Between 300mm f4, 70-200mm f2.8 and 80-400mm which one would you choose and why?

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Dibyendu Majumdar Contributing Member • Posts: 766
Between 300mm f4, 70-200mm f2.8 and 80-400mm which one would you choose and why?
1

I am thinking of:

  • 300mm f4 PF.
  • 70-200mm f2.8 FL.
  • 80-400mm f4.5-5.6 AFS.

The 300mm attracts due to size.

The 80-400mm because of the range.

The 70-200mm because it is fast.

lokatz
lokatz Senior Member • Posts: 1,932
Re: Between 300mm f4, 70-200mm f2.8 and 80-400mm which one would you choose and why?
11

Those are really quite different animals, so the most important question is: what do you plan to shoot with it?

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PHXAZCRAIG
PHXAZCRAIG Forum Pro • Posts: 16,835
Re: Between 300mm f4, 70-200mm f2.8 and 80-400mm which one would you choose and why?
2

Dibyendu Majumdar wrote:

I am thinking of:

  • 300mm f4 PF.
  • 70-200mm f2.8 FL.
  • 80-400mm f4.5-5.6 AFS.

The 300mm attracts due to size.

The 80-400mm because of the range.

The 70-200mm because it is fast.

The last one is easy.  I'd only using it for an event lens.   Especially indoors where F2.8 is useful or outdoors with people and sports.   I've found it to be a very good focal range on FX for shooting people in general where you have enough room to frame the whole body.  It's too short for wildlife, too long for many indoor scenarios though.

I have one, and it's one of my least-used lenses.  I sometimes use it at the Renaissance Faire, but when I do I miss the 80-400g for the birds of prey show.

80-400 - I used the 80-400AF-D for years, wishing for a better lens.  The 80-400g was an answer to that prayer.   Its weakest point is 400mm performance, so it's not the lens you want to pick if you plan to use it as a cheaper 400mm prime.   The 200-500 is a better lens for that and much cheaper.  However, if you use the lens over the whole range, it's an excellent lens, with a fast zoom and autofocus coupled with effective VR.  I use mine as a travel lens, along with 16-35 and 24-70, and it's the reason I rarely use my 70-200.   The focal range is addictive.

300PF.   I don't have a use for this lens, nice and small though it is.  I have the 300F4, and I rarely use it without a teleconverter because it's too short for wildlife.   That said, if my choice was 300pf and tc or 300f4 and tc, the PF combo has got to be significantly shorter to pack, not to mention has VR.   I'm still looking for a 500PF myself.

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labalaba Contributing Member • Posts: 867
Re: Between 300mm f4, 70-200mm f2.8 and 80-400mm which one would you choose and why?

I'd choose according to focal length requirements.

briantilley
briantilley Veteran Member • Posts: 5,039
Re: Between 300mm f4, 70-200mm f2.8 and 80-400mm which one would you choose and why?

Dibyendu Majumdar wrote:

I am thinking of:

  • 300mm f4 PF.
  • 70-200mm f2.8 FL.
  • 80-400mm f4.5-5.6 AFS.

The 300mm attracts due to size.

The 80-400mm because of the range.

The 70-200mm because it is fast.

Your question is impossible to answer unless you give us some idea of what kind of subjects you would be using the lens for.

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Michael Benveniste
Michael Benveniste Veteran Member • Posts: 5,274
Re: Between 300mm f4, 70-200mm f2.8 and 80-400mm which one would you choose and why?

Dibyendu Majumdar wrote:

I am thinking of:

  • 300mm f4 PF.
  • 70-200mm f2.8 FL.
  • 80-400mm f4.5-5.6 AFS.

The 300mm attracts due to size.

Cool.  But can you make a 300mm prime work for what you're trying to do?

The 80-400mm because of the range.

Cool.  But how often will you need to restrict DOF or lose shots to too slow a shutter speed?

The 70-200mm because it is fast.

Cool.  But will a 200mm lens give you the reach you need?

