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D300 + 200-400 f4 combo

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Old Wednesday 12th November 2008, 23:45   #1
Spot Focus
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D300 + 200-400 f4 combo

Hi I'm thinking of changing systems from pentax to Nikon D300. At present I have a Bigma which is good but not great. I would be very interested to hear if any one has the 200-400 on a D300 or are there better options?
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Old Thursday 13th November 2008, 00:25   #2
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A lot depends on whether or not you wish to spend that much. People looking at the 200-400 are generally looking at a comparison of that lens and the 300 f2.8 with 1.4 teleconverter. I'm in the same quandry right now. I also have a D300 and before the end of migration this winter, I'll either own a 200-400 or a 300 f2.8.

Many of my friends consider the 200-400 on a D300 to be the ultimate wildlife combination. That lens is considered to be optically as good or nearly as good as any prime out there. The Zoom gives it additional appeal.

The 300 f2.8 is lighter and slightly faster focusing and maybe a tad better IQ. Put a 1.4 on it and you've got a 420 f4 with about the same IQ as the 200-400 but a little smaller and lighter.

The D300 and the 200-400 f4 or the 300 f2.8 with extender is going to cost you near $7000 so, unless you have deep pockets, it's good to know which will serve you best.

I'll make up my mind by the end of the year.
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Old Thursday 13th November 2008, 06:20   #3
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and I guess you should also consider a Canon 50d and a 400f4 prime. both combos are likely to be better than you have.
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Old Thursday 13th November 2008, 10:01   #4
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Amazing how many people come down to this choice of lens the 300f2.8 vs 200-400f4.
There are quite a few threads on the subject on various forums, the majority end up with a 300 it seems.
Prior to buying my choice I was using an 80-400. Looking at my birding shots they were nearly all at 400mm. The zoom tended to be used for the odd scenery shot at 80.... a 200 would be too big for that. I had shot some soccer matches and the zoom was handy for that but really I was more interested in a speciality lens for birding.
If you are only ever going to own one lens the 200-400mm might be a good option, but I went with the 300 for the following reasons.
Excellent in low light.
Smaller than a 200-400 so hand holdable and a good walk about lens
Ultra fast AF
Delivers good results with a 1.4 and 1.7 TC.
The cheapest quality telephoto Nikon have on offer, considerably cheaper than the 200-400.
However, part of my plan is to have a bigger prime telephoto to compliment each other "one day".
The 300 wasn't expected to deliver the reach I was really after, but neither would the 200-400. If I ever bought a 5 or 600mm I felt the 200-400 would be redundant, whereas the 300 has appeal when you don't want to take a big lens out.
The 200-400 is a very big lens.
Good luck in your choice.
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Old Thursday 13th November 2008, 11:47   #5
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Although it is an excellent lens, I found the 200-400mm awkward to use, which I attribute more to my failings than the lens.
As Rioja writes the F2.8 300VR, is top notch, you have movement and freedom with this lens. The next lens up is the pricey 400mm, I've used this lens once on a very dull grey day and it is fantastic, certainly I prefer it to the zoom. I don’t think that you can discount the F4 300mm.

Nikon may announce new lenses in December, I wouldn’t hold my breathe on there being a medium prime, but you never know, Nikon surprised us with the D700.
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Old Thursday 13th November 2008, 11:53   #6
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Although it is an excellent lens, I found the 200-400mm awkward to use, which I attribute more to my failings than the lens.
As Rioja writes the F2.8 300VR, is top notch, you have movement and freedom with this lens. The next lens up is the pricey 400mm, I've used this lens once on a very dull grey day and it is fantastic, certainly I prefer it to the zoom. I don’t think that you can discount the F4 300mm.

Nikon may announce new lenses in December, I wouldn’t hold my breathe on there being a medium prime, but you never know, Nikon surprised us with the D700.
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Old Saturday 22nd November 2008, 15:33   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guidenet View Post
A lot depends on whether or not you wish to spend that much. People looking at the 200-400 are generally looking at a comparison of that lens and the 300 f2.8 with 1.4 teleconverter. I'm in the same quandry right now. I also have a D300 and before the end of migration this winter, I'll either own a 200-400 or a 300 f2.8.

Many of my friends consider the 200-400 on a D300 to be the ultimate wildlife combination. That lens is considered to be optically as good or nearly as good as any prime out there. The Zoom gives it additional appeal.

The 300 f2.8 is lighter and slightly faster focusing and maybe a tad better IQ. Put a 1.4 on it and you've got a 420 f4 with about the same IQ as the 200-400 but a little smaller and lighter.

The D300 and the 200-400 f4 or the 300 f2.8 with extender is going to cost you near $7000 so, unless you have deep pockets, it's good to know which will serve you best.

I'll make up my mind by the end of the year.


The 200-400 is very heavy (not 2.8 heavy but heavy nonetheless) - although the bag can hold camera and lens, it is not easy to get it in and out - so you need a fairly expensive bag on top of theone you paid for in buying the lens.

It is only F4 - but has great focus speed (esp on top nikon camera) and the optical quality is fantastic. You will hear no complaints (on all of the internet) about its IQ. Quite something in itself.

I doubt a 300 prime + 1.4 tc is comparible in terms of IQ. If you need lower light get the 300 2.8. My 200-400 is almost always on 400m so if you're looking for a prime -you'd be better off with the 500 - which apparently is one of the few lenses to surpass the 200-400 in IQ. When I am down at 200, I wish I had my 70-200 on the camera. So it's difficult. Even at this price it doesn't solve everything and is still a compromise of sorts.

I have to say, I do wish my 200-400 had a bigger aperture as Britain is grey 11 months of the year. On the other hand it is in a different league to the 80-400 or the canon 100-400. There is nothing to touch it, partly because it has nothing comparible.

