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Another 200-400 f4 VR in da' house!

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by Cleanmaxx Brian, Apr 17, 2007.

  1. Hi all,
    Just got back from ordering my brand spankin new 200-400 f4 VR! Let my start off by saying that if you don't have the funds or are not willing to deal with it's size, do not...I repeat, do NOT try this lens out! I did...and now my pocket is a lot lighter! Now the long wait until Nikon fills their backorders...

    I had a chance to try out a demo of this fine lens...My thoughts:

    At f4 wide open this lens is VERY sharp! I even think it is sharper than my 70-200 at 200 at f4!

    Color may be a bit OVER saturated? It is almost as if there is a PL filter. Sky was super blue! (Any one else notice this or was it the copy I had?)

    It can be hand held as long as you don't have to frame for a long time

    VR works great on this lens and aids in the static objects shots

    It is a conversation piece! Took it to the RC plane flying field and had a crowd:eek:  :biggrin:

    On the down sides:

    Does not work well with the TC17E at all...even stopped down on a sturdy tripod. I will have to play with this more but...

    It is heavy considering the 100-400 IS L from Canon....but the Nikon is MUCH better quality wise

    I wish the hood was built in. Flipping it takes time.

    I wonder why it didn't start out at say 2.8 at 200mm and go to f4 at 400mm?

    Price of entry...even more that the well reguarded 300mm f2.8 VR

    And last but not least...I can only look at pictures of this lens until mine comes in!:Sad:
  2. yifeng


    Jan 23, 2007
    I'm waiting mine in 2 days. I'm counting...
  3. Paul Alexy

    Paul Alexy

    Apr 17, 2007
    Are you planning on using the Nikon case for carrying, or a backpack. I'm one of many weighing the 200-400 with the 200/300 VR w/ TC alternatives.

  4. gadgetguy11


    Nov 16, 2005
    Congrats, Brian! Great choice. It is my all-time favorite lens:



  5. I use a much more compact, lighter weight case from Kinesis. I think mine is the E970. I also have their compact backpack adapter for it. Works out very very well.

  6. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    Mine works well as far as sharpness with the 1.7, it does focus slower however, might want to try a different 1.7, there is a variance on some TCs.

    Cheers, and congrats

  7. What, GadgetGuy, no Better Beamer?? (just kidding -- you've got quite a setup there and the good results to prove its effectiveness!)
  8. gadgetguy11


    Nov 16, 2005
    I can't stand my Better Beamer! If it is BETTER, I would hate to see the LESSER!! I quit taking it around because it falls apart if I bump it. Ever try to pick up parts of a Better Beamer while handling a 200-400 on a monopod?

    I keep hoping someone will design a flash extender that is solid...

    The setup you see is now mostly gone. 1325 sold, 1321 currently not used, BH-55LR sitting at home, new 6X legs just arrived, full Wimberley arrives tomorrow!! Can't wait to try the new setup. To lighten up, I plan to try it without the 1321. My use involves carrying the rig for 7 hrs solid, with stops to shoot along the way.

    Thanks for the comments!!
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 18, 2007
  9. Nope, don't have a Better Beamer (yet....) That's one thing I haven't felt the need to add to my gear so far. Since I'm getting more and more hooked on this whole birdie thing, though.....methinks there is a BB or something similar in my future! :biggrin:

    The 6X legs....I'm guessing you're referring to the replacement for the Gitzo 1325 legs? You will LOVE the Wimberley! Best investment I ever made.... well, almost! Really, it is terrific! Earlier this evening I went through the (primarily Great Blue Heron) shots I did in Alabama at Guntersville Dam. I was tickled to see how many keepers I had. I don't think I could have gotten anywhere near the reasonably successful shots I did without that Wimberley. Also, I KNOW I couldn't have gotten any decent shots without the good advice and counsel of our wonderful bird photographer extraordinaire, "Flew!" :smile:

    Looking forward to seeing your images with the new setup and to hearing how you like the Wimberley....
  10. gadgetguy11


    Nov 16, 2005
    I am really excited about the Wimberley!! I sold my Sidekick (which worked well with the BH-55LR BUT was a pain if you did not use it regularly, which I did NOT). I wanted to buy the full Wimberley last year, but chickened out spending that $$, and bought the Sidekick instead. I regretted that decision ever since. I want the SIMPLICITY primarily, and the fluid movement without locking down a ball head, setting too many controls, etc.

