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Nikon 80-400mm VRII testing results

ljordan316

Inverness, US
830 posts

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ljordan316 Silver Member Nikonian since 10th Feb 2010
Thu 09-May-13 12:07 AM

After about six hours of testing with FoCal and the 80-400mm on both of my D800e bodies and comparing results with my older lenses yesterday, I have concluded:

The 80-400mm is essentially the same sharpness at 200mm as the 70-200mm VRI at 200mm on both of my D800e bodies at apertures below f/8.

VR On reduces the sharpness of the 70-200mm below the 80-400mm when set at 200mm and with VR On. This shows that the VRII of the 80-400mm is smarter than the VRI on the 70-200mm and knows the camera/lens is on a tripod.

The 80-400mm is 79% as sharp as the 200-400mm at 400mm on one D800e and 90% as sharp on the other D800e body. (Note: the stability of the foot may have created part of the difference between the bodies. The foot is a piece of ####. I would go with the 90% as being the more realistic result.)

Also note that I had more than a 10% higher sharpness with the D800e last year than I had with the D800. This tells me that a D800e and the 80-400mm are probably about the same sharpness as a D800 and the 200-400mm when both lenses are set to 400mm. Only I will know the difference says my wife.

The 1.4x TC is almost off the chart for AF fine tuning with the 80-400mm on one D800e body and reduced sharpness by an average of 17% at the widest apertures. AF fine tuning with the TC was poor on the second D800e body, but sharpness was about the same as without the TC. (Note: the stability of the foot may have created part of the sharpness difference but not the AF fine tuning difference.)

The TC did not create the same kind of AF fine tuning issues with the 200-400mm but did reduce sharpness by an average of 15%.

I have no way of measuring the absolute difference in AF speed between the 200-400mm and the 80-400mm, but they feel close to the same. The 80-400mm might be a tad slower...maybe the same speed as with the D800e before the last firmware upgrade. You might have a lower keeper rate for BIF with the 80-400mm but not by much. Having a lighter lens that you can swing into place for shooting could make up for the difference. I would still use the Bushhawk with it for handheld stability and flexibility in shooting angles.

I went out today and captured over 760 BIF images to test the 80-400mm AF speed and sharpness in the field. As you can see from the last four images posted at the following link, the AF speed is superb.

http://larryjordan.smugmug.com/Animals/Florida-Wildlife/13940239_x8VjnW#!i=2501541578&k=dKqf22x

The sharpness is less than the 200-400mm...but not by much if the shutter speed is high enough to stop the motion blur.

Larry Jordan

D800E, D500, 14-24, 16-35, 24-70, 70-180 Micro, 80-400mm AF-S, 500mm AF-S II

Website:
http://larryjordan.smugmug.com/

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

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