Anyone got an idea why no Nikkor 400mm f/4

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by liljuddakalilknyttphotography, Feb 16, 2009.

  1. I know Nikon used to make a lot of different 400mm lenses. Anyone got any idea why we now only have an f/2.8 of the 400mm - - I don't know of any AF other than the f/2.8 which are huge.
    I would like to have a longer prime than the 300mm AF-S f/4 which is reasonably priced as the Canon people do.
    Any thoughts on why Nikon gave up the f/3.5, was there a 4, 4.5, & 5.6?
    I would really love to see one..... am I the only one?
    Lil :)
  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The 400mm/f4 was never a common product. During the AI/AI-S era, Nikon had a 400mm/f3.5 and a 400mm/f5.6, while Minolta had a 400mm/f4.5.
    The 400mm/f2.8 is very popular among sports photographers, and f2.8 comes in handy for night sports. As we also discussed elsewhere, having f2.8 helps you isolate the subject from the background. You can easily get a 400mm/f4 or 400mm/f5.6 equivalent (at 420mm) by adding a 1.4x TC onto a 300mm/f2.8 or 300mm/f4 respectively.
  3. There is the 200-400 f/4 VR. But I guess that's somewhat different than a plain 400 f/4 prime.
    It seems that there's a dividing line/limit between the "normal" pro grade telephoto lenses and the exotics. Any 200 mm lens faster than f/2.8, any 300 mm lens faster than f/4, and any 400 mm lens faster than f/5.6 would generally need a front element/filtre thread size larger than 77 mm; these lenses are generally very heavy and expensive comnpare to their slower "cousins".
    The cheap telephoto primes in Canon's lineup are the 300 f/4L IS and 400 f/5.6L. (Of course there's also the 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS) These lenses are all relatively compact (around the size and weight of a 70-200), and all have non-exotic price points in the "$1000+ish" range.
    Canon does make a 400 f/4. But it's a strange DO (diffrective optics) lens built to be relative compact and light weight (but not cheap, in fact not much cheaper than their 400 f/2.8L IS). A conventional 400 f/4 lens should be cheaper, perhaps falling into the price range of the 300 f/2.8 (just like how their 300 f/4 and 400 f/5.6 cost the same). But it certainly won't be as small and light (relatively speaking) as the 400 f/4 DO.
    >> "Any thoughts on why Nikon gave up the f/3.5, was there a 4, 4.5, & 5.6?
    I would really love to see one..... am I the only one?"
    I think a 400 f/5.6 VR could be a good idea. But a non-existent 300 f/4 VR with the 1.4x teleconverter could be almost as good, and more versatile.
  4. Yeah, what Shun said. As well, Nikon came out with the 400mm 3.5 first, and the move to 2.8 was to target the main sports users of the lens. I think Nikon showed where it wanted to go when they introduced the 500mm f4P lens, just a bit slower but 100mm longer, at nearly the same weight as a 300mm 2.8.
  5. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Incidentally, a 400mm/f4 lens will require a 400mm / 4 = 100mm front element, which is a bit smaller than the 300mm/f2.8's 300 / 2.8 = 107mm. That is why Nikon managerd to fit the new 300mm/f4 with a 77mm filter, but a 400mm/f4 is going to be a fairly big lens.
    Upgrading the 80-400mm VR to AF-S should be a high priority for Nikon. If you want a 400mm/f5.6 AF-S VR, it'll likely come in the form of a 80-400 zoom. But at least I have no idea what Nikon's plan is.
  6. It's unfortunate that Nikon did not produce an AF-S or AF-D version of their very highly regarded AIS 400/5.6 IF-ED as a smaller and less expensive alternative to the huge AF-S 400/2.8. The independents (Tokina, Sigma) used to make an autofocus 400/5.6, but dropped them several years ago. Tamron used to make a 400/4 in Adaptall mount , but it was quite large (2.3kg). 400/5.6 primes seem to have fallen out of favour and been replaced largely by zooms ... Canon may now be the only manufacturer (?) offering a small 400mm prime.
    I have the 400/3.5. It's not exactly "lightweight" at 2.8kg, even compared to the 400/2.8.
  7. I just use my Leica 400 and 560 teles with a Camera Quest adapter. They are 6.3, but being 2 elements they meter out faster.
  8. Lil, you are not the only one. But I guess Nikon figures that they got the 400 mm focal length covered from all angles and for all wallets - 80-400/4.5-5.6, 200-400/4, and 300/4 or 300/2.8 with TC-14EII. Nonetheless, I would like to see a 400/5.6 AF-S VR much more than a 300/4 AF-S VR since 300mm even on a DX camera is too short for most of my shooting and a TC is practically a necessity.
    The nice thing about Canon's 400/4 is that with about 4.3 lbs it is a full 3 lbs lighter than the 200-400 Zoom-Nikkor and almost 5 inches shorter - IMHO both are overpriced though by at least a $1K.
    Heck, even a 400/4 AF-S VR at 5-6lbs and the same price as the 300/2.8 would be welcome.
    I had the Tokina 400/5.6 for a short while - the lens was a catastrophe in terms of AF speed - much much worse than the often maligned 80-400 Zoom Nikkor.
  9. I think the reason is that there's the 500/4 and 400 is not much longer than 300, so it makes sense to have two medium speed long teles far enough apart to make a significant difference in focal length. A 400/5.6 would be more useful, in fact I have one, the size and focal length makes it quite practical for tracking birds in flight (although I'm not a bird photographer and don't intend to be, so I can only say from experience of casual snaps of birds).
    Now if we start to talk about an AF-S 70-200/4 then that's an area where I'm seriously envious of Canon...
  10. Thanks for the feedback guys....

