psyops
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Nikon 80-400 VR Lens

Sun Nov 20, 2005 2:45 pm

I am considering picking up one of these for use with my D70 for aviation photography.

I have an 80-200 f/2.8D and a 300 f/4, the flexibility of the longer zoom range with the 80-400 is appealing. I am concerned about the quality and max aperature capability.

Anyone have this lens, are you hapy with it? Drawbacks?

Pete
 
jwenting
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RE: Nikon 80-400 VR Lens

Sun Nov 20, 2005 5:26 pm

Don't have it myself but from what I hear people are quite happy about it overall.
Autofocus is reportedly a bit slow but that report comes from people who otherwise use only AF-S lenses, and in contrast to those anything else is slow  Smile
I wish I were flying
 
NIKV69
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RE: Nikon 80-400 VR Lens

Sun Nov 20, 2005 6:43 pm

Buy it! I own both the 80-400VR and the 80-200 2.8. The 200 focuses much faster and I love it but I am learning to use the 400VR and it is a great lens. Here is an example of what you can get with it. Here is something I shot.


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Nicholas A Vollaro



It takes a little getting used to but I am beginning to get comfortable with it and I am getting better shots. Was at JFK today and got some great pics with it from the Costco lot. I would invest in it. Keep us posted!  biggrin 
Hey that guy with the private jet can bail us out! Why? HE CAN AFFORD IT!
 
IngemarE
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RE: Nikon 80-400 VR Lens

Sun Nov 20, 2005 10:55 pm

Sigmas 80-400 is a whole lot better (but still not what I would call a really good lens).
Owned the 80-400VR myself and I wasn't happy with it at all. Also tried some friends 80-400VR's and found them to be equally "bad", so it wasn't just mine that was soft. Tried out Sigmas 80-400 as well and found that it produced better images than the Nikon.

When that's been said, it is a whole lot of millimeters crammed into one lens and it isn't all that heavy, I must say. (Nikon and Sigma both)

Good luck in making a decision!  Wink
In thrust I trust.
 
gocaps16
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RE: Nikon 80-400 VR Lens

Mon Nov 21, 2005 7:30 am

The only drawbacks coming from my D70s using this lense is that it lags the AF focusing. I guess this only happens in colder weather otherwise in the summertime, it focus great.

Kevin
 
jwenting
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RE: Nikon 80-400 VR Lens

Mon Nov 21, 2005 2:44 pm

Kevin, your battery drains faster in cold weather so your camera has less power to move those lens motors.
Take that into consideration in winter, try to keep those batteries warm.
I wish I were flying
 
gocaps16
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RE: Nikon 80-400 VR Lens

Mon Nov 21, 2005 2:50 pm

Quoting Jwenting (Reply 5):
Kevin, your battery drains faster in cold weather so your camera has less power to move those lens motors.
Take that into consideration in winter, try to keep those batteries warm.

That's probably why. I don't have an MB-D70 like I do on my D100. I'll have to get one someday. I went out this afternoon, somewhat chilly and having that problem. I got kinda frustrated so I shot using manual focus on the 80-400 VR. I'll keep that in mind next time. Thanks.

Kevin
 
skidmarks
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RE: Nikon 80-400 VR Lens

Mon Nov 21, 2005 8:34 pm

I have a D70/80-400VR combo and I am quite happy with it. The lens works fine for what I use it for and I wouldn't swap it. My experiences with Sigma lenses havent been good so, although I have tried the Sigma equivilent, on my past usage I would stick to Nikon.

Have fun choosing - it isn't easy Big grin

Andy  old 
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n949wp
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RE: Nikon 80-400 VR Lens

Mon Nov 21, 2005 11:40 pm

Works good enough for me.

Please do note that this lens is not an AF-S lens, which means the AF motor within the SLR body must drive the lens, and not all in-body AF motors are created equal!! No problem with the F5 on which I usually mount that lens, but I'm not sure how it'll fare on the D70.

'949
 
diezel
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RE: Nikon 80-400 VR Lens

Wed Nov 23, 2005 6:42 am

I own both the 80-200/F2.8 and the 300mm/F4. I use them on a D100. I had the 80-400VR but I sold it. Trust me, if you tried the 80-200/F2.8 and the 300mm/F4, you will be disappointed with the 80-400VR. The 80-400 is just less quality and will loose focus quite often. The aperture is OK, never had problems with that and I even got it to work with a kenko 1.4 TC.

