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Thread: Old version Nikon 80-400 - Anyone had success shooting sports with it?

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    Ausphotography Veteran MattNQ's Avatar
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    Old version Nikon 80-400 - Anyone had success shooting sports with it?

    Thinking out aloud here.
    Would like to to get into 300-400mm range but still need to keep the wide end at 70-80mm or wider.
    This lens has a perfect focal range, but I've read a few less than glowing reviews about this version.

    There are two main issues thrown around

    Focus speed - rather slow, but most reviews I found were a bit old - using D1 & D2 bodies.
    Has anyone used this lens on a D3, which I imagine had a more powerful focus motor?

    Soft through 300mm-400mm - but I have read a few reviews where some found it to have acceptable sharpness.
    I'm thinking it may perhaps still be better IQ than me cropping images taken at 200mm?

    That focal range would suit netball perfectly, but it probably won't give me the DoF I need shooting across the courts

    Hoping not to carry a second body with a 300/4 on it, but that may be the better option overall?
    Matt
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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    I've only tried this lens(new/demo lens in shop) on my D300 back in the day ...

    This supposed slow focus must be a relative term. I didn't feel it was slow.
    Certainly not as fast as a more pro like 70-200/2.8 type lens, but not slow like a consumer kit lens(eg. 18-135, or 55-200) type lens.
    It had that grindy sounding focusing system tho, but only because I think they're the screw driven.

    I think you may have an 80-200/2.8 D lens in your kit(or maybe had one) ..
    I used to have one, and I reckon by comparison it's only 'just' slower to focus .. but not really all that much different to the feeling and sound of the 80-200.
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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    I've only tried this lens(new/demo lens in shop) on my D300 back in the day ...

    This supposed slow focus must be a relative term. I didn't feel it was slow.
    Certainly not as fast as a more pro like 70-200/2.8 type lens, but not slow like a consumer kit lens(eg. 18-135, or 55-200) type lens.
    It had that grindy sounding focusing system tho, but only because I think they're the screw driven.

    I think you may have an 80-200/2.8 D lens in your kit(or maybe had one) ..
    I used to have one, and I reckon by comparison it's only 'just' slower to focus .. but not really all that much different to the feeling and sound of the 80-200.
    Thanks Arthur.
    Yes, I have the 80-200/2.8 D push pull type as my main (ie. only ) sports lens. I suspected they might be a similar focusing speed.
    I find the 80-200 is perfectly fast enough for most sports I have shot - Of course one anticipates the subject's movement and the game's direction to avoid needing to focus from extreme to the other.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattNQ View Post
    .... avoid needing to focus from extreme to the other.
    I think that's the real issue. Focusing from nowhere to something is where it feels slow.
    I can't remember it stuttering like my two ring 80-200 did when it wasn't entirely sure of where the focus distance was.
    But then again I owned the 80-200 and so had more experience with it, whereas I may have had maybe 10 mins or so in the shop with the 80-400.

    I reckon on a D3, which has a very strong AF drive ... and great AF capability, you shouldn't be all that disadvantaged by the 'slow focusing'.

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    It may come down to whether I'm happy with the DoF. I have been shooting at f4 a lot. I guess f4.5 may not be noticeably different at the short end.
    Given that at the long end, I'm cropping an image shot at 200mm and f4, I'm thinking that 400mm at f5.6 will actually give a better subject isolation. Might have to dust off some brain cells and do some DoF calculations.

    The reason for my question is that there is one for sale locally for $800, which seems to be a reasonable price. Probably won't get it approved by the minister for finance, but worth a try


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    Found a calculator.
    Netball court is about 15x30m

    200mm f2.8 at 30m - DoF = 3.8m
    400mm f5.6 at 30m - DoF = 1.87m

    200mm f4.0 at 15m - DoF = 1.33m
    200mm f5.0 at 15m - DoF = 1.68m

    I'm thinking there may not be a lot of real world difference, and perhaps an improvement at the long end.
    Last edited by MattNQ; 20-04-2016 at 9:43pm.

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