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Topic: Nikkor 80-400mm Focus Speed
Username: ail5901
Posted 2011-08-29 11:30:15 and read 3767 times.

I hear the nikkor 80-400mm is a little slow to focus, and thus not suitable for sports. I am thinking it may still be fast enough to catch good airline shots, though, and the 400mm length on my DX body is quite appealing for the price and my usual spotting location.

Is the focus speed going to kill it, or should I be in good shape?

Topic: RE: Nikkor 80-400mm Focus Speed
Username: ail5901
Posted 2011-08-29 12:06:16 and read 3757 times.

Totally forgot to mention that its competition, for my dollar, is the 70-300mm, which costs a LOT less.

Topic: RE: Nikkor 80-400mm Focus Speed
Username: scbriml
Posted 2011-08-29 12:35:28 and read 3747 times.

Quoting ail5901 (Thread starter):
Is the focus speed going to kill it, or should I be in good shape?

The AF is slow when compared to AF-S Nikon lenses (but then, many are!) If you're shooting airliners on approach or departure, it should be OK most of the time. If you're chasing a fast jet around the sky at an air show, then it will struggle - the slowness of regaining focus will notice.

The lens is more than adequate in good light, but in poorer light it can struggle to produce reliable results.

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Topic: RE: Nikkor 80-400mm Focus Speed
Username: alevik
Posted 2011-08-29 17:49:20 and read 3709 times.

I'll throw my support behind this lens for aviation photography. I'd say a good 70-80% of my 1800 images on anet are with this lens. For airplanes that generally travel in a straight, predictable line, it works just fine focus wise. Even in early morning or late evening panning with 1/15 to 1/80 I have no problems with focus.

Topic: RE: Nikkor 80-400mm Focus Speed
Username: n314as
Posted 2011-08-30 16:55:19 and read 3637 times.

You do not need autofocus or vibration control for airliner action shots. Pre focus on the area to shoot then concentrate on panning the plane in that area. The old fashion way manually focusing is the correct way to do these. Autofocus could be tricky and sometimes you will lose your shot. They have a mind of its own. Steady hands and concentration is all you need.

Topic: RE: Nikkor 80-400mm Focus Speed
Username: Derekf
Posted 2011-08-31 02:46:16 and read 3605 times.

Quoting n314as (Reply 4):
Pre focus on the area to shoot then concentrate on panning the plane in that area.

How do you focus on an area of sky that you think the aeroplane might be in?

I used the Nikon 80-400mm at an airshow and had no problems with the autofocus. I don't recall many problems with focus errors on any of the autofocus lenses I use. I got plenty of focus errors in the old days with manual focus though.

Topic: RE: Nikkor 80-400mm Focus Speed
Username: scbriml
Posted 2011-08-31 09:46:16 and read 3569 times.

Quoting Derekf (Reply 5):
I don't recall many problems with focus errors on any of the autofocus lenses I use.

In my experience, the problem is if you're trying to follow a fast jet across the sky and using AF-C mode, if the lens loses it's lock on the plane, it will hunt to regain focus. Given the relatively slow focus performance of the 80-400VR, it can take a relatively long time to regain focus.

Maybe I'm just crap at following F-16s across the sky?   

Topic: RE: Nikkor 80-400mm Focus Speed
Username: antoinepsaila
Posted 2011-08-31 09:53:10 and read 3567 times.

I heard that Nikon are going to announce the upgraded 80 400 at next PMA. Anyone heard something about it cause with AF-S this lens will be a great lens for aviation photography.

Topic: RE: Nikkor 80-400mm Focus Speed
Username: viv
Posted 2011-08-31 11:39:48 and read 3560 times.

Yes, this lens is slow to focus, but it is usable for civil aircraft on approach or departure. There is a switch on the lens barrel that limits focus range. This helps a lot.

I have used the lens at airshows, with generally satisfactory results.

It is not the sharpest lens around, a 300 or 400mm prime will be much sharper.

[Edited 2011-08-31 11:40:10]

Topic: RE: Nikkor 80-400mm Focus Speed
Username: SFO2SVO
Posted 2011-09-06 09:57:10 and read 3337 times.

Quoting viv (Reply 8):
It is not the sharpest lens around, a 300 or 400mm prime will be much sharper.

My 80-400 needs to be at F8 or higher to be sharp at over 250mm.
Otherwise - good lens. Don't really see any affordable alternative.


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