The controversy about the Nikon 80-400 (long)

Started Feb 5, 2008 | Discussions thread
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Eduardoo Regular Member • Posts: 432
The controversy about the Nikon 80-400 (long)

In about two months I will finish and publish a book about Ecuiadorian birds. I am not a professional photographer but I have been taking photographs for different reasons almost all my life. Of course I am pretty knowledgeable about Ecuadorian Avifauna.

Eighteen months ago, when this project started I purchased a Nikon 80-400. The rationale was that the low weight will allow me to take the lens where the birds really are, that of course means long walks in the rain forest, paramo, and other such places. I was using a D70 by that time.

Two months later I realized with great sorrow that the pictures taken with this lend did not have the quality needed for publishing. In the forest the light is scarce, so you need maximum aperture and reach at all times. The 80-400 was simply not producing sharp enough pictures wide open at 400mm. Neither VR nor tripod helped much; the photographs were simply lacking sharpness.

So I bought a Nikon 200-400. The change in quality produced the corresponding WOW exclamation. This was one sharp lens! Unfortunately my joy didn’t last, the photographs were great until I let my beloved 200-400 visit the bottom of an Amazonian lake. So back in purchasing mode I went.

My last move was to buy the amazing Nikon 500 AF-S (and the D300). This time the WOW factor was even greater; this lens is something you have to use to believe. It is sharper than the 200-400, and the number of keepers is also greater, which is amazing since my 500 is not the VR version.

So, this is how things worked for me. 80-400 gets a 2, 200-400 gets an 8 and the magnificent 500 AF-S gets the 10.

(I had to re-shoot almost all the birds photographed with the 80-400, fortunately since they were the first, they were also the most common and accessible)

Regards,

Eduardo

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