Nikon 200-400 f4 testing

Started Jun 17, 2013 | Discussions
frontal_lobe
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Re: Nikon 200-400 f4 testing
In reply to AlexandreH, Jun 20, 2013

Hi Alexandre,

Thanks very much indeed for posting the comparison samples. I'm amazed at how good the 200-400 is compared to the 300 f/4. I'd always made the assumption that the prime lens would smoke the zoom, but your samples say otherwise. This agrees with the Imatest numbers generated in Mansurov's review of the new 80-400.

All the best,

Anthony.

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AlexandreH
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Re: Nikon 200-400 f4 testing
In reply to frontal_lobe, Jun 26, 2013

Thanks Anthony. Yes the results I get seem to match Mansurov's review
in regards to the 300f4 vs 200-400f4.

I went to the field to do more testing last weekend and attempted to play with fine tuning on the D4 along with the 200-400f4.

200mm =    0 tuning required regardless of the shooting distance and aperture

300mm =    0 tuning required regardless of the shooting distance and aperture

350mm =   0 tuning required regardless of the shooting distance and aperture

400mm  =  It gets a bit tricky here, was not always consistent. At f4 I was getting better results with the AF tuning at 0, at f5.6 I was getting better results at -5 AF tuning, a few at -10 but it was not consistent. Might have to also do with shooting technique, at the moment I just have a monopod.

In preparation for next boat race I'm not sure neither which would give best results either the AF-C Single Point or AF-C Dynamic 9. Any preference and recommendation ? Thanks

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Wanchese
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Re: Nikon 200-400 f4 testing
In reply to AlexandreH, Jun 26, 2013

Your tests prove one big flaw with the 200-400 for field sports. Too much DOF. I've had the lens for years. It kicks booty for motorsports. But when shooting across field to a player near the opposite sideline, everything and everyone on the sidelines is in focus....and that's at f4. Good luck at f7.1 and beyond.

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RBFresno
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Re: Nikon 200-400 f4 testing
In reply to Wanchese, Jun 26, 2013

Wanchese wrote:

Your tests prove one big flaw with the 200-400 for field sports. Too much DOF. I've had the lens for years. It kicks booty for motorsports. But when shooting across field to a player near the opposite sideline, everything and everyone on the sidelines is in focus....and that's at f4. Good luck at f7.1 and beyond.

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Yep.

It's one of the reasons you still see Photographers on the sidelines using the heavier 400VR (f/2.8) as well as the 600VR lenses despite the higher ISO capabilities of the newer DSLR's.

Also one of the reasons I try to get close enough to some subjects with the 200VR:

Nikon D3 ,Nikkor 200mm f/2G IF-ED AF-S VR
1/2500s f/2.5 at 200.0mm iso400

Nikon D3 ,Nikkor 200mm f/2G IF-ED AF-S VR
1/2000s f/2.2 at 200.0mm iso250

The ability to isolate can sometimes come in handy. wish i had one of these (300 f/2):

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 800 sec, f/2, ISO 6400

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 320 sec, f/2, ISO 6400

(Ref: http://regex.info/blog/2011-07-24/1826)

RB

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frontal_lobe
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Re: Nikon 200-400 f4 testing
In reply to AlexandreH, Jun 27, 2013

AlexandreH wrote:

In preparation for next boat race I'm not sure neither which would give best results either the AF-C Single Point or AF-C Dynamic 9. Any preference and recommendation ? Thanks

I don't use a D4, so can't really comment specifically. FWIW, on the D700 and D300, for fast jets my preference is AF-C, Dynamic, 21 points. But, really you're just going to have to try out various settings and see what works. Good luck, and let us know how it goes!

Anthony.

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AlexandreH
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Re: Nikon 200-400 f4 testing
In reply to frontal_lobe, Jun 28, 2013

frontal_lobe wrote:

AlexandreH wrote:

In preparation for next boat race I'm not sure neither which would give best results either the AF-C Single Point or AF-C Dynamic 9. Any preference and recommendation ? Thanks

I don't use a D4, so can't really comment specifically. FWIW, on the D700 and D300, for fast jets my preference is AF-C, Dynamic, 21 points. But, really you're just going to have to try out various settings and see what works. Good luck, and let us know how it goes!

Anthony.

Thanks Anthony for the feedback, I will give it a try too this weekend and will let you know ! Cheers. Alex H.

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Waterengineer
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Re: Nikon 200-400 f4 testing
In reply to ralphcramdon, Jun 29, 2013

ralphcramdon wrote:

better be sure you like the lens and really need f/4 because the 80-400 is as good and resale on 200-400's is dropping fast

LOL !!  That is a funny post Ralph.  Very funny.

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Photo Pete
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Re: Nikon 200-400 f4 testing
In reply to Waterengineer, Jun 29, 2013

ralphcramdon wrote:

better be sure you like the lens and really need f/4 because the 80-400 is as good and resale on 200-400's is dropping fast

LOL !!  That is a funny post Ralph.  Very funny.

