My View on Nikon 400mm f/2.8G ED VR

Minggu, 30 September 2012 - 22:43:01 WIB

My View on Nikon AF-S 400mm f/2.8G ED VR: 
(by FNU Brawijaya) 

Having this gigantic lens is a long time dream. Although I keep my dream alive, I do not have this lens yet. Fortunately, now I have access to lend this piece of lens quite easily. This Nikkor AF-S 400mm f/2.8G ED VR is the second biggest lens in Nikon line up after the monstrous Nikkor 600mm f/4. The weight is 4620g (about 10 pounds) consist of magnesium alloy, many glasses, dan rubberised grip. 

Like other non-DX lenses, the lens can be used on both FX and DX formats, presenting a 6°10' on FX, and 4 degree angle of view (diagonally) on DX. Close focus is 2.9m (9.5 feet), presenting a maximum magnification of 1:6.25. This lens, although written as VR, actually has VR II, which is the second generation of Nikon vibration technology. It features better detection of tripod/steady support, and realizes the equivalent of a shutter speed four stop faster (the first VR generation realizes three stop faster). It means we can enjoy four stops improvement over hand holding.


Just like other big lenses, a rotating tripod collar with removable handle is included in this 400 mm lens. In addition, a 52mm drop-in filter cover is provided. It is important to know that the supplied plain filter is part of the optical formula, thus using a filter holder without glass is not suggested. The lens has a focus scale with FX DOF markings for f/22 (in other words, nothing you'll ever use). There's dust/moisture protection built in. 

1. Features: 

  • Enhanced optical formulas, engineered to produce exceptional sharpness, contrast and color, render outstanding image integrity.
  • Three ED (Extra-low dispersion) elements control chromatic aberration while enhancing sharpness and contrast, even at the widest apertures.
  • Exclusive Nikon Nano Crystal Coat and a Meniscus protective glass element combine to further reduce ghosting and flare for even greater image clarity.
  • High-performance Nikon Super Integrated Coating realizes superior color reproduction while minimizing ghosting and flare.
  • Nikon's exclusive Silent Wave Motor enables fast autofocusing with exceptional accuracy and powerful, super-quiet operation.
  • Rounded diaphragm opening (9 blades) makes out-of-focus elements appear more natural.
  • Newly added A/M mode reduces the possibility of unintentional switching from Auto to Manual.
  • Focus Preset function instantly recalls preset focus points with the push of a button.
  • Engineered to Nikon professional D-SLR standards to effectively resist dust and moisture.
  • Magnesium die-cast for a lightweight body with rugged construction.

2. Specifications: 

  • Focal Length 400 mm
  • Aperture Maximum: f/2.8; Minimum: f/22
  • Angle of View 6° (on DX Picture Angle: 4°) 
  • Minimum Focus Distance 9.51' (2.9 m)
  • Magnification 0.16x
  • Maximum Reproduction Ratio 1:6.25
  • Groups/Elements 11/14
  • Diaphragm Blades 9
  • Image Stabilization Yes
  • Autofocus Yes
  • Tripod Collar Yes
  • Dimension Dia. 16 cm (6.3"), Length 36.83 cm (14.5")
  • Weight 4.62 kg (10.16 lb) 

3. My Personal Opinion: 

  • So far, I have not got a chance to utilize it fully, but I am trying to write whatever I have learned so far.
  • Absolutely heavy. Attaching it to a tripod head is unavoidable, hence, we need a good lens plate, ballhead or gimbal head, and super sturdy tripod. It comes with two type of footing, high foot and shallow foot. Many Nikon shooters made comments about the foot being not so sturdy, so the owner replaced it with RRS foot. Along with RRS foot, he equipt this lens with RRS TVS-33 Tripod, RRS BH-55 Ballhead and Wimberley Sidekick. With this combo, it should be enough. Some others have made some comment that the lens require a full size gimbal head, so the owner already think to get Wimberley Gimbalhead WH-200-II. I guess I need to give a little encouragement to him to get it. 
  • The Really Right Stuff low profile replacement foot is really helpful in making things simpler. 
  • I do not think that the two parts of lens hood become a problem. 
  • This lens is said to be much superior than 200-400 mm f/4, which tend to get softer at its long end. 
  • The lens is also perfect to be used with DX fotmat cameras, so that we can get tighter crop of objects.  
  • The owner may need to invest Think Tank Glass Taxi lens bag as suggested by many photogs. I myself have difficulty in transporting this gigantic lens.  


4. What Other People Said: 

  • The AF sharpness, speed & accuracy perhaps the best I've ever experienced - from any lens. It's noticeably quicker than the 200-400 I used before, and that lens is no slouch. It's hard to believe something this bulky can perform so fluidly & instantaneously. This amounts to more keepers & a lot less frustration. Also, this lens a great improvement at distance vs. the 200-400; the difference is pronounced & consistent. 
  • Though this is the lightest 400 2.8 available, it's still heavy & larger than most lenses, period - only the 600/4 will present more burden. it requires an adjustment period; there's no getting around it. Also, it really requires the largest load-bearing monopod/tripod, and more patience and experience. This is not a lens for beginners. 
  • The subject isolation available at 2.8-3.5 helps create an artistic edge/"trademark" when using this lens. It will help set apart your work, and affords professional results. It's a life saver in poorly lit outdoor venues, and most are just that - even at ISO 5000. This is a great lens for the new generation of DX, which means you can save $ versus the pricy FX alternative.
  • My concern in acquiring this lens & this focal length has been acquitted by the shear performance and eminent appropriateness of this lens for so many situations. The super-bright viewfinder provided by 2.8 - little affected by adding a TC-1.4 - one of the paramount improvements of this lens over slower optics. It makes an exponential difference when using a lens of this focal length on FX, or DX. 
  • After using the Nikkor 300 2.8 & the 200-400 4, this lens represents my "final stop" in super-telephoto investment & compromise. It's the "mamma bear" of long lenses. The 2.8 creates more opportunities, even in the stratospheric ISO universe of digital. With DX and the new TC-20III, the 400 provides more useful focal length configuration options than any other choice. It can be both a Jack & master for many uses.




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