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80-400 VR vs 70-200 VR??

Discussion in 'General Technical Discussion' started by frogpix, Apr 2, 2005.

  1. I have the 80-400 VR lens and am wondering if perhaps the 70-200 VR might have been a better choice for most of my work. Can anybody who has used both of them give me a reading on how they like them both and what it is about either that they don't like. I don't generally need that extreme focal length and might have found the f/2.8 aperture more useful.

    Thanks in advance,

  2. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005

    I tried them both in the store before deciding on the 70-200VR. At the time, I had only the D70, and the 80-400VR focus speed wasn't nearly fast enough for what I wanted to shoot (flying birdies). I also found the 70-200 to be a little sharper, and as you say, the 2.8 max aperture is very useful.

    Having said all of that, I now find myself wishing that I also had the 80-400VR. Note that I said also, not instead. If I had to pick one, it would still be the 70-200, but I would like to have the length of the 80-400VR sometimes for things like shooting while hiking, and as a general purpose, hand-holdable long lens.

    Gale and Janet both have the 80-400VR and both get great shots. If you have a D2-type cam, the focus speed of the 80-400VR is much better also. I guess what I'm saying is, it depends on what you want to shoot with it.


  3. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl

    got a 24-120 VR VR VR VR coming...lololol
  4. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005
    Well, congrat's Gale!! Can't wait to see your shots.... :wink:

  5. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Steve :

    I've had both and liked both, but for different reasons.

    The 80-400mm VR is a great "walking around lens" if you need some reach, but are usually shooting in the medium range. It's relatively light, has VR function, and is darned sharp up to maybe 350mm and reasonably sharp up to 400mm. As others will note, it's not a great fast focusing wildlife lens, but one can compensate with a little planning. It doesn't take Nikon TC-XX-E teleconverter models.

    The 70-200mm AFS/VR is "fast glass" with f/2.8, has VR for the low light times, and is sharp pretty much through its range. It works with TC14EII or TC17EII, which the 80-400mm VR will not. OTOH, it doesn't have the reach of the other lens. It's a fine lens for close to medium distance wildlife, but just doesn't draw into the longer ranges adequately. It also weighs out heavier than the 80-400mm (3.2 lbs vs 2.9 lbs), and that's not including a TC.

    There are conditions where I use one over the other, such as cases where I'm limited in what I can bring with me. I'd say I now use the 70-200mm AFS/VR more, but that's because I have the 200-400mm AFS/VR that I use in combination with that lens when I can truck along bigger glass.

    Cost-wise, getting the 70-200mm AFS/VR and a couple of TCs will be about double of the 80-400mm VR, so that may be an issue. Getting the full range back to 400mm with another AFS lens will add a tremendous level of cost above that.

    People like Janet Zinn have taken devastatingly great photos with the 80-400mm VR, so don't let the negative press on the lens make you get rid of it. In the right hands, that's one fine lens.

    So far, I haven't been able to make the decision to sell my 80-400mm VR, which may tell you that it does have a place in a lens arsenal. As others will note, it runs somewhat better on the D2H than the D100 (which I shoot with). Most people seem to regret getting rid of the 80-400mm.

    I'd strongly suggest shooting with a 70-200mm AFS/VR to make a reasoned comparison. I know several people who have made the switch, and others who haven't.

    John P.
  6. I've owned both and definitely became very frustrated with the 80-400Vr. It is agonizingly slow and would not lock on small objects (birds, aircraft) in a strong solid field (e.g. whether grey or blue sky). I was glad to be rid of it because I lost so many shots.

    While definitely missing the longer shots, I use the 70-200VR even for cocktail parties and weddings, etc. It's amazing how relaxed people become when they don't have this big black "thing" stuck in their faces.

    I would have included a few wedding candids but the raid assembly I was bragging about a few hours ago just came unglued....lost half my entire image library.........fortunatley having had that happen in 1998 I have three other complete sets of copies of the image library. The irony is that I bought a new MSI board and CPU to rebuild another PC....talk about when it rains it pours!

    Hope that helps.

    Rich :x
  7. Lenses

    To all who have given me their advice and suggestions. Thanks. I now have a pretty good grip on the situation. The lenses I have in my inventory are the 12-24, 17- 55, and my old standby, the 105mm Micro Nikkor that works great on the D2X. My 80-400 gets to sleep in its own carrying case. I don't shoot flying birds, so my targets are a little easier to track. As soon as this damned rainstorm gets out of here, I plan on cranking some light through these things and playing around with the D2X. I can see where education is going to come in handy. I see that iPhoto (remember, I'm a Mac kind guy) will not capture NEFs and I have not figured out how to capture the stuff off my CF Card to Nikon. I don't have Nikon View in the machine, but I guess I am going to have to download and install it. Sooner or later PhotoShop will create a decent plugin for NEFs. In case they already have and I have missed out, somebody smarten me up.


