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Nikon 80-400mm Lens, Comments?

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by RDM3, Aug 27, 2005.

  1. RDM3


    Aug 25, 2005
    Concordville, Pa
    Does anyone here use a Nikon 80-400MM VR lens? I had thought about getting one at some point, if the price weas right. I do alot of sports photos for the paper and I use a 70-200 2.8 VR, I am sure the 80-400 is slower, but I would love to try it to see, any comments or opinions?
  2. rebrewer


    Aug 1, 2005
    Davis, CA
    The 80-400 give a great range of magnification, but it is way too slow for fast moving sports. I shoot ski racing, and it just wouldn't track quickly enough to produce an acceptable yield of sharp images. Switching to the 70-200 solved the problem. I never had an unusable image due to the lens.

    It's also pretty fast with the TC-14E.

    Bob (looking at the hummingbirds outside and wondering why I'm at the computer...)
  3. RDM3


    Aug 25, 2005
    Concordville, Pa
    Thanks!! I would love to try one, even for just everyday fun photos, but at $1000 or so used I don't think it is going to happen
  4. Ken-L

    Ken-L Guest

    I have the 80-400VR, and while it is a slow lens, I find I can take shots handheld at 400 with relative ease and great results. I don't shoot action shots so it isn't an issue for me. I've also used it indoors with flash at functions for candid photos and it does well for that too. I hate carrying/setting up a tripod, so for a long lens it's perfect for me.
  5. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    80-400 here also

    Kinko Pro 300 1.4 TC works great with it as well.

    You have to practice with it for sure.
  6. Steve S

    Steve S

    Feb 1, 2005
    SE Florida
    Look at the TC 1.7

    It'll get you out to 320mm, you'll only lose 1 1/2 stops of light, (Not sure what equates to, f4.8?), you'll get AFS internal focusing, and a constant max aperture that's better than what the 80-400 VR offers with non-AFS & variable aperture.
  7. It is one of my favorite lenses, However it is slow in it's AF and if you have darker conditions it is to slow a lens for sports for sure.

    BUT with good lightning and not to fast moving subjects! Really good. Works really well with the D2X & H and D100.
  8. I would second Steve's recommendation of adding a 1.7 TC to your 70-200VR. You will indeed lose 1 1/2 stops, resulting in a constant max aperture of f/4.8 wide open (better than the 5.6 of the 80-400mm), a respectable 340mm of reach, and full use of VR and AF-S. It's also much cheaper than even a used 80-400mm (at least half the cost). Check my Alaska gallery: the shots were nearly all taken with that combo at 340mm or with the Tokina 12-24: I'm sure you'll be able to tell which is which... :wink:
  9. I had the 80-400 and like everyone else, found it to be a great lens for slow moving or static subjects but just too slow to track and focus pretty much anything in motion. I finally sold it out of frustration. I picked up the 70-200 and a TC20II. I find that with a tripod and VR turned off, I can pretty much equal the 80-400 especially in good light. It does reduce the speed of the 70-200 but when you take off the TC, you still have a very fast telephoto with a very respectable range and you can as mentioned, alway put a shorter TC on it for faster and farther.
  10. If you want the VR and fast focusing in an 80-400 why not give the Sigma 80-400 OS consideration? It doesn't use the HSM motor but still uses the fast internal DC type motor and the OS is for Optical Stabilizer. Reports on Fred Miranda are great, also dpreview reports are great for the Sigma lens...

    Works with TCs also...
  11. jb007

    jb007 Guest

    You say you "do a lot of sports photos for the paper" so that suggests the 80-400VR will just be too slow AF and aperture for much of the time, leaving the very sensible suggestions of 70-200VR with TC1.4 and TC1.7 to help the reach, if that doesn't help you then the 300 f4 AF-S is a much better option for sports especially (and it "likes" the TCs too).
  12. RDM, the 80-400 is a great lens when used properly... It took me months before I got to know it and use it they way I wanted.
    With good light it can produce excellent images, even flying birds...!!!

    check this out... good OLD D100 with VR 80-400mm @ 340, handheld, VR ON...
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
  13. RDM3


    Aug 25, 2005
    Concordville, Pa
    Very nice shot!!! I probably wouldn't use the lens for sports because it is slower but I could use it for other things.
  14. 80-400 Vr

    I have shot sprint car races in poor light with this lens with good results. I did turn off VR and shot wide open and relied on good follow through. I also only shot at 300mm and below. I have shot hydroplanes and jet planes in good light at 400 mm with good results. I shoot with a D100 and On moving subjects I always try to turn off VR, my D100 doesn't seem to handle continuous focus and VR at the same time .

