Shooting handheld with the Nikkor AF-S 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR lens

Shooting handheld with the Nikkor AF-S 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR lens by Arturo Cocchi:

I’m an Italian journalist and in the same time a photo-enthusiast who has the opportunity to use the best photo equipments available to ”help” my work. My name is Arturo Cocchi. I’m the editor of the travel and art sites in La Repubblica, which is currently the n# 1 news Internet site and the n#1/2 newspaper in my country.

Anyway, since my job – the one i’m paid for by my company – is about writing/editing articles, putting them into my site with good headlines, photos and so on, I’ve always loved photography and I sometimes use my pictures to illustrate articles. This is a sort of excuse for me to collect a pro-like equipment: at the moment i’ve got D4s, D810 and 13 lenses, including 200 f/2 VR II, 300 f/2.8 VR II, 600 f/4 VR (which I’ll probably sell) and the two new entries – the 800 f/5.6 and the 400 f/2.8 FL.

In the last couple of months, I’ve shot a lot – I had a 3 weeks free period, exactly from the moment I bought the two monsters. I used everything, but I quickly fell in love with the new 400 f/2.8, which I handheld the whole time (RRS doesn’t have the foot replacement yet). Since I have a good practice in hand-holding both the 200 f/2 and the 300 f/2.8, and I love the sharpness and the dynamic range of a 36MP camera can produce at base ISO, the challenge is doing every shoot at 64 ISO hand holding, and possibly with no VR.

I first spent some days in Bourgogne, France) to take photos of foliage in vineyards, then I spent few days in my home town (Genoa) and the local villages.

Finally, in my days off, I spent some hours in Rome Piazza Navona to take portrait of the fountains statues and then, in Milano, same thing with the statues of the Gothic Cathedral. I’ve tried these last subjects many time both with 200 f/2 and 300 f/2.8. I would like to share my experience with the new beast which I find fantastic. I’m not good enough to do laboratory comparison but I can say the new 400mm lens is incredibly sharp, the best up to now (800 is also fantastic but a bit difficult to have a perfect picture at 64 ISO even with a Gitzo 5 series tripod and the Wimberley head). In the same time, it is more than a step forward in the hand-holding usability – I’ve practically had all last Nikon super telephoto, except for the old 400mm and I can say that the new 400 FL is much easier to hand hold than the old 500mm f/4 and paradoxically slightly better than both 300 f/2.8 and 200 f/2 even though the lens is 1.8 pounds heavier because of the weight balance on the back, due to the fluorite lens lightness and to their position on the front.

Thank you very much and best regards,
Arturo Cocchi

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