200-500 and 200-400 moving forward, e.g., Z.

Started Aug 17, 2019 | Discussions thread
owlseye Regular Member • Posts: 234
Re: 200-500 and 200-400 moving forward, e.g., Z.

owlseye wrote:

I own them both, and I think that you have drawn a few incorrect conclusions. For background, I am a wildlife and nature photographer. Much of the wildlife work in my website portfolio and blog were made with the 200-400 VR1 ( http://btleventhal.com )

Accurate Points...

The image quality of the 200-500VR is very good to excellent. Excellence occurs in great light and focal lengths below the 500mm (say 400mm). The AF is very good but not great. The coatings are not Nikon's newest "nano" but they are accurate. The lens his hefty, but it is not robust, nor is it a pro-build lens.

Some misconceptions/inaccuracies...

The 200-400VR is definitely a sharper and more contrasty lens than the 200-400VR when comparing equal focal lengths at equal apertures. The 200-400's focus acuity diminishes when photographing very distant (50 meters +) subjects. This flaw is reduced significantly when I use my lens with a Z6. The 200-400VR is way more robust, has better weather sealing, and a much faster AF motor than the 200-500. Were I to guess which one would last 15 years, I'd pick the 200-400. This is a pro-grade Nikon lens designed for the rigors & bumps that sports photographers experience. While there are sharper lenses on the market (primes in the same range), few are as flexible as the 200-400.

When photographing subjects within 25 meters or so, the lens is prime sharp by f4.5 to f5

Limitations... the 200-400 is long, heavy and front weighted. It is hard to handhold for long periods of time. The 200-500 does not have an internal zoom, so the balance shifts dramatically when zooming. In addition, it takes 360 degrees (plus) to go from 200-500, the 200-400 has a shorter rotation to zoom between extremes. With respect to VR, the 200-500VR is one of the best VR lenses I have used... Excellent, the 200-400mm F/4 you are looking at has VR 1... good for 2 stops on an FX camera and 1 stop on a DX camera. I rarely shoot mine handheld.

Finally, I also have the 500PFE... the 200-500 does not come close to the output I get from my prime @ 500mm... however, it is very useable.

Attached are similar images shot at the same time w/ each lens.

I had a typo in my response "The 200-400VR is definitely a sharper and more contrasty lens than the 200-400VR when comparing equal focal lengths at equal apertures."

I wanted to say that the 200-400VR is sharper and more contrasty than the 200-500VR... this is an important point! Also, if it was not clear... if I had to choose one... (especially if I did not have the 500PFE), I'd choose the 200-400. The only time I choose the 200-500 over the 200-400 is when weight is the limiting factor. When shooting from a kayak handheld, I use the 200-500, when shooting from land, from the car, and from a tripod, I'll choose the 200-400VR.



-- hide signature --


 owlseye's gear list:owlseye's gear list
Nikon D500 Nikon 500mm F5.6E PF Nikon Z7 Nikon Z6 Nikon Z6 II +5 more
Post (hide subjects) Posted by
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow