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Nikon AF-S 80-400 f/4.5-5.6G vs. AF-S 300 f/4D + 1.4xTC

20 May 2013 5:19PM
My most used lens for birding is the Nikon AF-S 300mm f/4D, generally in combination with the TC-14e ii, for a 420mm reach. I love this lens; however, so many times I could really use a zoom. I would also prefer a lens with VR, which the 300 f/4 lacks. Is there any data or experience available which compares the IQ of the new 80-400 lens with the 300 + 1.4xTC?

I am currently shooting with the D200 and D5000; however, I plan to upgrade to the 24 Mp D7100 as soon as prices moderate.

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LenShepherd 10 3.6k United Kingdom
23 May 2013 8:54AM
I think, like you, many are waiting for prices to go down.
I do not think there is any question the new 80-400 AF-s is much better than the original version, but with a 72% list price increase over the original version and, if you are lucky, a 2.5% street discount, around 2,400 street price is a long way from inexpensive.
Whether there will be a 300 f4 VR upgrade "soon" is up to Nikon.
You can compare Nikon's MTF for the 2 lenses - both are very good - http://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/lens/index.htm
Based on web sources I trust the prime has good image magnification at minimum focus, and focuses faster than the zoom which is likely to be f5.6 at 300mm.
I used to own both the 300 f4 and original 80-400 and sold them 3.5 years as I convinced myself upgrades were imminent - so do not rely on my timing forecasts!
My guess is the D7100 might fall to around 900 before the year end, my price point for buying.
I do not see the new lens price falling below 2,000 this year.
If you cannot afford the new zoom and the D7100 (few can) cropping the D7100 24 MP image using your 300mm to 400mm equivalent will give you better image quality than using the new zoom on your existing bodies, but no VR. Buy a lottery ticket - or a TC14e for your 300mm?
StrayCat 14 19.1k 3 Canada
23 May 2013 7:10PM
I had the original 80-400mm VR for about 4 years, and it was seldom off the camera. If I was still using Nikon, the new 80-400mm would definitely be on my list.
RavenTepes 8 226 United States
23 May 2013 7:30PM
I'm actually saving up for the new 80-400 right now. From what I understand, (A review by Scott Kelby), while not quite at the IQ of the 400mm prime, it comes close enough, given its price point. If I remember right, and I could be wrong, I think he felt the lens out preformed it's price tag.
23 May 2013 9:24PM
MTF charts indicate the 300 f/4 is sharper than the 80-400 wide open at f/5.6. Not sure that would be the case with the 300 + TC-14e iii at 420mm and wide open. Weight wise, the new 80-400 is slightly lighter than the 300 f/4 + TC. That is also a plus. Oh, but the price!

Checked out the Scott Kelby D7100/AF-S 80-400 review. I think he likes it!
StrayCat 14 19.1k 3 Canada
23 May 2013 10:52PM
Is that with the 80-400mm set at 300mm same as the 300mm f4?

One would think the price should at least be in line with Canon's 100-400mm???
24 May 2013 12:11AM

Quote:Is that with the 80-400mm set at 300mm same as the 300mm f4?

One would think the price should at least be in line with Canon's 100-400mm???

The manufactures publish MTF data for their zooms at the two extremes. I know of no published data for the 80-400 MTF at 300mm. I also know of no Nikon MTF data for the 300mm + TC-14e ii (420mm overall), which would allow a meaningful MTF comparison between the 80-400 at 400 f/5.6 and the 300+1.4x TC at 420.

Ref price, the earlier 80-400 was priced comparably to the Canon 100-400, which is a relatively old lens. Canon's latest 400 f/2.8 and 500 f/4 suffered an equally mind-boggling price increase over the earlier models. Of course, I could be confusing Canon published prices on the older lenses with recently reduced prices as a means to deplete the remaining inventory.) If and when it's released, I would imagine the price of the next 100-400 will also rise to something comparably to Nikon's new 80-400.
LenShepherd 10 3.6k United Kingdom
24 May 2013 11:15AM
On the price waiting game the D7100 is now in stock at 12.5% below suggested - http://www.harrisoncameras.co.uk/Cameras/D-SLR-Cameras/Nikon-D7100-D-SLR-Digital-Camera-Body_VBA360AE.htm
My credit card might get warm soon Grin
Neither the recent 70-200 f4 or 80-400 AF-s seem in stock at more than 6% discount. I am prepared to wait.
Back to the original 80-400 it always sold for more than the 300 f4. I expect when the 300 f4 gets VR the price will go up, reducing the present huge price gap.
The original 80-400 which I owned for a number of years was a good lens for the money and zoom convenience. The entire front lens section moves during focus with low gearing and 22 turns of the body AF drive for the full focus range making focus slow but very accurate.
Perhaps in 6 months time I will be able to give hands on feedback as I intend to buy the D7100, the new 80-400, and the still mythical 300 f4 with VR.
bossa 5 1
8 Jul 2013 3:03PM
The MTF charts indicate that astigmatism is a problem for that new 80-400 as it also appears to be with the 200-400 zoom.

The AF-S 300 F4 (which I own along with the tc-14E II) also shows astigmatism via the MTF charts (continuous and dotted lines of the same colour should be as close as possible to one another as they represent the resolution of sagittal and meridional measurements).

The 300 f2.8 however appears to be perfect in that respect. The 300 f2.8 with TC-14E II matches the 400mm FL of the 200-400 pretty well for quality but only if you stop it down to f/5.6.

Coventryphotog Junior Member 5 149 United Kingdom
8 Jul 2013 3:32PM
Don't discount the Sigma 120-300

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