I still can't figure out why Nikon decided to build this ideal zoom lens as an AF instead of an AF-S lens.

You could also think about buying the Nikon 1.7 TC, which works fine on the 300mmF4 and will give you 500mm withy perfect quality.

Roel.
Never be afraid of what you like. (Miles Davis)
 
sunilgupta
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RE: Nikon 80-400 VR Lens

Wed Nov 23, 2005 8:00 am

The 80-400VR is not terribly sharp wide open. For some reason the Nikon Digital cameras favor wide aperture and fast speed shutter speed so when you use program mode you will not get very sharp results.

I shoot on aperture priority between 7.1 and 9 depending upon the available light.

Regarding the focus speed: yes, it's not the fastest, but for civil airliners there is no problem. With fast moving military it has problems sometimes

Sunil
 
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clickhappy
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RE: Nikon 80-400 VR Lens

Wed Nov 23, 2005 8:29 am

80-400VR is noisier than a garbage disposal full of broken glass.

Mine is used as a door stop, too many letdowns to be trusted.
 
billsville
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RE: Nikon 80-400 VR Lens

Wed Nov 23, 2005 8:45 am

Its funny, some people say this Lens is a real Dog, but others, including some high hitters on this DB use this lens and get great results.

I'm thinking about this getting this Lens, but I'm terribly confused from all the conflicting points of view from here and other forums.

My other Option is the Nikon 70-200VR with 1.7x or 2x TC. Are there many here shooting with that combination?
 
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Kereru
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RE: Nikon 80-400 VR Lens

Wed Nov 23, 2005 10:00 am

Quoting Billsville (Reply 12):
My other Option is the Nikon 70-200VR with 1.7x or 2x TC. Are there many here shooting with that combination?

Yes quite a few. 70-200 is fine for large airliners but a bit short for smaller aircraft like warbirds and GA aircraft. I haven't tried the 1.7x TC but it is quite soft with the 2x and I try and avoid using it now for the maximum focal length. I am thinking about this 80-400 VR too but Clickhappy is swaying my choice away from it. What is a better Nikon / Sigma alternative?

Cheers,
Colin
Good things take Time.
 
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clickhappy
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RE: Nikon 80-400 VR Lens

Wed Nov 23, 2005 10:30 am

People that think the 80-400VR is a sweet lens don't have much experience with lenses like the 70-200VR or the 80-200 f/2.8.
 
billsville
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RE: Nikon 80-400 VR Lens

Wed Nov 23, 2005 10:31 am

Colin,

I hear that the 1.7 TC is quite good and produces quite good results with minimal picture degradation. I thought the 2.0 TC would be okay as well, but your not the only one to note that the 2.0 TC produces variable results. What stop were you using at the time? There seems to be some variables when the Lens is wide open. Do you get the same results when you stop the lens down? e.g. F8-F9?

I'm really starting to think it all comes down to photographer technique. Experienced photographers seem to be able to get the most out of the 80-400.

I guess you've got to ask if the 70-200 with the 1.7x TC will be enough (119-340) for your needs?
 
psyops
Posts: 319
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RE: Nikon 80-400 VR Lens

Wed Nov 23, 2005 12:07 pm

Wow, lots of great info, thanks gang.

Still a tough choice.

I like the TC option with the 300 f/4

Pete
 
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clickhappy
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RE: Nikon 80-400 VR Lens

Wed Nov 23, 2005 12:33 pm

Experienced photographers seem to be able to get the most out of the 80-400.

Ah, so thats it, I dont know what I am doing!
 
cancidas
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RE: Nikon 80-400 VR Lens

Wed Nov 23, 2005 1:05 pm

i've got the lens and absolutely love the thing. it's the staple lens of the majority of the group of spotters i hang out with.

definately worht the money!!
"...cannot the kingdom of salvation take me home."
 
NIKV69
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RE: Nikon 80-400 VR Lens

Wed Nov 23, 2005 1:42 pm

Quoting Clickhappy (Reply 17):
Experienced photographers seem to be able to get the most out of the 80-400.

