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Thread: Calling all big lens users

  1. #1
    Member Belly's Avatar
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    Calling all big lens users

    Hi everyone,

    Me and a few mates are embarking on a sub artic photography trip later in the year and I've almost convinced myself into a 200-400 f4 NIKKOR as my big lens to purchase. The reason is I like the flexibility of the focal length it will provide me. I don't care about the weight or physical size.

    Does anyone out there use one on a regular enough basis to provide some constructive feedback? I've read a few reviews but am interested in what you have to say in this forum.

    However, I'm open to all feedback on "big lens users" so if you use one can you please provide me with the reasons you chose what you chose, it may open my eyes to something I've completely overlooked or am not even aware of.


    Cheers, BELLY

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    I have the 300mm f4 and its a great lens, though quite heavy and I tend to use it where I can use a tripod or monopod cause hand holding it can be a bitch.

    My guess is your plan would be to use this lens for the local wildlife etc, so I would hazard a guess (also) that you are hoping to see polar bears and the like. Having a high quality bit of glass with a decent length is going to be very important to you. I see no reason not to consider the 200-400, but be aware that if you are going to lug it around, it is a heavy beast.
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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    I am not criticising your choice of lens, Belly, but I settled on 50-500 as fulfilling my ideas of FL flexibilty.
    As for weight and bulk, I agree you don't think of such a lens and then worry about that too. As a result, mine is almost a permanant
    fixture on the camera now. (Sometimes I interpose a 2X converter.)

    What other lensery would you be taking? For what sort of photography?

    I have found that you have to re-interpret your scenery if you want to take vistas with mine, but that makes you think about your pictures.
    It can get down to 1:3 macro, too.

    Lastly, I would assume this lens has optical stabilisation?
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    http://steveaxford.smugmug.com/ Steve Axford's Avatar
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    Wow! 50-500, that's a big range. And with a 2x converter? and a macro too. What's the quality like with all that flexibility?

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Steve, for a quick reply watch this place - or most of it.
    Am.

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    Have you considered the Nikon 300 2.8? Add some TCs and you'll get good reach and some flexibility.

    Alternatively, the new Sigma 120-300 2.8 should tick the box and save you quite a bit of cash.
    Cheers, Troy

    D800; AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G; AF-S 50mm 1.8G; SB-910; || 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM 'S'; APO Teleconverter 2x DG || Phantom 2; H32D Gimbal; 5.8Ghz FPV LCD GS

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    Account Closed Wayne's Avatar
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    I have the 200/2VR and 400/2.8VR on D4 and D800 bodies. I also have all 3 current teleconverters.

    I have owned the 200-400/4VR (not version II) and whilst it is a pretty good lens, it is sharp, and sharper on closer subjects. I sold it because despite the attraction to the flexibility of the zoom, I most often found it wasn't used in a manner of zoom in/out all the time, and it's flexibility is limited for use with converters. I found I was shooting it at the 400mm end all the time. Using it with a 1.4xTC is about the limit of autofocus for anything but slow-medium movement unless you are shooting it on a pro body, and on the D4 or D800 with the new f8 AF capability, it should now AF on those bodies even with the 2xTCIII, but it will probably be dog slow @ 800/f8.

    I find the 200/2 superior in all aspects with the 2xTCIII attached. It will AF as fast as the bare 200-400/4 and deliver 400/4. I also find the 400/2.8VR as flexible, perhaps no Nikkor can focus as fast as this lens, the 200/2VR the only real competitor. Slap the 2xTCIII on the 400/2.8VR and enjoy fast AF with 800/5.6, which is unachievable on the 200-400/4 with any TC combo.
    I often will shoot the D800 with the 200/2VR + 2xTCIII and the D4 with the 400/2.8VR + TC1.7II giving 400/4 and 650/4.8(exif reports 650mm not 680mm) respectively, or the other way around giving 340/3.4 and 800/5.6.
    This solution however does require 2 FX bodies, 2 Nikkor exotic supertele's, 2 Teleconverters and about $21,500 but it is an exceptional combination. There are of course options to mix/match the lenses with the TC's or shoot them bare giving alot of flexibility.

