Long Lens Confusion - 300/2.8 VR versus 200-400/4

Started May 18, 2007 | Discussions thread
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gorby
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Long Lens Confusion - 300/2.8 VR versus 200-400/4
May 18, 2007

Hi everybody,

I am planning to buy a long lens for photographing birds and large mammals and am unable to decide between the above two lenses. I have read most of the online reviews and did a search for similar posts, but still am not able to make up my mind. The major issue is of course the cost and I dont want to regret after buying one of them. This would represent the most I have spent on anything and so am very very confused.

I have a D2Hs and my longest lens is the 70-200. I also have a 1.7TC. I made the following table to help me decide ( and hopefully help others trying to make this difficult and expensive decision).

I have rated the image quaity from 1 till 3; 1 for acceptable; 2 for good and 3 for excellent. I have no practical experience with either of the lenses, therefore the image quality rankings are based on the aperture and online user reports. (I have coloured the focal length boxes in yellow to indicate better performance at that focal length).

1. 200-250mm: The 200-400 is obviously better as the 300mm does not cover that range

2. 300mm.: The 300 mm is better

3. 350mm: 200-400 is better

4. 400mm: I have rated the 200-400 mm better as the 300 needs a TC to get to this range and so there is bound to be some image deterioration.

5. 450mm: 200-400 is better.

6. 500mm: The 300 with the 1.7 TC will be faster than the 200-400 with the 1.4 TC

7. 550mm: 200 - 400 is better

8. 600mm: The 300 is faster with the 2X TC. I have ranked both of the image qualities at 2 points as I thought that the 2X would result in quite some image deterioration.

9. > 600mm: All to the 200-400mm

The 200-400mm therefore beats the 300/2.8 VR at all focal lengths except 300/ 500 & 600mm respectively.

Pros of the 300/2.8 VR
1. Cheaper
2. Easier to handhold
3. Shorter
4. Larger aperture ensures better AF & brighter viewfinder

Pros of the 200-400/4
1. Zoom

I dont have the opportunity to check out both lenses and so have to make a decision based on considered opinions of real users. I can buy the 1.4X & 2.0XTC with the money I save buying the 300/2.8 VR. I can afford the 200-400/4, but get tempted by the prime.

Please help....

Cheers,
Gorby

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