Nikon 200-500mm AF-S F5.6 V 300mm F4/D AF-S Prime

Started 3 months ago | Discussions
stonesfan Regular Member • Posts: 302
Nikon 200-500mm AF-S F5.6 V 300mm F4/D AF-S Prime

Pondering selling my 300mm F4/D AF-S prime as it doesn't get much use these days. A decent, sharp lens which can still just about hold its own against the latest kit. Wouldn't mind something a bit longer with zoom so the 200-500mm F5.6 is a logical choice.

Has anyone owned the two?

How do they compare for overall sharpness and focus speed? Obviously I'm sacrificing an F stop but if its sharp and accurate then I'm interested.

To use on a D7500.

 stonesfan's gear list:stonesfan's gear list
Nikon D7500 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-S Nikkor 70-200mm F4G ED VR
Nikon D7500
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PHXAZCRAIG
PHXAZCRAIG Forum Pro • Posts: 17,272
Re: Nikon 200-500mm AF-S F5.6 V 300mm F4/D AF-S Prime
3

I have both and have used both a lot. The 300F4 usually with a TC-14E II teleconverter.

Autofocus speed: The 300f4 is leisurely, and I think the 200-500 is a bit faster. The 200-500 is a pretty average lens for autofocus speed, but the 300F4 is slower than most.

IQ: The bare 300f4 is really good, as is the central area of the 200-500. If you shoot FX and don't crop, you'll definitely see differences in sharpness between the two lenses. The 300 + 1.4TC is a bit less sharp, and it should be stopped down a stop for best results, and the 200-500 doesn't really need to be stopped down. However, both are still really good wide open.

VR: This really separates the two lenses. I've carried around both at the same time, often with one attached to a D8xx and the other attached to a V1/V2. The 300+TC really needs to be used on a good tripod since it has no VR. The 200-500 has such good VR that it can easily be shot handheld,

Size: The 200-500 seems to be on the far side of what lenses you can carry easily - carry in your hands with bent arms ready to shoot. It's heavy enough that you quickly tend to carry the lens with your arms not bent, usually carrying it from the tripod foot. The 300F4 itself, particularly with the TC attached, is a fairly long lens for the diameter, and that sometimes makes it hard to pack. The 200-500 is, of course, pretty big to pack.

I don't have a direct comparison between 200-500 and 300F4, but I did compare it with an 80-400g and I've compared the 300f4 to the 80-400g as well, so you might do an indirect comparison here: https://www.cjcphoto.net/lenstests/index.html

The old 300 is a quality prime with excellent coverage across the frame.  Sharpness-wise, the zoom comes close to or matches it at 420mm (lens + TC), but only in the DX area.

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Phoenix Arizona Craig
www.cjcphoto.net
"I miss the days when I was nostalgic."

 PHXAZCRAIG's gear list:PHXAZCRAIG's gear list
Nikon D80 Nikon D200 Nikon D300 Nikon D700 Nikon 1 V1 +37 more
rsjoberg Contributing Member • Posts: 566
Re: Nikon 200-500mm AF-S F5.6 V 300mm F4/D AF-S Prime

The VR in the 200-500 carries the day for me. I had a 300 f4 and found it to be really sharp but not that easy to get the sharpness out of it handheld, so I sold it. Time went by and when the 200-500 came out I bought one. The VR is really good as are the optics even with a 1.4 teleconverter.

It's big to carry around so I have a Black Rapid carry strap that attaches to the foot. Attached to the foot I also have a Kirk adapter.

 rsjoberg's gear list:rsjoberg's gear list
Nikon Coolpix A Nikon D7200 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G Nikon AF DX Fisheye-Nikkor 10.5mm f/2.8G ED +5 more
StefanSC Regular Member • Posts: 297
Thought about trading my 300 f4D for a 200-500...

About 3 years ago thought about doing that so I borrowed a 200-500 mm from a store.

A very nice lens, the 200-500, but I found the following (on the D810):

The 300mm at f4 was clearly sharper than the 200-500 wide open at 300mm and above. I would go so far to say that I would get better images from 300mm cropped than the 200-500mm at 400mm.

The 300mm + TC14II was pretty much on par compared to the 200-500 @ f5.6 and 400 and 500mm.

The AF speeds were pretty similar, with the 300mm without TC being perhaps a smidge faster.

Under the 20m distance to subject the framing differences between them were quite small (the zoom’s 500mm is something more like 460mm).

Also, the 300mm + TC 14II was about half a stop brighter than the 500mm at 400mm f5.6.

Taking all that into consideration, I chose to keep the 300m f4 instead of the 200-500mm f5.6.
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I hold the truth... A very specific, based on my experience and only relevant to me truth, but the truth nonetheless!

 StefanSC's gear list:StefanSC's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 Nikon D810 Nikon D500 Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4D ED-IF +13 more
OP stonesfan Regular Member • Posts: 302
Re: Thought about trading my 300 f4D for a 200-500...

Good advice here.

Maybe a 1.4 Teleconverter is the way forward for me. Will give it that extra reach for a bit of birding etc.

Might send this lens in for a service too as its certainly been well used. Is it still covered by paid for NIkon service?