So it's all good, unless you buy a lens which doesn't fit your needs.  And only you can figure out what those needs are.  I own a 70-200mm VR-II, a pre-D 300mm f/4, and a Sigma 100-400mm f/5~6.3.  Given my own uses and history, if I could only keep one it would be the 70-200mm f/2.8, but that doesn't mean it's right for you.

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Parry Johnson
Parry Johnson Senior Member • Posts: 1,812
Re: Between 300mm f4, 70-200mm f2.8 and 80-400mm which one would you choose and why?

Dibyendu Majumdar wrote:

I am thinking of:

  • 300mm f4 PF.
  • 70-200mm f2.8 FL.
  • 80-400mm f4.5-5.6 AFS.

The 300mm attracts due to size.

The 80-400mm because of the range.

The 70-200mm because it is fast.

The 70-200 VR2 is probably my most-used lens aside from the 24-70G.  FX quality is top-notch at all focal lengths.  On a DX body, it gives you all the advantages of 300mm with excellent sharpness and AF speed, plus the extra convenience of the shorter range.  I'm also not afraid to use the 1.3X (2X FX equivalent) crop mode, or adapted to a Nikon 1 camera for 2.7X crop.  In other words, if you're okay with some adaptibility, it performs in many different situations.

Yes, the 300 PF should be sharper, but it's just as expensive and won't work with all bodies.  (Neither will the 70-200 E, and the VR2 version doesn't have an aperture ring -- something I miss with my previous 80-200.)

However...

I'm not a big wildlife or sports photographer, so if that's your primary goal I'll echo the nod to the 200-500 or a Sigma/Tamron in that range.   My really old Tamron Adaptall 200-500 f5.6 still works well for the odd situation when I need plenty of reach, and again with crop cameras.

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OP Dibyendu Majumdar Contributing Member • Posts: 766
Re: Between 300mm f4, 70-200mm f2.8 and 80-400mm which one would you choose and why?

Parry Johnson wrote:

Dibyendu Majumdar wrote:

I am thinking of:

  • 300mm f4 PF.
  • 70-200mm f2.8 FL.
  • 80-400mm f4.5-5.6 AFS.

The 300mm attracts due to size.

The 80-400mm because of the range.

The 70-200mm because it is fast.

The 70-200 VR2 is probably my most-used lens aside from the 24-70G. FX quality is top-notch at all focal lengths. On a DX body, it gives you all the advantages of 300mm with excellent sharpness and AF speed, plus the extra convenience of the shorter range. I'm also not afraid to use the 1.3X (2X FX equivalent) crop mode, or adapted to a Nikon 1 camera for 2.7X crop. In other words, if you're okay with some adaptibility, it performs in many different situations.

Yes, the 300 PF should be sharper, but it's just as expensive and won't work with all bodies. (Neither will the 70-200 E, and the VR2 version doesn't have an aperture ring -- something I miss with my previous 80-200.)

However...

I'm not a big wildlife or sports photographer, so if that's your primary goal I'll echo the nod to the 200-500 or a Sigma/Tamron in that range. My really old Tamron Adaptall 200-500 f5.6 still works well for the odd situation when I need plenty of reach, and again with crop cameras.

I wanted the longest possible focal length without it being too big a lens. Because I know I would never take it with me if its too big. Ideally a modern 400 f5.6.

Price is a constraint too. All three I mention are within the budget so to speak.

As for type of photography - not wildlife or sports - but general photography.

Obviously zoom is preferable. Initially I was planning on the 80-400mm but I am undecided now because of reviews saying its performance at 400mm is weakest.

briantilley
briantilley Veteran Member • Posts: 5,039
Re: Between 300mm f4, 70-200mm f2.8 and 80-400mm which one would you choose and why?
5

Dibyendu Majumdar wrote:

Parry Johnson wrote:

Dibyendu Majumdar wrote:

I am thinking of:

  • 300mm f4 PF.
  • 70-200mm f2.8 FL.
  • 80-400mm f4.5-5.6 AFS.