Quality construction.

Did I say it was heavy ?
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Old Saturday 22nd November 2008, 16:29   #8
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I'm still considering the 200-400 but the price makes me consider otherwise. If I were to buy it, I'd get a used one on ebay but even then the price can be discouraging. It's one reason I considered investing in Canon gear but after more research I've moved away from that thought.

comparing the size of the 200-400 and the 300mm 2.8, It's not the significant IMO. Both are huge! The IQ also seems very comparable. Look here:

http://www.hickingbotham.com/reviews/nikon300200400.htm
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Old Sunday 23rd November 2008, 09:09   #9
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Originally Posted by Gentoo View Post
I'm still considering the 200-400 but the price makes me consider otherwise. If I were to buy it, I'd get a used one on ebay but even then the price can be discouraging. It's one reason I considered investing in Canon gear but after more research I've moved away from that thought.

comparing the size of the 200-400 and the 300mm 2.8, It's not the significant IMO. Both are huge! The IQ also seems very comparable. Look here:

http://www.hickingbotham.com/reviews/nikon300200400.htm
The results on the 300+tc don't look so good to me, whereas the 200-400 seems to perform rather well at 300.
It's very simple, if you need speed get the 300 2.8, if you need length get the 500/f4, if you want a 'compromise' get the 200-400. I'd avoid the 300 + tc route though. The 200-400 + a 1.4 could be a good combo if you have many bright days where you live.
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Old Sunday 23rd November 2008, 15:54   #10
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The results on the 300+tc don't look so good to me, whereas the 200-400 seems to perform rather well at 300.
It's very simple, if you need speed get the 300 2.8, if you need length get the 500/f4, if you want a 'compromise' get the 200-400. I'd avoid the 300 + tc route though. The 200-400 + a 1.4 could be a good combo if you have many bright days where you live.
I live in Southern California, weather is bright most of the time although as I sit here writing this it's foggy and overcast outside and it's supposed to rain by midweek, so I can use the 200-400 most of the time.
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Old Monday 29th December 2008, 11:22   #11
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Dont dismiss Sigma

I use a Sigma 120-300 f2.8 with a 1.4x convertor for a walk around combination, its heavy and takes some getting used to but so much better quality than the 80-400VR nikon which is so inconsistant that I rarely ever use it these days unless I'm hiking more than 5 miles.

Another bonus is that a 2x convertor is easily slipped into a bag and you then have a 600 f5.6 for long shots providing you have a stable place for the lens to sit.

The Nikon 200-400 is a dream lens but also an expensive option.


I'd have one tomorrow iof I had the money
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Old Monday 29th December 2008, 18:16   #12
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Originally Posted by lensman9999 View Post
The results on the 300+tc don't look so good to me,
Hi what is this statement based on? for a 1/4 of the cost of the 200-400 you get a superb combination, its light weight so ideal for traveling with and mates superbly with a 1.4 a 1.7 and extension tubes for a very nice macro lens.
to be fair mine rarely gets used any more but as for quality there's really no downside.
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Old Monday 29th December 2008, 23:02   #13
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Hi what is this statement based on? for a 1/4 of the cost of the 200-400 you get a superb combination, its light weight so ideal for traveling with and mates superbly with a 1.4 a 1.7 and extension tubes for a very nice macro lens.
to be fair mine rarely gets used any more but as for quality there's really no downside.
He's on about the "Hickingbotham" review that Gentoo provided the link for. THe 200-400/4afs VR was against the 300/2.8 afs (not the newer VR version though which has a super reputation). From the slides shown, the 200-400 definitely appears sharper at 400 than the 300/2.8 combination with the 1.4 teleconverter at 420mm, which is pretty amazing for a zoom. I think the 300/2.8 is slightly better at 300mm though.

Bjorn Rorslett rates the 200-400/4afs VR zoom very highly, but Thom Hogan is less complimentary about it for some reason. For me personally, I don't think there's enough reach, especially if I'm thinking about moving to a full frame D3 or D700. Guess I'm looking at the monstrous 600/4asf VR!
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Old Tuesday 30th December 2008, 06:02   #14
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Originally Posted by Duke Leto View Post
Hi what is this statement based on? for a 1/4 of the cost of the 200-400 you get a superb combination, its light weight so ideal for traveling with and mates superbly with a 1.4 a 1.7 and extension tubes for a very nice macro lens.
to be fair mine rarely gets used any more but as for quality there's really no downside.
I think it's based on this

http://www.hickingbotham.com/reviews/nikon300200400.htm
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Old Tuesday 30th December 2008, 07:35   #15
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my mistake for some reason I thought it was referring to the 300/4 which is a very good lens for the price, sorry I misunderstood.
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Old Tuesday 30th December 2008, 07:51   #16
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I do have to agree with Duke Leto with the 300 F4. I have the old AF (non AFS) version and for the money, you cannot beat that lens at all!.
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Old Tuesday 30th December 2008, 17:41   #17
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He's on about the "Hickingbotham" review that Gentoo provided the link for. THe 200-400/4afs VR was against the 300/2.8 afs (not the newer VR version though which has a super reputation). From the slides shown, the 200-400 definitely appears sharper at 400 than the 300/2.8 combination with the 1.4 teleconverter at 420mm, which is pretty amazing for a zoom. I think the 300/2.8 is slightly better at 300mm though.

Bjorn Rorslett rates the 200-400/4afs VR zoom very highly, but Thom Hogan is less complimentary about it for some reason. For me personally, I don't think there's enough reach, especially if I'm thinking about moving to a full frame D3 or D700. Guess I'm looking at the monstrous 600/4asf VR!
I don't think Hogan dislikes it. he gives his views here
http://bythom.com/rationallenses.htm
under exotics
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