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Nikon 400 f 2.8 vs 200-400 f4?
Michael Woods, Photographer
Fayetteville | AR | USA | Posted: 10:44 PM on 06.14.17
->> OK, So I'm getting ready to buy some long glass but can only afford one or the other. either a new 200-400 f4 or a good used 400 2.8.

I would appreciate any advice from photographers who have shot a lot of sports with both lenses on which one they would go with if they had to choose between the two. I've shot most of my career with the 400 2.8 and have never used the 200-400 f4 lens, but it looks like a good alternative to the 400, but how does the auto focus, sharpness and other things compare???

Any advice would be appreciated.
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Robert Hanashiro, Photographer
Los Angeles | CA | | Posted: 1:11 AM on 06.15.17
->> What sports will you be primarily covering?
Which camera body will you be using the lens with?
Will you be shooting in really badly lit venues (for instance: 1/500 @ f/2.8 @ ISO8000)?
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Chris Peterson, Photographer, Photo Editor
Columbia Falls | MT | USA | Posted: 10:17 AM on 06.15.17
->> A used 2.8 will be heavier, but IMHO, a superior lens. Not even close.

I had the 200-400 first version and it was never sharp at infinity. Heck, it wasn't sharp at 75 yards and it went back to Nikon multiple times...

I also had the Nikon 400 mm f2.8 AFS II lens. Great piece of glass, but I just couldn't lug it the hundreds of miles I hike every year. If you're just covering sports, go for it.
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Preston Mack, Photographer
Orlando | FL | | Posted: 10:49 AM on 06.15.17
->> If you're a 100% sports photographer that needs low light glass, get the 400 2.8
For versatility and maybe lots of golf coverage, get the 200-400. My version 1 of that lens was magnificent. I never should've sold it!
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 2:52 PM on 06.15.17
->> Do you have a 70-200mm or a 180mm? If so, then you're duplicating the short range of the 200-400mm which would be a waste of money. So you're actually spending seven grand for a 300-400mm f/4. For the same money you can get a 400mm prime that is a stop faster. And if you really need a middle-range lens later on there is the Nikon 300mm f/4 for less than $1,400. I have one and it is a kick-ass sharp piece of glass. I've used the 200-400mm before; while it is great as a zoom, I agree with Chris about his quality issues in comparison to a prime lens. But then, I am very picky when it comes to technicalities.

I suggest you go with the 400mm f/2.8 because you can add a tele later making it a 640mm f/4 whereas with the zoom you would have a f/5.6 whereupon the tele would emphasize any problems if there are any as with any tele add-on.
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Stanley Leary, Photographer, Photo Editor
Roswell | GA | | Posted: 7:27 PM on 06.15.17
->> Personally I would consider the newer Nikon 200-500mm

Most people are finding it sharper than the 200-400mm that I have read.

I have the Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 Sports model I use with the 1.4x and 2x converters. Gives me many options.
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Mike Gatzke, Photographer
Ankeny | IA | USA | Posted: 10:33 PM on 06.16.17
->> Like Robert implied, your best option depends on your intended use of it. The 400mm f/2.8 is a far superior lens overall to the 200-400mm f/4. I own the 200-400 and love it. However, I have used the 400 2.8 several times and the difference in the photos is striking. The 400 focuses faster, the images are tack sharp, I think the contrast is better, and the soft backgrounds (bokeh) are gorgeous. The only thing the 400 f/2.8 can't do is zoom. There are times that the zoom capability comes in handy. Although, with that said, I would trade my 200-400 for a 400mm f/2.8 in a heartbeat. I just love the photos taken with the 400 better. I just don't have $7000 sitting around to buy one. You can bet that if I did, I would.
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Tim Cowie, Photographer, Photo Editor
Davidson | NC | USA | Posted: 12:02 PM on 06.17.17
->> I have not purchased the new 200-500mm f5.6, but I would rank Nikon lens for quality, sharpness, f stop range in the following order.

