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Nikkor 400 mm 3.5 AIS

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by Tom/Cocoa, Jul 22, 2008.

  1. Saving my money to buy this lens. Since I won't be able to buy the more expensive 400 2.8 I believe this lens will do everything I need. I like taking nature photos. There was one on e-bay a month ago in as new condition but still have to save more. your thoughts?
  2. old chap

    old chap

    Nov 3, 2007
    I replaced my ais 400mm/2.8 for the 3.5 version, a while back, and am thrilled with my decision.

    I find the 3.5 to be more verstile than the 2.8, due to the weight savings and the added option of hand-holding, when required.

    Build quality AND image quality are very similar with both lenses {top notch}, with the 3.5 being easier to handle, in most situations.

    As with many of these older long-teles, CA can 'very occasionally' rear its head in extreme conditions, although software such as Capture NX will completely remove it {in my experience}, and i consider it to be a non-issue.

    As with the 2.8, the 3.5 is nicely balanced on a monopod {with the weight of my d2h}, and the same applies to hand-holding {due to the length of the barrel being not too long, and the supporting-hand being at a comfortable position}.

    The slight loss of max aperture, compared to the 2.8 version, is a worthwhile trade-off for me personally, although i suspect my previous 2.8 was better suited to x2 tc use {haven't used a x2 on my 3.5 version yet}.

    'IF' in the future you aquire a d2x body {or d2h}, you can convert the 3.5 into a 'hand-holdable' semi-AF 640mm f5.6, by teaming it up with the tc-16a.

    This is the combo i use exclusively for my bird photography, and gaining an AF option {by using the tc-16a/ d2h} is almost a necessity for BIF shooting.

    With your d200, you will have to remain fully MF with the 400/3.5, but its still a worthwhile purchase, and you won't be disappointed with any aspect of this excellent lens IMO

  3. rich_h


    Oct 9, 2007
    I've owned both and I believe the 400/2.8 really excells at low-light sports but is too hard to manage for wildlife which involved travelling and hiking. I owned the 400/3.5 20 years ago and replaced it with the 500/F4P. I found the 500/F4P to be the best all-around long lens ever made if you don't need autofocus. You can buy them used for $1500-$2000 and they are outstanding optically. You may want to take a look at it - the extra reach is very helpful, especially on a D3.
  4. The 400/3.5 is the only lens I ever used a 2x tc on (tc301) without a second thought. Mine exhibited no CA on a D200, but some do...as has been said, PP will take care of it. Wish I still had that lens!
  5. The only time I've ever used MF on my D200 was when shooting through brush - I just use it to get the focus in range, then tap the shutter and let the AF finish the job. Otherwise, sometimes in heavy brush, the AF misses what I'm shooting at. I have never truly used MF as would be necessary on the lenses you guys are discussing. What system do you use to help with MF? Do you have a KatzEye installed? Just curious.

  6. Nikkor AIS

    Nikkor AIS

    Jun 5, 2008
    Hey Tom, You got good taste. The Nikkor 400 3.5 ED-IF AIS is one of the sharpest telephphoto's nikon every made. Its realitivly light and well balenced and easy to focus. It's true the 400 2.8 ED-IF AIS is faster(0.6) but is brutal to hand hold except for very short periods. But it is possible with faster shutter speeds. If you do get the lens be sure to get the T.C14b and the T.C 301. On my 400 2.8 ED-IF AIS both converters are really good. I just stop down 2 stops with the 2X. Depending on the shutter speed and wind conditions locking up the mirror and using cable realese will be a good idea.
    Im glad the interest in Nikkor AIS is still going strong. It would be nice if Nikon would re-release some of the classic's. I know the price would be right. Say some like the $2,500 for 300 2.8 and 400 3.5 . There would be no money in RD. Its already been paid for. Its would be no brainer for marketing . they could call it "Classic Nikkor AIS" tm.(just in case they use it):biggrin: If Zeiss can make a buck selling MF glass why not nikkor?. And with camera's like the D3 and the D-700 and the big veiw finder MF is back.
  7. Thanks everyone... It may take some time to save the money but without a doubt
    this lens is in my future...
    Again thanks
  8. Another under-sung lens in the same vein of the 400 f3.5 is the 600 f5.6. An easier lens on the monopod then the f4 version. It is worth the 1-stop loss in speed for me. It can have some CA issues on digital, but nothing that can't be taken care of.

    I remember being at a race in 1989 and the 400 f3.5 on F3HP was the set of choice.

  9. Nikkor AIS

    Nikkor AIS

    Jun 5, 2008
    Good luck Tom, I really think your efforts in saving for the Nikkor 400 3.5 ED-ID AIS will be worth the time and wait. But I wouldnt wait to long . I noticed places like Keh are drained dry of Nikkor AIS long and fast. I saw this coming two years ago and scooped up all I could get. And right now Im glad I did. With the D-700 coming out I guess today:biggrin:. The need and demand for Nikkor AIS super-telephoto's is heating up.

    JCA. I agree about the Nikkor 600 F4 ED-IF AIS being a pig on the monopod. One thing I have done is mount my Wimberly on the monopod and once set up and balenced its much more manageable. So long as you dont need to change position or walk. Carrying long glass on one stick or three is never really easy at the end of a long day. But the results you get makes all the sweat and soar muscles worth it.
  10. I agree & wish the same. Manual lenses like the NOCT get sold for sky high prices. Obviously Zeiss makes money out of MF lenses. So the would be a market.
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