Nikon Z 400 f4.5 with 1.4x TC vs 500 pf questions!?

If you would like to post, you'll need to register. Note that if you have a BCG store account, you'll need a new, separate account here (we keep the two sites separate for security purposes).

sid_19911991

Well-known member
Thread starter
I think that the running VR is the one thing that bothers me most about any adapted F-mount VR lens. If the 400 f4.5 was a 500mm f5.6 (or 4.5) Z-mount lens, I'd buy it in a heartbeat. Because the 500PF is my longest lens, I do not want to step down to 400mm just to add a converter and turn it into an f6.3 lens.
It is unfortunate that we can not turn lens VR off while maintaining IBIS. While you might only gain one stop of VR, I'd take it and shoot my 500mm lens at 1/300 or faster.

bruce


Yeah, I wish Nikon made a 500 Z f5.6 like the 400 f4.5 Z.
 

EricBowles

Moderator
Supporting Member
Yeah, I wish Nikon made a 500 Z f5.6 like the 400 f4.5 Z.
I think the logic is the 400mm f/4.5 is something different enough that you may rethink the best lineup to meet your needs. For many, the 500 PF was simply the longest lens they used. Now the 800mm PF is part of the decision. I found the 500 PF was not long enough - but the 800mm PF is. But I often use the 400mm focal length for more context. One lens has effectively been replaced by two lenses at the long end - but it also means all of my options are light enough for hand holding and I have options for lower light levels.
 

Calson

Well-known member
I held onto my TC-14 and TC-20 teleconverters and added the S 1.4x and 2x ones so I had 4 teleconverters for my mix of f-mount and S lenses which is hardly ideal. Add in the need for the FTZ adapter and that is 5 pieces of kit in their pouches to fit into a backpack. For awhile I used a small fanny pouch to hold the 4 teleconverters and the FTZ adapter.

I have sold my 600mm f/4E and both my f-mount teleconverters. With the addition of the 400mm f/4.5 lens and my 100-400mm and 800mm PF lens, I now only need the FTZ adapter when using one of my landscape photography lenses. In the field with two telephotos and two S teleconverters my field kit is greatly simplified. For me it is a 560mm f/6.3 using the 400mm and 1.4x TC versus the 500mm f/5.6 and for my purposes S-mount only telephoto lenses is a big plus.
 

Pat Cassity

Member
Supporting Member
I held onto my TC-14 and TC-20 teleconverters and added the S 1.4x and 2x ones so I had 4 teleconverters for my mix of f-mount and S lenses which is hardly ideal. Add in the need for the FTZ adapter and that is 5 pieces of kit in their pouches to fit into a backpack. For awhile I used a small fanny pouch to hold the 4 teleconverters and the FTZ adapter.

I have sold my 600mm f/4E and both my f-mount teleconverters. With the addition of the 400mm f/4.5 lens and my 100-400mm and 800mm PF lens, I now only need the FTZ adapter when using one of my landscape photography lenses. In the field with two telephotos and two S teleconverters my field kit is greatly simplified. For me it is a 560mm f/6.3 using the 400mm and 1.4x TC versus the 500mm f/5.6 and for my purposes S-mount only telephoto lenses is a big plus.
Calson, based on your comments, I suspect you are carrying two bodies. I would be interested to know, of the 3 lens you mention which two get the most use? I would image one is the 800, correct? what determines if you use the 100-400 or the 400 4.5?
 

ricardo00

Active member
Calson, based on your comments, I suspect you are carrying two bodies. I would be interested to know, of the 3 lens you mention which two get the most use? I would image one is the 800, correct? what determines if you use the 100-400 or the 400 4.5?
I don't know about Calson, but my problem is I only have the one mirrorless camera, a Z9. So my second body is always a DSLR, the D500. Hence at this point it helps to have some F lenses. And I don't plan to get a second mirrorless camera until there is a light body that has as "good" a focus function as the Z9. I wouldn't mind if it is less powerful than the Z9 in video, but want it to be as light if not lighter than the D500. Another reason I sent the 100-400mm back since I prefer my longest lens to be on the Z9 to catch some action, like a bird or cheetah catching its prey, which in my experience all happens at a long distance. But so far the 400mm f/4.5 has worked pretty well with the TC-2.0 for an effective 800mm (until my 800mm arrives, which may be another year it seems). Just photographed some raptors hunting, unfortunately none came up with their prey while I could follow them. Though one (an American kestrel) caught something out of my site and returned to a distant tree to eat it.
{ https://flic.kr/p/2nNoK2L }
{ https://flic.kr/p/2nNpXoj }
 
Last edited:

Calson

Well-known member
I do have two Z9 cameras which helps. In the past I have had the 600mm f/4 with one body and the 80-400mm with the second one. Many photographers take this approach. I can move quickly with the hand held zoom lens and adjust my shooting height to be at eye level with my subjects in seconds.

