200-400 vs 80-400

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by w._douglas_lewis, Apr 11, 2007.

  1. Would a non-professional see an image difference between the Nikon 200-400 and the Nikon 80-400?
  2. Yes, of course.
  3. Specially in the range from 80 to 200mm.
  4. At 80mm, definitely.
  5. Yes - about 3,300 quid here in the UK!!!
    Seriously though, I recently bought the 80-400VR to use on a D80.
    I am absolutely delighted with this lens - despite all the disparaging remarks about it's focus speed etc in these columns! I am finding it more than adequate for bird photography etc, and I find little difference in focusing between it and the 105VR speed wise! I've even used it with a Kenko 2x with adequate results, albeit with reduced speed. (as an ex pro I'm still able to turn a ring to focus a lens manually if the need arises)
    Far more important than lens choice is your own ability to take a decent photo.
    ps if still tempted with the 200-400, I suggest you work out how long you could hire it for, for the difference in money!
  6. I use to own the 80-400 and found for film use it was very sharp across the frame up to about 300 mm. At 400 mm, image quality was good centrally but only fair outside the central zone even when stopped down. Digital cameras will do better with the crop factor removing much of the soft outer zones. The 200-400 will be sharper at the long end compared to the 80-400, takes the TC-14E II, has AF-S for better AF performance and of course is a stop faster. It's size and price limits it to pro use unless you are a serious amatuer with deep pockets that shoots a lot of birds and wildlife.
  7. I would expect a significant difference through the entire range, from the many photos I've seen posted. The 80-400 always looks fairly marginal to me, while the 200-400 has downright amazing sharpness. No contest... the 200-400mm wins hands down.
  8. These lenses are for two totally different purposes. The 200-400 beats the 80-400 in the equivalent range. But, if you didn't get to your location because you're carrying the 200-400, does it matter?
  9. I own and regularly use both lenses. I use the 200-400 on a tripod to take pictures of flora and slower moving birds when I need the sharpness. I hand hold the 80-400 to take more spontaneous images such as flying birds and to try to capture different types of images. The images won't be as sharp but I'll have images I couldn't get at all with the 200-400. The 80-400 is also capable of capturing fast moving subjects if you pre-focus and use the focus limit switch. It takes a little practice. Both lenses, because they are F4+, will have difficulty locking onto white or black colors (lack of contrast).
  10. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The focus limit switch is a feature I would rather not use. Just a few days ago I was photographing some birds that were farther away and I had the limiter set for the long end. Suddenly there was a bird near by and I simply could not focus. It took me a little while before I realized that I should turn the limiter off and by then, the photo opportunity was gone.

    That is yet another setting I need to double check before each shoot.
    IMO, that switch is no longer necessary in the new AF-S lenses.
  11. If you're considering the 80-400 wait....buy the 70-200VR with 1.7TC and buy the 80-400 once it comes out with AFS if you feel you still need it, the current version will be worth about $20 if they do come out with AFS and in my opinion is worth about $50 even if they don't...I own the 200-400VR and quite frankly it's sharp, fast, etc but a pain in the ass to carry around, I really only use it for surfing/windsurfing/kitesurfing shots...so I use the 70-200 w/1.7TC alot....I've seen postings as to the 80-400 being sharper than the 70-200 w/TC...maybe in a lab with a tripod...not in the real world, the AF is too slow and you rarely get a clear shot, and when you do it's usually too late...at least on a moving target...
  12. Speak for yourself, Morgan. An 80-400 mounted on a D2X is fast enough for *some* moving targets, including larger birds in flight; put it on a D200 or lower-end body and it's too slow for action, though. Regardless of the body, it's not what you want for tracking race cars coming straight at you.
  13. Shun, even though I have had a lot of success with the 80-400, I will be one of the first on the list to purchase an 80-400 "AFS" VR should Nikon make one. Les, I've never had any difficulty shooting Champ cars with an 80-400 mounted on D2X. Small fast birds are frustrating, though.
  14. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Again, auto focus speed depends on several factors. For a lens such as that 80-400 VR that depends on the camera body's AF motor, you would expect that the D2 series has a stronger AF motor so that is faster than the one on the D200.

    Putting AF-S onto the 80-400 will certainly halp. However, if it remains to be f5.6 on the 400mm end, AF will continue to be slower simply because a 400mm/f4 will have more light for the AF sensors. Of course, a 400mm/f2.8 will be even better.

    But then, size, weight, and price increase significantly for the faster lenses.

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