Comtemplating a New lens

Discussion in 'General Technical Discussion' started by Desert Rat, Nov 20, 2005.

  1. I have been contemplating a new lens for several months and narrowed it down to two possible choices.
    Looking at the :

    Nikkor 500mm F4 AFS
    Nikkor 200-400mm F/4 VR lens

    Been hearing lots of differeing opinions on both of these lenses...

    Any recommendations

    Mostly used for wildlife and other things...

    I have been leaning toward the 200-400mm VR since it seems more versitile

    THanks
     
  2. the versitility of the 200-400 is the whole reason I selected it over the 500. Being able to reframe or zoom out to aquire the subject is priceless and coupled with the 1.5 CCd digital factor makes it really reach. Plus add a TC and high speed crop..... oh well I think you are getting my point
    Good luck either way. Can not wait to see what you do with it.
    Dave
     
  3. JeffKohn

    JeffKohn

    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    For me the choice was easy, I prefer the versatility of the zoom. The 500 doesn't even have an aperture advantage, unlike comparing the 300 VR where it comes down to zoom/reach versus f/2.8. If you were a birder or primarily shoot in situations where you need as much reach as possible, maybe the 500 would be a good choice. But the 200-400 gives you more fexibility plus the benefit of VR when shooting on a monopod or "loose" tripod (ie gimbal head).
     
  4. Reason I am asking is I was out with helmet (Brett) shooting relatively large birds and talking with a few dare I say Canon shooters about lenses. They both had 500mm F4 IS lenses... Was asking about a zoom and you know what tey say.. Get the 500mm F/4. But I think that was because Canon did not or does not make a 200-400mm similar lens..

    I personally like the idea of a 200-400mm since it is quite versitile, but I wanted to find some more lens reviews of it? Any suggestions?
     
  5. JeffKohn

    JeffKohn

    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    As you say though, there is no Canon 200-400vr, only option they have is the 100-400 which is the Canon equivalent of Nikon 80-400vr. Also, they're shooting with the 500 f/4 IS, while on the Nikon side you'll have to live without VR if you choose the 500. Personally, having used to VR lenses (70-200VR and 200-400VR), I'd rather shoot the 200-400 + TC-14 than the 500, becuase although you're losing a stop in aperture you're gaining 2-3 from the VR. I don't doubt the 500 has the potential to be considerably sharper than the 200-400 + TC, but you're going to need fast shutter speeds and excelent technique to take full advantage of it.

    In his mini review of the 200-400vr, Bjørn Rørslett states "This might well be the finest telephoto or zoom lens I've ever tested. "
     
  6. PJohnP

    PJohnP

    Feb 5, 2005
    Eric

    Have a look at : http://www.naturfotograf.com/lens_zoom_03.html#AFS200-400VR . Bjørn Rørslett's reviews are highly respected by many people, including me, here at the Cafe.

    I have the 200-400mm AFS/VR. I consider it to be a treat of a lens to shoot with, and I often shoot handheld. A recent photo with this lens can be seen at : https://www.nikoncafe.com/vforums/showthread.php?t=56771 . Another indicative shot can be seen at : https://www.nikoncafe.com/vforums/showthread.php?t=46518 . At this point in time, it's my preferred birding lens for most shooting.

    Draw your own conclusions about the lens - go and test one - as all the discussions in the Cafe won't be as effective as handling the lens.


    John P.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  7. general

    general

    Apr 30, 2005
    Nebraska
    Had same decision

    and I decided on the 200-400 principally because of its versatility. If I were rich I might have both but given that I needed to make a choice, there was no question: the 200-400. I also added the TC-17EII to my collection of extenders and it practically stays on the 200-400 when I am in the field.
     
  8. PJohnP

    PJohnP

    Feb 5, 2005
  9. general

    general

    Apr 30, 2005
    Nebraska
    Ron is an expert

    However, his preferences are based on his preferences and his shooting style. Disagreement with his solution is not necessarily irrational.
     
  10. JeffKohn

    JeffKohn

    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Yeah, and his preference of the 500 over the 200-400vr probably has somethign to do with the fact that he also has the 300vr and 200vr.
     
