Question for Sports/Racing Shooters


TPF Noob!
Jan 29, 2009
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Milton, ON Canada
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Hey guys, gals,
I was wondering if there is anyone that is shooting action sports or racing with the Nikon 80-400?
I've been looking at this for a while and it look pretty good from what i see spec wise, although i'm concerned with the "slow" focus speed which i read in most reviews. how bad is bad?

I shoot primarily hydroplane racing from the shoreline and long in important. The 300 i think is going to be a little shy from where i need to be at most events. So the 80-400 fit the bill.
If this lens wont cut it, then i'm getting forced to go to the 70-200 f2.8 with a 2x on it and that is going to really hurt the pocket book. Or settle for the 70-300 and i think i'm going to be shy on length with that.

Have you looked at the Nikon 80-200 f/2.8?

It's a pro-quality lens with great optics and comes in at about $900. Not sure if that's in your budget or not, but it's definitely worth a look. As a matter of fact, I'm going to get this lens to shoot some races this summer. You might also want to check out the 70-200 f/2.8 and some of the other longer telephoto zooms by Sigma. They have some great lenses for much less than the Nikon lenses.
80-400 would work fine for what you're doing. For the most part, the hydroplane boats stay in the same focal plane. Also most of those races are at night, so Aperture isn't as big of a deal.
I tend to be shooting from about 2/3 down a halfmile straight away. This give me the action coming out of the turn and down the straightaway, plus an angle that works for getting the shots coming throught the last half of the near turn. We race on oval about 3/4 to one mile.
We run during the day and usually bright sunlight. I don't think I'll need a 2.8 unless i'm running a 2x on it to get the focal length I need. The closest I'm shooting is usually in the area of 150 ft from the boats and the boats are small, about 9-11 ft long and 60-90MPH.
I've checked out the 70-200 2.8 but at $2,000 Canadian..that hurts, plus i have to get a 2x for it to be useful.
I haven't checked the 80-200 as i figured it was in the same price range as teh 70-200...I'll read more about that as it is actually less then the 80-400.

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