200-400 VR does not equal prime lens sharpness?

Started Nov 2, 2006 | Discussions thread
RBFresno Forum Pro • Posts: 13,003
Cropped 200-400VR Shot at distance:

All I know is that I still own and like my 200-400VR for a lot of things.

Me too!

I still think it's the best option in the 200-400VR range -- and I don't yearn for the 300VR (though I rarely need f2.8). A lot of folks like the 300 because you can add TC's to it without much of an IQ penalty.

I still prefer the functionality of the zoom for wildlife.

Interestingly , even though 90%+ of my 200-400VR shots are at maximal focal length, sometimes it's great being able to zoom out:

At 400mm, it was a bit hard keeping all the action in the viewfinder. So, even though this is a cropped picture, I likely would've cut off part of the action if I had tried to shoot at 400mm:
Nikon D3 ,Nikkor 200-400mm f/4G ED-IF AF-S VR
1/6400s f/5.6 at 340.0mm iso1600

This was taken on the deck of the local ski area where I had been shooting some skiers off in the distance. It was handy being able to zoom out:
Nikon D3 ,Nikkor 200-400mm f/4G ED-IF AF-S VR
1/160s f/5.6 at 240.0mm iso200

And then, it was nice being able to zoom in a little:
Nikon D3 ,Nikkor 200-400mm f/4G ED-IF AF-S VR
1/2000s f/4.0 at 300.0mm iso200

That said, I don't use the 200-400VR for distance work any more, especially if I have to start cropping heavily or use a TC. I now have a 500VR which is much superior for distance shots. I can crop up to 90% and still get reasonable results -- I couldn't do that with the zoom.

I am also drooling over the 500VR for the same reason, especially since going to FX where the 200-400VR image is less often filling up the viewfinder with distant subjects.

Just to keep things in perspective though, it's not as if the 200-400VR is completely horrible at distance shots. Here's one taken at distance (well, not at infinity) with the TC 1.4, wide open (unnprocessed and uncropped):
Nikon D2h ,Nikkor 200-400mm f/4G ED-IF AF-S VR ,TC 14 E-II
1/1250s f/5.6 at 550.0mm iso200

Cropped and processed:

Best Regards,



 RBFresno's gear list:RBFresno's gear list
Nikon D2H Nikon D4 Nikon D5 Nikon AF DX Fisheye-Nikkor 10.5mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G ED-IF +17 more
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