Am I mad? - MF super telephoto

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#1
All,

It’s been a busy year photographing :)

Anyway - I’m seriously considering investing in a manual focus Nikon 400 2.8.

Currently I shoot with a d810, D3s and d3 and have just wrapped up doing a lot of sport / action photography. I’m kind of sick of it now! With that said - I’m hoping to do more wildlife and people photography and slow things down a little.

I have always wanted a 400 2.8 as nothing gives the same look and when looking at used options I am concerned about future serviceability - in that many cannot be repaired nowadays. I figured a manual focus 400 2.8 is a better investment than an old 400 2.8 af that could break down in the field and lose a ton of value (not that much ever gets sold ;))

Most of my wildlife photography is not fast action based - rather more portrait style if that makes sense.

I know it’s a weapon of a lens and I’ve got to figure out how to travel with it - but am I mad to consider a manual focus super telephoto?


Thanks
Chris
 
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Name
matt
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#2
Funny thing is if you go back to film days we didn't have AF lenses and there were some cracking motorsport shots taken on MF lenses, pre-focused admittedly so a tad less difficult than BIF but still showed the skills of the old-guys in days gone by. And they didn't generally use 10fps either ;-)

Go for it.
 
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Ian
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#3
I guess there's a couple of things to think about. What's the distance of your subjects? Is everything at the same rough distance? How much turn do you need to apply to get from minimum distance to infinity?

If your subjects are often moving towards and/or away from you, you'll be doing a lot of twisting to focus which might not be fun (depending on the focus throw) and might upset your stability. If your subjects are often at the same relative distance, you're more likely to be fine with small tweaks. Children or animals running towards/away from you might be a significant challenge, whereas a bird on a stick would be relatively easy.

Good thing about old vintage second hand MF lenses is that you can often get your money back selling on if it doesn't work out.
 
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matt
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#4
One other thing, how will the focusing screen work with a MF lens, we had ground glass which was quite good and a split prism which was very good with reasonably fast lenses. Will the aperture actuator still work and meter at full aperture, only closing down when the mirror is up.
 
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Kyle
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#5
You're not mad but it can make life difficult, especially if you aren't used to manually focusing. I bought an old nikon 300mm f2.8 AI-s to use with my old canon EOS 20D 12 years ago. I've been using it with a D800/810 since 2013 and it has done a superb job over the years. I've strongly considered the 500mm f4 AI-p lens for many years as I want the reach more than the fast aperture of the 400. (not to mention I don't fancy the weight)

These are off my 1986 vintage 300mm f2.8 ED IF. In flight stuff is difficult but not impossible. The closer it is to you, the harder it is.
Vulcan Bomber over Llandegfedd
by Kyle, on Flickr

Wildlife that can stay still for a moment is fairly easy.
Squirrel
by Kyle, on Flickr
Robin
by Kyle, on Flickr
Mallard
by Kyle, on Flickr
 
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matt
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#7
Hope to see some results very soon.
 
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Dan
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#8
I used a manual focus 300/5.6 Canon FD on my Sony A7. mirrorless, with EVF's and peaking, makes it easy to do and the focus pulls are buttery smooth. With an SLR I'd suggest it would be much harder without S/S or other focusing aid. But good results can surely be had.
 
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#9
Thought I would update this thread with a few shots I took today at the zoo in Fargo, ND.

I have the ss really high, as I still don't have a monopod (I am traveling at the moment) and one broke on me this morning! Most of these are taken perched on a fence or my buddy's shoulder.

Full set here for those that are interested:
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmGLQR35

400_2.8_zoo_0609-11
by Chris Reynolds, on Flickr
400_2.8_zoo_0609-16
by Chris Reynolds, on Flickr
400_2.8_zoo_0609-43
by Chris Reynolds, on Flickr
400_2.8_zoo_0609-66
by Chris Reynolds, on Flickr
400_2.8_zoo_0609-78
by Chris Reynolds, on Flickr
 
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gary
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#12
last weekend I decided at the last moment to grab my a7iii and adaptor and Minolta a-mount 400 mm 4.5, on arriving I realised I had picked up my lea3 adaptor instead of my lea4 that I needed for auto focus, so turned on focus peaking and set for 400 mm in camera stability and began shooting. I was really happy with the results I got with a good hit rate it took me back to the film days and also made me realise how good the focus peaking features are on these new bodies with old lenses
 
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