Ah, so thats it, I dont know what I am doing!



Quoting Cancidas (Reply 18):
i've got the lens and absolutely love the thing. it's the staple lens of the majority of the group of spotters i hang out with.

Exactly. I have owned it for 7 months and I am just now getting comfortable with it. As stated above if you are good with it your pictures will be good. Art Brett uses this lens and his work speaks for itself.
Hey that guy with the private jet can bail us out! Why? HE CAN AFFORD IT!
 
billsville
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RE: Nikon 80-400 VR Lens

Wed Nov 23, 2005 2:01 pm

Clickhappy,

I didn't mean to insult. Sorry if it came over this way.

I'm just looking at the photographers that use it, and the results they're obtaining. Maybe there hit to miss ratio is high. Who knows, but the results seem to speak for themselves.
 
IngemarE
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RE: Nikon 80-400 VR Lens

Wed Nov 23, 2005 3:49 pm

I too have a few pics in the DB, taken with the 80-400VR.
Problem is, I'm not as happy about how those pictures came out, as I am unhappy about the ones I missed (...and it's those pic's that "stay" with you forever  cry  )! Reasons then mainly being general softness and lack of AF speed.

Look elsewhere, is my tip. I know, from trying it out, that the Sigma 80-400 beats the Nikon 80-400. Picture quality-wise, that is. It still has the same slow AF though.

A good friend of mine recently bought a Sigma 50-500 and from what I've seen so far, it produces great pics. It has high-speed focus too, so no more missed pic's due to slow AF!  thumbsup 
I know A-net photog Rez Manzoori uses a "Bigma", from time to time. So check out his pic's!
In thrust I trust.
 
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Kereru
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RE: Nikon 80-400 VR Lens

Wed Nov 23, 2005 5:19 pm

Quoting Billsville (Reply 15):
What stop were you using at the time? There seems to be some variables when the Lens is wide open. Do you get the same results when you stop the lens down? e.g. F8-F9?

A couple of examples that have been accepted and the originals were in .jpg fine. I now always shoot in raw (.nef).
First one is at 1/250th sec, f16 320mm cropped 1/3 away.

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Colin Hunter



Second one is at 1/400th sec, f13 400mm cropped half away.

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Colin Hunter



This is not so bad when the subject is overhead but when it gets further away like on the runway it is just not big enough in the frame. I have tried both the 80-400mm Nikon (Sam Chui's) and a friend David's 50-500mm Sigma from this position:

MyAviation.net photo:
Click here for bigger photo!
Photo © Colin Hunter



examples:

Sam's 80-400mm Nikon:

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Colin Hunter



David's 50-500mm Sigma:

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Colin Hunter



The Nikon has a larger aperture so a bit better in low light me thinks. The Sigma is cheaper and has a broader focal length range. Any help would be appreciated as the 200-400mm f4 Nikon is definately out due to cost.

Cheers,
Colin
Good things take Time.
 
aagold
Posts: 542
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RE: Nikon 80-400 VR Lens

Thu Nov 24, 2005 4:21 am

I have the 80-400 and love it. For many of the locations I am forced to shoot from it's my primary lens. I would estimate that over 65% of my photos were taken with this lens, particularly those at the NY area airports. The auto focus might be slow compared to some other lenses, but as pointed out earlier for commercial aviation photography it's plenty fast enough. I've also used it for airshow photography successfully so no complaints in that department either.

Royal, months back you told us that your 80-400 was rolling around in the trunk of your car. In this thread you tell us that it's a doorstop. Why do you keep it if you are so dissatisfied with it? I would suspect it might come in handy at times when your access isn't close enough for a shorter focal length. If I had your access I'd probably let my 80-400 be a doorstop too, but I don't.

We've had plenty of visitors come to NY with a max focal length of 200mm (300mm with the digi factor) and they end up not taking pictures from several good locations because the images are too small. For the money I find the quality and performance of the 80-400 to be excellent.