  11. MontyDog

    MontyDog

    Jan 30, 2005
    #1064 - You have an error in your SQL syntax;
     
  12. JeffKohn

    JeffKohn

    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Not only that, but the limitation of a 500mm prime isn't quite as much of an issue if you also have one of the other two along for the ride to fill that big gap. For me, one monster lens is all I can justify so the 200-400vr covers the most territory.
     
  13. Steve S

    Steve S

    Feb 1, 2005
    SE Florida
    I have both lenses, and prefer the 500

    But, with that said, you have to really decide whether you want max reach, or the versatility of a zoom. If you're doing and serious birding or other wildlife shooting, then you definitely want to go for MAX REACH. Reason; they don't like you getting too close to them, DUH! :wink: If you're going to be doing other stuff with the lens, such as sports shooting, then the zoom is probably the better choice. fyi, I haven't touched my 200-400 since I got my 500 f4. It's really up to you to decide where the lens will get the most use.
     
  14. MontyDog

    MontyDog

    Jan 30, 2005
    #1064 - You have an error in your SQL syntax;
     
  15. I debated long and hard and went with the 200-400 VR partly for the zoom and also because of the VR there are a lot of times I like to shoot off a mono-pod and the VR is a godsend. This lens has great contrast great color a nice bokeh and is sharp as can be couple it with the 1.4 tel and you have a 550 f5.6
     
  16. Baywing

    Baywing

    Feb 22, 2005
    CT USA
    The best thing you could do would be to rent both lenses and try them. The rental costs are small compared to the beating you'd take to buy one, then have to sell it for the other.
     
  17. Both are good choices. I agree that it depends on what you are photographing. If you goal is birds, particularly small ones, I would lean towards the 500mm. In fact the bigger the better to some extent. If your goal is larger animals, the 70-200/2.8 or the 200-400/4.0 makes more sense. About 20 years ago, I could have bought the 200-400/4.0 manual focus lens and chose the 400/3.5 instead. So I went through a similar decision process. My only regret on not buying the two-to-four was that it went up in price considerably when Nikon discontinued it. I therefore would expect the new AF VR two-to-four to have potential for higher resale. In addition, I have a friend who loves his. For general shooting, I would pick the two-to-four over the five. But I iterate that you can't go wrong with either lens. I wish all of life's choices were like this.
     
  18. JeffKohn

    JeffKohn

    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    I'm a single-body guy just because I can't justify the cost of a second body (for now :biggrin:). Actually I do have my D70 still but just can't bring myself to use it because the D2x is so much better. At this point the D70 is just backup in case something happened to my D2x. That said, even with a second body I'd prefer zooms, I'd be happy with the 200-400 and 70-200 both ready to go, or maybe the 28-70 instead of the 70-200 depending on the circumstances.

    I think part of what it comes down to is I prefer the versatility of a zoom over absolute reach because I'm not strictly a wildlife shooter and don't really shoot smaller birds and such.

    I've mostly done long dayhikes, but occasionally longer overnight trips. But even on a 10 mile dayhike, I wouldn't want to carry both the 300 and 500, for instance, that's just too much weight when you add in other stuff. In fact for longer hikes I don't even take the 200-400 usually, because in a pinch I can use the 70-200 + TC. I'd rather carry my other lenses (12-24, 28-70, 150 macro) and various accessories unless I know I'm going to have lots of prime wildlife shooting opportunities.
     
  19. PJohnP

    PJohnP

    Feb 5, 2005
    Jeff :

    I've snowshoed with the 200-400mm, 70-200mm, TCs and a monopod, and I can say it weighs down the pack a bit (along with all the backcountry survival gear I bring in the mountains). Those lenses along with the 12-24mm are about the limit I want to have with me for serious backcountry efforts.

    Oh, I could likely manage more, and if I were heading specifically for a photographic session setting up a base camp, I might do that, but for the most part, I've rarely complained about not having a reasonable kit of lenses in those circumstances.

    I am after all, usually bringing photo gear along on a hike or snowshoe outing, not making a hike just to carry photo gear...


    John P.
     
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