Nikon 300mm F4 prime vs Nikon 200-500mm

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1,477
Name
jason
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I dont use the 300mm prime much as its quite restrictive when photography aircraft. However, yesterday, I took it along to RAF Leeming.
It was a beautiful day, nice and sunny with loads of light. I mainly used the 200-500mm and it was attached to my D500.
I wasnt getting good results so decided to try the 300mm prime.
What a difference it made.
I found the 200-500mm results to be quite poor. Its a brand new lens, but i find im binning most of the shots due to focus or movement issues. Maybe its just my poor handling of it but it looks like its shaky.
Most shots look like they have a bit of ghosting. See shots below for comparison. Shot 1 is the 300mm, shot 2 is at 500mm. Both ISO 160, F5.6, 1/3200. SOOC.
300 5.6 3200 by jason greenwood, on Flickr
500 5.6 3200 by jason greenwood, on Flickr
 
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18,367
Name
Simon
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I found the 300mm to be great, a lot more keepers than I had with the Tamron 150-600 or Nikon 200-500.

I did put that down to shutter speed as i was normally at 1/250 or so (props).

Also the prime should give better IQ but on the best shots from both there was little to choose between them. I also was using the 300 with a D300/D700 and the 200-500 with a D750 so that may have had an impact
 
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2,103
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Iain
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i know people that have had a bad copy of the 200-500 but I don’t think a good copy would match the 300f4
 
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4
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I am looking at 300mm + lenses at the moment. Not much choice if looking for sharp, hand-holdable, reasonably priced options with at least f/4. The old 300mm f/4 D + TC-14E II would fit the bill, but has no VR and I worry that handheld shots on a D810 would be too grainy with the ISO settings required at any light other than direct sunlight...
 
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61
Name
richard
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If you mean the 300 f4 ED AF then its a great lens optically. I compared it to the 300E pf before I sold it and there really was no difference that I could see.

Its AF is fairly slow though and obviously no VR.

I am not sure it takes the TC 14 e ii (which I have)- I am pretty sure I used the Kenko Pro 300 DGX 1.4 on this and my 180/2.8 AF-D.. The Kenko is good and it has the screw drive feedthrough to run the AF off a body with a drive motor.

You should be fine in terms of noise etc - all the standard 70-300's are 5.6 at best.

I would either brace it, use a tripod or monopod, or shoot at 1/500 at least. I used to use it for action so I was normally at 1/1000 or faster anyhow. VR is not much use at those shutter speeds and I keep it off on all lenses. Admittedly, if you are using it for static subjects at lower shutter speeds then VR would be useful.

Have you looked at the af-p ( not af-s ) 70-300 ? both the VR dx and the FX versions are brilliant: fast focussing, effective VR and very sharp.
If you have a DX body, then the VR DX is as good as the FX is on FF bodies and one of the best value lenses Nikon does.

For longer, I would look at the sigma or Tamron 100-400 = pretty equal in performance but more expensive.
 
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4
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If you mean the 300 f4 ED AF then its a great lens optically. I compared it to the 300E pf before I sold it and there really was no difference that I could see.

Its AF is fairly slow though and obviously no VR.

I am not sure it takes the TC 14 e ii (which I have)- I am pretty sure I used the Kenko Pro 300 DGX 1.4 on this and my 180/2.8 AF-D.. The Kenko is good and it has the screw drive feedthrough to run the AF off a body with a drive motor.

You should be fine in terms of noise etc - all the standard 70-300's are 5.6 at best.

I would either brace it, use a tripod or monopod, or shoot at 1/500 at least. I used to use it for action so I was normally at 1/1000 or faster anyhow. VR is not much use at those shutter speeds and I keep it off on all lenses. Admittedly, if you are using it for static subjects at lower shutter speeds then VR would be useful.

Have you looked at the af-p ( not af-s ) 70-300 ? both the VR dx and the FX versions are brilliant: fast focussing, effective VR and very sharp.
If you have a DX body, then the VR DX is as good as the FX is on FF bodies and one of the best value lenses Nikon does.

For longer, I would look at the sigma or Tamron 100-400 = pretty equal in performance but more expensive.
Sorry, I meant the 300 f/4 D AF-S IF-ED, the successor to the ED AF you mention. However from what I have read most of the points you make apply equally to the f/4 D.

I totally agree with the suggested approach to shooting given the lack of VR and weight, which are the main drawbacks of both lenses as compared to the newest model - the 300mm PF ED VR.

Thanks for the alternatives suggested. I used to have an AF-P 70-300 DX and only sold it when I switched to FF. I agree - it was a fantastic lens with very good sharpness, contrast, and it was light and great value too. However, I fear that the FX version, still a great value, may not be able to resolve the D810 as some other FX alternatives. Will check out the Tamron.

Unfortunately the D810 does not perform that well in challenging light. Depending on the scene anything above ISO 3200 is usually too grainy, which does not leave much room for manoeuvre at dawn / dusk without a tripod. It pains me to see how much the likes of D850 and Z6/7 have improved, as otherwise I am very happy with the D810...
 
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13
Name
Barry Betts
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I've had a sigma contemporary, Tamron G2, returned a Nikon 200-500 and just bought a battered 25 year old Nikon AF-S 300mm F2.8D ED and I'll give you zero guesses which one is miles sharper than the rest even with a tc-17ii on it.

"My name's Barry and I am a prime convert."

May my bank manager have mercy on my soul.
 
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