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Thoughts on a 400mm, with limited funds,,,

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by drschurch, Jul 21, 2008.

  1. drschurch


    May 15, 2008
    Dandridge, Tn
    So I gotta little extra money right now,,, and I wanna spend it on some MMs. Any ideas for some lens that will reach to 400mm? I have about $500.00 extra bucks right now. My 80-200mm and tc dont really like each other. So that option is out. I think a 400mm prime might be cool also. Any ideas?

    Thanks Chuck
  2. Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  3. Nikkor AIS

    Nikkor AIS

    Jun 5, 2008
    Check out the Nikkor 400 5.6 ED-IF. A local camera store in my area "Photo World" has one right now. 403-261-9892. I tested it out with my D2H, D3 and its "really" sharp. So sharp Im thinking of picking it up even though I have a Nikkor 400 2.8 ED-IF AIS. And unlike mine its very light and hand holdable for exstended periods. Why Im giving you the heads up for a lens , I want is a mystery:biggrin:
    Anyway, I was never impressed with the performance of the 300 F4 with a TC 14C but maby it was just my copy of the lens.

    Another option for double the price is the classic 400 3.5 ED-IF AIS which is
    in my mind "still" one of the sharpest Nikkor"s ever made. I was loooking for one today for $1,200. US. For twenty years or so this Nikkor was photojournalist telephoto to have, at least in these parts. That says somthing if you ask me. I shot some downhill skiing with one and the chromes are obscenely sharp. And its common knowledge that the Nikkor 400 3.5 ED-IF AIS imatched with a T.C 14b is a deadly 560mm F4.9.

    This is one lens( four or five in my list) I think nikon should make autofocus
    or at least reintroduce.
  4. Leif


    Feb 12, 2006
    The Sigma 400mm F5.6 APO Macro has decent optics and a nice usable close focus. From memory the Nikon 400mm F5.6 AIS probably has better optics i.e. better contrast and colour, though I think resolution is similar. But it is MF. And the close focus is not so good.
  5. drschurch


    May 15, 2008
    Dandridge, Tn
    Cool, I have looked at some reviews for the lenses you guys suggested,, but I cant seem to find a lens for sale:mad:  Any ideas on a zoom that goes out to 400mm? I keep seeing this tamron 200-400mm zoom for sale for like $200. Thats gotta be a crap lens right? Sigma has a 135-400 anybody ever use one of those? Thanks for the input guys.
  6. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005

    Both of those lenses are less thought of than many many others. I would stay away from them.

    A nice Tamron in that range is the the new 200-500 but it is more $$$ and out of your price range.

    good luck,
  7. I have the Tammy 200-500. You can probably pick an used one up for around $650-700ish. The Tammy 200-400 is not a good glass, at least that is what I read. Instead, I think the Toki 80-400 will be a better choice. I have no faith in Siggys, so can't recommend it.
  8. The Tamron is probably the best budget option for under $1000, and goes to 500mm, too :smile:

    The new Sigma 120-400 OS HSM is a bit more expensive, and it looks like the Tamron is better optically.

    The older AF 300 f/4 D Nikkor can be found in mint condition for about $500, and with a Kenko 1.4 TC you can get excellent IQ at 420mm. The AF is known to be slow, though.

    Other than these, not much out there - your budget is on the low side, I'm afraid...


  9. Tpsfoto


    Jun 15, 2008
    Las Vegas NV
    I had the Tamron 200-500mm & it was soft.....gave it back.
  10. We have a wide range of opinion on these "mid-level" lower priced lenses.

    I must respectfully disagree here as I find the Sigma APO 400/5.6 EX AF Telemacro to be the best in this group that I've tested (including the poular Canon 400/5.6L). It's close focus capability attracted me to it in the beginning and I find its images very very good when used with proper technique. It isn't easy to find but the price is usually attractive when you do find it.
  11. 400mm, $500, good.

