AF-S 300/4 + TC14E vs AIS 400/5.6

Started Oct 19, 2012 | Discussions thread
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marco1974 Senior Member • Posts: 1,705
AF-S 300/4 + TC14E vs AIS 400/5.6

I am ready to spring for a long tele for wildlife, and I was considering which of these two options to go for. MF vs. AF isn't of primary concern to me, given the type of subjects that I intend to shoot (large mammals) and, besides, I have quite some experience with MF lenses already.

I won't consider any of the f/2.8 superteles because of their bulk and weight (and of course cost as well is an issue). What I want is a svelte prime that I can easily carry with me on hikes and use on a monopod.

What I am mostly interested in is getting the best optical quality, hence my narrowing down the choice to these two. Incidentally, Thom Hogan also seems to think that these are in fact the two best "budget" choices for wildlife lenses in the Nikon world (alas, we have no modern 400/5.6 "L" prime like the Canon guys do...)

Of course, the AF-S 300/4 + TC  is readily available new, but then the AIS 400/5.6 is not too hard to find on the used market.

Given this long preamble (but I thought other like-minded photographers interested in this), I was delighted to discover this web page that reports a test specifically comparing these two long lens options:

Most of the text is in Italian, but the images speak for themselves (scroll down mid-page for the comparison shots: "400mm vs. 300mm + TC14E - Centro" and "400mm vs. 300mm + TC14E - Bordi" ("centro" = centre, "bordi" = edges).

It seems like the old 400mm is actually a hair better than the highly regarded 300+TC, while being lighter and more convenient (speaking from the point of view of one who will be using the 300 almost always with the TC attached). Of course, with the 400 you give up AF, and it also can't focus quite as close... but then the build quality and MF 'feel' of the AIS lenses can't be beaten (and that's something I have personally come to hold in high regard).

So, I think that overall I am swayed in the direction of the 400mm prime.



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