  15. Artorius


    May 1, 2005
    Tacoma, WA
    People will say this is a slow focusing lens. Compared to AFS it is. If you have any manual film experience, it is quite fast comparativly speaking. That said, I have been shooting some skateboarding and BMX stunting and am finding NO problems. Much faster than the OLD(MF) way. If the reach is what YOU need, you will really enjoy this lens. I also have the 80-200mm 2.8 AF(not AFS) and the AF 300mm f/4. I can't hold sharp focusing with them below about 125-200 SS. With the 80-400mm VR I can hold it down around 30-60 SS while they are stunting. VR is a nice option if you need it. Ultimately it is your choice as to what you need.
  16. Panos was exactly right when he stated, "the 80-400 is a great lens when used properly... It took me months before I got to know it and use it they way I wanted." The 2 key points here is "used correctly" and "getting to know".
    I wish this was an AFS lens but it isn't so you have to adjust to make it "seem faster" One thing I do is use the limit focus swich to"limit". This will cut down a lot on hunting for focus. Another technique is to pick up your subject as soon as you can to enable the lens to lock on focus. Using these two techniques helps overcome the slow focusing many complain of. Another tecnique I use when using VR is to deactivate focus with the shutter and use the AF on button to initiate and hold focus. I think to a degree having focus and VR using the shutter slows things down when your trying for fast acquisition. No proof, just my experience using VR in the 3 VR lenses I have and living with the 80-400 since it first came out. One thing about VR, I use it to control camera shake at the 400mm setting. VR will do nothing for subject movement. Also remember to let VR activate. If you don't let VR "kick in" you will get undesirable results. Some complain the 80-400 is soft. Not my experience. I checked my 70-200 VR with the TC20E against the 80-400 at 400 and the 80-400 was sharper. To see examples, on my web site in the Air Craft Gallery, all the flight shots were taken with the 80-400 VR.
    Michael Rogers
  17. eng45ine


    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    I owned an 80-400mm VR and it was a very nice lens for all-around telephoto shooting, but I found it to be too slow for shooting sports in situations where ambient lighting was low. It is a fine choice for well-lit sports or birding using a TC...I sold it to a friend who really enjoys it. My recommendation for a sports lens...continue to use the 70-200mm and maybe add a TC if losing an f-stop isn't too out of line.
  18. NeilCam


    Feb 21, 2005
    Ottawa, Ontario
    I use the Sigma 80-400mm OS on my D100 and don't have any trouble with shooting fast things even when the light is marginal (and even then I think the D100 slower focussing is the limiting factor). Two examples in good light and one in marginal:




    Any flaws in any of those three shots are purely due to the photographer and not the equipment. [shrug]

  19. I have been using a 80-400 VR for a year now and can make the following observations:

    a) It is sometimes critisised for being soft at 400mm, I do not find that to be true, for instance this is shot at the 400mm end

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    b) The VR really works, the above shot was hand held:- !/200sec f5.6 (may have found a support to put bean bag on - can't remember).

    c) It is slow to focus and I am still learning to take flight pictures, This is the best I have done to date

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    The focus did keep up but my panning didn't :redface:

    d) It is a very compact lens particularaly if you take the tripod shoe off and hand hold (or use a bean bag and a conveniant support). You are thus more likely to have the lens with you when you need it.
  20. tried out the 80-400 yesterday

    Just tyre kicking in one of camera shops and tried out the 80-400 lens on my D100. I have to admit I was pretty impressed with the results. I took 6 shots and all are usuable. These are three of them. Outside it was blowing a gale and all are handheld. iso at 800 so some grain visible but neat image could clean that up. Now all I need to do is convince the wife I need to spend a little money on another lens

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

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