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Weekly Nikon news flash #208

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Nikon 80-400mm f4.5-5.6G lens review

"... it means if you’re shooting at 40 feet distance the 70-200 VR II and 2x teleconverter will get you a nice usable image, but not as good as you would get with the 80-400 VR II. The old 80-400 AF lens is better in the center than the 70-200 VR II combination, although that’s just right at the center. Less than 1/3 of the distance away from the center, the two are even."

  • Nikon D7100 video review from The Camera Store:

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  • Robert Ash

    It’s not surprising that the 70-200 + tele-extender doesn’t perform as well as the 80-400, actually. slrgear.com testing shows the 70-200 is sharp at the center but softens at the edges. The 2x tele-extender is not made to improve that image quality shortfalls. So a well-design 80-400mm that has better focus from edge to edge should perform better than a 70-200 + extender.

    • http://Flickr.com/inthemist InTheMist

      Though the 70-200 f2.8 VRII with TC20e III is disappointing in my experience, the VRII is an exceptional lens alone.
      Did you read the same review as me?
      “Sharpness
      The previous version of the 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 had been accused of having unacceptably soft corners; based on the sample of the new version of this lens, we can conclude that Nikon has dramatically improved this performance. Perhaps one of the most telling and interesting observations we can make is that the results for sharpness were nearly identical for both the sub-frame D200 and the full-frame D700.”

      • Spy Black

        The faster the lens, the crappier it’s going to be at the edges. If you want sharpness, get a slower lens like the 70-200 f/4.

        • Jer

          Right…..I would like to see results of the 300mm f/4 paired with the 1.4 TC. It would be 420mm f/5.6 equivalent and I would bet pretty sharp on the corners. I know most of you would poo poo it because of no VR. Sure VR would be nice but since it’s not available and the above setup would be in my budget as an affordable 400mm reach, also I grew up on manual focusing so that’s no problem for me.

          • iamlucky13

            I’m sure a VR 300mm F/4 will be coming eventually. It’s quite a sensible package.

            I’m interested in such a lens, but more than a little worried what the price will ultimately be after seeing the 80-400 jump from $1700 to $2700.

      • Robert Ash

        Good point. Yes, the VR II is improved vs the VR I, according to the citation you’re sharing. I meant compared to the 70-300mm zoom. Check out the slrgear.com sharpness graphs for both lenses – up to 200mm the 70-300mm is sharper at the edges of the frame vs the 70-200mm f2.8. So that’s the one I bought. It’s also 1/2 the weight and 1/4 the price :)

    • neonspark

      yes, this results falls exactly as expected. The 70-200 is a good lens but it can’t walk on water.

  • Robert Ash

    Peter, thanks a lot for the pointer to the NEF codec! I just downloaded and installed it, will test it out the next time I reboot my computer. It will be great to be able to view NEF thumbnails in Windows!

  • nikpick

    D4 + 800mm images are disappointing. Not sure of light and distance though.

    • Baac

      it’s low light condition and near sunset, distance about 30 meters

  • Calibrator

    I’d like to see a “D800 for Dummies” – I’ll bet there is a market for it… ;)

  • Neopulse

    Wonder if there’s a typo in the 80-400 review of it having only 4-stop VRII instead of 5-stop VRIII

    • Neil

      Nope. It’s using VRII and not VRIII.

      • Neopulse

        That kind of sucks since I think the 80-400 needs the VRIII more than the 70-200mm. Thanks for clearing that up.

      • MyrddinWilt

        You make it sound as VRIII is a technology rather than a measure of performance. I suspect that the VR technology in the new lens is the very best that Nikon have available for it but does not produce quite the same results in the more compact zoom format as it does in the big primes.

  • neonspark

    off course lens rentals came to the same conclusion myself and others did based on a basic fact of TCs:
    TELECONVERTERS ALWAYS DEGRADE IMAGE QUALITY. This is not an opinion, this is a fact. If you doubt this, then you’ve never used one. Let this be a lesson to all the internet experts which were so quick to dismiss the 80-400.
    Surprised? if so, then you’ve never used one. Any hopes that the 70-200 would match the 80-400VRII was naive at best. Did you honestly think TCs are some kind of magical device and that they get you something without an equal trade off?
    I’ve already proven based on inflation and yen appreciation that the new 80-400VRII is worth the same on release as the original VRII, and now lens rentals has proven that the 70-200 + TC2 is nothing but a big compromise.
    seems the nay-sayers are eating crow for breakfast :) enjoy.

    • xjxjxjxjxjxj

      i am so glad, you told us all of this…

    • iamlucky13

      Whether or not TC’s degrade image quality wasn’t the question.

      High zoom ratio, variable aperture lenses are also a compromise.

      The question was which compromise is the better choice for reaching 400mm?

      • lorenzo
      • neonspark

        I hate to break it to you but the 70-200 ZOOM with a 2XTC is as much of a compromise as it gets :)
        if you want to match the 80-400 and INSIST on going the 2X TC route, your best bet will be the 200mm f/2. never mind the fact it is a 5K+ lens :p
        the bottom line is simple:
        the 80-400 offers the best optical performance for under 3K and does so while beating everyting else in FL versatility and weight. The next cheapest and more portable combination uses the bread and butter 70-200 will deliver inferior results.
        if you want constant aperture, set it to f5.6 or get ready to buy a massive, heavy, and expensive 200-400. The choice is yours, but it doesn’t change the fact the 80-400II will be an all time favorite for the next decade as the best balance between price and image quality in the 400mm lens category.

