It is a very sharp lens and produces nice bokeh.

    Of cause, the problem with the lens is that it will hunt a bit initially before focus acquisition. I have found that if you place the lens very near where your on coming moving subject will eventually be(on the track inner rail), and shoot a burst in C-AF, it has never failed me. I am certain that I can track well with it, but I have shorter lenses for that. The AF system of the D3-300 help greatly. Bottom line is if you lock it, it will track like any other lens.

    The greyhounds are smaller targets, and move faster than my horses, and I believe you will have less available light. Certain a 2.8 lens will help

    Resale value is great for the lens.:smile:

  10. Pete


    Jun 10, 2006
    Denver, CO
    It is actually smaller if you compare the hoods. The 300 F4 AFS has a great slide out hood and I used to carry it in my Domke F5XB bag...
  11. Dave


    Feb 7, 2007
    Suwanee, GA
    I have the 300 f/4 AF-S lens and while it is a good lens, the 300 f/2.8 lens is in a class by itself. I know Randy posted already and he is a good person to listen to as he's used the 300 f/4, the sigma 120-300 f/2.8, and now the 300 f/2.8 VR and his images speak for themselves.

    I made the mistake of renting the 300 f/2.8 VR, and as my signature suggests, I'm just saving up until I have enough to buy it!
  12. Pianisimo

    Pianisimo Guest

    What about using the TC14? That could easily get you to 300 (320mm) and it's not that much slower. You don't have to deal with another big lens to carry around. Just a cheaper option : )
  13. I have seen some wonderful images from the f/4, but as has been stated many times, the 2.8 (both 300 and 400) are in a league of their own. The image IQ is outstanding.

    If you are still in doubt, due to the price, I have two suggestions. Rent them both for a few days and see how they compare to your needs. If they are not available for rent, buy the 2.8. If you decide it wasn't worth the price, you'll get most of your money back in resale.
  14. Thanks to everyone for the informative input!

    OK....just to make sure I understand....

    If I were to take the two lenses, the 300mm f/4 and the 300mm f/2.8 VR to the track and take identical shots with both of them with camera/lens settings at:


    VR off

    what would the difference in image quality be (just at those settings only)?

    Thanks again,

  15. jimeast


    Mar 17, 2008
    Metrowest. MA
    not quite what you asked but...

    have you seen Bjorn's review;


    Also Thom's:

    http://www.bythom.com/300AFSlens.htm (With a 5.6 300 f/4 Plus TC 1.4 crop)

    The predominate issue with this lens has always been poor results on a tripod due to the tripod mount on the camera. Otherwise this lens is rated very highly.

    My guess is that for a close cropped picture at the same settings at f/5.6, the two pictures would be indistinguishable. But the additional characteristics (2.8, VR, faster focus, better image with 1.4 and 1.7 tc, craftsmanship, etc.) on the 300 2.8, make it a significantly greater joy to own and use.

    There is an aftermarket tripod mount for this lens from RRS (I think its RRS) that eliminates the shake, if your lens demonstrates this issue.

    I'm not trying to push the 300 f/4, I own it and will probably either trade up for a 300 f/2.8 or I will get a 400 f/2.8 in the next several years. (I would like to own one of the long 2.8's before my kids are out of high school, and I am too old to lug it around) With that said I find the 300 f/4.0 a very good lens so far and this fall when school sports start I'll post some pictures to demostrate my beliefs.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 9, 2008
  16. I don't think that you have specified which model 300 f/4 you are referring to.

    I have used my 300F/4(non AF-S) with my D50, D300 and now D3. Of cause you know that I shoot horse races. I am very impressed with what the D3/300 camera can do to the AF speed of this older lens. Keep in mind, any reviews of this lens are pre-D300/D3. So unless the review takes into consideration the old film F5 or F6 with matching AF speed of the D3/300, they are going to express slowness with this lens. Secondly the optics are superb. And I really like the bokeh. I have also seen Tag football images shot with this exact lens with a D200...absolutely spectacular.

    I think that you really have to be careful in using this lens for your particular sport. W/O AF-S of cause, tracking and bouncing from one subject to another, will be difficult. But if you carefully assist the lens in being close to your subject before its arrival, once it LOCKS on, it is like any other lens. If you give it opportunity to hunt, it will. But I have found that the AF speed of the D3/D300, make it more difficult for the lens to look for error.

    I have not used the more expensive lenses in this class, and I am certain they can deliver the goods w/o doubt. But don't overlook this lens. It is available used at the right price. I bought mine very cheap at a quality camera store, much less than Ebay prices.

    And you know what. Using the D3/300, I really think that this lens can pick up the greyhounds. And looking at your images, I think the shooter can work it right.


    P.S. Look at Thom's review of the the AF-S model. Nowhere does he say the optics are better than the older model. He actually states that the corners are sharper with the older model.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 9, 2008
  17. 1st of all there is nothing wrong w/ the collar on the 300/4 but I don't really know why you would even care unless you have a physical disability...the lens does not need to be used in a tripod or monopod

    at the same settings the 300/2.8 would show more & better contrast, better sharpness, better details, and better color, yes you would notice...
    Is it possible to take a pic at the same settings that didn't show alot of diff, sure. Light plays a major role in this as well as the camera body and the shooter.
    Can we all convince ourselvers the 300/4 is just as good, sure we can, I did, especially considering the price diff. The 300/2.8 costs 4x as much. Is it 4x as good ? Well I'd rate the 300/4 as an 8 (on a 1 to 10 scale) and I'd rate the 300/2.8 as a 9.7, so no, it's not 4x as good. The prob w/ all the comparisons is the 300/4 is a very good lens. Forgeting low light capability and BG blur (which if you need them then the 2.8 is a must) you are left with the questions: can u afford it and are you sure photography is that important to you......for many of us here photography is a passionate awakening in us and the extra cost for a lens or a body is well worth what it delivers. You will only get so good and then the last diff in your work will be the gear

    (sorry for the ramble)
  18. Wow, what a forum!!! You folks are fantastic and I appreciate the expertise immensely!

    The model Im thinking about purchasing is the 300mm f/4D ED-IF AF-S lens, but I wasnt able to reserve that one in particular for Monday. Ive rented the older version instead. I may not get the % in focus Im looking for, but should be able to get a few and can compare with my 70-200 f/2.8 for quality.

    If I can equal or better the 70-200 quality due to the lens itself and less cropping, I'll probably get the new version of the 300 f/4, BUT, I think Im going to rent the 300 f/2.8 just to see (am I making a mistake?, cuz if the 2.8 is that much better than the f/4 there goes $3000 :-0).......

  19. i would not rent the 300/2.8 unless you can afford it now...
    it will only polarize your ability to make a decision and will drive you nuts

    try to get a used 300/4 afs, they can be found for 900 but be carelful of the aperture blades since the rear end of this lens is wide open (there is no glass between the mount and the blades and then can get dirty.
  20. OK.....heres a weird question for you folks, but Im VERY interested in your answers......

    Given the aperture set to f/5.6 and not using the VR would you predict the Image Quality at the track for these 4? (Rate from 1-10 for comparison purposes):

    1. 300mm f/4 Af-S

    2. 300mm f/2.8

    3. 70-200mm f/2.8 with teleconverter

    4. 70-200mm cropped to equal the 300mm length

    Im just going to guess here. Let me know if Im close!

    1. 8.0 (per Randy)
    2. 9.7 (per Randy)
    3. 7.0
    4. 6.0

    How does that look?

    Again sorry for the unorthodoxed (sp?) question, but Im known for these :) 

    my best to all,

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