  8. bpetterson

    bpetterson Guest

    Nikon has not finished updating NC yet.
    Nikon View is very good and then you can transfer jpg's for editing tp

    For the time being just shoot jpg's

    Yes I have the 80-400 and the 70-200.
    The 80-400 is great on a tripod when you have the time.

    The 70-200mm VR f2.8 is much faster for focus and I think has better glass.

  9. Thanks, now I have to figure out which acre of land I need to sell to afford the 70-200. :p 
  10. The comments thus far are more or less right on the mark. I owned the 80-400VR but sold it due to the slow focus speed. But, it is a good walk around lens. Having said that, the 70-200VR is in my opinion an exception lens that certainly can be "walked around". I do it all the time.

    Do I miss the 80-400VR? Nope.
    Am I glad I bought the 70-200VR? Yep.

    I would suggest springing for the 70-200VR and compare the two. There's always a market for the 80-400VR on ebay. That's where I sold mine and did quite well.

    It's all about the glass and as Ron Reznick said a while ago, some of the lesser quality glass may be amplified by the D2x's high resolution.
  11. I think some of the respondants have overlooked that portion of your comments, Steve. If you're not using the long end of the 80-400, the 70-200VR is imho the better choice, as it would give you AF-S and fast glass. Its reach can also be extended to 280mm @ f/4 with the addition of a 1.4x tc, with virtually no loss of quality.
  12. Well

    Contrary to most here's opinion I like the 80-400 better then the 70-200VR so I just sold my 70-200VR on Ebay. There is no doubt that the 70-200 is faster and a bit sharper but for me I never seem to need the range up to 200 I go for the 300-400 pretty much immideately on the 80-400. With the TC14e the 70-200 I had was much less sharp then the 80-400. Maybe I have a good 80-400. Janet claimed somewhere I think that the early 80-400 where better...

    The drawback of the 80-400 are two IMHO:
    1. It is slow in the AF, on a D2 body it is ok but not great
    2. Give it light and it shines, when it is getting dark it is pretty useless.
    3. Tripod collar and mount are useless, vibrates like crazy, luckily Kirk and RRS make replacements, but it shouldn't have to be that way Nikon!

    Positives are:
    1. With enough light and stopped down to F8 it gives sharp, saturated pictures
    2. It is realively light to carry
    3. VR works
  13. Thanks, Andreas. If the sun ever comes out, I'm going to give it the acid test.

  14. I had the same dilemma when trying to figure out which long glass to buy. I heard from quite a few 80-400's that past 300 wasn't very sharp for them so I decided to go with the 70-200 and converters. I have the TC14-II and the TC20-II and need to run some sharpness tests on both when I get a second or two around here. My 5700 setup extended to 420 reach and I was having to pull back on quite a few of my shots so I think the 70-200 with a converter will be plenty for me. All depends on what you're shooting, that's for sure! And also what you feel like lugging around... Cheers, Sandi
  15. Hey, Sandi, the 70-200 with your 1.4x converter will definitely be plenty.

    Apples to apples: The max focal length on the 5700 is actually 71.2mm. Due to the small sensor size, it has a crop factor of 3.93, which allows it to give you the full frame equivalent field of view of 280mm. Combined with your tc15e, it increases to a FF equivalent FOV of 420mm. Since your S3 has a 1.5 crop factor, the 200mm end of your 70-200VR with a 1.4x tc also gives you exactly the same FF equivalent FOV... 200X1.4X1.5=420mm.
  16. My solution

    I own both. I love the 70-200VR, but many times it is just not long enough. I've own the 80-400VR since my F100 days, but gave up using it on the D100. After I got the D2h, the 80-400 was usable again, but the images were just not on par with the 70-200. Since I only used the 80-400 for the longer end, I recently got the 300 f/4. This is a great lens and together with the TC14 is a great combination with the 70-200VR.
  17. Thanks for that Frank but that was my whole point. I'd already done the math: same reach except with the 5700 I had no way to pull back without vignetting; so if I found that 420 was acceptable and sometimes needed even less, I'd be satisfied with the 70-200 with the converter(s) which would then make it the equivalent of 147-420 - the perfect range for birding IMO. Now - if I can only find those birds!!! LOL
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