Thom Hogan's Nikkor 200-400 f/4 VR review

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by MrLogic, Feb 16, 2010.

  1. MrLogic

    MrLogic TPF Noob!

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    Last edited: Feb 16, 2010
  2. Montana

    Montana TPF Noob!

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    Interesting that it doesn't play well with Tele-converters.
     
  3. AlexColeman

    AlexColeman TPF Noob!

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    I dont mageine it would, the aperture is already not that fast.
     
  4. Montana

    Montana TPF Noob!

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    I use a 1.4 on my 600 f/4 without issue.
     
  5. icassell

    icassell TPF Noob!

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    Well, the Canon 100-400/4.5-5.6 and the 400/5.6 do fine with TC's, so I don't think the f/4 aspect has anything to do with it.
     
  6. Formatted

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    I'm on the second hand wait list at Greys of Westminster. I want this lens!
     
  7. Phranquey

    Phranquey TPF Noob!

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    Meh. I got to play with one for a while, and for that coin I'd rather have a 300 f/2.8 prime and use a 1.4 TC for a 420 f/4.
     
  8. MrLogic

    MrLogic TPF Noob!

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    Well... it's a complex zoom. Primes like the 600 f/4 L work great even with a 2x TC. But the 200-400 plays well with the 1.4 TC at relatively close range and stopped down some. Wildlife photographer Andy Rouse takes great pictures with this combination. But, like Thom, he also says you get so-so to downright horrible results if you pair it with the 1.7, and especially, the 2x TC.

    @ icassell. Rouse also says that while Canon's 1.4 TC works "great" with many L lenses, "any" teleconverer is "crap" on the Canon 100-400. Are you sure? :confused:
     
  9. icassell

    icassell TPF Noob!

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  10. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Tele-converters were originally designed to be used only with prime lenses. Using a TC with a zoom lens degrades image quality; it depends on how much degradation one is willing to accept in determining how acceptable a tele-converter is. Some people have low standards, or shoot on low-resolution bodies or with inferior lenses, where the overall image quality the lens delivers is insufficient to even supply the sensor with enough data to challenge the limits of system resolution. As Thom said, he first got the 200-400 back when he was shooting the 4.2 MP D2h camera--and at THAT time, he thought the lens was a world-beater; then, he moved to the much higher-resolving D2x camera, a 12.2MP sensor that has very high resolution capabilities....and he saw things he was not happy with from the lens....now he's shooting on the HIGHEST-resolution d-slr available, the Nikon D3x...where any imperfections or loss of quality are very visible due to the camera's incredibly high resolution capabilities, and where absolute lens quality is an issue.

    If somebody is shooting on a 21 to 24.6 MP Sensor, lens diffraction starts to lower overall resolving power at apertures as wide as f/4.5, so adding a 1.4x teleconverter cuts the lens aperture down to f/5.6--and as experienced shooters know, f/5.6 is already a diffraction-affected f/stop on a 24.6 MP sensor. If you cannot see a loss in image quality on a lens that's f/4 when you cut the wide-open aperture down by one f/stop with a converter, either the lens is not very good, or your technique is not sufficient to reveal the loss of quality; that's the thing---Hogan preaches shot discipline, and if your tripod is not good, and your focus not good, or your shot discipline is not high enough, you'll never see the loss of quality between the lens bare and the lens with a TC added. So, for many amateur uses, any lens with any TC seems "fine".

    Teleconverters are fine for amateur use with some zoom lenses; the real key is how well the TC unit matches with the exact, specific lens in use. If a lens is designed to be "good" with a specific TC, it often is acceptable; in the 1970's, Vivitar and Kiron, among others, made some zooms with "matched teleconverters", and the performance was really quite,quite good. Using a random converter with a random lens can bring some absolutely dreadful results. Nikon is now updating some converters with aspherical lens element designs, making their newest TC line the Mark III iteration. Whenever a regular,everyday person says a TC works great or fine or well with a particular zoom lens, their endorsement usually needs to be take with a grain of salt; I would never in a million years pair a slow f/4~5.6 lens with a teleconverter and expect professionally capable results on a modern, high-resolution sensor. Sure, on an 8MP or 10MP sensor, the results might look "okay" for 4x6 prints, but for professional work, one has to draw a line someplace; on the web, I have seen images downsampled and sharpened,and massaged so that the on-line images look okay, but compared with the quality of a long prime lens, mid-level lenses like Canon's 100-400 IS and Nikon's 80-400 VR are a notch below prime lens quality. So...that leads to people like Rouse who say that "any" teleconverter is "crap" on the Canon 100-400. It's a matter of standards about image quality; some people are happy with "any" image, while others expect nothing but the highest standards.

    My experience is this: if you need a "long lens", even a fairly low-tech long lens design is better than a zoom lens + converter lash-up. Even the old $119 500mm f/8 pre-set long focus lenses from Quantaray or Asanuma or Spiratone are better than a slow zoom + random converter lash-up. I myself still think of the 200-400 VR-Nikkor as a sports or safari lens, designed for 10-60 meter use from the sidelines or out of a moving vehicle, where the VR system stops vibrations when shooting on the go. I dunno....I checked into the lens when it was first released...I just wasn't interested in it for sports use: too long on the bottom end. Something like the 100-300 f/4 or 120-300 f/2.8 seems better to me for more field sports.
     

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