200-400 f4 plus teleconverters.

Started Apr 25, 2012 | Discussions
aldel
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200-400 f4 plus teleconverters.
Apr 25, 2012

I have had a Sigma 150-500 for some time but have been saving for some time to get something far better. I use a D300S, a gimbal head, strong tipod and am interested mainly in birds and wildlife. I have the 70-200 f2.8 and the 300mm f4. The 200-400 f4 seems the next logical progression but I can't run to the cost of the 500 or 600 lenses.

Now I have read masses of on-line reviews and am aware of the long distance sharpness 'drop-off' but would reall like to hear from users about the lens's 'real world' performance with all three tele converters. I have the 2tc mk 111 and 1.7 and will purchase the 1.4.

My 300 f4 is not supposed to work with the 1.7 coverter but on a bright day it works fine for me with little loss in IQ so could I just about get away with them on the 200-400?

Thanks

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cwmartin
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Re: 200-400 f4 plus teleconverters.
In reply to aldel, Apr 25, 2012

I own the original 200-400mm VR f/4 lens and the Nikon TC-14EII and TC-20EIII teleconverters. I use the 1.4 TC on the lens, mounted on a Wimberley, all the time for my Aviation photography work.

Here are a couple of examples, shot with my new D4 + 200-400mm + TC 1.4

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donski
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Re: 200-400 f4 plus teleconverters.
In reply to cwmartin, Apr 25, 2012

The 200-400 is known to take TC's very well, most notably the TC1.4.

Haven't seen shots with the TC20III mounted on it myself but I don't see a problem with it.

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kayaker353
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Re: 200-400 f4 plus teleconverters.
In reply to donski, Apr 25, 2012

I use the 200 to 400 with the 1.4TC. I also have the 1.7TC, but use it infrequently. I see a loss of sharpness, but do not know if it is me (camera shake) or the focusing system(D300). Images with the 1..4 are sharp. In the "old days" before zooms became prominent, Nikon recommended doubling/halving focal length when adding new lenses. For today, the question might be "Is the 200 to 400 enough longer to really add capability to what you have?" Would a 500 be a better choice?

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aldel
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Re: 200-400 f4 plus teleconverters.
In reply to kayaker353, Apr 25, 2012

Well, yes, the 500 possibly would be the better choice but would cost me £1000 more with less flexibility.

I could keep the 70-200 2.8 which will take tcs well. Sell the Sigma of course and also sell the 300 f4 (reluctantly) to pay towards the 200-400.

I would still then have 300mm f4 but with stabilistaion but only reach 510mm with a 1.7 tc at f6.3.
Much heavier lens and am I gaining much?

I am finding it a real dilemma and am struggling to make my mind up. Depends on how the 200-400 performs with the 1.7 TC.

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DCSteve
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Re: 200-400 f4 plus teleconverters.
In reply to aldel, Apr 25, 2012

I have a 200-400 (original) and 1.4 and 1.7. I've had a lot of trouble with the 1.7 but it's because of camera shake. At that level of magnification it is extremely difficult to keep the camera steady, even with a gimbel and sturdy tripod (both of which I have). I think it would work well, but I think you need to use it in bright light and/or high ISO so you can use a high shutter speed. The 1.7 also cuts the light down a fair amount, impairing autofocus.

That being said, the flexibility of the zoom is fantastic, and the image quality of the 200-400 is, well, let's just say it exceeds my skills as a photographer.

Steve

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Brandon birder
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Re: 200-400 f4 plus teleconverters.
In reply to aldel, Apr 25, 2012

aldel wrote:

Well, yes, the 500 possibly would be the better choice but would cost me £1000 more with less flexibility.

I could keep the 70-200 2.8 which will take tcs well. Sell the Sigma of course and also sell the 300 f4 (reluctantly) to pay towards the 200-400.

I would still then have 300mm f4 but with stabilistaion but only reach 510mm with a 1.7 tc at f6.3.
Much heavier lens and am I gaining much?

I am finding it a real dilemma and am struggling to make my mind up. Depends on how the 200-400 performs with the 1.7 TC.