1. Nikon 300mm f2.8
2. Nikon 400mm f2.8
3. Nikon 200-400mm VII f4.0
4. Nikon 200-500mm f5.6

Unless you have a D5 or D500, I think shooting sports in low light with the 200-500mm f5.6 would be an issue. Otherwise, I would consider moving that higher on the list with those bodies.

I would not buy a VI 200-400mm. Many you will find out there will have sharpness issues and it is very noticeable if you try to put on a 1.4x converter. However, VII on bodies D4 thru D5/D500 it is a great lens. Again, it depends on your shooting habits. Almost a must have if you are shooting a ton of golf.

The Nikon 300mm f2.8 and/or 400mm f2.8 are in my bag regardless of whether I have the other two or not. Two of Nikon's staples that nothing else can touch.

Again, as others have said, knowing the bodies you shoot with and what your workload consists of certainly helps for recommendations.
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Valerie Shoaps, Photographer
Santa Cruz | CA | US | Posted: 6:54 PM on 06.18.17
->> If you're shooting a lot of field sports, I'd stay away from the 200-500/5.6. The loss of two stops of light over the 400/2.8 is a bummer, even with a D5. Also, the greater DoF can get pretty busy with backgrounds and the it's relatively slow to initiate AF. I've used one extensively (rented a few copies) for surf photography, but I personally wouldn't use it for any other sports.

Again it comes down to what sports you're shooting, when (day and or night?) and what body. I've shot only one MLB day game with the 200-400. I missed f/2.8 for the background separation and didn't use the zoom as much as I thought I would. Currently, for day or night for MLB, I'm always using a 400/2.8 and 70-200/2.8 with two D5. I don't miss the gap from 200-400.
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Robert Hanashiro, Photographer
Los Angeles | CA | | Posted: 1:25 AM on 06.19.17
->> The Nikkor 200-500 is the IT lens.

At the Rio Olympics I used the 200-500 on a D5 or a D500 for about 85% of what I covered there. During the political conventions and the inauguration that was my main long glass.

It is crazy sharp.

I have used the 200-500mm/D5 or D500 combination for NBA and college basketball, day and night baseball and day and night football games.

If you have a D4s, D5 or D500 with the great low-light/high ISO quality, I would opt for the 200-500 zoom.
(And the price... wow!)

But if you are shooting in really dark high school gyms and stadiums where you can't get a decent exposure even with a new camera body ...then you have to go f/2.8 glass.
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Ralph Mawyer, Photographer
San Antonio | TX | United States | Posted: 11:30 PM on 06.20.17
->> Another consideration is that while the 200-400 is an f4, with all the glass in that lens the T-stop is closer to f5+. Given that and the price variance, if you don't need f2.8, then as Robert said the 200-500 should be strongly considered.

I've been using the V1 for years. It is soft at 400,,, and even when using flash for high school football, it will not focus as fast as the 2.8 in low light.

Define your use (and budget) and the results follow..
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Michael Woods, Photographer
Fayetteville | AR | USA | Posted: 1:34 AM on 06.22.17
->> I appreciate all the advice. I am shooting with the D5 and will be shooting primarily college football, basketball and baseball, golf, track and field and random news events and some high school football too. I did just pick up the 200-500 f5.6 to cover day events, but I haven't really had the chance to push it yet, But I will be using the 200-500 this weekend for the first time to cover the LPGA, I figured that would be much lighter lens to carry around the golf course this summer that a 400 2.8

Most of the venues I will be shooting at I can shoot at f4 at 6400 and be ok. But I like the potential of having a zoom lens in the 200 -400 range at f4 rather than being stuck at 400 when the action suddenly gets too close for a 400 prime. But if the image quality of the zoom is significantly less than the 400 2.8, and the autofocus isn't as good as the 400 prime, would the 200-400 zoom be worth it over a good used 400 2.8 prime?
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Thread Title: Nikon 400 f 2.8 vs 200-400 f4?
Thread Started By: Michael Woods
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