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VR and lens vibrations

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Scott Sherman, Jan 6, 2006.

  1. I know there are a few different tripod and head threads open now and I apologize for keeping the topic going, (perhaps longer than it should), but as I am now for the first time getting into the BGC with a 200-400 + TC, (I think that qualifies), I am going to upgrade my support system as well and I am trying not to make some of the mistakes I have made in the past by not doing enough research. Since it is somewhat impractical to field test this equipment, I rely on the very experienced and talented folks here at the Cafe to help me.

    So having said all that, here is my question; Since the 200-400mm Vibration Reduction lens suggests that you leave the VR on while it is mounted to a tripod, wouldn't this compensate for any slight vibration that might be attributed to a less than rock solid tripod/head setup? For example, I have a RRS BH-40 (medium head rated to carry 18 lbs) and a Arca B1 rated to carry 90 lbs. I would much rather pack the RRS BH in my kit as it is less than half the weight and size, but will no doubt also result in a measure of vibration with the 200-400/TC/D2x attached that would not likely be present in the Arca B1.

    However, I have used the 70-200 and the 18-200 VR lenses and found the VR to be quite accomplished at reducing the vibration in hand held use.

    Since I am getting a bit bored, sitting at the window now, waiting for the brown truck to deliver my 200-400 lens, (Thank you Nancy) my quizzical mind is rambling. I though a discussion of this topic might be interesting at the very least for me and hopefully others.

    I guess when I get my lens, I will be able to test this theory and will happily share if anyone else might be interested.
  2. Steve S

    Steve S

    Feb 1, 2005
    SE Florida
    If your shutter speeds are plenty high, turn it off. If you have the lens locked down on the pod, turn it off. Otherwise leave it on, that's what I do.
  3. Thanks Steve, I will try that. It stands to reason that at higher speeds, vibration is less a problem, so then I guess my question is more relevant for less than optimal light conditions at somewhat slower speeds or smaller apertures. With a 1.7 TC, I would anticipate that vibration would be a real concern, even mounted on a good pod with a good head, but might I be able to offset a less sturdy supprt setup with the VR on the lens? It seems that a lot of discussion of vibration on long lenses is concerning the use of non VR extreme long lenses like say 500 or 600 AIS.

    Even a poor tripod / head setup would be more stable than say a monopod (assuming the legs/head setup is rated to support at least the given weight of the body/lens), but many report getting excellent results on a monopod with VR on. Does the movement associated with a monopod even relate to a lightweight tripod/head setup vibration?
  4. Scott,
    I had that lens and used it on a Gitzo 1348 and still found (under less than high speed lighting conditions) that vibrations and unsharp images were issues. I used VR all the time, in fact ran a test with VR on VR off on a number of images. The VR is helpful, but ultimately I bought an additional HEAVIER Gitzo 1548 tripod to try and tame any resonance viration issues.
    I understand the reasoning behind your question, but I believe skimping in the support area to be a BIG mistake with this glass.
  5. Hi Dave,

    This is a very interesting response. I am glad you jumped in with your experience. In fact, I am still deciding on the support setup now and have narrowed my choice of legs down to the Gitzo 1325. Don is selling a set of 1548 legs which is very tempting, but the weight and bulk of it has me concerned that I might opt to leave it at home when carrying a bunch of other stuff as opposed to the lighter slimmer 1325 which most say is plenty adequate for 200-400. I could see carrying a B1 head over a BH-40 as we are only talking ounces and an inch or two of size difference but the 1548 is almost three pounds and substantially larger in bulk.

    I think you just purchased the 1548 recently, I would be very interested in your hands on experience having had exposure to both setups.

