300mm f/4 with a 1.4x vs. 80-400mm ???

Started Feb 16, 2014 | Discussions
bbbinohio Contributing Member • Posts: 962
300mm f/4 with a 1.4x vs. 80-400mm ???

I am trying to decide between 300mm f/4 with a 1.4x (420mm) vs. 80-400mm.  I would be interested in hearing anyone's opinion on the IQ of these two setups.


Bob, from Ohio

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bflood Senior Member • Posts: 1,668
Re: 300mm f/4 with a 1.4x vs. 80-400mm ???

You should tell us which 80-400 you are talking about, as it makes a huge difference.

I got the 300/4 and Nikon 1.4x and realized a significant improvement in image quality and in the focus accuracy for moving subjects compared to my 80-400. No doubt about it, the prime lens is better. But that applies to the OLD version of the 80-400.

The new AFS 80-400 has improved glass and autofocus, and the reviews and user comments (I don't have one) rate it as a big jump in performance. So my estimate of the situation is that the real decision between the 300/4+1.4x versus the new 80-400 boils down the difference in cost and the importance/value of zoom versus prime focal length only. But you should solicit the input of people who've owned the new 80-400 and the 300/4.

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Nikon D7000 Nikon D610 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4D ED-IF Nikon AF Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED VR +3 more
evan47 Senior Member • Posts: 1,517
Re: 300mm f/4 with a 1.4x vs. 80-400mm ???

it depends what you use it for. there would be very little difference in sharpness, the 80-400 will have marginally less reach but does benefit from vr.

bear in mind that at distances less than infinity the true focal length is reduced as this lens suffers from noticeable focus "breathing".

the 300f4 af-s/tc14ii will have a much larger image at minimum focus distance as the focus does not "breathe" as you get in closer.

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BWhite Regular Member • Posts: 356
Re: 300mm f/4 with a 1.4x vs. 80-400mm ???

I'd be interested in hearing more, though I'm mainly interested in the comparison of the new 80-400 at 400mm vs the 300mm with the 1.4TC.

I'm very pleased with my copy of the 300mm, but not quite as happy with my Kenko 1.4TC. Might have to get the Nikon TC. A new TC is a lot cheaper than a new 80-400mm lens.

zim4321 Regular Member • Posts: 134
Re: 300mm f/4 with a 1.4x vs. 80-400mm ???

I am seriously thinking of selling my 300 AF-S F4 to help with the purchase of the new 80-400 (which I have a hard time believing is sharper), but I need the flexibility in range to shoot kids sports.  My 300mm is so sharp and I love it, but it is a bit limiting in shooting soccer.

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PHXAZCRAIG Forum Pro • Posts: 14,038
Here are sample pics for you

I've got the old 80-400, the new 80-400 and the 300F4 with 1.4 (Nikon) TC.

I took and posted a bunch of test shots from each, on various cameras over time, including V1, V2, D300, D700 and D800e.

This all started a few years ago when a friend brought over his 300F4 and Kenko 1.4TC. I wanted to find out how they compared on the same camera and subject. So I ran a test, shooting at all apertures, with a decent field test. (Tripod, mirror-up, remote release, etc).

The original comparison showed me that the 300F4 with 1.4TC was better, though not by a tremendous amount when the 80-400AF-D was at F9 or so. But it was better, and better quite a bit wide open. So I bought my own, and a Nikon 1.4 TC. I repeated a similar test, this time with my new 300F4 and TC. (Pics linked below).

When I saw the MTF charts on the new 80-400, I preordered it. When it arrived, I once again tried a comparison test, though this time bit off too much. The old and new 80-400, plus the 300F4 with TC, on V1, D300 and D800e. Even put the 1.4 TC on the 80-400 for a quick test. Those test shots are here:


The other tests can be found here: http://www.cjcphoto.net/lenstests/

Short answer: the new zoom is better.

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AustinTed Contributing Member • Posts: 618
Re: 300mm f/4 with a 1.4x vs. 80-400mm ???

bbbinohio wrote:

I am trying to decide between 300mm f/4 with a 1.4x (420mm) vs. 80-400mm. I would be interested in hearing anyone's opinion on the IQ of these two setups.


Bob, from Ohio

I tried out both.  It really depends on what you plan to use it for.  If it is mainly for birds in flight the 300mm f4 combination will work quite well.  For BIF you'll want every bit of reach of reach you can get and you'll have higher shutter speeds making the lack of VR less of an issue.  I also felt that the look of the 300mm f4 was superior in terms of the bokeh.   There is just something very appealing overall about the images produced by this lens.

For everything else I think the 80-400mm AFS VR is the better choice.  There is just so much more flexibility afforded by the zoom and VR.  The focus is super fast and it is plenty sharp.  Bokeh is good enough.  This is a lens that can have many different uses.

By now there are a many good reviews of the new 80-400m out there that are a good source of information.

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