300 AF-S with TC-14E vs 80-400 VR
I recently bought the 300 f/4 AF-S lens and the TC-14E teleconvertor for use on safari (both driving and walking, from deserts to rain forests) in Tanzania with my N80 body. The combination is great when there is enough light, but I had a tough time when I had to shoot hand-held in a forest (following chimps through thick brush would have been near impossible with a tripod). The only photos that were sharp were on 400 speed slide film that I pushed a stop. It was also cumbersome to take the teleconvertor on and off (and something I also dreaded because of dust) during shooting. But I really love the fast focusing of the AF-S.
I'm considering getting rid of the 300mm and TC-14E and getting the 80-400 VR instead. This seems like it might solve my two problems (shake in low light and the hassle of the teleconvertor) and be easier to tote around as well while also giving me a fantastic zoom range. However, I've heard the focus speed on the 80-400 described as "glacial" and I think I'll lose a bit of capability when it comes to action shots and portraits with the background nicely blurred. I've also heard that the VR doesn't work on all cameras and I'm concerned that it may not work on the D1X that I hope to buy in a year.
So... my dilemma is whether to stick with what I have or go for the zoom. I can't afford to have both right now. I would love to hear from someone who has used both lenses in similar situations. JRP's article on the 80-400 VR is great, but it doesn't really address my concerns.
Jon Hill (living in safari land)
#1. "RE: 300 AF-S with TC-14E vs 80-400 VR" | In response to Reply # 0kmeinerth Basic MemberSat 04-Aug-01 09:02 PM
The documentation for the VR says that it works on the D1. If it works on the D1, then it must work on the D1X.
True the VR is not AFS & it does take a while to go from the far off range to very close & the opposite, but if you are tracking a moving subject, it does not have a problem at all, at least not on my f100 & vertical grip. The focusing speed does vary depending on the camera. It will be faster on a D1 or F5 than your N80, just like any non-afs lens.
Best be is to go try one out at a camera shop. My local one now has them in stock so people can play.
#2. "RE: 300 AF-S with TC-14E vs 80-400 VR" | In response to Reply # 0Falcon Basic MemberSun 05-Aug-01 11:08 AM
LAST EDITED ON Aug-05-01 AT 03:13 PM (GMT)
LAST EDITED ON Aug-05-01 AT 03:10 PM (GMT)
As I understand it, VR is for reduction of camera vibration due to hand-holding, and not for slowing down or freezing of action of moving photographic subjects. AF-S was created specifically for fast AF needed with photographing fast action.
However, all AF systems, including AF-S, and the AF in the VR lens, need sufficient light for them to work properly. How sucessfully the AF at f5.6 will lock on to a subject in low light situations is independent of whether that lens has VR or not (AF and VR are 2 distinct, separate, and very different things). So moving to the VR lens at the 400/5.6 range will not help to make it AF FASTER, OR SURER, OR MORE ACCURATE in dim light, if this is what you want.
The VR will let you hand-hold the lens with less vibration induced from YOU, but will not assist in AF to nail down moving subjects in dim light, as this is the job of the AF system.
Have you consider using a monopod, or a gunstock, instead of a tripod? This may be the best compromise for your situation.
#3. "RE: 300 AF-S with TC-14E vs 80-400 VR" | In response to Reply # 2kmeinerth Basic MemberSun 05-Aug-01 12:18 PM
I love monopods. They're light, easy to transport, easy to change direction of the shot,... I use one all the time even w my vr lens. Highly recommended!
I'd guess that the 300/f4 + 1.4 teleconverter gets you close to 5.6 & the light getting to the AF mechanism is about the same. I tend to think that having the teleconverter as an extra element cannot help even if they end up at the same aperture.
The biggest benefit of the vr lens in my mind is the range: 80-400. I did not buy my lens for the vr functionality, but now that I have it, I'm very happy.
#4. "RE: 300 AF-S with TC-14E vs 80-400 VR" | In response to Reply # 3jrp Charter MemberSun 05-Aug-01 01:01 PM
There are situations like the one you describe, deep into the bush, under the tree cover, with low light and not much time to spare with rhinos or lions.
A comparatively less expensive solution is the VR loaded with NHG II 800 Pro.
However, if that is not enough and that is what you mostly shoot, you definitely will need the 400mm f/2.8D AF-S II.
Have a great time
JRP (Nikonian at the north-eastern Mexican desert) My profile
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