The 300mm attracts due to size.

The 80-400mm because of the range.

The 70-200mm because it is fast.

The 70-200 VR2 is probably my most-used lens aside from the 24-70G. FX quality is top-notch at all focal lengths. On a DX body, it gives you all the advantages of 300mm with excellent sharpness and AF speed, plus the extra convenience of the shorter range. I'm also not afraid to use the 1.3X (2X FX equivalent) crop mode, or adapted to a Nikon 1 camera for 2.7X crop. In other words, if you're okay with some adaptibility, it performs in many different situations.

Yes, the 300 PF should be sharper, but it's just as expensive and won't work with all bodies. (Neither will the 70-200 E, and the VR2 version doesn't have an aperture ring -- something I miss with my previous 80-200.)

However...

I'm not a big wildlife or sports photographer, so if that's your primary goal I'll echo the nod to the 200-500 or a Sigma/Tamron in that range. My really old Tamron Adaptall 200-500 f5.6 still works well for the odd situation when I need plenty of reach, and again with crop cameras.

I wanted the longest possible focal length without it being too big a lens. Because I know I would never take it with me if its too big. Ideally a modern 400 f5.6.

Price is a constraint too. All three I mention are within the budget so to speak.

As for type of photography - not wildlife or sports - but general photography.

Obviously zoom is preferable. Initially I was planning on the 80-400mm but I am undecided now because of reviews saying its performance at 400mm is weakest.

If you don't need a fast lens for sports, wildlife or low light, for "general photography", I would consider the AF-P 70-300mm f.4.5-5.6E VR.  It's smaller and lighter (and much cheaper) than any of the lenses you mention, and produces nice images.

 briantilley's gear list:briantilley's gear list
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Parry Johnson
Parry Johnson Senior Member • Posts: 1,812
Re: Between 300mm f4, 70-200mm f2.8 and 80-400mm which one would you choose and why?

briantilley wrote:

I wanted the longest possible focal length without it being too big a lens. Because I know I would never take it with me if its too big. Ideally a modern 400 f5.6.

Price is a constraint too. All three I mention are within the budget so to speak.

As for type of photography - not wildlife or sports - but general photography.

Obviously zoom is preferable. Initially I was planning on the 80-400mm but I am undecided now because of reviews saying its performance at 400mm is weakest.

If you don't need a fast lens for sports, wildlife or low light, for "general photography", I would consider the AF-P 70-300mm f.4.5-5.6E VR. It's smaller and lighter (and much cheaper) than any of the lenses you mention, and produces nice images.

That's a pretty good idea.  I've heard some good reports about the FX and DX versions (depending on what you shoot with).  My only concern is that teleconverters might not work so well (especially on the DX version) as you'd lose quite a bit of light.  That's where the 70-200 f2.8 could help.

If you need good reach, and want to keep at a reasonable price point, the 200-500 VR is still your best option, or even consider one of the new 100-400mm offerings by Sigma or Tamron as smaller, cheaper options.  (Compatibility-wise, the Sigma seems to be better, at least with Z bodies.)

To the OP: You still haven't mentioned the camera you're using, as that also comes into play.

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OP Dibyendu Majumdar Contributing Member • Posts: 766
Re: Between 300mm f4, 70-200mm f2.8 and 80-400mm which one would you choose and why?

briantilley wrote:

If you don't need a fast lens for sports, wildlife or low light, for "general photography", I would consider the AF-P 70-300mm f.4.5-5.6E VR. It's smaller and lighter (and much cheaper) than any of the lenses you mention, and produces nice images.

Its not that I don't need faster lens - I do. But price / size / availability in the longer range is a limiting factor.

I had a 70-300mm  version in the past - like all these zooms it was not great at 300mm and also slow to focus.

I am interested in views of the three lenses I mentioned rather than alternative suggestions.

I am currently leaning toward the 300mm prime.

Regards

OP Dibyendu Majumdar Contributing Member • Posts: 766
Re: Between 300mm f4, 70-200mm f2.8 and 80-400mm which one would you choose and why?