    If you want a good idea of what the 200-400/4 can do in skilled hands, search for posts by member SarNop who owns this lens and uses it bare and in combination with different TC's with both AF and manual focus but gets exceptional results all the time.
    Sar also has the 200/2VR and 600/4VR on the D800 and a D2 series (HX or SX).
    Mongo also uses this lens and gets exceptional results.

    If we knew what bodie/s and other glass you have, we may be able to recommend a suitable combo. Also remember you could just rent the lens if you only want it for a couple of weeks, or perhaps rent it and see what it can do before dropping the hard earned on it. I personally wouldn't bother with any 3rd party glass, although some do produce excellent results regularly. One bit of advice if you are shooting in the sub-Arctic where ice isalways present, make sure whatever lens you get, the drop in CPL for the Nikkor super Tele's is a must.

    Hope that helps.

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    500 f/4, no brainer, with a 1.7tc

    Oh, I've got the 400 2.8, and have used 300, 120-300, 500 and the 600


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    Ausphotography Regular knumbnutz's Avatar
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    I have a sigma 120-300mm 2.8 which is a great lens and works well with a 2xTC.
    Not sure how it holds out against the nikon fixed focal, but it is better than its price would have you believe.
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  10. #10
    Who let the rabble in? Lance B's Avatar
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    The 200-400 is an exceptional zoom and I have been lucky enough to try it out a few times, thanks to Sar Nop (of this forum) for letting me have a few tries at it. The 200-400 will accept TC's and the 1.4x TCII will give you a handy 280-560 f5.6 zoom. The 1.7x TC and 2x TC will work, but they do impact on IQ and AF speed and accuracy. You really need to have top class lens technique to get the TC's to work best on this lens.

    2.5 years ago, I was in a similar dilemma to you, wondering what super tele or tele zoom to get, I was deciding between the 300 f2.8 VRII and the 200-400 f4. After much consternation, I settled on the 300 f2.8 VRII as I thought it the most versatile of the two. Using the 300 f2.8 bare, I had an f2.8 lens for low light and for shallow DOF and creative purposes, I could add the 1.4x TCII and have a 420mm f4 lens that has better IQ than the 200-400 f4 bare and I could also add either the 1.7x TCII and the 2x TCIII for 510mm f5 and 600mm f5.6 respectively. The 300 bare is more compact and lighter than the 200-400 f4 and thus easier to store and travel with. The fact that the 300 is 100mm shorter in length than the 200-400 was another consideration that was important as it meant that it could be more easily fitted into a back pack with my other lenses. I can fit into my Lowepro Flipside 500 backpack, the 300 f2.8, 70-200 f2.8, 24-70 f2.8, 14-24 f2.8, all 3 TC's and my D800E. I would struggle putting the 200-400 in there with the rest of the lenses (not including the 300 of course).

    Another deciding factor was, as I had the 70-200 f2.8 VRII, having a 200-400 sort of meant that I was doubling up the focal length around the 200mm mark and on FX, 200mm really isn't a focal length that is of much use in birding and not all that used in wildlife either, IMO. In fact, my 70-200 f2.8 doesn't get used much at all except when I travel overseas and I leave the 300 f2.8 at home due to wanting to travel relatively light, I then use the 70-200 with the TC's to obtain reach. So, for me, out in the field shooting birds and wildlife etc, 200mm is not really all that useful and the minimum is generally 300mm.

    Since I made the decision, I couldn't be happier and I would do the same thing again if I had to. The fact I can use TC's really makes it a very versatile kit with superb IQ. With the 300, if I add a TC to it, I still have the excellent close focus of 2.2mts, so, if I add the 1.4x TCII, I have a 420mm that focuses to 2.2mts of the native 300. Using a 1.7x TCII, I have a 510mm f5 that focuses to 2.2mts and using the 2x TCIII, I have a 600mm lens tht focuses to 2.2mts! However, this applies to all lenses that you add a TC to, ie that it will focus as close as the native lens bare.

    The 300 is also excellent for BIF as the f2.8 max aperture means that it is very responsive and the fact that it is lighter than the other lenses means that it is very easy to track birds. When I use my 500 f4, it is difficult to track birds simply because they are difficult to follow due to the narrow angle of view and the fact that it is a heavier lens.

