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Nikon 400mm 2.8 VR or 200-400mm f4 Pros & Cons

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by tiny123, Jul 2, 2008.

  1. Any one here with one or both of these lenses? Can give me any input?

  2. What sort of shooting do you do?

    I have the 200-400 and it is a fine lens. Very sharp and good for the wildlife shooting that i do. The zoom adds a lot of flexibility, although mostly I am shooting at the top end.

    The 400/2.8 of course works better in lower light, but you lose the flexibility of a zoom
  3. TimK


    Apr 17, 2006
    Hong Kong, China
    I don't have either of these lenes - I have a 500/4 VR and a 400/2.8 AFS-II, but I have used my friends' 200-400 and 400/2.8VR.

    First, for birds 400mm is usually too short. I think I have a TC attached to my 400/2.8 maybe 70% of the times.

    For me, the 200-400 is handheldable, the 400/2.8 is not. Not only it is heavier, but because most of the weight is upfront it makes the setup less balanced than, say, the 200-400 or 500/4. My friend can handheld the 400 without problem, but he also bench -presses 250lbs 3 times a week!

    I think the 400/2.8 is sharper at f4 than the 200-400 at f4. At F8 I think they are about the same. At f2.8 my 400 is a bit soft.

    The 400 works very well wth all my 3 TCs - although it needs to be stopped down for 1.5-2 f-stops to be really sharp. The 200-400 works very well with the 1.4, OK with 1.7 but not very good with the 2.0.

    Again, which is better really depends on what your need is. All I can say is that both are excellent.
  4. svenmichiels


    May 21, 2005
    I've got the 200-400, already sold.
    I've tested the 400 VR.

    My first experience with a big tele was the Nikon AF-S 300mm F/2.8 TYPE I (Nikons' sharpest lens). This lens was big, but I could use his easy on a monopod. My pictures were very sharp from F/2.8 even on low shutter speed.

    The Nikon AF-S VR 200-400 F/4 was almost the same size, but I didn’t find a good calibration of weight. The images were not as sharp as the 300mm and couldn’t start from F/4. I’m negative about this lens because I don’t like this lens. I hope that other 200-400 users are more positive.

    The Nikon AF-S VR 400 F/2.8 was huge! But it is has a good weight calibration and the images are realy sharp, even at F/2.8
    If I had to buy a long tele, it would be this lens.

    Some pics with D3 + 400 VR + TC1.7:

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  5. I think DigitalHeMan puts it well: what application do you have in mind? Cameras and lenses are just tools made for a specific purpose.

  6. that is a big surprise
    my 300 2.8 is awesome at 2.8
  7. digipete

    digipete Guest


    I just picked up the 200-400mm this past Sunday. Have only taken a couple of images with it, but I love it so far. My wife is on vacation this week and there are many honey-do's so I really haven't had the time to really play with it.
    It is hand holdable for a couple of shots but it gets heavy quick.

  8. rvink


    Mar 21, 2006
    New Zealand
    400VR pros: a stop faster, sharper at wide stops, better with TCs, has VRII
    400VR cons: bigger, heavier, not a zoom, more expensive

    200-400 pros: smaller, lighter, is a zoom, as sharp stopped down, cheaper
    200-400 cons: a stop slower, not as good with TCs, has VR not VRII
  9. Completely agree. They are both great lenses and I believe it comes down to which one you need or can gain the most benefit from. I have the 200-400 and like it very much as the zoom flexibility comes in handy for me. I'm sure the same could be said by the owners of the 400mm....

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