When shooting from a boat I have used lighter lenses and usually shot hand held or if using a teleconverter I used a monopod on rare occasions. I have hired small boats to get shots in Costa Rica, Brazil, Alaska, and Cambodia, hand holding a zoom telephoto lens. Distances vary as does the size of subjects and a zoom lens works the best.

On my last two trips out of the country I fit a 600mm f/4, 500mm PF, 80-400mm, TC-14, and two D850 cameras in my Gura Gear 32L backpack. I plan to have the 800mm PF, 100-400mm, 400mm f.5, 1.4x teleconverter, and two Z9 cameras, inside this backpack. Even when using a car in the states I like to have a primary kit that fits in a single backpack.

I expect to sell the 500mm PF when the 400mm f/4.5 arrives and use it with my two S teleconverters. It would be nice to have the 400mm f/2.8 lens with its internal teleconverter but it is too expensive and too heavy to add it to my collection.

I placed an order for a 400mm f/4.5 on September 17 with Berger Bros. and received word today that NPS Nikon is shipping it out to them. I do dislike having to have a lens go from Japan or China to Los Angeles and then to New York and then back across the country to California. Some of the supply chain issues are of the manufacturers' own making.
 
Last edited:

sid_19911991

Well-known member
Thread starter
I think the logic is the 400mm f/4.5 is something different enough that you may rethink the best lineup to meet your needs. For many, the 500 PF was simply the longest lens they used. Now the 800mm PF is part of the decision. I found the 500 PF was not long enough - but the 800mm PF is. But I often use the 400mm focal length for more context. One lens has effectively been replaced by two lenses at the long end - but it also means all of my options are light enough for hand holding and I have options for lower light levels.

Yep. Nikon is giving us affordable good quality options that other makers aren't, but I still would like a 500 f5.6 in Z mount.

For far off subjects, one can use the DX option on the 500 mm making it 750 mm, while one can also get decent habitat shots with some backtracking by shooting at 500...

800 pf however can rarely be used for habitat shots...and if one shoots 4k 120 fps video, the 2.3x crop is an overkill.

The 400 f4.5 Z is perfect for habitat photography but can fall short sometimes for shooting small birds.

So there is room for a 500 f5.6 Z mount. Z mount will be sharper & certainly be way better for video over an f mount glass.

Based on the reviews of the 400 z f4.5, my one criticism would be the lack of MF/AF button. It is such a great tool for focus peaking & for focusing tricky subjects.
 

Calson

Well-known member
A DX crop does not equate to 750mm as their is no gain in image magnification only a reduction in view angle. One needs a teleconverter to get a larger image size.

I expect to be using the 400mm f/4.5 with a teleconverter nearly 100% of the time for wildlife photography. With the 1.4x it becomes a 560mm f/6.3 lens giving up only 1/3 f-stop to the 500mm f/5.6 lens. With my three S tele lensses, I have 100mm to 400mm, 560mm, and 800mm focal lengths which is all I need for wildlife.
 

Pat Cassity

Member
Supporting Member
A DX crop does not equate to 750mm as their is no gain in image magnification only a reduction in view angle. One needs a teleconverter to get a larger image size.

I expect to be using the 400mm f/4.5 with a teleconverter nearly 100% of the time for wildlife photography. With the 1.4x it becomes a 560mm f/6.3 lens giving up only 1/3 f-stop to the 500mm f/5.6 lens. With my three S tele lensses, I have 100mm to 400mm, 560mm, and 800mm focal lengths which is all I need for wildlife.
Sounds like a great setup! I would be interested to see how the 400 4.5 preforms at 6.3 (with or without TC). I find 6.3 on My 500PF to be my preferred aperture.
 

ricardo00

Active member
Sounds like a great setup! I would be interested to see how the 400 4.5 preforms at 6.3 (with or without TC). I find 6.3 on My 500PF to be my preferred aperture.
Not sure whether the 400mm f/4.5 would be sharper at f/6.3, but for me, the main advantage of getting the 400mm is for its lower light capability, so would want to use it wide open. Usually I have the 1.4TC on it (so then it is f/6.3) but when light gets low, take the TC off and shoot at f/4.5. Wouldn't the preferred aperture change if one has the TC on?
 

Pat Cassity

Member
Supporting Member
Not sure whether the 400mm f/4.5 would be sharper at f/6.3, but for me, the main advantage of getting the 400mm is for its lower light capability, so would want to use it wide open. Usually I have the 1.4TC on it (so then it is f/6.3) but when light gets low, take the TC off and shoot at f/4.5. Wouldn't the preferred aperture change if one has the TC on?
Yes. I believe 6.3 would become f9. Which is also my preferred aperture when using the TC on my 500PF. Of course when there is sufficient light.
 

sid_19911991

Well-known member
Thread starter
A DX crop does not equate to 750mm as their is no gain in image magnification only a reduction in view angle. One needs a teleconverter to get a larger image size.