Why funny?
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General Toner
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Re: Nikon 200-400 f4 testing
In reply to Photo Pete, Jun 30, 2013

I just hope the 80-400 doesn't make my 200-400 worthless as I'm happy, even when using 1.4 tc on it (I'm happy with these but I'm sure others will comment as crud).

Full size of heron, along with a video of 3 baby osprey and a parent on flickr (today was all 200-400 with tc1.4 on it). Linked to flickr as can't figure how to add video here.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/generaltoner/9170502743/

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primeshooter
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In reply to AlexandreH, Jun 30, 2013

Hey guys, I finally pulled the trigger on a Nikon 200-400mm f4. I was debating with the 300mm f2.8 but I needed zoom flexibility so I opted in the end for the 200-400 f4.

This was purchased to upgrade my 300 f4 especially for more reach as I mainly shoot in the 300-400mm range for boat racing. There was no boat racing this weekend but I went out to shoot a variety of fixed objects to evaluate the performance of the lens yet. Testing was done with Manfrotto monopod which I usually use for race shooting. No scientific by no means but collected a bunch of information. No AF fine tuning yet.

I tried the lens and my D4 camera as is. AF is quick and precise and hunting is minimal as long as you set it to "6m to infinity"

I did a few test on its own and also against my 300F4afs which is very sharp.

long distance (500 meters-1000 meters)

long distance 300mm @f4 the 200-400 crushes the 300f4 in contrast and sharpness. Amazing difference.

long distance 200-400 at 400 f4 is just a hint better than 300+1.4x at f5.6.

long distance 200-400 at 400 f5.6 is much better than 300+1.4x at f5.6.

long distance 300+1.7x at 6.7 is better than 200-400+1.4x at 400 f6.3 - f8 .

So I'm quite happy with my 200-400 copy performed at really long range as long as you crank at f5.6. Below that is too soft at 400mm. So ideally need to stay prime zoom (no TC) at very long distances and bump to f5.6 for best results. If you MUST shoot at f4 then backup the ring to 360mm or lower and resolution will increase by a lot. 380mm and 400mm are pretty much the same at f4 but 360mm is much much better. If you MUST use 400mm then crank to at least f5.6. f4, f4.5 and f5 are too soft.

I was surprised by how much better the 200-400 (at 300mm f4) is better than my 300mm f4 prime.

Approx 100 meters test:

medium distance 300mm @f4 vs the 200-400 at 300mm at f4 the 200-400 is better

medium distance 200-400 at 400 f4 is just a bit better than 300+1.4x at f5.6

medium distance 200-400 at 400 f5.6 is much better than to 300+1.4x at f5.6

medium distance 200-400+1.4x at 400 f5.6 is much better than 300+1.7x at f6.7

medium distance 200-400 at 400+1.4x f5.6 is much better than 300+1.7x at f6.7

Glad to see here that it does accept the 1.4x quite well at that distance. The details loss is not too bad. Resulsts are very good at f7.1 and f8.

As expected, the 1.4 and 1.7 are better on the 300mm f4 compared to the 200-400. The 200-400 works well only with the 1.4x within the 100 meters range even wide open but improves nicely at f7.1 and f8.

I tried the 1.7x with the 200-400 and the results were catastrophic no matter the range and the aperture I dont think I will keep it. I dont plan neither to buy the TC20EIII altough apparently better than tc17 with the 200-400. 550mm with the 1.4x is sufficient for my current needs.

Conclusions:

The 300mm f4 works really well with 1.4x at wide open. Works decently with 1.7x. The 200-400 without TC smokes the 300mm f4 prime.

Additional testing on the 200-400 (not compared to 300f4):

short distance (10m): 400mm is sharp even at f4

medium distance (50m): 400mm is a bit soft at f4 and f4.5. f5 is excellent and f5.6 is tack sharp

long distance (100m-300m): 400mm is a bit soft at f4 and f4.5. f5 is excellent and f5.6 is tack sharp

Longer than that you need a minimum of f5.6 at 400mm. If you use a 1.4x you either crank to f7.1 or f8 or you backup the zoom to 350-360mm

(equals 490-500mm) then you can shoot at f5.6 which is actually sharper than 400mm (equals 550mm) even at f8.

