400mm lens for nikon?

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Jan 18, 2002
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My hardly ever used nikon 75-300mm f5.6(the older model with the better MTF rating according to photodo :) ) is seeing a lot of use of late and I'm just toying with the idea of a new lens which reaches 400mm... (oh no, another white elephant)

I don't think I want to spend money on the 400 3.5 ED (IF), but the 80-400 VR seems interesting. Any thoughts? - hows the optical quality, ease of use etc... hopefully an improvement over my old lens? I know I'm only using a F70 (VR doesn't work?), but can always upgrade later

So far, I'm just managing with 300mm for swans, but I want to move to Puffins soon when they come inland to breed :)

(btw, was Limster on hwz)

If you are serious, then the 400/3.5 will give you more joy.
If you are just intending to do some casual shooting, then the VR will give you more joy.
Bear in mind that you can pick up the 400/3.5 for about the same price as the VR.

The VR didn't get that great optical reviews, and it has darn slow AF apparently.

really? i'm not in singapore yet so i can't check but adorama.com gives:

NIKON 400 3.5 ED (IF) AIS W/ST,CS US$2,474
NIKON 80-400 4.5/5.6 ED AF-D VR U.S.A US$1,399

So if Singapore you can pick up 400 f3.5 at the same price, then maybe I can buy it, since it'll have fantastic resale value overseas :)

But the 400 is a huge lens so for travel photography not so good. fixed focus sigma/tokina 400 is also under consideration, but their lenses are larger then the nikon VR (but cheaper, so i might go down that route )

Originally posted by Jed
If you are serious, then the 400/3.5 will give you more joy.
If you are just intending to do some casual shooting, then the VR will give you more joy.
Bear in mind that you can pick up the 400/3.5 for about the same price as the VR.

You can pick up a 400/2.8 in decent condition on eBay for £1300. I've seen 400/3.5 lenses go for less then that (obviously). The 400/3.5 is a corking lens. Fast, but not that big and heavy. It was Heather Angel's fave lens for a long time.

None of the superteles are travel lenses, let's not kid ourselves. Unless you're really serious and your reason for travel is to take pictures. That's why I said, unless you're serious, go for the 80-400. Or if you need bells and whistles. But if you're serious, it's a no-brainer.

you may want to consider the Tokina 150-500/5.6 (Note the the 5.6 aperture is constanf throughout). It is quite a decent lens. The only thing is that it manual focus mount - not sure about F70; I seem to remember that it can take non AF lens - but for sure cannot use it on F80. You can use on F90/X, F5.

Quite good balance; sharpness is good. I have shot with 1.4X and 2.0X converters with it. Not sure of the current prices, but is seems to me that it might be cheaper to get this lens in the US.

And for whatever reason, this is one lens in the Tokina family that did not get a makeover; look at the 28-70, 100-300/f4; 80-200/2.8 etc..

You can use manual lenses on the F70, without any problems (aside obviously from losing manual focus, and shutter priority and program exposure modes).

Take a look at my shots from the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in the nature forum, all shot with a manual 400mm lens.

Sigma used to produce very good AFD 400mm f/5.6 Macro lens. This lens has the AF/MF selector on the lens itself, and can focus down to 1.5m. The lens has a removeable tripod collar, and is in satin black finishing. I used to own this lens before, but didn't test it to its fullness. It is still a bit short for bird. This lens use 77mm diameter filter, so you can stadardize your pro lenses at this filter set.

This lens has been discontinue, but if you are lucky, you can still find it in the market at around S$500. Some of the members from nmlist told me that it is at least as sharp as the Nikkor lens, better than VR if use properly.

Tokina also used to have a 400mm f/5.6 lens, but discontinued. Tokina version doens't has the AF/MF ring on the lens, and my friend's Tokina 400mm got fogging problem in the lens element.

Hope this helps.


I'm so glad I started out with landscapes where you can use cheap lenses.

(taking deep breaths). Nikon 300mm f/4 AF-S + TC-14E II 1.4x. Costs a bit more (given the amounts we're talking about already) than 80-400VR... but when I replace my F70, I can get AF-S at 420mm (F70 will not give AF with TC but will give AF on the 300mm alone)... and if i replace with S2...

Have e-mailed CP for e-quote. But based on their quote for the 80-400 VR, seems that CP is a bit highish S$2480 vs say US internet price of US$1399 (USA) and US$1099 (grey) [thats the quote for the 80-400]. Anyone can help get me a better quote from CP or anywhere else for the 300/TC? (+multicoated 81A)

You've lost me there. If the F70 will AF, then it should AF with or without the TC.

The 300mm f/4 AF-s is compatible with the F70 (in the sense that there is AF).

However, the TC14E II is not autofocus compatible with the F70 ; I will get only MF but I guess that metering should still be ok... but I'll have to check...

Jed, since you probably know people who know this kind of stuff, can you also check this up for me? (i.e., with the TC, I should still be able to meter properly though only MF) At the same time, I shall post to nikonians to doublecheck ;)

Hmm... curious. To the best of my knowledge, the TC-E IIs are identical to the older versions except that [1] they are made of magnesium alloy and hence are lighter, [2] they will accept a normal front body cap. Optically they are identical, and I would have thought, mechanically as well.

If the F70 is compatible with AF-S lenses (which it is) then I'm very surprised there is anything in either the TC14E or TC14EII that is incompatible. At any rate, I don't know when you're planning your purchase, but if you're coming up in April then you can have a bash on my TC.

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