I was one of those who took the risk on pre-ordering the new 80-400mm AF-S from B&H. It arrived this past Wednesday. I am a birder, have a D300S camera body and have been shooting for the last 4 or 5 years with the 70-300mm AF-S VR. The first day I wasn't sure about the lens. After this morning I'd say it's a keeper. For three years I've been trying to get something even close to a decent shot of a male Hooded Oriole that nests in our neighbor's palm tree. I finally got one this morning. (Actually got three, but only sharing one). I've also never been able to get a decent shot of a Spotted Towhee. Got that this week too, although the background isn't the best for a great photo. Also got a decent shot of a Say's Phoeobe that was quite a long ways away. All three shots are here.
Exif info is still attached. The Towhee and Oriole were taken at 400mm. All three were hand held. I have to say this lens is pretty darn bulky and heavy. I walk and hike with my camera a lot. I'm not a park in one place with the camera on a tripod person. My current set up of a heavy duty elastic harness and a Kinesis waist strap won't cut it. I'm going to order a Cotton Carrier and try that. BTW - I rented the older 80-400mm last year and absolutely hated it. Way too slow to focus and didn't like the image quality.
Nice shots. I have the new 80-400 and love it. I used the old one for ten years or so. I did not hate it, but I can see where a birder might find it lacking. Nikon got this one right. The upgrade is exactly what I wanted, AFS on the old one. It makes all the difference. Happy birding.
For the short time I used the old lens I had trouble with it hunting too much, and for birds the focus was just too slow. I knew I'd probably love an AF-S version and I'm definitely getting there. This thing focuses so fast. Had a little bit of hunting today, but only in conditions where I think most autofocus lenses would hunt. Birds sitting in bushes with plant material in front of them, and a little too much shade.
Sun 24-Mar-13 08:36 PM | edited Sun 24-Mar-13 08:36 PM by hbrail
I agree its a keeper. Mine arrived Friday and I shot about 180 images handheld with my D4 on the sidelines of my daughter's field hockey drills today. Perfect focal lengths for sideline action and great at either 80mm or 400mm. Fast focus, effective VR. Heavy? I think not, particularly compared to my 200-400mm on a monopod.
I guess heavy is all relative Herb . I'm a 5'2" woman with a slight build. I'm fit, but this lens is still a little bit of a challenge. I'm getting used to it. Walked around with it for about 4 hours today, and so far nothing hurts, even my hand, which wasn't happy with it the first few days. Even managed to get a few reasonable flight shots today.
Mon 25-Mar-13 07:37 AM | edited Mon 25-Mar-13 08:34 AM by hbrail
I carry mine on a BlackRapid RS-4 strap with the fastener mounted to the lens collar. Very comfortable throughout the 3 1/2 hour session. My oldest daughter has the women's version of the BlackRapid and loves it. Getting the weight off the neck and onto your shoulder is big help if the current setup you described does not effectively transfer the load.
Thanks for the update on your experience with the 80-400. It does look like a good birding lens. I expect to see some using it with the Nikon 1 since it is an AFS lens. That would turn it into a 220-1080 lens.
The Black Rapid approach works well for this and heavier lenses. I mounted a RRS Quick Release on the Black Rapid connector.
I looked at Black Rapid, but for lots of walking and hiking I didn't think that would work well for me. Seemed like the camera and lens would be banging or rubbing against my hip and/or leg too much. I ordered the Cotton Carrier last night. I'll post here again after I try it out. Not sure when I'll get it, hoping before next weekend. It may still not be the perfect solution because of my height. With the hood on the lens, it's possible it may still hit my legs when climbing.
Wed 27-Mar-13 03:39 AM | edited Wed 27-Mar-13 11:54 AM by PaintedRays
I was picking up some rental gear for a wedding and I asked if they planned to add the AF-S 80-400mm to their arsenal. They said it had just arrived and I could be the first to use it. I should have declined since I spent the weekend post processing, but I took it. I only had a few shots with it, but here is one shot, handheld, no flash, at ISO2800, with the D7100 on Sunday evening before it got too dark. Not my best effort, but to rip off 8-10 shots, just to say I did, left me feeling good about this lens.
I see nothing wrong with this shot, remember it’s a humming bird. Its amazing that you can get a shot this good. If I tried the whole thing would be a Blur. If you'd the Shutter speed up a little more you would have stopped the wings flapping
I received the Cotton Carrier this week. I had to call them to get some additional details on how to fit it properly. I'm just barely big enough for it to fit me. I'm on the small side. I think it's going to work pretty well. I'll be trying it out on Sunday, when I hope to go out birding for several hours.
Thu 04-Apr-13 02:40 AM | edited Thu 04-Apr-13 02:43 AM by lruby
Decided to try the Cotton Carrier for an hour today. I like it. I posted on Betty's thread too, because she was interested in hearing about it. I'm 5'2. With the hood on and the zoom retracted I was able to walk comfortably without it banging on my legs at all, even going uphill. The only complaint I have is that the velcro lens stabilization strap is noisy when being released and it chased off some birds I was hoping to shoot. I walked on and off without it, and used my arms to stabilize the lens, which worked OK. I felt the weight in my legs and feet, but not in my shoulders, neck or back and had no pain problems. Overall I'm happy with it. I doubt anything else would work better for me for walking and hiking with this lens.
On another note, this isn't a a particularly pretty photo, and not razor sharp, but it does show what is possible handheld. Shot handheld at ISO 400, 400mm, 1/160s, F5.6 with autofocus. It focused pretty darn well through the twigs that are in front of the bird. I had to refocus a few times to get focus on the bird, but it did it. This is cropped and resized from fine JPG with no other modifications.
I don't have a TC, but check out the thread titled "A couple of shots from my new AF-S 80-400". Jackie, who started that thread posted that she (assuming a woman by the name, hope I didn't get it wrong) tried the TC 1.4 and so far wasn't too happy. She's going to try it again.