With the 200-400 with no TC at medium range approx 100meters (330ft)

300mm tack sharp at f4

330mm tack sharp at f4

350mm f4 excellent --- 50% crop is tack sharp

380mm f4 very good --- 50% crop is tack sharp

400mm f4 a tad soft but still good. Tack sharp at 5.6

Within 100 meters:

200-400 with 1.4x is very good if you set it to 350mm x 1.4 = 500mm at f5.6 (wide open)

200-400 with 1.4x is pretty good if you set it to 400m x 1.4 = 550mm at f8

200-400 with 1.4x is pretty good if you set it to 400m x 1.4 = 550mm at f7.1

200-400 with 1.4x is decent if you set it to 400m x 1.4 = 550mm at f5.6 or 6.3

So all in all it's an excellent lense as long as you accept and work with the compromises of the zoom design. Stellar performance wide open up to about 360mm. Try to avoid TCs and either increase the f stop to 5.6 and above or if you need f4 then backup the zoom a bit to 350-360mm. Will bring you excellent results. If you must use the 1.4x then set the f stop to 7.1 or 8 for better results and try to stay within the 100 meters range. For longer range and faster speed of f5.6 then back the zoom to 350-360mm and should achieve good results. Looking forward to try the lens at races, medium distance wildlife, football, baseball.

hope this will help folks decide if this lens would suit their needs or not. Cheers !

Could not bring myself to read all that. Lets see photos...
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Waterengineer
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Re: Nikon 200-400 f4 testing
In reply to Photo Pete, Jul 1, 2013

Photo Pete wrote:

ralphcramdon wrote:

better be sure you like the lens and really need f/4 because the 80-400 is as good and resale on 200-400's is dropping fast

LOL !! That is a funny post Ralph. Very funny.

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PP:

Comparing the 200-400 with the 80-400 is not a reasonable comparison.  The 200-400 is a pro style lens and the 80-400, well.......why would anyone want one?

Also, the statement about the dropping prices of the 200-400 is pretty laughable.

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AlexandreH
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Re: Nikon 200-400 f4 testing
In reply to Waterengineer, Jul 1, 2013

Finally back from first weekend of boat racing since I bought the 200-400... amazing amazing amazing. Besides pan shots I had a keeper rate of about 95%. Very sharp and precise and I'm so happy I went with the 200-400 because I found myself shooting anywhere from 250mm to 400mm the entire weekend. I did not have to use my 1.4x. Shooting was mostly in the 250-350mm range.

Here are a few shots, Nikon D4, shooting JPEG Large Basic, Standard +1 sharpening +1 saturation.

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General Toner
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Re: Nikon 200-400 f4 testing
In reply to AlexandreH, Jul 1, 2013

Love the images (and the lense).  The first one or two with panning just give such a sense of speed.  Very nicely done, makes me want to go try shooting them.

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archrich
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Re: Nikon 200-400 f4 testing
In reply to AlexandreH, Jul 2, 2013

Alexandre,

these are excellent. Your photos make me want to get out and photograph some air shows with my 200-400mm.

Thanks for posting these.

Archie

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AlexandreH
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Re: Nikon 200-400 f4 testing
In reply to archrich, Jul 2, 2013

thanks guys, my pleasure ! makes me want to find more things to shoot, will try to find airshows in my area Cheers

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frontal_lobe
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Re: Nikon 200-400 f4 testing
In reply to AlexandreH, Jul 2, 2013

Hi Alexandre,

Thanks for sharing these. They're really good. Great to see such skilful panning. You'll get great use out of that lens.

All the best,

Anthony.

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monographix
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Re: Nikon 200-400 f4 testing
In reply to AlexandreH, 9 months ago

[ disregard post, just trying to add this thread to my filing in a visible way since the Dpreview forum archiving system keeps being that disfunctional - i have it bookmarked and subscribed, but ofcourse theres no subscriptions list, (as one would find in any other forum CP) and is not visible in my bookmarks either for some reason : maybe burried somewhere in the no other options time ordering system of dpreview forum bookmarks ]

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Re: Nikon 200-400 f4 testing
In reply to Ian Stuart Forsyth, 9 months ago

How you micro adjust focus for long distances ? (~50-150m)

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monographix
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Re: Nikon 200-400 f4 testing
In reply to AlexandreH, 4 months ago

What is your experience out there with the 200-400 and the 1.4 on, with action photography, motorsports and aviation particularly ?

I need a quality reach of around 600mm, but cannot afford the 500/600 primes and i am also hesitant of giving up the zoom versatility in the subject that interests me as motorsports and aviation.

I am satisfied up to 400mm with my current sigma 120-400, shooting anyways almost always @ f/8, i wonder if a 200-400 with the 1.4 TC on will perform equally in terms of AF accuracy & speed, and sharpness (at 560mm f/8 and 50-150m distances)

Thank you

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stevef1961
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Re: Nikon 200-400 f4 testing
In reply to Waterengineer, 4 months ago

PP:

Comparing the 200-400 with the 80-400 is not a reasonable comparison. The 200-400 is a pro style lens and the 80-400, well.......why would anyone want one?

Also, the statement about the dropping prices of the 200-400 is pretty laughable.

That's a funny comment.  Let's start with the obvious -

1. You can own close to 3 of them for the price of one 200-400.

2. They are lighter and much easier to walk around with.  Let's see you walk around the city with a  200-400.

3. 80-400 is just as sharp from 200 - 400.

4. They offer a much wider field of view - 80 - 200.

5. Much easier to shoot birds in flight with.

I'd say that about covers some of it.

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