    Yes, you are right on - the legs I just received are G-3530LSV. I love them! Same rigid feel (exactly) as 1325, but feel much lighter. The main reason I traded, of course, are the leg locks that work as advertised. Must try them to believe. They really work.

    I am also nuts about my new monopod, the GM-2540. It is crazy! It replaces the 3# G-1588, and weighs in around 12 ounces, with anti-rotation leg locks, 6X CF, identical weight capacity (26#). I am a big pod shooter. This is such a welcome addition to my kit!!! I plan to bolt the manfrotto flip head and RRS lever release on her (removed from the 1588 setup), and shoot away! The weight difference really blew me away on the pod!!
  11. I'm still enjoying the difference in weight between my 20-something-years-old Gitzo and the 1325! LOL! Now, about the change in leg locks.... I haven't quite got the hang of the ones on the 1325 or my monopod. They are definitely improvements over what I was using before, though! I have not seen the new Gitzo models so don't know much about the improvements they've made in the leg adjustment features.

    Rather than fiddle with the arrangement that RRS suggested for the Gitzo monopod, I simply put a C-10 (I think that's the number) Wimberley clamp on there and that works just great. I can slip either a long lens on there or the camera body with the RRS L-bracket. No fuss, no muss....

    Actually the slickest tripods I've seen in a while are the Sachtlers. When I was down in Alabama a couple of people (Larry [Ozarkshome] and Wade [Commanderfirst] had them and, wow, were they neat! Setup and takedown is very quick and easy.... They're pretty expensive, as I discovered when checking them out on the internet, but they are really cool.
  12. Hi Wade, I did not think it could have been the TC since it worked so well on my 70-200 but you may very well be right! I bet there is more of a difference between TC's then there is between 200-400's.

    Once I get the new lens, I will be sure to let you know if it gets better. I have seen very sharp pictures using the TC17E with this lens so I know it can be done...
  13. Thanks Gadget Guy - Great neame BTW:D 

    I think it will quickly become my favorite too!

    You new set up sounds VERY nice! My version is cheap, heavy, sturdy...(Can't afford all 3!)
    Giottos 9180 tripod and Bogen 3421 Gimble.
  14. Better Beamer

    Hmmm I use the better beamer without any problems...I have never had it come off before. You did stick the velcro pads onto the flash first right? I used a extra one so I have one on the top and one on the bottom. Now when you do the wrap, it holds the flash from the top AND bottom...
  15. gadgetguy11


    Nov 16, 2005

    You bring up some very good points (as you always do). I really like your idea of mounting the clamp directly to the pod. I am still wrestling with that idea, even now that the new pod is here. My problem is, I tend to use it a lot in an elevated area, looking down on lions and tigers, for example. Using a lens with rotating collar directly on the pod + quick release does not permit tilt up/down. In some cases, I am shooting almost straight down. This would orient the pod directly behind you. That is my only reason for adding the Manfrotto flip head, otherwise, it would be GONE!

    Larry and I spoke about Sachtler tripods and monopods, and I seriously considered them. Sachtler is very big in the broadcast video camera world. They have a great reputation. But in the end, I chose not to go that direction for several reasons. And cost was NOT one of those reasons:

    1-Availability of replacement parts. Other than the large broadcast camera connections, virtually no dealer except B&H carries the line. This is not good when it comes to replacement parts.

    2-Only a 3 yr warranty, vs. a lifetime warranty for Gitzo.

    3-Complexity of engineered design. Integrating all leg release on the tripod with 1 flip is a very handy design, but is a more complicated (and likely to need adjustment) design. I believe Sachtler's leg locks are superior to the latest Gitzo leg locks - they are certainly easier to use - however this comes with a penalty of greater design complication. With only a 3 yr warranty, factoring this in with hardly anyone carrying the line - I can't see one in the entire state - this was a major drawback.

