I've had one for years, it's a great and versatile lens for low light.
I would replace the foot with the Really Right Stuff version. That one will mount directly into a ballhead (not requiring any plate) and makes a good handle by which to carry it, nicely balanced when there's a camera mounted.
I bought the circular polarizer and it's easy and pretty fast to change, but I found I used it little, depends on what you shoot. I keep it in the case for the meniscus lens (which I've removed a couple of times to experiment but not otherwise).
You might want a teleconverter (depending on what you shoot). It is much more friendly to TC's than the 70-200, but not as much as the similar length primes. I had a 2.0x in the EII version and was very unhappy, got a 1.4X and am delighted. I understand the new EIII versions are much better, but you need a camera that focuses at F8 to really use.
The case was recalled some years ago, make sure the one you have is the new version (the bottoms were very rarely falling out of the originals). Nikon will replace with no hassle (at least I assume they still will).
I've used it in pretty heavy rain, sand (I'm in a beach type area), and it is a rugged lens. Never a problem. The covers will keep it more pristine, though I never bothered.
As a bit of trivia, many people find they can't remove the NC filter from the filter carrier. I decided I didn't care, as I had only a polarizer (which has its own carrier). So don't be surprised if it is in really tight. Also remember that's your back-most lens, so it gets dusty, but you can just pop out to dust off quickly. The front lens is huge so don't get nuts over a but of dust, it takes a LOT to make a difference, but having a good-size brush/blower is handy.
I believe so. Another item to consider is a replacement foot for the lens — the Nikon foot is not the greatest, and almost all 200-400 lens owners change it for a replacement foot. Yours may already have been replaced…
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Mon 08-Jul-13 02:09 PM | edited Wed 10-Jul-13 10:48 AM by MEMcD
You do not need to replace your Markins Q20 clamp with a Wimberley c-12 clamp. They are essentially the same. I usually use my 200-400 on a Gitzo series 3 tripod with a Wimberley Sidekick even though I have a series 5 Gitzo and a Wimberley gimbal.
If you do get a replacement foot, be sure not to get one that is too tall. The reason is that when using the Sidekick the tallness of the foot determines how close to being over the center of the ballhead you are. If you get one that is too tall the weight of the rig will be way off center. In fact, the tallness of the foot that works the best on the Sidekick is so short that it does not make a good 'carry' handle.
If you find that it seems unstable on the ballhead then consider a Gimbal head. A full Gimbal head is preferable to the "Sidekick" type that adapts a ball head into a gimbal, although with a high quality ballhead like your Q2 this might work out OK.
The smooth action and weightlessness of a Gimbal head reduces the repositioning effort to virtually zero.
The advantage of replacement foot :- some of them are shaped for more comfortable carrying and most have Arca-Swiss compatible grooving built into the base so you dont have to add a plate.
Most gimbal heads need a longitudinally mounted plate (or replacement foot) so that the lens can be positioned on the balance point, which varies with different weight camera bodies, vertical grip combinations and teleconverters.
In my experience, with a Gitzo 3531, RRS foot, RRS 55 ball head, and a Wimberly Sidekick, when you balance the lens on the Sidekick, the combination is perfectly stable and moves smoothly on both axes. You can adjust the resistance of movement to taste. I've found the rig solid as a rock, all 36MP usable, when used with standard good long lens technique --- one arm over the top of the lens at the fulcrum, careful squeeze, etc., etc.
If I ever stumble on $10,000 on a sidewalk, I'll buy a 600 f4 VR and I suspect I'll be satisfied with the Sidekick, even though the 600 weighs 50% more.
I'm afraid you would find that the Wimberley gimbal would be required for the 600 f/4 or the 400 f/2.8. You might be able to get away with the Sidekick for a 500 f/4. I have the 200-400, 500, and 600 and that has been my experience. I certainly agree that the Sidekick works great with the 200-400.
>I'm afraid you would find that the Wimberley gimbal would be >required for the 600 f/4 or the 400 f/2.8. You might be able >to get away with the Sidekick for a 500 f/4. I have the >200-400, 500, and 600 and that has been my experience. I >certainly agree that the Sidekick works great with the >200-400. >
I think (right?) Jim means vs. the Sidekick.
Bear in mind it is perfectly possible to use a large lens on a ballhead without a Wimberley at all. I do. Depends on what you want and shoot. I tend to shoot semi-stationary objects that are mostly near the horizon. If I want BIF, I pick up the lens anyway. It's only awkward if I try to shoot something like the moon.
The Wimberley's are wonderful, I've used them, they lens just floats like it had no weight and just a bit of inertia. But balance it on a good ballhead and it isn't bad either, and has MUCH less vibration (at least in my opinion -- all that extra freedom of movement comes with a lot of arms and pivot points and TANSTAAFL).
Since you have the ballhead you might try it a few times before investing; save up for that 600.
Wed 10-Jul-13 10:22 AM | edited Wed 10-Jul-13 10:25 AM by Ferguson
>I'm curious about a previous statement about a defective >bag/case for the lens. I have V1, purchased new 2007/2008. I >have had no problems with my carrying bag/case - but now >you've got me worried?
Interestingly enough Nikon doesn't have it up on their site any longer.
If you follow that link, then the link embedded to the website to activate the claim (or http://www.nikonusa.com/cl-l2) the form still comes up, but since it's not in the knowledgebase you might want to call. That thread also has some photos to show how you tell if yours is in the defective batch (though mine was pretty hard to tell).
The issue is that a (I think very) few had the bottom fall out dropping the lens.
EDIT/Correction: It is still active, found it on the case's page itself: