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Please help me decide: 300 VR or 200-400

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by ap10046, Jul 20, 2008.

  1. ap10046


    Jul 12, 2008
    Hi all. This is my very first post here. Have been Snooping around for a while though.... and may I add what a luverly bunch you all are!
    I have recently sold my Sigma 500 4.5 as I hardly used it. I am want to get a "replacement" which is more useful and have narrowed it down to The 300VR and 200-400VR but am really confused.
    I have read hundreds of articles and reviews saying that they are arguably Nikon's finest and very close in IQ.
    I generally shoot wildlife and aircraft. Almost all articles or posts I have read about the magnificent 200-400 mention it being tripod mounted whereas quite a few of the 300VR posts are handheld. I have not had the privilege of handling either , so all you lucky people who own either or both (Gosh!!!) , please offer me your sincere opinions as I ideally wouldn't like to be tied to a tripod and how much better would the 200-400. be over the 300VR for wildlife and aircraft if at all.
    Thank you.
  2. One of the toughest Nikon choices methinks. Love fast glass, but the range of the f4 zoom is appealing.
    With a 1.4x TC the 300 gives you 420 f4 VR...fast AF, excellent iQ. For those times 300 will do
    it sure is sweet shootin' f2.8. For 200 I shoot the 200 f2 VR and I made the choice to stay
    with the primes this time around. I'll be trying a 200-400 this Fall (loan from a friend) for
    Bosque BIF. That'll be the litmus test for me. I can handhold the 300 for 3 or 4 hours
    using a BushHawk with it most of the time. I've seen some great stuff from the zoom and
    can't wait to try one out. Regardless of how things go, I'd have a difficult time giving up the
    300 no matter how versatile the 200-400 may be. Placing the 1.7 on the 300 gives me a sweet
    500 f4.8 VR with great AF/IQ. Like I said at the start...tough choices. :biggrin:
  3. 300/2.8 cause it's a great 420/4 as well
    personally i can't see a diff in IQ between 400 and 420
  4. Pete


    Jun 10, 2006
    Denver, CO
    I went through this last year. After looking at both lenses, I felt that the 300 2.8 can get to 400 with a TC but the 200-400 can never get to 2.8. Still a very tough choice considering the versatility of the 200-400. Buy them both...
  5. I have the 200-400 VR, owned and sold the 300mm f/2.8 and I also own the 200mm f/2 (btw-I also have the Sigma 500mm 4.5!) You live in Miami, I say forego the low-light and go for a 200-400 VR. It's not like you live in a place with no sun! I found that I used my 200-400 VR way more than my 300mm. If you lived somewhere like Washington or somewhere that is very cloudy I'd say go with the 300mm.
  6. The 300 can't do 200 f/4, 300 f/4, 400 f/4 or 560mm f/5.6 with a 1.4 tc! It's all a matter of perspective!
  7. Pete


    Jun 10, 2006
    Denver, CO
    I guess I need to follow my own advice and buy them both...
  8. Actually I'm loving the 200 f/2 and 200-400 VR combo! It beats the old school 300 f/2.8 and 500 f/4 combination!
  9. Jonathan,

    since you have experience with all these:

    How does the Sigma 500/4.5 compare to the Nikon 300/2.8 with 1.7 TC, or the 200-400 with 1.4 TC?


  10. ap10046


    Jul 12, 2008
    guys life is good but not 200VR/300VR + 200-400 VR good! LOL!!!
    Besides "she who decides where I sleep" would have an epileptic fit!
  11. HUH? Mine does 300 f4/420 f4...you must have gotten a bad copy. :biggrin:
  12. wow
  13. I don't have a 1.7 tc, but I do have the 1.4 tc. I think the 500 4.5 is sharper than the 200-400 with the 1.4 tc at 5.6, but stop down slightly and it's a far more useable combination especially with the zoom.

  14. Haha, slight hang over! I forgot to say all-in-one!
  15. davewales


    Feb 18, 2008
    I went through the same choice dilemma. Decided the 200-400 was an in between lens. The 300f2.8 is hand holdable and an "economic" choice and alternative until I can also afford the 500.
    You sold the 500mm Why ?
    Presumably you don't want a 300 & 500 so the in between 200-400 makes it the perfect choice.
    As previously mentioned, you also don't have the poor light issue most of us have to put up with most of the year either !!!!
  16. Perhaps I shouldn't be commenting on this thread since I don't own either lens, but certainly wish I did. On the other hand, I've read every post I can find comparing these two lenses, and from what I've read most folks who own both lenses generally indicate they get more use out of the 200-400.

    You said that you hardly used your 500/4.5 Sigma prime -- I'd think this would be an easy decision!
  17. Seriously, when I had both the 300mm 2.8 and the 200-400 VR, I always ended reaching for the 200-400 VR. In good southern USA weather, it's an excellent daytime lens with lots of versatility. I'd only go for the 300mm if I shot lots of telephoto low-light or lived in an area with not so sunny weather.
  18. Pete


    Jun 10, 2006
    Denver, CO
    I know what you mean... Does not quite help with the decision.
    At least one good thing is that all the people I talked to that have the 200-400 are extremely happy with it and all the people who got the 300 2.8 VR are just as happy with their choice. So whatever decision you make will probably be great.
    Good luck
  19. I loved my 300mm, unfortunately I just didn't use it enough, hence I sold it to finance the purchase of the 200mm f/2! You know, that might be another option, the 200 f/2 with a 1.4 tc gets you 300mm 2.8 and the 2x tc gets you 400mm f/4, though I can't vouch for the 2x since I don't have one.
  20. rvink


    Mar 21, 2006
    New Zealand
    It all depends on what you need:

    - How often do you shoot in low light? The extra stop of the 300/2.8 would be useful here. If you tend to shoot at f/4 most of the time, the speed difference is less important

    - How "hand holdable" do you need the lens to be? The 300/2.8 is shorter and lighter so easier to hold for extended periods. The greater length and weight of the 200-400 makes it more suitable for tripod work. If you tend to shoot from a tripod anyway, the difference is less important.

    - Do you prefer composing with primes or zooms? For example how find composing a scene with your 105VR micro compared to your 70-200VR? Would you be happy with a fixed focal lens, and attaching/removing a TC if required, or will you need to recompose more quickly using a zoom?

    - Do you need the ultimate in performance? The 300mm prime will be slightly sharper than the zoom, and the faster aperture means is focuses a little faster. Performance of the 200-400 is a shade less good (but still excellent) but the zoom means you can crop more accurately "in camera" which may overall give better results than cropping the 300mm image.

    - Have you handled either lens? If you can, get some hands on experience, preferably both at the same time - even if it's 5 minutes in a camera shop - so you get a feel for them. There may be something about one or the other besides the obvious specs which makes or breaks the deal.

    If you can answer the above, you've pretty much made your decision already :smile:
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