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Nikon 80-400 VR vs 70-300 VR

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by eric5931, Jul 23, 2008.

  1. eric5931

    eric5931

    27
    May 13, 2008
    CA, USA
    Any one has experience on both and can share your comments on their IQ and AF speed?

    I have a nice 70-300 VR but am thinking to upgrade to 80-400.

    Thx.

    Eric.
     
  2. I have had the 80-400 VR for a short while, and have my wife's 70-300 VR to compare. IQ wise there's not much in it, I couldn't pick which lens is sharper. Both lenses are somewhat soft wide open at their longest focal length but sharpen up at f/8. The 70-300 VR focuses faster, while the 80-400 VR is slow on a consumer body like the D80 but reasonably fast on my D300 - I would suspect a D2/D3 series would drive it even faster.

    If you need the 400mm reach and want it in a handholdable, compact package, there's not much out there to compete with the 80-400 VR... Otherwise, if 300mm is good enough, the 70-300 VR is a much better bargain. In between these two is the 70-200 VR + TC-17E combo, which focuses faster than either but also costs more and is heavier than the 80-400.

    If all you want is to add 400mm reach to your kit with the best IQ for under $2000, the 300 f/4 + TC-14E is the way to go - but you'll need a good tripod most of the time.

    Cheers

    Mike
     
  3. I used an 80-400 VR for four years and thought it was the cat's meow but sold it because I didn't use it enough to justify keeping it. It did focus slow but I never had any problems tracking sprint cars, hydroplanes or aircraft, including jet fighters. I replaced it with a 70-300 VR, which I don't use much, BUT, IMO the 70-300 focuses faster and yields better IQ at 300 mm than the 80-400 VR at 300 mm. It always seemed to me that the 80-400 VR's IQ was better at its closer focusing distances (within 25 feet). The 70-300 VR seems to yield good IQ at any distance. My copys of the the 80-400 VR and 70-300 VR were good wide open. If you need more than 300 mm you have only one choice, if 300 mm is long enough then I would choose the 70-300 VR. Just my opinion.
     
  4. rbmphoto

    rbmphoto Guest

    What about Sigma 100-300?

    Probably better image quality than either Nikon zoom, but without VR...

    At approx. $1000 with internal motor, AF should work well on any Nikon body.

    Good luck!
     
  5. eric5931

    eric5931

    27
    May 13, 2008
    CA, USA
    Thx all for your comments and sharing of experiences

    I just read somewhere that the new Sigma 120-400 is very good with "lightning fast" AF. (Quote from that post.)

    Thx very much for you all.
     
  6. I would call my new Sigma 120-400 good, but not "very good". The focusing and OS (stabilization) are indeed "very good", but the lens is not real sharp. I haven't tested against the Nikon 80-400 but I did some comparison tests with a Canon EF100-400 and the Canon is noticeably sharper, especially at the corners. On the other hand, it's nearly twice the price.

    I'm not unhappy with my 120-400 for $850 but I would have been much happier with a razor sharp version up around $1100 bucks or so.:smile:
     
  7. Randy

    Randy

    May 11, 2006
    just so we have a counter opinion the 70-300 at 300 is not even close to the 80-400 at 300 in IQ, contrast, sharpness, etc
    they chg more for a reason
     
  8. ultimind

    ultimind

    990
    May 13, 2007
    Cleveland, OH
    Did you have the lens calibrated by Sigma? From what others have said, after Sigma has their way with it, most of their lenses become much better performers.
     
  9. Randy +1 on your comment.
     
  10. gadgetguy11

    gadgetguy11

    Nov 16, 2005
    Kentucky
    R Bond +1 on your comment.
     
  11. Randy

    Randy

    May 11, 2006
    so the score is tied :smile:

    p.s. do you really think the 70-300 is better at 300 ?
     
  12. gadgetguy11

    gadgetguy11

    Nov 16, 2005
    Kentucky
    My copy and my wife's copy is, without a doubt. I so wanted it not to be the case, I felt 100% as you stated earlier, that is why they charge more.

    I finally set up 2 direct comparisons. One involved 1000 images at the Louisville Zoo. The other, images of birds.

    The 70-300 images were dramatically better, so I set up another comparison. This time between the 70-300 and my 300VR at the Louisville Zoo, again, 1000 images each.

    Overall, the 300VR won, hands down, but... if bokeh was not a factor in the shot, if lighting was strong, (conditions "perfect"), the images were indistinguishable! It totally blew me away. Again, I expected a major difference. We are talking a $4,000 vs a $500 lens. HOWEVER, anything but ideal conditions, and the 300VR dusted it.

    I invited several people to inspect images from 300VR and 70-300 on my 30" Cinema monitors. They guessed "wrong" on 1/2 of the ideal condition images. They got 100% "right" on the less than ideal condition images.

    Back to the question at hand: take the 70-300 to the bank. Do we have exceptional copies? I do not know. All I know is these 2 copies are not for sale!

    I sold the 80-400 the following day.

    A few 70-300 samples:

    263277605_fAGfN-XL.

    263276932_CUyiP-XL.

    263284470_HaaxS-XL.

    263272773_5SvdA-XL.
     
  13. Good to know, i'll keep that $4000 for a rainy day :wink:
     
  14. gadgetguy11

    gadgetguy11

    Nov 16, 2005
    Kentucky
    Nikon 200 /2.0 image with D2X:

    240525537_qRRui-XL.

    70-300 image with D300:

    263284470_HaaxS-XL.

    These images are not directly comparable; taken on different days, with different lighting, with different bodies. However the images are interesting to view at a quick glance.
     
  15. the 200

    definitely has more bite, no doubt. and of course that lens is a bokeh machine. The 200 image looks a bit more 3-D, the 70-300 more flat, though i don't know whether PP could bring the differences closer, but overall the 70-300 does well, all things considered it is a pretty good optic. I sold images taken at an event with it recently, it's not a pro lens, but I have very few complaints - if the subject and background are far enough from one another the bokeh actually looks quite creamy and of course VR helps keep acuity pretty high.
     
  16. I don't know if the score is tied, but I also disagree with your statement that the 80-400 is better at 300 than the 70-300! My 80-400 has exactly the same sharpness at 300mm as my wife's 70-300. Locked down on tripod, MUP and remote realease, took pictures of a test chart - there is no discernable difference between these two!

    My 70-200 with the TC-14E is slightly better than both. Put the TC-17E on the 70-200 and you get a three way tie...

    At 400mm, my 80-400 VR is sharper than my 70-200 with the TC-20E.

    I think this would be in line with what most folks see, according to what I read... Randy, your copy of the 70-300 was a bad one, it seems.

    Cheers

    Mike
     
  17. I think the key word here is "under ideal conditions". I don't think we can count on ideal conditions when we are out in the field chasing some elusive and shy subject. That is why the $4000 glass is needed.
     
  18. Randy

    Randy

    May 11, 2006
    my copy of the 70-300 was the same as everybody elses copy (i don't buy into the diff copy thing) and i was very happy w/ my 70-300 but it just didn't get used enough to keep it and we are all entitled to our opinions (because that's all this is)....you guys have made me reconsider another 70-300 but i am not sure it would get used much...for sports it is no good for me because of f5.6 and for the zoo i prefer the xtra 100mm of the 80-400....
     
  19. gadgetguy11

    gadgetguy11

    Nov 16, 2005
    Kentucky
    Completely agree that for sports, or indoors, the 70-300 is not a good choice. Also, you said it precisely that these are opinions - well said!!
     
  20. thrdprophet

    thrdprophet

    684
    May 13, 2007
    Modesto, CA
     
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