I expect to be using the 400mm f/4.5 with a teleconverter nearly 100% of the time for wildlife photography. With the 1.4x it becomes a 560mm f/6.3 lens giving up only 1/3 f-stop to the 500mm f/5.6 lens. With my three S tele lensses, I have 100mm to 400mm, 560mm, and 800mm focal lengths which is all I need for wildlife.

I agree. I meant to say when 750 mm DX is used, one can fill the frame, therefore useful for AF & bird eye AF especially for smaller birds. Often, small bird eye AF doesn't happen on the 500 mm when it is tiny in the frame.

The focal length usage depends on one's style of photography.

I try to fill the subject, mammal especially only between 8-20% of the entire frame to show its habitat.

In such cases, 560/500 mm to 400 mm makes a considerable difference especially when one in on a safari in tropical rain forests with limited scope to move backwards.

100-400's f5.6 on the long end is not too appealing. Also, it is apparently not as sharp as the 400 f4.5. on the long end but nearly as expensive. IDK.

Either way, what are the major practical advantages that you have been experiencing using the S line telephoto glass?


Are you on Flickr or Instagram. I would be happy to see the pictures.

I am considering buying a 400 f4.5 after selling my 500 f5.6...
 

Alistair

Member
Yes. I believe 6.3 would become f9. Which is also my preferred aperture when using the TC on my 500PF. Of course when there is sufficient light.

I have put quite a lot of images on the 400/4.5. Nearly always wide open, 1.4 converter and bare. There may be a tiny increase in accutance when stopped down but not worth bothering about IMHO. Any way you shoot it, it's plenty sharp. But the level of correction, the rendering and the handling make this a very special lens, again IMHO.
 

fcotterill

Well-known member
Supporting Member
My findings concur with the 400 f4.5S, although I've still to put it to serious work: ideally a few thousand images, including direct comparisons against the 500 PF and 180-400 TC14.

However it's obvious this an excellent optic in testing, so far, across a range of subject distances and also stopping down to f8. Unless more DoF is needed, it's going to stay on f4.5. a nifty telephoto which reminds me of my much worn 400 f5.6AI ED IF.

I've have yet to test the ZTC14 properly, however, but the images at f6.3 don't show up any problems. But I plan to try and discern any major differences from the 180-400 @560 as well as @400.
 

BLev65

Well-known member
Supporting Member
I agree. I meant to say when 750 mm DX is used, one can fill the frame, therefore useful for AF & bird eye AF especially for smaller birds. Often, small bird eye AF doesn't happen on the 500 mm when it is tiny in the frame.

The focal length usage depends on one's style of photography.

I try to fill the subject, mammal especially only between 8-20% of the entire frame to show its habitat.

In such cases, 560/500 mm to 400 mm makes a considerable difference especially when one in on a safari in tropical rain forests with limited scope to move backwards.

100-400's f5.6 on the long end is not too appealing. Also, it is apparently not as sharp as the 400 f4.5. on the long end but nearly as expensive. IDK.

Either way, what are the major practical advantages that you have been experiencing using the S line telephoto glass?


Are you on Flickr or Instagram. I would be happy to see the pictures.

I am considering buying a 400 f4.5 after selling my 500 f5.6...
While I am replying to this "response," my comment will be more general and relate to an obsession with "new" or "best" rather than "optimal for the use case".
To me, this is one of those "popcorn" threads where one has to watch where the discussion goes. I recognize a lot of photographers in this discussion from FM (on which I am "owlseyes"), and many of us have abandoned outstanding lenses in order to gobble up the latest and greatest with an insatiable lust. In the end, we obsess about optimal optical quality, when this slightest of advantage is rarely visible to anyone but another pixel-peeping photographer.
Sid in your response you state "100-400's f5.6 on the long end is not too appealing. Also, it is apparently not as sharp as the 400 f4.5. on the long end but nearly as expensive. IDK." ...
In response, I offer the following... (1) 400mm f4.5 is less than a stop faster and most (including you, I believe) will be adding a 1.4x converter making this a slower 560mm f6.3 lens that will be even slower than the 500 f5.6 you currently use. Now I certainly understand the value of f4.5 if 400mm is the focal length you want to use, but many people discussing this lens are looking for a way to replace their more than adequate f5.6 500mm lens. To be clear, there are many reasons to choose the Z-mount lens... top on the list is the ability to do away with an FTZ and "cross-compatibility."
(2) With respect to price and sharpness in the 100-400S v the 400mm f4.5, it makes sense that a $3250 prime (US) lens is going to be sharper at its ONE focal length than a $2650 (US) zoom lens designed to be used across multiple focal lengths. Both lenses represent a compromise here... sharpest optical quality vs focal length flexibility. Plenty of reviews suggest the 400mm f4.5 is sharper (dare I say "duh," but... nobody says the 100-400 is not sharp throughout the range... see Ricci's discussion). As one who has been on safaris, shoots from canoes / kayaks / zodiacs, I have found zooms to be the best choice under these conditions.... YVMV.
But back to my first point... the obsession with newest and best. The latter almost never results in better pictures. In Sony's world, they have a 100-400 and 200-600. The 100-400 is sharper, faster, and lighter than the less expensive 200-600, but most people pull out their 200-600 first because it extends to 600mm. Most are willing to sacrifice the loss in AF speed, aperture, and brute optical quality in order to eek out a bit more focal length. The same will probably be true if Nikon ever produces their unicorn 200-600mm lens. It too will be slower, less sharp, and heavier, than the 100-400 (or 400 f4.5)... but it will be the right lens for many many wildlife photographers.
Right now the 400mm f4.5 is the "fashionable" less expensive super-tele... it is a great idea, it belongs in the Nikon line-up, and it is worth owning... but is it the right lens if you need to shoot at 500mm (+) or require flexibility? Only you can answer these questions.

