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Author Topic: Nikon 400mm f2.8: AF-S II vs. VR image quality.  (Read 4591 times)

dwnelson

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Nikon 400mm f2.8: AF-S II vs. VR image quality.
« on: August 20, 2013, 10:23:34 AM »

I am looking to buy a used Nikon 400mm f2.8, either the latest version of the AF-S lenses ("II," discontinued in 2007) or the current VR lens with Nano coating. I do not need VR as most of my use of this lens will be at high shutter speeds, and I will be using a sturdy tripod and gimbal head. I use a D800E.

Can anyone with experience using these two comment on the image quality, both natively and with the 1.4x converter. Most of my shooting will be without the TC.

Specifically:

1) Micro contrast wide open. I bought a 300mm 2.8 AF-S I and ended up returning it because there was a lot "haze" at 2.8 that looked like someone smeared Vaseline on the front element. This cleared up by f4. I'm not sure if I got a lemon but other Nikon big glass hasn't been as bad (I have rented a 200-400, a 400 2.8 AF-S II, and a 600 f4 AF-S I - all got better one stop down but were still great wide open).

2) Sharpness in general.

3) Color and contrast. I do love the color and contrast of my Nano lenses. Is this better with the VR lens?
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BernardLanguillier

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Re: Nikon 400mm f2.8: AF-S II vs. VR image quality.
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2013, 07:01:51 PM »

1) Micro contrast wide open. I bought a 300mm 2.8 AF-S I and ended up returning it because there was a lot "haze" at 2.8 that looked like someone smeared Vaseline on the front element. This cleared up by f4. I'm not sure if I got a lemon but other Nikon big glass hasn't been as bad (I have rented a 200-400, a 400 2.8 AF-S II, and a 600 f4 AF-S I - all got better one stop down but were still great wide open).

2) Sharpness in general.

3) Color and contrast. I do love the color and contrast of my Nano lenses. Is this better with the VR lens?

For what it is worth my 300 f2.8 VR N is shot at 2.8 90% of the time and is totally outstanding at that aperture. So either you got a lemon or the change to the VR generation really did solve some optical limitations of earlier models.

Now I wouldn't be surprised if Nikon updated their super tele lenses soon to adopt the technologies deployed in the 800mm f5.6. I would expect some fluorite elements to further reduce CA (knowing that the current generation without fluorite is already at the same level as their Canon equivalents in terms of CA), lighter designs and more silent VR.

Future will tell.

Cheers,
Bernard
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dwnelson

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Re: Nikon 400mm f2.8: AF-S II vs. VR image quality.
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2013, 08:16:20 PM »

For what it is worth my 300 f2.8 VR N is shot at 2.8 90% of the time and is totally outstanding at that aperture. So either you got a lemon or the change to the VR generation really did solve some optical limitations of earlier models.

This was the question I was hoping to get answered in regards to the VR vs. AF-S II for the 400/2.8. If it doesn't get answered here, I may rent both for a weekend and compare side-by-side. Of course, that would set me back over $300.

If the VR version of the 400/2.8 is crackling sharp at 2.8 with amazing color, while the AF-S II is merely "very good," that will help me decide that the VR is the best lens for me. OTOH, if the image quality difference is marginal, I'd rather not pay for VR that I won't use very much.

The possibility of updated versions sounds enticing, but given the price of the 800/5.6, I'm a little scared!  :o
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dwnelson

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Re: Nikon 400mm f2.8: AF-S II vs. VR image quality.
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2013, 09:25:31 AM »

Private message sent to you re this post.

This was an excellent response, thank you. For those on the public forum wanting to know, the basic summary is that the VR version has some more edge acuity; there was much more info given regarding other improvements and I'd invite you to send a private message to N Walker if those details concern you.
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SeanBK

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Re: Nikon 400mm f2.8: AF-S II vs. VR image quality.
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2013, 04:21:41 PM »

Thanx for sharing, N Walker & dwnelson. Being a user of 800E naturally curious.
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BernardLanguillier

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Re: Nikon 400mm f2.8: AF-S II vs. VR image quality.
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2013, 10:06:45 PM »

D3X 400mm closed down to F/4

Rochus?

Cheers,
Bernard
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dwnelson

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Re: Nikon 400mm f2.8: AF-S II vs. VR image quality.
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2013, 12:22:04 AM »

Thank you. I will save some extra pennies and go for the VR... not because I need the VR, but because I want the acuity, especially with my D800E.

I am getting the 400/2.8 not only for speed (high shutter speed wildlife), but also for versatility (+1.4x TC = almost a 600/4). Therefore, I want to start with the best possible image quality.

I'm going to start another thread about buying used big glass.
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