    I now have the 500 f4 VR and with the 300 f2.8, this is an excellent twin lens super tele combo for my purposes, which is mainly birding, but also any wildlife. I can put both the 300 and 500 in my other Lowepro Flipside 500 backpack that I have set up for these two lenses.

    Here are a few samples using the 300mm + TC's, so you can see that the IQ is still superb.

    This is using the D7000 + 300mm f2.8 VRII + 2x TCIII



    D7000 + 300mm f2.8 VRII + 2x TCIII



    This was shot WIDE OPEN at f5.6!

    D700 + 300mm f2.8 + 2x TCIII



    D7000 + 300mm f2.8 VRII + 2x TCIII



    This young male wren was getting so close to me that my 500 f4 VR wouldn't focus down that close (it's minimum focus distance is 3.85mts), so I put on the 300 + 1.4x TCII and was able to focus down to it's minimu focus distance of 2.2mts if required.

    D800 + 300mm f2.8 VRII + 1.4x TCII



    The bokeh is still beautiful even using the TC's

    D800 + 300mm f2.8 VRII + 1.4x TCII



    Here is the 300 bare on the D800 @ f4



    D800 + 300mm f2.8 VRII @ f5


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    I have had the 200-400 for just on 4 years and have travelled to Europe and the USA with it using it mainly at airshows firstly on D300 and then D3 and now D3s / D700 with 1.4 and 1.7 converters

    I previously owned a Nikon 300mm 2.8 but upon going to full frame i found i needed to extra reach , i tested the Nikon 400mm and 500mm extensively and whilst they delivered fantastic results i chose the 200-400 as it SUITED ''MY'' USE i do zoom a lot and mostly have a new 1.7 converter on it and i am very happy with what ''i'' get from it , it folds up so i can get it in my backpack for airline overhead lockers which is a big plus

    And this is what i consider the main thing that differentiates the lenses , it is what YOU feel comfortable with and find delivers the results YOU feel is what you want everyone is different, i have friends who shoot Cannon and use a huge range of lenses and it works for them, i have tried that sytem and found i was more comfortable with my Nikons

    All lenses have their sweet spots, their problems etc so i urge you to try before you buy

    Hope this helps, if i can be of any further assistance or you want to talk about it please feel free to P.M me

    cheers
    Norman

    Nikon D800e Nikon D7100 14-24 2.8 24-70 80-400 afs vr 28-300 afs vr 16mm 2.8 24mm 2.8 50 1.4 1.4 &1.7 converters Tamron 90mm SB800 SB900 Flash Nikon NX2 Adobe Lightroom 5 PSCS6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Belly View Post
    Hi everyone,

    Me and a few mates are embarking on a sub artic photography trip later in the year and I've almost convinced myself into a 200-400 f4 NIKKOR as my big lens to purchase. The reason is I like the flexibility of the focal length it will provide me. I don't care about the weight or physical size.

    Does anyone out there use one on a regular enough basis to provide some constructive feedback? I've read a few reviews but am interested in what you have to say in this forum.

    However, I'm open to all feedback on "big lens users" so if you use one can you please provide me with the reasons you chose what you chose, it may open my eyes to something I've completely overlooked or am not even aware of.


    Cheers, BELLY
    If you consider going to your sub artic photography trip late this year with the 200-400/4, try it first to see if you're comfortable with it and can get the best of its optical quality with or without TCs (not many users/owners manage to get the most of this zoom with distance subject and/or with TCs).

    Among all the lenses I own, have owned and have used, the 200-400/4 will be the one if I have to keep only one lens.
    I've been using this exceptional zoom-lens for 7 years and feel very comfortable with it for my usual subjects (I handhold this lens 99.9% of the times, with or without TCs).
    I've also extensively used the combo 200/2 VRII+TC-20EIII on both D800 and D4 and have never managed to get the same level of IQ of the 200-400/4 @f/4 : at 400mm f/4, the big zoom still outperforms the prime 200/2 + x2 TC !

    The biggest downside of the 200-400/4 (like all the zoom-lenses) is its T/Stop, much lower than an equivalent prime (because of its 27 elements !). So compared to the prime, you actually will need higher ISO (for a given f/Stop) or slower shutter speed to get the same well-exposed image.
    Last edited by Sar NOP; 19-02-2013 at 1:09pm.