Parry Johnson wrote:

To the OP: You still haven't mentioned the camera you're using, as that also comes into play.

Z6 and D750.

briantilley
briantilley Veteran Member • Posts: 5,039
Re: Between 300mm f4, 70-200mm f2.8 and 80-400mm which one would you choose and why?
1

Dibyendu Majumdar wrote:

briantilley wrote:

If you don't need a fast lens for sports, wildlife or low light, for "general photography", I would consider the AF-P 70-300mm f.4.5-5.6E VR. It's smaller and lighter (and much cheaper) than any of the lenses you mention, and produces nice images.

Its not that I don't need faster lens - I do.

You still haven't said what you need a faster lens for.

But price / size / availability in the longer range is a limiting factor.

I had a 70-300mm version in the past - like all these zooms it was not great at 300mm and also slow to focus.

Neither of those criticisms apply as much to the AF-P VR version as they did to earlier version.

I am interested in views of the three lenses I mentioned rather than alternative suggestions.

OK, put it this way - I don't think any of those three lenses matches the requirements as you have stated them.

I am currently leaning toward the 300mm prime.

That's an excellent lens - I have used mine for larger wildlife, airshows, theatre and events.  But it's not a flexible lens.  For "general photography" in that range I use my AF-P 70-300mm VR.

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OP Dibyendu Majumdar Contributing Member • Posts: 766
Re: Between 300mm f4, 70-200mm f2.8 and 80-400mm which one would you choose and why?

briantilley wrote:

Dibyendu Majumdar wrote:

briantilley wrote:

If you don't need a fast lens for sports, wildlife or low light, for "general photography", I would consider the AF-P 70-300mm f.4.5-5.6E VR. It's smaller and lighter (and much cheaper) than any of the lenses you mention, and produces nice images.

Its not that I don't need faster lens - I do.

You still haven't said what you need a faster lens for.

For the usual reasons, better bokeh, ability to focus in dim light.

But price / size / availability in the longer range is a limiting factor.

I had a 70-300mm version in the past - like all these zooms it was not great at 300mm and also slow to focus.

Neither of those criticisms apply as much to the AF-P VR version as they did to earlier version.

I am interested in views of the three lenses I mentioned rather than alternative suggestions.

OK, put it this way - I don't think any of those three lenses matches the requirements as you have stated them.

I am currently leaning toward the 300mm prime.

That's an excellent lens - I have used mine for larger wildlife, airshows, theatre and events. But it's not a flexible lens. For "general photography" in that range I use my AF-P 70-300mm VR.

How about this? Would you post a comparison of images at 300mm of both lenses? Obviously more as a test so same scene etc.

Thanks and Regards

Dibyendu

briantilley
briantilley Veteran Member • Posts: 5,039
Re: Between 300mm f4, 70-200mm f2.8 and 80-400mm which one would you choose and why?

Dibyendu Majumdar wrote:

briantilley wrote:

Dibyendu Majumdar wrote:

briantilley wrote:

If you don't need a fast lens for sports, wildlife or low light, for "general photography", I would consider the AF-P 70-300mm f.4.5-5.6E VR. It's smaller and lighter (and much cheaper) than any of the lenses you mention, and produces nice images.

Its not that I don't need faster lens - I do.

You still haven't said what you need a faster lens for.

For the usual reasons, better bokeh, ability to focus in dim light.

But price / size / availability in the longer range is a limiting factor.

I had a 70-300mm version in the past - like all these zooms it was not great at 300mm and also slow to focus.

Neither of those criticisms apply as much to the AF-P VR version as they did to earlier version.

I am interested in views of the three lenses I mentioned rather than alternative suggestions.

OK, put it this way - I don't think any of those three lenses matches the requirements as you have stated them.

I am currently leaning toward the 300mm prime.

That's an excellent lens - I have used mine for larger wildlife, airshows, theatre and events. But it's not a flexible lens. For "general photography" in that range I use my AF-P 70-300mm VR.

