Nikon 80-400mm AF-S Vs. Nikon 300 f/4 Focus Speed

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by rjmelone, Nov 1, 2013.

  1. For those who have both lenses, I would like to know if the new 80-400 generally provides quicker focus speed than the 300 f/4, which I typically use with a 1.4 x teleconverter attached. My main interest is in capturing birds in flight. I am shooting a D7000. Thanks.
  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    This one is simple. The 300mm/f4 AF-S has notoriously slow AF for an AF-S lens. That is why I almost never use it for birds in flight; instead, I favor the 300mm/f2.8 AF-S even though that is a heavy lens for hand held. Under decent to good light, the new 80-400mm AF-S VR is going to have much faster AF than the 300mm/f4. However, the 80-400 AF-S VR is effectively f5.6 from about 200mm and up. (I think it is like f5.3 at 200mm.) Since it is a slow lens, its AF is going to struggle big time under dim light.

    I have used three different samples of the 80-400 AF-S VR, so I am very familiar with that lens by now.
  3. Thanks a lot Shun! It sounds like the new 80-400 would be a good investment for me and even though it is considered expensive, it still would be a lot less (although slower) than the 300 f/2.8 w/1.4 x teleconverter.
  4. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I have done a lot of birds in flight with the 80-400mm AF-S VR. There are a few samples here in the image folder for the up-coming review for
    I haven't updated that folder for a while, and I have a lot more images by now, mainly with the D7100.
    There is little doubt that the 80-400mm AF-S VR is very expensive at $2700. I thought I got a good deal with the refurb, but that didn't work out, so I ended up getting a new one. At 400mm f5.6, sharpness is excellent and AF is quite fast under good light. But it is still a 400mm/f5.6 lens and has all the disadvantages (and advantages) of a fairly slow long tele. I am over 6" tall and over 200 pounds, and I usually don't hand hold the 300mm/f2.8 for more than a minute or two. The 80-400 is much easier on me.
  5. Since it is a slow lens (f5.6), its AF is going to struggle big time under dim light.​
    Time for Nikon to run their f4 liking to the 400mm. The current 2.8 is prohibitively expensive!

    Seems lotsa people want to get to the 400/450mm focal length on a sensible budget...:)
  6. Mike: Based on the "lens cost proportional to the front element diameter" heuristic, I'd really not expect a 400 f/4 to be all that cheap. It would probably be a good chunk of the price of a 200-400 f/4, and similar to a 300 f/2.8. You may as well get a 300 f/2.8 and teleconvert it, or get the zoom. Canon's 400 f/4 DO is about the same price as their 300 f/2.8. A 400 f/2.8 is, admittedly, in its own class of expensive (well, along with the 600 f/4), but I've got to think "small market". Canon's version at least has added lightness from the DO.

    Though, at least on the recommendation of effusive forum members, if I was after a new 80-400, I'd also consider the 120-300 f/2.8 Sigma and teleconverting it.
  7. For some reason i'd have guessed the front elephant of the 300mm f2.8 would be bigger than that of a 400mm f4?
    Now, I never said it would be cheap!....:)
    OK, whose got the numbers?... If Nikon's latest 300mm f2.8 AF-S VR is £**** and the 300mm f4 AF-S is £****......and if Nikon's 400mm f2.8 AF-S VR is £****, what should the 400mm f4 AF-S be?
  8. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    To get a 300mm f2.8, you need a 300mm/2.8 = 107mm front element.
    To get a 400mm f4, you need a 400mm/4 = 100mm front element.
    Actually their front element sizes should be quite similar. The 400mm lens should be longer, though.
  9. I believe the 300 f/2.8 is slightly bigger than the front element of a 200 f/2 or 400 f/4, but it depends how accurate all the quoted numbers are; I can't compare them directly myself, sadly.

    Picking my default retailer for the latest Nikkor prices, the 200 f/2 is £4099, the 200-400 f/4 is £4899, the 300 f/2.8 is £4045, the 300 f/4 is £1029 and the 400 f/2.8 is £6589 (actually cheaper than I thought).
    The Canon 200 f/2 is £4669, the 200-400 is £11999, the 300 f/2.8 is £5339, the 300 f/4 is £1139, 400 f/2.8 is £8279 and 400 f/4 (DO) is £5399.

    The Canons have mostly been revised more recently (do keep up, Nikon) which explains some of the premium. Not that I'm complaining that Nikon's 400mm is nearly £2000 cheaper, and I certainly wouldn't be shopping for a Canon 200-400 any time soon. Otherwise, I'm standing by the front element being a good estimator of price, and I'd expect a 400 f/4 AF-S Nikkor prime, should Nikon decide to do one, to be in the order of £4500. Allow a slight premium for being longer and new. Think they'd sell many?

    Or there was a 400 f/4.5 Nikkor at one point, assuming the f/3.5 manual focus variants don't appeal.

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