    4-Not as popular as Gitzo in the resale market in my OPINION. I dropped the word that I would let my Gitzo 1325 and 1588 pod go. About 10 minutes later, they were both sold without even a listing. This enabled me to buy newer gear with minimal loss. When there are only a couple Sachtler users, would they be as popular to most Cafe users when I am ready to try a different model?

    5-Gitzo really nailed it when they designed 6X carbon fibre, in my opinion. I believe they are at the very head of the pack in cf design. Again, still photo is their market, not pro video, and they really shine in the light to mid weight support systems.

    Gitzo 6X CF +++, Anti Rotation Leg locks +, Warranty +++, Resell-ability +++.
    Sachtler CF +, Leg locks +++, Warranty ---, Resell-ability +
    Purchase goes to: Gitzo


    Thank you for the compliment! You have a sturdy setup, which will be a huge advantage in many situations. I'll bet you really like that Bogen Gimble. The results you achieve are the bottom line.


    Yes, I did put the velcro on the flash first - on the underside. Your use of 2 pieces certainly would help. Please understand a personal hang-up is my perception of a product's engineering / design. Approving or rejecting designs for a living makes one constantly evaluate the pro's and con's of product design. For example, the Gitzo / Sachtler notes listed previously. RRS appeals to me more than any other company from a design and machining consideration. Approaching products from an analytical point of view is not favorable when we see 2) strips of plastic, a bendable / highly breakable Fresnel lens that flexes when you touch the sides, and is held together with Velcro. It WORKS AS ADVERTISED, and I apologize for my personal dislike for how it is built. I hope a competitor offers a more rigid (carbon fibre?) flash extender someday that looks and performs great!
  16. You bring up some good points, too, in your careful analysis of Sachtler vs Gitzo.....very interesting! Definitely you see a lot of Gitzos when out shooting with other photographers, whereas the first time I ever saw a Sachtler was this past month in Alabama. I live in an area where if one camera store doesn't have something, another does, and I've been able to make purchases after actually seeing/feeling/handling a given product (Gitzo tripod, Gitzo monopod, Wimberley, etc.). No one around here (to my knowledge) carries the Sachtler. Maybe they're available in facilities which focus more on professional video camera gear, I don't know. There are one or two downtown in DC, I believe.

    Yes, you point up the one drawback of using the Wimberley clamp on the monopod: the inability to move the head through up/down ranges. While one can move the entire monopod, that somewhat defeats the purpose and reduces the stability! I don't use the monopod a whole lot, so to date this hasn't been a serious issue for me. I plan to take it with me to the zoo if our weather ever clears up, give it a real workout.
  17. gadgetguy11


    Nov 16, 2005
    Unless you shoot on a level plane, the pod can definitely benefit from a flip head. I'm hoping to check out the Cincinnati Zoo this weekend. They have "Zoo Blooms" going on:

    "Dubbed “Tulip Mania” Zoo Blooms will also feature hundreds of thousands of daffodils, hyacinths, flowering trees and shrubs and other spring bulbs bursting with color."
  18. Cschend


    Apr 1, 2007
    SLC, Utah
    I just got my 200-400 and love it! I have used it with my 1.7TC just yesterday, but quickly discovered that I need a new tripod and head. I'm considering the Jobu Black Widow. Will a Gimbal head help make up for light duty legs (Bogen 3001BPRO)? Or do I need to further lighten my wallet (which is now empty) for new legs too? I'm not a large or strong person (read wimpy little girl) which is why I went with the 3001 (easier to carry) in the beginning. Little did I ever suspect that I would be attaching a bazooka to my camera...
  19. gadgetguy11


    Nov 16, 2005
    Congratulations on the 200-400, Christine!

    I am afraid you will be best served by a heavy duty platform. There are many good choices. Earlier in this post are some details. The 1325 is ideal, but the leg locks are a pain. The new GT-3530LSV is lighter, stronger, and the leg locks are very easy to use. You can find it in stock at RRS if B&H is still out of stock.
  20. Hi Christine,
    Well being that you now have 7+ pounds on the front of your camera, is weight out of the picture? If so and money is tight, may I recomend the Bogen 3421 gimble on the Giottos MT9180 tripod? This set up is VERY sturdy and works great with a total price under $400 for both but it is heavy...
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