    I'd say you can have 2 outta 3. I'll concur the Nikon 400 f/5.6 is probably your best bet. I see one at KEH for a little over $500, the advantage of buying from KEH is you can try it for 2 weeks and send it back if you don't like it.
  12. drschurch


    May 15, 2008
    Dandridge, Tn
  13. Nikkor AIS

    Nikkor AIS

    Jun 5, 2008
    I have the ED-IF version of the 300 4.5. Iv heard that the ED non IF version kicks A** but never tried it. My version is pretty sweet. Very light,fast and sharp as well as being easy to focus. but a little slow to be adding T.C's IMO for a 300mm. Its got 72 filter size and a built in hood. IMO the old AIS version is sharper than the first generation AF with a smother bokeh.
    Ill tell you a story about the 400 5.6 from the winter Olyimpics in Calgary in 1988. We where in a pit with about 40 photographers most had huge glass on mono pods. I beleive it was Frans Clumaker (sp)crashed and everyone missed it , but a sun photographer, Carlos Omat armed hand held 400 5.6 and nailed several frames of the wreck. It ran front page and the wire picked it up and it ran word wide. Its a good lesson in the importance of mobility and being ready for anything. Anyways, good luck with your choice.

  14. rvink


    Mar 21, 2006
    New Zealand
    Yes the 300/4.5 ED (non IF) is supposed to be excellent, but lack of IF means it focuses very slowly, definitely not for birds in flight. This lens is relatively rare and it's good performance means it has something of a cult status, which unfortunately has driven up the price. It's a similar situation with the 400/5.6 ED vis 400/5.6 IF-ED, the older lens is slightly sharper but the newer one has better handling.

    You think so? I had an AIS 300/4.5 IFED, the bokeh was pretty bad depending on the aperture and the subject - background distances. Quite a nice lens by itself but very soft with TCs.

    Getting back to the original post - are you sure you need 400mm? I know that birds usually need the longest possible lens, but on DX format, a 300mm lens is equivalent to 450mm on film/FX, which is pretty long. Maybe the 70-300VR is worth checking out? The AF 300/4 is also a good performing lens and within your budget. Quality is good enough that you could crop in a bit to make up for the shorter focal length.

    Nikon unfortunately don't have much in the way of affordable 400mm lenses. The AFS 300/4 + TC14E is probably the best option, along with the 80-400VR, but these are probably too expensive. The Sigma 400/5.6 APO-Macro mentioned above has good reviews and is worth investigating. Another option is the Tokina ATX 400/5.6 SD. I had this lens for a while, it's quite compact and well made, bokeh is good. Wide open it is quite sharp centrally but the corners are soft. Lateral CA is fairly well corrected but it shows a lot of green/purple longitudinal CA in contrasty scenes. It also wasn't completely compatible with the D50 - sometimes they would "talk", sometimes not.
  15. Nikkor AIS

    Nikkor AIS

    Jun 5, 2008
    Since you have chosen to add money to your lens fund I think you can now "lust for the Niikor 400 3.5 ED-IF AIS. Im sure you could find a little more cash , ( maby from under your pillow) and go for the good stuff. If not work a little over time.:eek:  Eat kraft dinner for a couple of months , give up going out for a while.
    When there is a lens lust there is always a way:wink:
    Or as I like to say. "Im to poor to buy cheap" As far as resale I think going off brand is a big no-no.
    Its hard to get my head around why Nikon refuses to make a AF version of the Nikkor 400 5.6 ED-IF. and or the 400 3.5 ED-IF?. Not that I would buy either one of them:redface: Any ways, Im going out to shoot with my 400 2.8 AIS right now, the light is getting close to the golden hour.
  16. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    Hey Mike, I was referring to the two zoom lenses mentioned right above my post, the sigma 135-400 and the older tamron 200-400 zoom.

    I have no experience with the sigma you mentioned and would trust your judgement on that particular lens.
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