Service plus TC half the price of a 200-500 so it makes sense.

 stonesfan's gear list:stonesfan's gear list
Nikon D7500 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-S Nikkor 70-200mm F4G ED VR
FreeLB
FreeLB Contributing Member • Posts: 890
Re: Nikon 200-500mm AF-S F5.6 V 300mm F4/D AF-S Prime

I have owned both, and I think you'll gain more usability with the 2-500. Its VR is outstanding, and inherently, you have the benefits of zoom range/more focal length. IQ - the 300mm is better, but the 2-500 is no slouch. I didn't do well with the 300mm because my hand-holding technique was not good (I later got a 300 PF). The weight of the 2-500 is noticeably heavier, but the weight is well distributed. I don't recall the focus speed of my old 300mm F4, but I know my 300mm PF is quicker than my 2-500.  I think the 2-500 lens gives us much more flexibility and would be worth adding to any wildlife enthusiast's kit.

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-Freeman

 FreeLB's gear list:FreeLB's gear list
Nikon D500 Nikon D850 Voigtlander 58mm F1.4 Nokton SL II Nikkor AF-S 300mm f/4E PF ED VR Nikon 200-500mm F5.6E ED VR +2 more
PHXAZCRAIG
PHXAZCRAIG Forum Pro • Posts: 17,272
Re: Thought about trading my 300 f4D for a 200-500...

Adding a 1.4TC to the 300F4 was the only  good way to get 400mm and (good) sharpness from Nikon for under about $4000-8000 (200-400, 300F2.8 + TC, 400F2.8, etc.)   It's a very tried and tested combination.

Back in the day... I bought an 80-400 AF-D in 2009, and I was immediately unimpressed by the sharpness (especially wide open).  I was especially unimpressed by the first VR Nikon released with it.   A buddy came over one day to shoot some owl nests, and I did a side-by-side comparison with his combo (300f4 + Kenko 1.4TC) at all apertures.   That test convinced me that the 300+TC was better than the zoom, but especially wide open, and I had to shoot the zoom at F9.    Just going from F9 to F5.6 and getting equivalent sharpness was enough improvement to justify me getting my own 300f4 + (Nikon) 1.4TC.  I then did another side-by-side comparison against the older 80-400AF-D.

That was a comparison between an excellent 300f4 and a mediocre zoom.   I later did the same comparisons against the 80-400g, and that zoom was able to stack up to the 300+TC wide open, though the difference was getting pretty close.   The difference to the 200-500 is even closer, and the 200-500 will win almost any handheld comparison at lower shutter speeds due to VR.

If you use the 300+TC on a tripod, you will be pleased with the results.   You will also become familiar with the weaknesses of the combo, which are generally having to use the combo on a tripod, and slower autofocus from adding the TC.    Birds in flight can be a struggle here - you'll feel the loss of AF speed.

Optically though?   Should be as good as the newer 300PF and TC 1.4E-III, without some of the backlit issues affecting PF designs.

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Phoenix Arizona Craig
www.cjcphoto.net
"I miss the days when I was nostalgic."

 PHXAZCRAIG's gear list:PHXAZCRAIG's gear list
Nikon D80 Nikon D200 Nikon D300 Nikon D700 Nikon 1 V1 +37 more
ARClark
ARClark Veteran Member • Posts: 4,120
Re: Nikon 200-500mm AF-S F5.6 V 300mm F4/D AF-S Prime

Have owned and shot a lot with both. Both are excellent lenses in their own right but offer very different features and shooting experiences while covering similar focal lengths with TCs for the 300.

The 300D was my first birding lens, moving up from a 70-200. I found it large, heavy and not very fast, but it offered excellent IQ and took both the TC-14E and 17E very well, extending its reach to 500mm. It was good for stationary birds but not so much for BIF. In addition to birding, I learned that its short minimum focus distance, combined with TCs, made it excellent for closeups of flowers, insects hummingbirds, etc. Its main shortcoming for me was lack of VR, so it was frequently tethered to a tripod. I eventually replaced it with the 300E for the VR and weight savings, and I got longer lenses for birding. But I found it to be a really solid and reliable lens with excellent IQ.

The 200-500, like the 300E, is a general purpose niche lens for me that I sometimes use on nature walks when I want to shoot both closeups and birds. I have longer faster primes for birds, but their minimum focus distances start at 10’ while the 200-500’s is about 7’. Also, it’s VR is outstanding - I’ve never used it with a tripod. I’ve found it to have excellent center sharpness wide open, and while AF is a little slow, I can still shoot BIF. Edge sharpness is not great and it’s large and heavy, though still hand-holdable for me. Finally, it can take a TC14E ii or iii and still autofocus with a D500 or D850, adding to its reach for stationary birds and its effectiveness for closeups.

So the 300D is smaller and lighter, and greater reach can be effectively gained through TCs. Of course it lacks VR, but I found IQ to be excellent. It’s a very versatile lens owing to it’s short minimum focus distance and ability to add TCs, though TC changes are less convenient than zooming.

The 200-500 offers better reach, easy zoom flexibility and outstanding VR. Center sharpness is also excellent but softer in the edges. It’s just relatively big and heavy.

IMO, IQ between the two, other than edge sharpness, is not the major deciding factor with size, weight, cost, handling, VR and zoom being of greater import.

Alan

 ARClark's gear list:ARClark's gear list
Nikon 500mm F5.6E PF Nikon D850 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 105mm F2.8G IF-ED VR +14 more
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