    Thanks again Dave
  6. nfoto

    nfoto Guest

    A heavier tripod won't really help with this 200-400. The vibrations are generated or maintained inside the lens assembly and are largely independent on tripod weight.
  7. Thanks Bjorn, you just saved me a few hundred dollars and my already aching back is now feeling a bit better. So it seems that 1325 is still at the top of the list. By generated or maintained inside the lens assembly, may I imply that the less sturdy BH-40 Ballhead from RRS will work just as well as the larger heavier Arca B1 with a 200-400 VR?
  8. Bjorn, interesting bit of information. Scott, the 1548 is really not substantially more as far as carry goes. They are both bulky and a bit heavy but both are manageable. I now have the 500 f/4 lens so the 1548 will see plenty of use.
    I had the 1227 legs and they were not sufficient for the set up at all and marginal for the d2x and even shorter glass, but did perform ok on those.
    I think a gimbral head is going to be an absoulute must unless your only after static subjects. I saw that Don sold his 1548 a little while ago.
    I am going to sell my king cobra gimbral and go with the new wimberly II. will offer a smokin deal on the kirk so if interested in such watch the for sale section. I will not sell before the wimberly arrives. you may find the wimberly or Jobu or even the sidekick more to your liking, who knows.
  9. Hi Dave,
    I also saw the sold sign appear on Don's post... Just goes to show that he who hesitates blah blah blah... Glad Don sold that and I am sure the buyer is happy to have it.

    I will be getting a gimbal, but like the look and size of the new Wimberly setup coming out next week. I am not sure that my back will support any larger glass than the 200-400 with all the other stuff I have now and my bank book, (wife) is already balking at the prices of the additional stuff I am discussing here.

    Still waiting for my brown truck, but will be able to discuss this more intelligently once it is in my hands.
  10. I think that Nikon's VR is ....

    A lot like the Sundance Kid.
    In a scene from the movie he's "interviewing" for a job and can't hit a thing. Then he asks "Can I move?" at which time he obliterates the target.

    I've got a 300 VR and I swear I've gotten sharper shots at low shutter speeds where I'm wobbly than high ones when things are relatively stable - very frustrating. I've left VR on just about all the time and almost never shoot with the tripod head locked down.

    Let us know how you like the lens. I've been lusting for one for a long time but lately have been distracted by the idea that a 500 would be better. Now I'm starting to drift back to the 200-400.

    If you have a TC17 I'd love to know how well (if at all) the focus works.

  11. SteveK


    Mar 16, 2005
    Guys, I make my living shooting wildlife. I use a 1348 and my primary lens is a 600 f4 and I don't shoot just stactic subjects. It all depends on your technique, and the shutter speeds used. I've found that the VR lenses work well at slow shutter speeds, but they hinder my work at faster shutter speeds, so I turn them off when I'm shooting at faster speeds.
  12. Ken-L

    Ken-L Guest

    The instructions I had from the Nikon Manuals for the 24-120VR, 18-200VR and 70-200VR advised to TURN OFF VR when using a tripod.

    Is the 200-400VR different?
  13. yes. instructions say leave on this lens, but i would agree with Steve on this.
  14. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    Generally I keep VR on all the time on even with the tripod unless I am over 1/1000 of a second on the camera lens combo, and it isn't windy so the wind catcher (200-400) doesn't shake the setup, Granted the shutter isn't over 1/1000 very often with the 200-400VR and the 1.4 and 1.7 tele I use.

    Some tripod shots on a super windy day, of mine with this setup here on this thread:


    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  15. The newer long VRs say leave it on. I'm surprised the 18-200, being a newer design, says OFF.

  16. Ken-L

    Ken-L Guest

    From the manual:

    "When the lens is mounted on a tripod, set the vibration reduction ON/OFF switch to OFF.
    However, set the switch to ON when using a tripod without securing the tripod head, or when using a monopod."
  17. I think the VR in the 200-400 is the forerunner of VRII used on the 18-200 which also allows you to use the VR when mounted to a pod. I may actually be VR II by the similar instructions. They just didn't change the name with the features on the 200-400. I wonder if it is different than the VR available previously if that makes the VR II actually VR III
  18. Ken-L

    Ken-L Guest

    The 18-200VR is the VRII, which provides the additional "active" mode for VR (for shooting from a moving vehicle for instance).

    As for tripod use, the 18-200VR manual says:

    "When the lens is mounted on a tripod, set the vibration reduction ON/OFF switch to OFF.
    However, set the switch to ON when using a tripod without securing the tripod head, or when using a monopod."
  19. JeffKohn


    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    I keep it on with my 200-400, I definitely get better results this way. Vibrations are a definite issue with this lens especially when using a TC (1.4 in my case, never have tried the 1.7 with it). I also always shoot it with the Sidekick, my early experience told me that using the 200-400 on just a ballhead was akward for me, even with the BH-55. The gimbal head makes a huge difference in useability IMHO because of the freedom of movement it gives you and how well the rig balances.
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