I honestly think the 300F4 with a 1.4 TC is as sharp as the 200-400 on it's own. It loses half a stop (the 200-400 is really an F5.1 T stop). It gains VR. I don't think you'll notice much difference. You already have a good zoom to give flexibility and birds in flight.

The 200-400 is not much less expensive than a 500mm F4 and may equal one secondhand. It is noticeably better than the 200-400. You'd be better waiting and saving some more or buy secondhand.

The 300mm does work well with the 2EIII TC but autofocus will only work in good light and you lose another stop.

Another option which you may not have considered is to keep your existing kit and add a Nikon V1, FT1 and use it with your 300mm F4. Excellent 810 mm FOV with very good IQ up to iso 800 and works well handheld or on a monopod.

A final option is to get a used 300mm F2.8 VR and 2EIII TC.

I've done most of these things but eventually got a 500mm F4 and it's still the best in IQ terms thought the 300mm F4 and V1 is close behind.

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cwmartin
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Re: 200-400 f4 plus teleconverters.
In reply to aldel, Apr 25, 2012

I haven't tried the TC-20EIII with my 200-400 yet, but I will this coming weekend. With the D4, it is also supposed to autofocus up to f/8, so it should autofocus with this combo. Since I will be using a Wimberley on a Gitzo 5500 tripod, camera shake shouldn't be a problem. There may be a little shake caused by the 10 fps I will be shooting. I'll post the results I get.
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ehr444
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Re: 200-400 f4 plus teleconverters.
In reply to Brandon birder, Apr 26, 2012

Brandon birder wrote:

Another option which you may not have considered is to keep your existing kit and add a Nikon V1, FT1 and use it with your 300mm F4. Excellent 810 mm FOV with very good IQ up to iso 800 and works well handheld or on a monopod.

A final option is to get a used 300mm F2.8 VR and 2EIII TC.

I've done most of these things but eventually got a 500mm F4 and it's still the best in IQ terms thought the 300mm F4 and V1 is close behind.

Brandon,

Would I expect better IQ with the 300 f/4 on a V1 than I am currently getting with a 70-200 VRII + 17E TC? (It's pretty good

That combo gives me just the right reach and balance. What would it take to duplicate that on a D800?

Thanks,
Ed

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tomoo1000
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Re: 200-400 f4 plus teleconverters.
In reply to aldel, Apr 26, 2012

Hi I was never happy with my 200-400 vr1 with the 1.4 1.7 & 2x tc's the IQ just gets poorer with each tc I have the 200f2 300f4 200-400 f4 500f4 & 600f4 I like the 600 & 200f2 the best in terms of IQ then the 500 & the 300f4/200-400 last.

The 200-400 is very good close in, on it's own and with the 1.4,the 1.7 is just ok for me I do find that with the D300 it dose show up the IQ short comings of the 200-400 with tc's.

Phil.

200-400 + 1.4 D700

D300 200-400

d300 200f2 @ f2

D300 600f4 @ f4

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Brandon birder
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Re: 200-400 f4 plus teleconverters.
In reply to ehr444, Apr 26, 2012

ehr444 wrote:

Brandon birder wrote:

Another option which you may not have considered is to keep your existing kit and add a Nikon V1, FT1 and use it with your 300mm F4. Excellent 810 mm FOV with very good IQ up to iso 800 and works well handheld or on a monopod.

A final option is to get a used 300mm F2.8 VR and 2EIII TC.

I've done most of these things but eventually got a 500mm F4 and it's still the best in IQ terms thought the 300mm F4 and V1 is close behind.

Brandon,

Would I expect better IQ with the 300 f/4 on a V1 than I am currently getting with a 70-200 VRII + 17E TC? (It's pretty good

That combo gives me just the right reach and balance. What would it take to duplicate that on a D800?

Thanks,
Ed

Ed, I haven't got a 1.7 TC so couldn't say for sure but the 300 F4 certainly beats the IQ of the 70-200 with a 1.4. on a V1 beyond 30 feet.. The problem is that real focal length buys range in a way that teleconverers dont, 's at some point (around 30 feet) the 300 is just better than the 70-200 with a 1.4. I thought the 70-200 would be enough but I bought a 300mm F4 and it was better on the V1 for birds. Dhame really because as you say the 70-200 is nicely balanced and gives you flexibility.

