Nikon 200-400 VR, I'm in love! (11 pics)

Silverpenguin

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I spent the day in a valley in the Peak District two days ago with my friends dad, following Dippers up and down a river.

He was armed with his 600 f4, attached to his D2h (I wondered why he wasn't taking the 'x' until we got there, its amazing how much faster 8fps is over 5!!!) and I of course had my D200 but he gave me his 200-400 for the day, woohoo.

First of all let me say although this thing seems big when your at home, once your outside it suddenly seems quite acceptable, and when placed next to the 600 f4 it looks tiny lol. The lens is fantastic to use though, very fast and accurate to focus and very manageable on a tripod - although I had an Arca Swiss ball head on the top of my tripod for the day, which is another fantastic accesory I think I'll be getting one day.

The weight side of things I thought would be a problem at first. When we packed our stuff up in the morning I had the 200-400, my D200 and my 12-24 all in a Lowepro Dryzone bag and it did feel pretty heavy to lift but once it was on my back it was fine and I didn't notice it. We walked about 4 miles in total and most of the time I was carrying the lens/camera tripod mounted with it slung over my shoulder. I didn't find it too much of a problem and I'm not the words strongest man lol. I will say my shoulder ached a little by the end of the day though.

VRII works very well on a tripod too, as I was using the ball head I had it set farily loose so I could move the camera around easily whilst trying to follow small birds. VR elimated any small movement quite nicely. Of course I would have prefered faster shutter speeds and to not use VR but it was quite dark down in the valley in places and so I couldn't.

Even with a TC on the lens was fast to focus too which was good, although late in the day as the clouds came out and the light dropped it started to struggle on the outside sensors but thats more of a D200 issue than anything else I guess.

The downer to my day was that when I got back last night and checked my pictures, very very few of them are any good. But its not because the lens is lacking, its because most of the time I had a 1.4 TC attached to it, so I was shooting at 550mm (thats 825mm effectively remember boys and girls) with shutter speeds of between 1/40 and 1/80 of a second at ISO400, so my subjects were mostly moving too fast for any real good keepers. Well thats what I thought at first but having gone back over them all the following day I think a large part of the truth is I have come to realise my long lens technique needs improving as a lot of my blurred shots actually did have enough shutter speed. This was the first time I have used a true BIG long lens and so I think its just something I need practice at. The performance with the TC I think will be excellent once I learn how to use it!

Quick pic taken with my phone of the two beasts together, 200-400 on the left:

Lenses.jpg

Proper pics to follow later.

Here are the pics, not all as bad as I thought when I first checked them but then that first time I was checking them at 1am after having having driven 350 miles and walked 4 miles lugging the camera around lol.

All of the Dipper shots have been cropped by between roughly %20-40 as they were just a little too far away and they aren't big!

dipper_3846.jpg

400mm, 1/80 sec at f5. ISO100

%50 crop of above with %50 USM:
dipper_3846_crop.jpg


dipper_3895.jpg

550mm (using 1.4 TC), 1/100 sec at f5.6 ISO100

%100 crop of above with %50 USM:
dipper_3895_crop.jpg


dipper_3881.jpg

550mm, 1/320 sec at f5.6, ISO320

dipper_3903.jpg

550mm, 1/500 sec at f5.6, ISO400

dipper_4088.jpg

550mm, 1/400 sec at f5.6, ISO400

Grey Wagtail I think these are called?
grey_3966_4052.jpg

550mm, 1/60 sec at f5.6, ISO400

This one posed on a waterfall for a few second for me:
grey_3966.jpg

(%50 crop from original frame) 550mm, 1/80 second at f5.6, ISO125

And said waterfall:
waterfall1.jpg

Didn't have enough filter power to get a slow enough shutter speed for this unfortunately :(

My friends dad, armed with the 600mm:
colin.jpg


So there we have it. And I have a sneaky feeling I may well own a 200-400 by the end of the summer...lol
 

Antarctican

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Oh. My. Gawd. Those are some seriously big lenses. But look at how close you can get with your shots. What a joy that must be to use (but not to carry!) Love the wagtail shots.
 

Raymond J Barlow

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nice shots all considered, I am amazed you couldn't get higher shutter speeds in this light. I personally would have went to 400 ISO.

You may have been better off shooting w/o the tc, and cropping more., I rarely use my 1:4 tc, as I don't have an S lens... that 200-400 is some expensive!
 
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Silverpenguin

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Raymond J Barlow said:
nice shots all considered, I am amazed you couldn't get higher shutter speeds in this light. I personally would have went to 400 ISO.

You may have been better off shooting w/o the tc, and cropping more., I rarely use my 1:4 tc, as I don't have an S lens... that 200-400 is some expensive!
Yep it was very anoying to be getting such slow speeds! We were under cover of trees a lot and shooting against dark backgrounds of the river bank a lot of the time. I shot loads of pics at ISO400 but I was having to under expose to keep the white chests of the Dippers from losing all its detail, and as a result the noise was pretty bad :(

These littler birds were way to far away to not have the TC attached. Even these pics here are cropped by up to %50 in some cases, none of them are full frame :(

Great lens though, looking forward to using it in better light thats for sure :)
 

Arch

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great shots.... thats a beast of a lens alright :thumbup:
 

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