    Well Shun, on that basis I guess I was hoping for too much.... :-( At this point I'm looking at getting a longer prime to go with the Sigmonster. I was thinking the 400mm range would be good. But in that case I'll have to go with an older 400mm f/2.8 & I know they weigh a ton. So I'll probably end up with either an older 500mm f/4 or 600mm f/4 - - but I want AF. I saw an 800mm f/5.6 on eBay from Nikon which was listed at just under $ 4,000 - but sold at $ 3,500. Ross was ready to tell me to get it even though it is a MF cause we've seen some shots on FM on a Canon. Stunning detail - just beautiful result.
    So for all purposes I will probably go with one of the older 500mm AF-S f/4 lenses.
    Does the buying of lenses ever end????? I don't think so....
    Lil :)
  11. Lil, I think there are a lot of Nikkor lenses missing from the lineup, and the less-than-astronimically priced 400-500mm lens range is one I'd like to see filled.
  12. Bad case of NAS ;-) ?
    400mm f/2.8 & I know they weigh a ton​
    Not quite as much as the Sigmonster though...
    The 600/4 will come close....
    Are you after the additional f-stop? Or where is the Sigmonster lacking?
  13. NAS - always more NAS....
    Sigmonster not lacking. Just after slightly additional f-stop & potentially "cleaner" shots. Sometimes I just have to clean up the shots so. Also, Nikon primes do produce such clean & wonderful detail - and the colors......
    So, since I always go with two cameras I'd like a little extra reach on the one of them... So - - - OK I just want to add an additional long prime to my setup. The result of seeing the result shots of the old Nikon Nikkor 800mm MF F/5.6 (I think) Stunning shots.....
    Ross & my minds both started doing things to us. ;-)

    So many lenses to buy - so little time ;-)
    Lil :)
  14. Yes it never ends, maybe slows down as you get more lenses. If you don't need AF consider the 500P, lighter weight than you think especially for the length. I've always wanted a 800, for surf shots it would be very nice.
  15. I feel good reading this thread knowing that 99% of my photography happens in the 20-200 mm range I don't need longer lenses anymore; now my hobby seems much cheaper! :)
  16. Probably 99% of my work is with 28 or 50mm lenses, so it does keep the cost down!
    Having said that, when I first got started in newspaper work I often borrowed a friend's 400/3.5 manual focus lens. It's a great focal length and much smaller than the F/2.8 version. It was a great lens.
  17. Lil,
    The MF 400/3.5 (which is practically speaking a 400/4) was an incredibly popular lens for a reason: small, sharp, light, easy to handle and reasonably priced. If they were to update this lens with AFS and VR, it would cut into if not decimate the sales of too many other lenses: 200-400/4, 300/2.8, 300/4 and 400/2.8 all COULD be hurt badly.
    Btw, althought canon does make a 400/4, it is not as reasonably priced as you would think.

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