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Can the 80-400mm really do sports?

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by VoidRaven, Aug 9, 2008.

  1. VoidRaven


    Jul 13, 2006
    Lagrange, OH
    Well, can it?

    I've pretty much settled that this will be my next purchase to handle "long reach" for my kit. I regularly find myself wanting a little more reach for the zoo and backyard birds, even when using my wife's older 70-300. The 80-400 seems to me like it will fill that slot in my kit nicely. But as I've been reading and reading there seems to be much debate as to whether or not it can perform for sports. Obviously the focus speed is the issue here (I think).

    What can folks offer about their experiences with this lens on a D200 body for sports? Mostly kids sports. I figure by the time my daughter gets old enough that she is really running around with sports (which since she is just over a month old will be a LONG time) I'll be able to afford something like my dream 200-400 or whatever other new piece of glass Nikon creates by that time.

    So what would be the general consensus on the sports aspect? Oh, and I've read that just like with other lenses there can be a little learning curve with this one. Is this due to the VR?
  2. I have this lens. Can it do sports? Possibly, as long as they are not fast breaking sports that require quick focusing. For kid sports it might be fine with the foregoing qualifications. For zoo and birds in the backyard it would be fine. The only learning curve would be getting used to the relatively slow focus and the sort of slow acting VR.

  3. Long answer; yes, with a 'but', short answer: no, not really.

  4. wingspar


    Mar 16, 2008
    If you shoot in bright daylight, it will give acceptable results. Don’t read acceptable as excellent. More of an ok. Most sports shooters shoot with 2.8 lenses for the shallow DOF one can achieve, and the faster shutter speeds, not that you can’t achieve shallow DOF with the 80-400. You can at the longer end of the lens when the subject is close to you.

    My opinion is that this is a soft lens. Sharp photos are a hit and miss. Some will disagree with me, but that is my experience. I’ve had the 80-400 since 2003, and I rarely use it. It’s just too soft of a lens for me, and it is a very slow lens, and is very slow to focus. On my D200, static subjects work ok. On my D2H, focus is speed is better. Shooting at a larger aperture than f/8 to f/11 just nets soft photos.

    For shots at the zoo, you might like this lens. For sports, you won’t like this lens, but it can be used for sports in the day time. The only way you are going to find out, is to pick one up, and try it. If you don’t like it, they do retain their value, and you would have no trouble selling it.
  5. CAJames


    Sep 6, 2006
    Lompoc, CA
    I'd say the 80-400 is usable, but will take some work. On a D1/D2 type body the AF is OK as long as you can use the focus limit switch and have an idea where the action is going to be (i.e. prefocus). I can't say about a D200, but on the D100 the AF was pretty pokey even best case. Another thing that isn't mentioned enough is practice. It isn't all about the camera and the lens, the photographer matters too, and tracking action is a skill that can learned even with modest gear.
  6. no
    it can't focus fast enough and it can't blur backgrounds well enough

    but it is still a great lens

    lots of great lens but many, if not most, are very specialized
  7. No it cant .. . Absolutely useless for fast moving objects. . . :rolleyes: :rolleyes: 

    D200 + 80-400vr .. .



    Saying that I have since got myself a 300 AF-S F2.8. . . There's no comparison between the two. . .

    (Randy you knew I was gonna post these. . . :wink:) 
  8. yep i did and beauts they are
    it's like Morris and BIFs w/ the 80-400,,,sure it can be done but it's an unnatural act:biggrin:

    1 of the hardest things to learn about this hobby/business is the specialized nature of lenses and the need to own alot of different lenses (i'm rehearsing the line for my 400/2.8 speech for my wife:smile:) 
  9. Let me know how you get on with the speech. . . Any pointers you can share would be appreciated. . .Trying to get my good lady to understand the need for such a lens. . When I already have the 300 .. . she cant see the need for only 100mm more. . . :wink:
  10. Brodman


    Aug 26, 2007
    Knoxville, TN
    I am going to have to remember that line Randy.

    I read this thread before going out to shoot my second 9 year old football game of the day. This morning I used the 70-200, and of course it worked perfectly. This afternoon I wasn't able to get as close as I did earlier, so I put the 80-400 on my D300. (My girlfriend was using it on a D80 this morning and getting mostly OOF shots) All I can say is that it did very well for what it is: a very nice way to get shots between 200-400 without donating a kidney.

    I realize you asked about use on a D200, so I apologize, but on a D300 it yields very acceptable results. I haven't posted any pics with this reply because it was on the D300, but if you are interested I will put some up.
  11. maybe i'll try the old 'bigger is better' line after the specialized lens speech
  12. I totally agree... Worthless.... :eek: 

    While it's more difficult to get a good capture with less light, it's still not impossible. If I could afford a 200x400, I'd have one... These were at my first outing using this lens camera combo...

    D300 - 80x400VR (AM with no sunshine)







  13. hey not fair...bikinis fall into a completely different category of things that are moving....you guys are making me look bad but keep it up

  14. Randy, most everything you write is a wonderful mix of fact and humor, but that first line is a gem!

    And the second one, as others have noted, is a keeper. I'm going to practice those lines everyday:biggrin:
  15. One more, but I missed the shot trying to keep the lens at 400mm. I should have been a bit wider to catch the ball as well....

  16. pinksurfer


    Jul 5, 2008
    Nikon 80-400 VR

    This is a great lens for animals, they move slower than bikinis. Also get great portraits of children. Not a perfect lens but a good compromise.:smile:
  17. i think your shutter speed may have been a little too slow cause i see some motion blur, but whose complaining:Love:
  18. I love it for portraits... and animals... and portaits of animals....



  19. did i hear animals

    IMO the 80-400 is one of the finest lenses made




  20. What about flowers????? :Angry:




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