        • No longer Pablo Ricasso

          The only thing that * might be better than the new zoom is a 300 prime on a 1.4x. But then, that’s not a zoom…

        • iamlucky13

          You’re not breaking anything to me. I’m not at all surprised by this, but until it was tested, it was a legitimate question just how much the 2x TC would degrade the 70-200.

          A lot of people have reason to own the 70-200 F/2.8 on its own merits. Exactly how well it works with the TC’s influences whether they get the 70-200 and the TC’s and rock the 70-200 range, or get the 80-400 and gain a little bit of performance out to 400mm.

  • Can’t Believe It

    Windows and NEFs? For the love of heaven, just buy a Mac. The frustration you’ll eliminate from your workflow will add 5 years to your life.

    • GrumpyGuy

      You could also learn how to use a PC and save enough money to buy new glass.
      I find Macs awfully unergonomic and awkward to use, but I suppose
      that’s just my opinion since so many seem to be ready to sacrifice their
      children’s college money for Apple products.

      • MyrddinWilt

        Pre Jobs, I think you were completely right. The Mac was a terrible platform before OSX. It was unintuitive and obscure but it had a bunch of fanatics who would tell you it was perfect. It had weird zippers on the side of the screen and other rubbish.

        Today I think it is pretty much a wash. Apple is vastly better at doing platform updates in a seamless way because they have a very limited hardware palate to support. If you use something later than XP, both are equivalent on security and pretty much everything else.

        The biggest problem with Windows today is the lazy IT departments that still run Windows XP despite the fact that it has been end of life status for several years now and has numerous security holes that will never ever be patched. XP was never intended to be more than a transitional operating system that would allow people to move from the original MSDOS based Windows with a known broken security model to a usable one. Apple actually made that transition later. Pre OSX the Mac was the less secure platform but nobody bothered to attack it because it had an insignificant market share.

        • Can’t Believe It

          You are correct sir. My only point was that for photographers, Mac is still a little bit less frustrating to use for two reasons. #1 is that the system can almost always see and open RAW photos from whatever camera. #2 is that its almost impossible to lose files the way you can on a PC.

    • lorenzo

      Apple is dieing… no, actually is already dead, look at the stocks today.

      It is the result of no innovation in the last 4 years, they keep making their products a little bigger, a little smaller, with different colors, but actually they are always the same things!

      You better buy a PC :-)

      • Can’t Believe It

        Indeed. Apple is dying; it’s the Kodak of computer companies. But still they make really nice 13- and 15-inch laptops. Powerbooks do cost too much, but you get what you pay for. Very nice keyboard action, accurate trackpads, and they’re very hard to kill. Get a used one off of Craigslist; you won’t regret it.

    • neonspark

      what’s a mac?

    • MyrddinWilt

      I have a Mac right here and I have a PC on the desktop. I have used both for 25 years and right now I can’t see any difference in the ease of use at all. The only significant differences I can see is that Apple makes vastly better laptop hardware than any PC maker does and virtually all the major games are Windows only.

      Photoshop works just the same on both, as does lightroom.

      Mac does not currently make a desktop machine that is appropriate for my needs. I may consider the MacPro when I upgrade later this year but I suspect I am more likely to go with a self-built PC for half the cost of what Apple would charge for my type of configuration if they actually supported it at all.

      I find it really amazing that for about $6000 you can build a PC that has the performance of the third fastest supercomputer in the world just ten years ago and it can run off a standard 120V wall socket.

  • dtse

    Interesting but testing a 400mm telephoto at a max distance of 40ft is hardly definitive…..

    • neonspark

      do you honestly think the results will be different? you’re slapping a 2X TC, which is as brutal on the lens as it gets, and are still hoping you can beat the lens DESIGNED to achieve 400mm. lol. good luck with that.

      • dtse

        no idea , just don’t see point of testing a 400mm lens @ 40ft , I don’t use my 400mm @ 40ft , do you ?

        • No longer Pablo Ricasso

          Try it. I have the first version of the 400 f5.6 and heard many rave things about it. I didn’t know what anyone was talking about until I pointed it at things closer than a football field away.

        • neonspark

          the point is, the result at infinity will likely reach the same conclusion even if the actual test isn’t done at infinity: 70-200 taxed with a 2X TC is just no match for the 80-400.

          • MyrddinWilt

            The results at infinity are almost certainly going to be the same as at 40ft. Except that it is physically impossible to test the lens at infinity…

            40ft is as far as it is reasonable to expect someone to test on with a chart.

        • neonspark

          and the comparisons keep coming

          http://nikongear.com/live/index.php?/topic/48460-afs-80-400/page-10

          clearly the 70-200 is not match against the optical performance of the 80-400. we’re seeing the makings of a legend.

          • dtse

            Thanks , seems you need to pay to read that . I will certainly keep my eyes open for a review that actually uses it in the wild , I’m more interested in how it performs shooting wildlife/birds than on a 40ft test rig , the old one was poor at locking focus on birds so it’s promising they have gone for a full redesign , glad I never bought old one !

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=572614912 Jay Donahue

    was really hoping for a nikon rumors D400 announcement april fool’s joke posting today. oh well.

    • http://nikonrumors.com/ Nikon Rumors

      This would be cruel, I decided not to do any April fool’s jokes this year.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=572614912 Jay Donahue

        :)

  • neonspark
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