Thom article and the 200-400mm

Started May 20, 2008 | Discussions thread
TonyCT Junior Member • Posts: 26
Re: Another perspective of the 200-400 VR...

Hi Thom,

I think that your perspective is spot on. I own a 200-400mm F4 VR and have not been that impressed when shooting at distance. It delivers IQ at about 75% -90% of the two fixed focal length lenses I have owned.

In terms of the responses and comments re images posted. It is difficult to judge image quality when looking at crops people post on a number of websites and some images are frankly not up to scratch. For example, Robert, neither the adult duck nor the ducklings head are sharply in focus. It should be one or the other.

I sold a 300mmF2.8 AFS lens to get the 200-400mm as I wanted a more versatile travelling lens and quite often have my regrets. There are times that I wish I had the 300mm lens with me because I know that the detail would be better. I also disagree when people say that it is as sharp as the 500mm F4 AFS2 lens. I own both and I love the 500mm F4's image quality and under controlled conditions I have found it to be superior to the 200-400mm VR.

However, having said this I use the 500mmF4 more often in controlled conditions/positions like a hide or car and as a result it is set up for success. The zoom is mainly used on foot where time is of the essence and I am photographing wildlife in the open and as a result technique is sometimes compromised as the subjects are moving, sometimes responding to my movements, I am on my haunches and on slippery surfaces, it could be raining etc etc etc.

However, life is full of compromises and the 200-400mmF4 VR has given me more photo opportunities than I would have had with either of the other lenses when photographing in forests on location. I am toying with the idea of getting rid of it and purchasing a 300mmF2.8 VR but fear that when shooting small skittish subjects close-up, like squirrels, my photo opportunites will reduce without the flexibility of the 200-400mm VR. To sum up and repeat earlier sentiments:

Versatility excellent.
Best zoom in its class.
Good traveller
Images very good at close-focus

Best compromise for general wildlife if you cannot afford more than one telephoto
Well built
Close focusing ability
Great if you are not needing it for large prints

More manageable when shooting wildlife from the confines of a vehicle and the subjects are moving alot and in when photographing herds.

Only downfall - If a fixed focal length lens was fitted at the time that the shutter was depressed image quality would have been better....if that is the subject was the correct distance away from the camera to get the perspective you wanted.

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