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Thread: Advice needed on the 80-400

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    Advice needed on the 80-400

    I need some practical advice on the new Nikon 80-400. What has been the experience using this lens handheld in terms of weight and sharpness through its zoom range? I was thinking of taking this lens to the Galapagos and later on an African safari. Thanks
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    Senior Member Swissblad's Avatar
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    Re: Advice needed on the 80-400

    I've found that this lens works very well with FX cameras (D700/D4), but less so with the D7100 at 400mm. This may be due to camera shake combined with high pixel density.

    Brad Hill really likes this lens - see his latest blog: Natural Art Images: Voice: Brad Hill Blog

    Nikkor AFS 80-400mm f4.5-5.6 VR:

    I used to say that if you could only take ONE lens into the Great Bear, it should be the 200-400mm f4 VR. But...times have changed, and so has Nikon's lens lineup. Now I will go out on a limb and say this: If you can take only ONE lens into the Great Bear (or Khutzeymateen), it should be the new AFS 80-400mm f4.5-5.6 VR. Period. ...... You won't see me in the Great Bear (including the Khutzeymateen) over the next few years WITHOUT my 80-400.

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    Senior Member JohnBrew's Avatar
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    Re: Advice needed on the 80-400

    You don't say which version you are interested in. I've only shot the first which needs a sturdy tripod and one of the after-market tripod lens mounts to really lock the lens down. The first version is pretty weak on the long end. I hear the new version is very good on the long end. Probably a good compromise lens for safari.

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    Re: Advice needed on the 80-400

    I find the new 80-400 to be excellent for a number of applications. It was really useful shooting a schooner race from aboard one of the boats. I am amazed at how well it manages to stabilize the motion of the deck while shooting crisp and sharp images both close and far.
    I have not tried it out with a converter as yet, but I have low expectations as my converter experience has been pretty bad.
    -bob

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    Re: Advice needed on the 80-400

    Thanks everyone. The lens I'm interested in is the new version. It will be used with an 800e.

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    Subscriber Member weinschela's Avatar
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    Re: Advice needed on the 80-400

    I took the Nikon 28-300 to Galapagos last December with D800e and have no regrets and the better wide range was extremely useful. There are landscapes you will want to capture. The 80-400 would have been heavier and the 400mm in Galapagos IMHO is overkill because you can get so close to the wildlife. I know some have trashed this lens but it worked for me, including shooting sometimes on the water from a Zodiac, which requires handholding and IS. At 400mm the 80-400 would be tough to handhold. My results were extremely sharp notwithstanding tough conditions. On the islands, there may also be few opportunities for tripod use, though a monopod might be feasible. One final comment: conditions in Galapagos are not great for changing lenses because of sand, humidity, wind, moving rubber boats, etc. I did swap out the 28-300 for a 24-70 f2.8 but w/o stabilization that afternoon was a zero for usable frames. The Nikon handles high ISO very well and you're okay cranking up the ISO to keep shutter speeds high. Obviously this is just my opinion but it is based on actual experience. If you go to my Zenfolio site you will see a Galapagos gallery so you can see for yourself.
    Alan

    Selection of work: http://weinschela.zenfolio.com

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    Re: Advice needed on the 80-400

    Iíve been with Brad Hill in the Great Bear and used the 80-400 with a D800. I was able to hand hold in a Zodiac and got excellent images. Well, images that Iím happy with. Iím not particularly strong but hand holding for 1-2 min. while waiting to float into position for ďthatĒ grizzly shot was not too much of a problem (left arm snug against my body). In the Galapagos you will have a lot more light thus faster speeds which the D800(E) needs for sharp images. Handholding with lenses over 150mm consider a shutter speed of 2x focal length, youíve got the ISO.

    Suggestion, consider taking a second wider lens: lighter a 35mm or 50mm, heavier a 24-120mm f/4. The 80-400 comes with the same lens bag as the 70-200 and is easy to sling over your neck and under your arm to take along a 2nd lens or just pick one for the day. The 24-120 / 80-400 is a nice combination. If you need closer than 80mm you have an option which serves you back up to 120mm.

    Natural Art Images: Voice: Brad Hill Blog

    Bradís site is a wealth of accurately opinionated data. Scroll down his blog to 31 October 2013 and see a brief opinion of both of these lenses. Then, keep going down to 15 May 2013 and you will find his testing of the 80-400 at 16 feet compared to several other Nikon lenses at the same focal lengths. This is probably near to what you will be shooting at. While youíre there, check out his gallery. If I ever get just a few comparable images I would be a happy man.

    Enjoy. Cal

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    Re: Advice needed on the 80-400

    I find Nikon's claims about the effectiveness of the VR system to be a bit optimistic - I would say it's about 2 stops at the most, but it's a pretty sharp lens, especially on the D7100.



    (NIKON D7100 80.0-400.0 mm f/4.5-5.6 lens 400mm f/5.6 1/640s 720 ISO, Hand-held)

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    Re: Advice needed on the 80-400

    What a cute little kitty . By the way, lovely capture!

    Dave (D&A)

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    Re: Advice needed on the 80-400

    Quote Originally Posted by cerett View Post
    I need some practical advice on the new Nikon 80-400. What has been the experience using this lens handheld in terms of weight and sharpness through its zoom range? I was thinking of taking this lens to the Galapagos and later on an African safari. Thanks

    Hi,

    Nikon is the only company that don't believe they need exotic glass to build advanced optics for 20+ megapixel cameras. The Sigma 120-300 f2.8 has a performance close or better (depending on the parameter) than the 200-400mm f4.0 VR II. My suggestion is: if you will not be shooting at 400mm most of the time, avoid the Nikon and go with the sigma. The only issue with the sigma is that is heavier and shorter (300mm vs 400mm).

    Best regards,

    J. Duncan

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    Re: Advice needed on the 80-400

    I have been happy with the 80-400mm. I recently took a boat ride in Elkhorn Slough near Watsonville CA. I had the D800 and 80-400. A colleague of mine had the D800--200-400mm, which of course is much heavier and much more difficult to handhold for any length of time. He actually did a tripod comparison a couple of days later and let me know there was marginal difference in sharpness with the 200-400. Nonetheless, the 80-400 is relatively light. In the past i have tried using teleconverters and it does slow the ability to AF and this trip I elected not to even attach the TC. I have the original files on a different computer and I can try to post some 100% crops later on.

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    Re: Advice needed on the 80-400

    Quote Originally Posted by cerett View Post
    I need some practical advice on the new Nikon 80-400. What has been the experience using this lens handheld in terms of weight and sharpness through its zoom range? I was thinking of taking this lens to the Galapagos and later on an African safari. Thanks
    I think a D800E and the Nikkor AF-S 80-400 will serve you well.
    Here is a handheld shot with that combination.

    With best regards, K-H.

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    Re: Advice needed on the 80-400

    What percentage crop is that K-H? Thanks.

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    Re: Advice needed on the 80-400

    Quote Originally Posted by BlinkingEye View Post
    What percentage crop is that K-H? Thanks.
    Thanks, I believe 100%.
    Here D800E + 80-400 AF-S I have posted a bunch of 100% images.
    With best regards, K-H.

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