I have been considering the 80-400's from both companies and I think its going to come down to sharpness, contrast, and color. Money verus weight is a trade off for me. I need VR/OS to get sharp handheld shots with the D2x. This weekend I ran into a situation where my 300/f4 did not have enough reach and 400 would have been nice. I am sure the 80-400's won't be as sharp when used on a tripod but I am betting the VR/OS would make up the difference when being handheld on the 2x for me.
IF they put out a new 80-400 with newer VR and AFS then the older version will drop in price enough for us poor working photographers.
But from everything I have read the OS is much better than the VR in performance.
Also..I was never really all that impressed with the VR on the 70-200. I mean it works..but by the time you get to a speed that you NEEDED the vibration reduction...there were usually other issue to consider.
For example.. VR will not fix DOF issues, subject movement, excessive camera shake, occasionally does not to be "too stable" like on a tripod.
VR really only helped me for slow movement at a medium distance (like 70-135 area and occasionally at 200). Eventually, you ask too much from VR. You get angry when you are shooting at 1/15th handheld at 200mm shooting into the sun.
What you get is ghosting and camera shake even VR won't fix.
The 70-200 was soft wide open also, and combined with the ghosting issues....I sold it.
Now the 80-200 was sharp wide open with no ghosting. Shooting at f/2.8 gave you a fast shutter to stop motion. Unfortunately, the push pull had no bracket to put on a monopod and the all versions of the lens had a habit of hunting.
I find at AFS doesn't really get me as excited as the rest of you guys. It is really nice, but not so critical that I am missing shots.