Nikkor 200-500 vs 80-400

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May 14, 2019
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I am a birder using the D500. I like my 200-500 but it is a bit heavy. Should I trade it for a new version of the 80-400? What are the pros and cons?
 
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This is from an outing with a D500/80-400VR AF-S (newest version).

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I have never used the 200-500 so I can not compare them. The 80-400 (both versions) I have used for years and do not find it hard to hand hold for an entire day of shooting.
 

Butlerkid

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I use my 80-400 AF-S as a short lens to complement my 600mm lens. I like the zoom and I've never had a problem with focusing....as long as you acquire the subject early enough. Check out this image.....and the 3-4 images that follow it. That is a diving kingfisher I shot with the 80-400 hand held!

I wouldn't use a teleconverter on this lens. Unfortunately, if you want to fill the frame with a bird, you will need a long focal length.....and that will be heavy! LOL!
 
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I liked my 80-400 better so I sold my 200-500. I didn’t see any difference other than size and weight
Based on your informative posts and the fact that I already owned a good copy of the 80-400, I avoided a detour to 200-500 ownership. My second hand 80-400 (purchased from Cafe mate Bill Dewey (Retief)) has served me well.

That's the power of this place. People you trust offering advice you can trust.

Thanks.
 

Butlerkid

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Based on your informative posts and the fact that I already owned a good copy of the 80-400, I avoided a detour to 200-500 ownership. My second hand 80-400 (purchased from Cafe mate Bill Dewey (Retief)) has served me well.

That's the power of this place. People you trust offering advice you can trust.

Thanks.
I, too, was never tempted by the 200-500......mainly because the weight and ergonomics rule it out for me personally. That and I often see distracting OOF patterns in images with busy backgrounds when taken with the 200-500.
 
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The 200-500 is better at 500mm.:) The 300 f/4 PF VR with teleconverter as mentioned earlier may be a good option. For the record I use the 200-500 for hiking for lizards and on a second body when photographing eagles and other wildlife. I don't use it handheld, though. Beanbag from the car, tripod, or monopod for me.
 
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I shoot both and have done so for several years. Purely from a standpoint of image quality, for all practical purposes there is no noticeable difference. The only real downside is the shorter focal length. On the other hand the AF-S 80-400 is much smaller/lighter, has wider focal range, is much easier/quicker to zoom, and has better lens coatings (though I can't say that I notice a difference in typical shooting situations).

So it basically boils down to whether you can live with a lens that is 20 percent shorter. When I was recently making a similar consideration I used LR to review all of my images shot with the 200-500 and what percentage of them were shot at various focal lengths. Objective data like that is always helpful for me.
 
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vancouver, canada
Hi,

I have both the latest version of the 80-400 and the 200-500. The 200-500 has a longer reach (duh...) as I shoot mostly birds and wildlife the 200-500 is better for me. Now for some comparisons, my version of the 200-500 is sharper at 500mm than the 80-400 at 400 in terms of lines per millimeter. when dialed back to 400mm both are equally sharp. The 200-500 focuses faster than the 80-400 so my keeper rate is higher with it. The 200-500 is much cheaper than the 80-400 and is probably the best value for a long lens.

Both are heavy lenses but light in comparison to the 180-400 f4 or the 400mm f2.8 so it depends on what you want to do. The 300pf with the 1.4 tc is sharper and focuses much faster than the 80-400. I only use the 80-400 when I need to zoom out wide. For birds I use the 200-500 mostly at 500mm. The 300pf with the 1.4 TC is the lightest and fastest option, but it is 420mm so the 200-500 usually wins out on birding trips.

I have the 500Pf on order and if ever arrives then I will be using the 300pf and the 500pf when I go birding.

Hope this helps

Cheers,
alexis and Georgie Beagle

"Mom, your 500Pf? I think not. it is mine, all mine, my precious, ha ha ha...." - Georgie Beagle
 
Joined
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I have decided to keep my 200-500 for now. I plan to buy a 70-200 f/2.8 for close shots. Is that a good pick?
 

Butlerkid

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The 70-200/2.8 is an excellent lens, but I very seldom use it for birds. Although it takes a teleconverter well, it is generally too short for birds.

I use both the 300 PF + teleconverter and the 80-400 AF-S as backups to my 600mm when birding. The 70-200/2.8 always stays home when I'm birding.
 
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