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    maybe considering hiring anyhow.

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    For a distance subject (over 100 metres), here's for example the kind of IQ I can get from the 200-400/4 with a TC on the D800 :


    D800, 200-400/4 VRI+TC-14-EII, @f/6.3, handheld.




    Crop 100%




    Another full-size crop

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    HI everyone,

    I've been watching this thread with interest and am very thankful I asked the question. But firstly thanks to everyone who participated and my dilema is no longer thanks to a couple exceptional replies. There's nothing quite like someone eles's experiences to guide you in a direction that enables you to make an informed and excellent decision.
    So, I already have a D700 with a f2.8 70-200, f2.8 24-70, f2.8 14-24 and thanks to Lance. B I have ordered the breath-taking f2.8 300 prime with all the latest teleconvertors for my new D4. I reckon I have a formidible cache for the Barron Grounds of Northern Quebec.Lance's experiences with this lens is further backed up by a review on the following site. Lance, thankyou for your detailed, thoughtful and non-biased views. http://photographylife.com/reviews/n...mm-f2-8g-vr-ii

    Cheers all
    BELLY

  16. #16
    Who let the rabble in? Lance B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Belly View Post
    HI everyone,

    I've been watching this thread with interest and am very thankful I asked the question. But firstly thanks to everyone who participated and my dilema is no longer thanks to a couple exceptional replies. There's nothing quite like someone eles's experiences to guide you in a direction that enables you to make an informed and excellent decision.
    So, I already have a D700 with a f2.8 70-200, f2.8 24-70, f2.8 14-24 and thanks to Lance. B I have ordered the breath-taking f2.8 300 prime with all the latest teleconvertors for my new D4. I reckon I have a formidible cache for the Barron Grounds of Northern Quebec.Lance's experiences with this lens is further backed up by a review on the following site. Lance, thankyou for your detailed, thoughtful and non-biased views. http://photographylife.com/reviews/n...mm-f2-8g-vr-ii

    Cheers all
    BELLY
    Congratulations on your purchase and thank you for your kind comments.

    Nasim Mansurov's site that you linked to above is and excellent site and one I also often use as a reference.

    You will also have a formidible kit for your travels to Quebec and I look forward to seeing your results!

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    Very interesting read. I have been looking for a a bigger lens as I have been doing a bit more small animal photography and my 80-2002.8 just doesn't cut it. I am not able to afford anything like has been mentioned above. My brother told me to get a 1.4xTC for my lens but from what I have read I don't think they are compatible? My dream lens would be the 300/2.8 but it would take a few years to save for that. Then I found the 300/4 which I could afford. I have just had a quick look and it seems these are compatible with TC. i have a D700, also would like to get the D600 as my 2nd camera.
    I also looked at the sigma 120-300 as mentioned above, it is more affordable but would still take a while to save up and not sure if I want to go to a 3rd party lens.
    Any comments on the 300/4 with TC? or if any TC work with the D700 and my 80-200?

  18. #18
    Account Closed Wayne's Avatar
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    The current Nikon TC line-up all work with the AF-S 80-200/2.8 lens. The AF-S 300/4 is a great lens and takes all 3 current TC's as well, but AF will be limited with all but the 1.4x unless you have a D800 or D4.

  19. #19
    Who let the rabble in? Lance B's Avatar
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    I did have the 300 f4 before I obtained the 300 f2.8 VRII, and as Wayne states, the 300 f4 will work very well with the 1.4x TCII so you will have a 420mm f5.6. It will work with the 2x TCIII as well and in good light the AF is quite OK, but in low light it is a little slow. I highly recommend the 300 f4 as it is a very sharp lens with overall excellent IQ and adding the 1.4x TCII is a good way to get to 400mm with very little impact on image quality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne View Post
    The current Nikon TC line-up all work with the AF-S 80-200/2.8 lens. The AF-S 300/4 is a great lens and takes all 3 current TC's as well, but AF will be limited with all but the 1.4x unless you have a D800 or D4.
    Mine is the AF, not AFS. I read something about filing off something on the ring to make it fit and that it wouldn't AF??

    So depending on a reply to this, looks like the 300 f4 might be a good choice with the 1.4xTC.

    Thanks for your replies

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