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300 AF-S with TC-14E vs 80-400 VR


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jonkhill Basic Member
Sat 04-Aug-01 08:44 PM

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)