How about this? Would you post a comparison of images at 300mm of both lenses? Obviously more as a test so same scene etc.

Here you go - posted without comment. Both images taken with a Z7 at 300mm, hand-held with VR (and in-body VR) on Aperture priority at f/6.3 (the difference in brightness is because the camera chose a slightly different shutter speed for the two shots).  No processing other than re-sizing in PS.

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OP Dibyendu Majumdar Contributing Member • Posts: 766
Re: Between 300mm f4, 70-200mm f2.8 and 80-400mm which one would you choose and why?

briantilley wrote:

How about this? Would you post a comparison of images at 300mm of both lenses? Obviously more as a test so same scene etc.

Here you go - posted without comment. Both images taken with a Z7 at 300mm, hand-held with VR (and in-body VR) on Aperture priority at f/6.3 (the difference in brightness is because the camera chose a slightly different shutter speed for the two shots). No processing other than re-sizing in PS.

Thank you, but I am afraid those two images don't tell me what the difference is between the two, perhaps that is what you intended?

Regards

briantilley
briantilley Veteran Member • Posts: 5,039
Re: Between 300mm f4, 70-200mm f2.8 and 80-400mm which one would you choose and why?

Dibyendu Majumdar wrote:

briantilley wrote:

How about this? Would you post a comparison of images at 300mm of both lenses? Obviously more as a test so same scene etc.

Here you go - posted without comment. Both images taken with a Z7 at 300mm, hand-held with VR (and in-body VR) on Aperture priority at f/6.3 (the difference in brightness is because the camera chose a slightly different shutter speed for the two shots). No processing other than re-sizing in PS.

Thank you, but I am afraid those two images don't tell me what the difference is between the two, perhaps that is what you intended?

What sort of images were you looking for?

I'm out of this thread. I was trying to help by giving honest opinions, but you don't seem to want to be helped.

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OP Dibyendu Majumdar Contributing Member • Posts: 766
Re: Between 300mm f4, 70-200mm f2.8 and 80-400mm which one would you choose and why?

briantilley wrote:

Dibyendu Majumdar wrote:

briantilley wrote:

How about this? Would you post a comparison of images at 300mm of both lenses? Obviously more as a test so same scene etc.

Here you go - posted without comment. Both images taken with a Z7 at 300mm, hand-held with VR (and in-body VR) on Aperture priority at f/6.3 (the difference in brightness is because the camera chose a slightly different shutter speed for the two shots). No processing other than re-sizing in PS.

Thank you, but I am afraid those two images don't tell me what the difference is between the two, perhaps that is what you intended?

What sort of images were you looking for?

Well something that highlights differences would be nice. Such as 300mm at f4 and the zoom at 5.6, and a scene with at least some background bokeh. I guess you were trying to show that at f6.3 they are similar in sharpness?  It is more interesting to know how they differ.

I'm out of this thread. I was trying to help by giving honest opinions, but you don't seem to want to be helped.

Well I am certainly intrigued by the 70-300mm, if it is as sharp as the 300mm at f5.6.

Regards

PHXAZCRAIG
PHXAZCRAIG Forum Pro • Posts: 16,835
Re: Between 300mm f4, 70-200mm f2.8 and 80-400mm which one would you choose and why?
2

I wanted the longest possible focal length without it being too big a lens. Because I know I would never take it with me if its too big. Ideally a modern 400 f5.6.

Price is a constraint too. All three I mention are within the budget so to speak.

As for type of photography - not wildlife or sports - but general photography.

Obviously zoom is preferable. Initially I was planning on the 80-400mm but I am undecided now because of reviews saying its performance at 400mm is weakest.

I'm one who says it is the weakest area - however, overall it's pretty strong throughout the focal range, and 400 isn't bad, just not as good as at 300mm. Nor is it as good at 400mm as the 200-500.

That said, here are a bunch of test images I made with the 80-400g at various apertures and ranges. Also some comparisons between the 200-500 and 80-400g back-to-back on my 200-500 lens test page.

http://www.cjcphoto.net/lenstests/index.html

Have a look for yourself to see how 'weak' the 80-400g is, at 400mm.

