400mm f3.5 lens

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by larry n., May 18, 2007.

  1. I am considering purchasing a 400mm f3.5 to use on film and, in the future, on
    digital (probably not before two or more generations of digital Nikons).

    Is this a good optic, wide open? How about with the TC301 converter? Should I
    be concerned that I will not have the opportunity to evaluate it before I buy
    it? Assume it is from a seller on eBay with a good rating and long history.

    Is it possible to make comparatively good wildlife pictures with manual focus
    and film, when the bar has been upped by AF-S VR lenses and digital cameras
    with endless buffers?
  2. "Is it possible to make comparatively good wildlife pictures with manual focus and film"
    see www.wildlightphoto.com. Everything before march 2006 was made with film, and all photos were made with manual-focus equipment. I'll let you decide if the pictures are comparatively good.
  3. I own the lens. It is very sharp even wide open. It will meter on the D 200 but not the d 80 or d 70s etc. It takes the TC 14B and TC 301 with excellent results with both of them. I have not used it on my d 200. I used it a lot on my n90s and f 100. It is a little front heavy so make sure your ball head is a good one like the Kirk BH-1. If you buy a quick release plate for its foot, get one longer than recommended by the manufacturer so you can rebalance it when tcs are added, especially the tc 301. When used with extension tubes it makes a great macro lens too.

    If you cannot see it before you buy it, just make sure the seller assures you that the glass is clear, and the diaphram is working right. Ask him if the built in lens hood is functioning properly--sometimes they are hard to screw open and close. Also ask if the focusing is smooth and complete from close to infinity.

    A better lens because of the longer focal length would be the Nikon 500mm F 4.0 P manual focus lens but it will cost more even on ebay. You have to have good eyes to focus the lens properly. And you will have to have a good tripod and head for it too.

    Many sellers on ebay will allow you to return it within 3-5 days if it is not as advertised.

    Joe Smith
  4. The 400mm 3.5 edif lens is a great lens, and works very well with the 301 . check out Bjorn's site for more good info on this lens. When My paper changed from Nikon to digital I could have bought any of our long glass,and I bought the 400mm 3.5. Not as big and heavy as a 400 2.8 and sharp wide open. I am going to South Africa next year and I am shooting film with this lens. Bjorn does say its not as good with some digital cameras as it is on film.
  5. Just sold mine a couple of weeks ago. Listed on PN. Mine had the chip added a couple of years ago which made using it with modern bodies a bit easier although without the added chip it will meter fine on a D2H,X or D200. Excellent optic,good wide open. Was considered very fast at the time. Fine with either the TC14b or 301. There's a moon image and some Hummingbird shots on my PN Gallery page which were shot with this lens.
  6. Norman,
    Was curious why, with the multitude ofpostings and benefits you receive from PN, why don't spring for a memebership?
  7. For anyone thinking of buying Nikon lenses this is a great site

  8. What's the going rate on this piece of glass?, and does Nikon still chip these?
  9. Hello Norman,

    I own the 400mm f2.8 ais, and would guess this f3.5 lens to be of similar high optical quality.

    As you are considering a future digital camera, i would suggest you fork out an extra fifty UK pounds on ebay at the same time {or dollar eqiv}, and compliment this lens with a tc-16a for future 'digital' use. This will turn this excellent MF lens into a semi AF lens with the D2h/D2x bodies, and will become a very usable combo for wildlife photography {obviously not as versatile as a true/modern afs long tele, but well suited to bird photography etc, and a cheap way to get a 'form' of AF}.

    Having used the tc16a with my 400mm 2.8/D2h for a while now, i am now contemplating selling my tc14 & tc 300 converters, as i consider that gaining autofocus with my MF combo to be more of an overall advantage than the extra reach gained with a x2tc {and light loss drawback}. The crop effect of the DX sensors remove any possible vignetting with this tc, and the high torque of the D2h/D2x motors give a very reasonable AF speed, with the option of manually over-riding the AF if required {with a lens that is designed for MF}. I also find the optical quality of the tc16a to be noticably superior to my tc-300 {which i consider to be pretty good through my lens}, and fractionally better than my tc-14 {with slightly more reach}.

    If you come from a MF background {as i do}, you will find the tc16a extremely easy to use, and a great aid for wildlife shooting {although if you are used to using modern AF lenses, you may find it to be a step backwards}.

    If you do get the 400/3.5, then i would throw the tc16a into the equation {rather than the tc-301}, unless you personally feel that 'reach' will be more important for your purposes than AF.

    Anyway, the above is just a thought, as this is certainly a cheap route to gaining a 'last generation' version of AF, and i am only mentioning it as the intended 400mm prime lens is well capable of high quality results through tc's.

  10. Norman,
    You can definitely get great results from this gear...just read up on big lens technique and practice, practice, practice.

    I suggest you also consider a 500mm f4 P...this lens is one of the few manual focus Nikkors that comes from Nikon with a 'chip' in it, That's what the P designation is btw. What that means is that it works with Nikon bodies that expect a chip. I use mine with a modified TC14E and it retains all functions. (You can also have the 400 f3.5 'chipped' for about $100 US).
  11. I got a 400/3.5 and the TC-16A.

    Unfortunately, AF is not supported with my F100.
  12. Is it possible to make comparatively good wildlife pictures with manual focus and film, when the bar has been upped by AF-S VR lenses and digital cameras with endless buffers?
    Is this a rhetorical question? Of course you can get 'comparatively' good photos that way. All of us nature photo geeks did it that way for decades. But -- and it may or may not be a big 'but' depending on what you want to do -- there's no denying that some kinds of wildlife work are much better suited to digital and autofocus: low light (where the better high ISO performance of digital stands out), action (where a good AF system comes into its own), long telephotos (where the 'cropped' sensor size of most DSLRs is a big advantage.
    Unfortunately, AF is not supported with my F100.
    Not surprising, considering that the Nikon 400/3.5 is manual focus, but my F100 autofocused nicely with good AF lenses.
  13. Mark--the TC-16A is a teleconverter that enables AF on certain Ais lenses, but Nikon chose to make it work on only some cameras--F5, much of the N series, and the D2H/D2X. F100 is not one of those cameras, unfortunately.
  14. Mark--the TC-16A is a teleconverter that enables AF on certain Ais lenses
    Ah.... one learns something every day!

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