Regarding the D800, that would need to be a 500mm F4 (750mm for in DX mode) but larger sensor I would say is equivalent to the 300mm F4 on a V1. Once again the extra focal length will mean that at some distance the 500mm lens on the D800 will outperform the 300mm on the v1.

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ehr444
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Re: 200-400 f4 plus teleconverters.
In reply to Brandon birder, Apr 26, 2012

Brandon birder wrote:

ehr444 wrote:

Brandon birder wrote:

Another option which you may not have considered is to keep your existing kit and add a Nikon V1, FT1 and use it with your 300mm F4. Excellent 810 mm FOV with very good IQ up to iso 800 and works well handheld or on a monopod.

A final option is to get a used 300mm F2.8 VR and 2EIII TC.

I've done most of these things but eventually got a 500mm F4 and it's still the best in IQ terms thought the 300mm F4 and V1 is close behind.

Brandon,

Would I expect better IQ with the 300 f/4 on a V1 than I am currently getting with a 70-200 VRII + 17E TC? (It's pretty good

That combo gives me just the right reach and balance. What would it take to duplicate that on a D800?

Thanks,
Ed

Ed, I haven't got a 1.7 TC so couldn't say for sure but the 300 F4 certainly beats the IQ of the 70-200 with a 1.4. on a V1 beyond 30 feet.. The problem is that real focal length buys range in a way that teleconverers dont, 's at some point (around 30 feet) the 300 is just better than the 70-200 with a 1.4. I thought the 70-200 would be enough but I bought a 300mm F4 and it was better on the V1 for birds. Dhame really because as you say the 70-200 is nicely balanced and gives you flexibility.

You may be on a point I missed. When testing the 70-200 on the V1 with a target at 10m, I found that the TC20 only magnified (with a slight degredation, flare I think) as compared to the TC17, so I decided to stay with the TC17 which gives me 340mm, as compared to the 400mm with the TC20. But if you are correct, the TC20 would have given me more range. (The IQ of the TC20 was inferior to the TC17)

Regarding the D800, that would need to be a 500mm F4 (750mm for in DX mode) but larger sensor I would say is equivalent to the 300mm F4 on a V1. Once again the extra focal length will mean that at some distance the 500mm lens on the D800 will outperform the 300mm on the v1.

I'm not hearing that the 300 f/4 with a TC would put me in this range?

Currently it seems to me that to beat the 70-200 w TC17 on the V1, perhaps the 300 f/2.8 with the TC17 on the D800 might be the way to go?

My D800 arrives tomorrow. Can't wait!

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Brandon birder
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Re: 200-400 f4 plus teleconverters.
In reply to ehr444, Apr 26, 2012

ehr444 wrote:

Brandon birder wrote:

ehr444 wrote:

Brandon birder wrote:

Another option which you may not have considered is to keep your existing kit and add a Nikon V1, FT1 and use it with your 300mm F4. Excellent 810 mm FOV with very good IQ up to iso 800 and works well handheld or on a monopod.

A final option is to get a used 300mm F2.8 VR and 2EIII TC.

I've done most of these things but eventually got a 500mm F4 and it's still the best in IQ terms thought the 300mm F4 and V1 is close behind.

Brandon,

Would I expect better IQ with the 300 f/4 on a V1 than I am currently getting with a 70-200 VRII + 17E TC? (It's pretty good

That combo gives me just the right reach and balance. What would it take to duplicate that on a D800?

Thanks,
Ed

Ed, I haven't got a 1.7 TC so couldn't say for sure but the 300 F4 certainly beats the IQ of the 70-200 with a 1.4. on a V1 beyond 30 feet.. The problem is that real focal length buys range in a way that teleconverers dont, 's at some point (around 30 feet) the 300 is just better than the 70-200 with a 1.4. I thought the 70-200 would be enough but I bought a 300mm F4 and it was better on the V1 for birds. Dhame really because as you say the 70-200 is nicely balanced and gives you flexibility.