Art
 
redfox
Posts: 170
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RE: Nikon 80-400 VR Lens

Thu Nov 24, 2005 5:04 am

Nikon's 80-400VR is a superb lens. I have been using it for two years, soft it is not. Focus is noisy and slow but as Art rightly says it not a problem probably as most focus as most aviation photography requires focus at or close to infinity. Choice of body and focus mode has a huge effect on acceptability for any screw type AF lens.

The only issue I have/had is a possible failure of VR but sent for service and internal cleaning to Nikon UK, VR was given a clean bill of health.

We have read the good bad and ugly posts about the lens, here is a review from Bjørn Rørslett, a photographer that I respect.

http://www.naturfotograf.com/lens_zoom_03.html#AF80-400VR

And a few of my shots taken with the lens


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Stephen Fox
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Stephen Fox



Stephen Fox
 
AirNikon
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RE: Nikon 80-400 VR Lens

Thu Nov 24, 2005 5:34 am

Thumbs down on the 80-400VR from me too, although for a few different reasons.

When I first started using the 80-400 it was with my F5/N80 when I was still shooting film [ugh]. I thought the lens was a great compliment to my 80-200 f/2.8.

Then doomsday arrived. The lens was a real disappointment when I started using it with my D100 [and later D70]. I got the impression that the AF could not 'keep up' with the speed of the camera[s]. Regarding the AF being noisy? Who gives a shit? You are at an airport and jet engines are MUCH louder!

My major complaint is the stiff zoom ring. I sent it twice to Nikon for warranty repair, and both times it came back with the remark that zoom ring tension was 'within tolerance'. It is nearly impossible to zoom in/out quickly when following fast action, such at an airshow flying display. The lens is to this day still enclosed in the plastic bag as returned from Nikon.

I didn't officially retire the lens until I bought the 70-200VR f/2.8 and later the TC-14 II. The 80-400VR pales in comparison to the 70-200VR when considering sharpness and AF speed. Yeah yeah, it doesn't have the same 'reach', but I can live with that...
Don't get married, don't have kids, and you will have more money than you know what to do with...
 
diezel
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RE: Nikon 80-400 VR Lens

Thu Nov 24, 2005 5:53 am

Quoting AirNikon (Reply 25):
didn't officially retire the lens until I bought the 70-200VR f/2.8 and later the TC-14 II. The 80-400VR pales in comparison to the 70-200VR when considering sharpness and AF speed. Yeah yeah, it doesn't have the same 'reach', but I can live with that...

This sums it up quite well. I had exactly the same feeling.
It's not a bad lens but in (about) the same money region there is better to get.

I kept the lens in my backpack for more than a year but eventually sold it after I noticed I never used it anymore as I had my 300/f4 and 80-200/f2.8 which are (although cheaper!) simply in an another category quality wise.

Roel.
Never be afraid of what you like. (Miles Davis)
 
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clickhappy
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RE: Nikon 80-400 VR Lens

Thu Nov 24, 2005 6:01 am

I never travel with it, it doesnt fit in my bag with 2 bodies, a 70-200, 24-85, and 15-30, plus 1.4 and 2.0 converters. Every now and then, on a sunny day, I will break it out. But you are correct in saying I don't really need the reach that a 400 lens offers, I prefer things to be much closer, if possible. I am sure I will bring it with my when I go to LAX in January, as the extra reach is nice from the hill, and the big mound at VCV.
 
YANQUI67
Posts: 358
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RE: Nikon 80-400 VR Lens

Thu Nov 24, 2005 8:49 am

I just bought the Sigma 80-400mm OS Nikon mount after two months of extensive research. After my research I concluded that the Sigma was better then the Nikkor. Check fredmiranda.com for reviews. Thats what the users of both were saying and also at a cheaper price. If I determine it to be a doorstop I will sell it and save for a Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 HSM lens. Awesome reviews on that lens too.
 
IngemarE
Posts: 281
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RE: Nikon 80-400 VR Lens

Thu Nov 24, 2005 5:08 pm

Quoting Yanqui67 (Reply 28):
If I determine it to be a doorstop I will sell it and save for a Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 HSM lens.

Start saving up man, 'cause that is one sharp and quick lens. Although a bit heavy. But it's worth the effort to carry around!! weightlifter  I recently bought a monopod to put mine on and that saves you a lot of muscle-power during the course of a day!  thumbsup 
In thrust I trust.

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