These lenses really shouldn't be considered as the same price range (even if some searches have yielded those results.) Having said that however, I wouldn't call the 80-400 a professional lens (even though, as above poster mentioned, it fetches professional prices for some reason.)
It will work well in certain situations (ie. perfect situations) but if you want to use it as a tool that is always available for you, regardless of the weather and lighting, or as something you grow to count on every time you pick it up and hit that shutter release button, this is NOT a good lens.
I think a lot of people who might come in here defending this lens aren't familiar with a wide variety of pro AF
-S Nikkor lenses out there.. as this lens is BEYOND slow - to the point where I've missed many shots with it when shooting sports.
On the other hand, since AF
speed and accuracy is a large function of contrast, I could see how this wouldn't be as much of a problem for aviation photography - that will help your accuracy, BUT as I mentioned before it will still be a difficult lens to rely on 100% of the time. For example, if your focus point falls off the subject, this lens will take ALL DAY
to "hunt" and re-acquire the subject - less of a problem when set to "limit" as it won't "hunt" back to min focus distance, but still This has been my experience on a D2hs, D2x, and D200 body (all of which have quick internal AF
motors and good AF
chips.) It might work, but for that kind of $$$, there will be times when you are exceptionally frustrated with it. On the other hand, the 70-200 AF
-S has flawless AF
- acquisition, tracking, speed, reliability, etc (and would be defined as a true pro lens.)
If I were you, I'd try to find a used Nikkor 80-200 2.8 and get a 1.7x teleconverter, as it will still be MUCH faster, offer superior optical performance, and cost almost the same. It'll also be an internal focus and zoom lens (the 70-400 zoom ring is HORRIBLE, sticks when it's at 70, then flies out towards 400.. very inconsistent, it'll tilt your whole camera/screw up framing when zooming out from 70.)
Another option would be to pick up a Sigma 70-200 2.8 HSM (the DG
variant) as this is considered to be one of the best lenses in this range (with the exception of the Canon and Nikkors.) I'd say optical performance is almost as good as those however, but it doesn't feature VR
. This would be a great lens for a teleconverter as well, since you don't have to shell out the extra $$ to get a teleconverter which supports VR
. It'll also be a new lens, which is always nice.