I can tell you this.  For quite a few years, Nikon shooters have wanted a good consumer zoom to replace the old manual-focus 400F5.6.   We eventually got Nikon's first VR lens, the 80-400AF-D.   I bought one and was immediately confused by the soft shots I was getting.   That lens was indeed SOFT wide open at 400mm, but by F8, it started to sharpen up quite a lot.  (At 300mm the lens was much sharper.  There was a dramatic falloff in sharpness after aroudn 330mm or so, but stopping down brought a lot of that back.)

That lens taught me a lot about long lens technique because I was using it for birding and trying to extract all the feather detail I could.

Eventually I added a 300F4 plus a Nikon TC1.4-EII.  I tested a friend's 300f4 + Kenko TC and found it about as good as the Nikon.  THe prime+TC combo was not only better at f8, it was a little better at F5.6 than the F8-F9 performance of the zoom.

So I shot the prime+TC combo a lot.   Wished for VR.  Wished for shorter physical length.  (Wished for a 500F5.6, which I still can't find available).

Then the 80-400g came along and vastly improved on the 80-400AF-D in every way except one - the old zoom is physically quite a bit smaller for packing.

Compared to the past, and then-current lenses (like the Sigma 50-500), the 80-400g was quite a hit- except the price.   It had a good zoom rate (unlike the 200-500, which is horrible), fast autofocus and VR that actually worked.   It was sharper wide open at 400mm than the old zoom was at any aperture.   It took 77mm filters too (and lens caps).   Compared to the competition, it was not as sharp at 400mm as the Canon 100-400, but then the Canon didn't have 80mm width.

There were a lot of complaints about the cost of the 80-400g, and even more so once the new crop of 150-600 and the 200-500 lenses came out.    Suddenly you had a better 400mm alternative at about half the cost.   Since most people assume an 80-400mm is just a 400mm lens that occasionally sees some other use, the 80-400g started getting panned for 400mm performance.

And there you have it.  It's a good overall lens with competition that outperforms it at one focal length (perhaps some others).   But it still has a lot of advantages, *especially* for general purpose use.

Look, I have a 300F4 prime, and the 70-200F2.8, and the 80-400g (and the 200-500, and planning on a 500pf when I can find one).   I have some primes too (50, 85, 105mm).

Which lens do I use most for general photography?   The 80-400g.   70-200?  Like I said earlier, it's one of my least-used lenses.  I have so many lenses now that all are somewhat specialized.  The 80-400g is a travel lens for me, and a general purpose lens.

I travel with a 3-lens set that fits in a (largish) waist bag.  I only need three lenses to travel the world - 16-35, 24-70vr and 80-400g.   It's quite a flexible combo that I've kept up over the years.  It started in DX with 12-24dx, 24-70 and 80-400AF-D.

Why not 'better' lenses for travel?  Like my 14-24?  Because for me they are not better for travel.  The 14-24 just doesn't fit in the bag.   My 24-120 stays home because the 24-70 is significantly better.  The 70-200 stays home because I find 201-400mm more useful than F2.8-F3.9.    This is my general purpose combo. It used to be better with a 24-70g, because that lens had 77mm size like the other two.   Travel is more about framing than ultimate feather detail.

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"In theory, practice and theory are the same. In practice, they're not."

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threw the lens
threw the lens Senior Member • Posts: 2,760
Re: Between 300mm f4, 70-200mm f2.8 and 80-400mm which one would you choose and why?

If for some reason I had absolutely no idea what I'd be shooting, I'd take a 70-200 2.8 and teleconverters.

The 70-200 lenses are in a highly competitive field and you get a higher quality result for your money. Then you can put a teleconverter on it if you need 280mm or 400mm. I only tolerate the results from a teleconverter stopped down at least a stop, but this way is at least better than turning up to an indoor event with an 80-400 f5.6 ... very silly.

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