You may be on a point I missed. When testing the 70-200 on the V1 with a target at 10m, I found that the TC20 only magnified (with a slight degredation, flare I think) as compared to the TC17, so I decided to stay with the TC17 which gives me 340mm, as compared to the 400mm with the TC20. But if you are correct, the TC20 would have given me more range. (The IQ of the TC20 was inferior to the TC17)

Regarding the D800, that would need to be a 500mm F4 (750mm for in DX mode) but larger sensor I would say is equivalent to the 300mm F4 on a V1. Once again the extra focal length will mean that at some distance the 500mm lens on the D800 will outperform the 300mm on the v1.

I'm not hearing that the 300 f/4 with a TC would put me in this range?

Currently it seems to me that to beat the 70-200 w TC17 on the V1, perhaps the 300 f/2.8 with the TC17 on the D800 might be the way to go?

My D800 arrives tomorrow. Can't wait!

The 300f4on v1 is roughly the same range as a D800 with a500mm f4. The iq is very good upto ISo 800 after which the D800 walks away. The dynamic range of the D800 at lower ISo is much greater giving better shadow protection.
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Linda Kay
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Re: 200-400 f4 plus teleconverters.
In reply to tomoo1000, Apr 27, 2012

I agree with tomoo 1000. i own the 200-400mm and with shooting sports and large objects its great but with birds i would save up for the 500mm. i also own the 400/2.8 and i still want more reach. i would sell what i could and save for the 500mm
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jfriend00
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Re: 200-400 f4 plus teleconverters.
In reply to aldel, Apr 27, 2012

I'd say it depends a lot on what you shoot and what conditions you shoot in. I regularly shoot birds and I found that for stationary birds, I could use the D300 + 200-400 + TC1.4 in decent light and it would work just fine regardless of distance to subject as long as the AF could get a good lock. I always felt like the limitation was with the AF system, not with the lens IQ.

Now, for birds in flight at a distance, I found the 200-400 + TC1.4 unworkable. I concluded that I was better off shooting without the TC and cropping or just not shooting things that were too far or too small. The issue was the difficulty of nailing the focus on a small moving target far away. This is one of the most challenging things to shoot for any camera/lens, but when you start with a lens that isn't really quite f/4 and then cut out 1/2 the light with the TC1.4, I think the AF system struggles to have enough data to nail focus and do accurate tracking in anything except really good conditions. Make the subject a dark color against a darker background and there simply isn't enough light/contrast for good AF performance. Make it reduced light (heavy overcast, dawn or dusk) and it also struggles.

One of the things I'm looking forward to in the D400 is improved AF in this regard since both the D4 and D800 claim to have good AF down to f/8 (vs. f/5.6 previously) so clearly Nikon thinks they've improved things as much as a whole stop.

As for the IQ issues some people have written about with the 200-400 at distance, I simply haven't seen that. My 200-400 is the sharpest lens I own at 200 and is still very, very good at 400 when given a subject that the AF can get a good lock on even at distance. Obviously shooting 400mm at distance requires very good technique and sometimes good atmospheric conditions to get the most out of what the lens can deliver but that's true of any lens of that focal length.

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JK5700
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Re: 200-400 f4 plus teleconverters.
In reply to aldel, Apr 30, 2012

I was never really happy with the 200-400 with converters. The 1.4 was as far as I would go. The IQ with the 1.7 was ok, but not great. I also found the lens myopic at far distances as Thom Hogan reported. It improves when you zoom in to say 350mm at F/8.

Close up it is a fantastic lens and I miss mine greatly. But for birds and the wildlife I shoot, the 500VR is better and I could not afford both the time.
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Rich Dykmans
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Re: 200-400 f4 plus teleconverters.
In reply to ehr444, May 11, 2012

To me it's all about the VR. I had the 300 f4 and tried it on a D800 with the 1.4 and 1.7 but lost too many shots due to camera shake. I've still got to watch my handholding technique with the 1.4 on the 200-400. The 70-200 VRII doesn't seem to have any issues with any of the TCs and is very forgiving. Seems like (for me) it's when you approach 500mm.

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