I used the VR mode on the Nikon 80-400mm VR a lot when shooting in the street/parades last summer. In the winter I didn't use the 'VR ON' Mode often (Tripod) and the battery consumption was quite moderate. But just on the weekend I used it all day 'VR ON' + a lot of autofocus and I realized again what kind of a power drain the lens is. Only a few films went through my F100 using AA batteries before the batteries were exhausted.
Anybody using this lens on a digital body? Should I consider getting my own power plant if I buy a digital body?
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The moment I got my 80-400mm VR I went into a high terrace at home and began focusing and refocusing, zooming in and out and simple enjoying. That was the first time I run out of batteries "in the field", ever. Power needs power, make certain you do carry a spare or simply start out with a fresh one when for critical shooting.
It seems the VR on an D1 does OK in terms of battery useage. With Continious Focus ON, Proximity focu ON, VR ON at 1/2 press, Focus limit OFF. Groups of series shots, 1500 fine Jpegs(1.7GB)with no chimping at over 4 hours. All on one in camera EN-4 battery.
Anyone seriously interested in a portable power plant for their digital equipment can check out http://www.digitalcamerabattery.com The 30 watt kit (their smallest) starts at $426 USD. This kit comes with a black 30 watt Digital Camera Battery, standard charger, carrying case with belt clip and D-rings, power cable to fit any D1 series camera and a high voltage cable for the SB28-DX flash. The units can be purchased directly from the manufacturer, and they also sell thru several dealers in the US, and a few around the world.
I haven't tried this out personally, but did read some good reviews several months back. Impressed me enough to convince my boss to buy a couple for the shop. The pity is, they won't get here in time for me to play with before I move. So I won't even get a chance to play with them and see if all that I heard was true.