And now for my final point... I often fall for the "newer is better" mindset. When I get bored and do not shoot enough, I begin thinking that the problem is with my lenses, my cameras, my computer, etc... Retail therapy is the placebo, but it is not the cure. Point in fact... I purchased the 100-400S to replace my 200-400VR (newer is better, right?). With the exception of some work in photo blinds, this new (and described as amazing by many) lens has not seen the light of day. It is a fantastic optic, easily beats my former 200-400VR in quality and weight, but it adds very little to the way I see the world. Some might say it's a step back, but I'm considering the sale of my 100-400 (not because of some perceived inadequacy) to buy a 300mm f2.8VR. The latter has become so cheap relative to Z lenses that it drifts into bargain status. It is different than the Z optics, it is a fast lens that produces a unique bokeh that has the potential to add something very different ...

While I realize I have become long in the tooth... I think it is important to stop and contemplate the real motivation behind the decisions we make.
cheers,
bruce
 
Last edited:

EricBowles

Moderator
Supporting Member
While I am replying to this "response," my comment will be more general and relate to an obsession with "new" or "best" rather than "optimal for the use case".
To me, this is one of those "popcorn" threads where one has to watch where the discussion goes. I recognize a lot of photographers in this discussion from FM (on which I am "owlseyes"), and many of us have abandoned outstanding lenses in order to gobble up the latest and greatest with an insatiable lust. In the end, we obsess about optimal optical quality, when these slightest of advantage are rarely visible to anyone but another pixel-peeping photographer.
Sid in your response you state "100-400's f5.6 on the long end is not too appealing. Also, it is apparently not as sharp as the 400 f4.5. on the long end but nearly as expensive. IDK." ...
In response, I offer the following... (1) 400mm f4.5 is less than a stop faster and most (including you, I believe) will be adding a 1.4x converter making this a slower 560mm f6.3 lens that will be even slower than the 500 f5.6 you currently use. Now I certainly understand the value of f4.5 if 400mm is the focal length you want to use, but many people discussing this lens are looking for a way to replace their more than adequate f5.6 500mm lens. To be clear, there are many reasons to choose the Z-mount lens... top on the list is the ability to do away with an FTZ and "cross-compatibility."
(2) With respect to price and sharpness in the 100-400S v the 400mm f4.5, it makes sense that a $3250 prime (US) lens is going to be sharper at its ONE focal length than a $2650 (US) zoom lens designed to be used across multiple focal lengths. Both lenses represent a compromise here... sharpest optical quality vs focal length flexibility. Plenty of reviews suggest the 400mm f4.5 is sharper (dare I say "duh," nobody says the 100-400 is not sharp... see Ricci's discussion). As one who has been on safaris, shoots from canoes / kayaks / zodiacs, I have found zooms to be the best choice under these conditions.... YVMV.
But back to my first point... the obsession with newest and best. The latter almost never results in better pictures. In Sony's world, they have a 100-400 and 200-600. The 100-400 is sharper, faster, and lighter than the less expensive 200-600, but most people pull out their 200-600 first because it extends to 600mm. Most are willing to sacrifice the loss in AF speed and brute optical quality in order to eek out a bit more focal length. The same will probably be true if Nikon ever produces their unicorn 200-600mm lens. It too will be slower, less sharp, and heavier, than the 100-400 (or 400 f4.5)... but it will be the right lens for many many wildlife photographers.
Right now the 400mm f4.5 is the "fashionable" less expensive super-tele... it is a great idea, it belongs in the Nikon line-up, and it is worth owning... but is it the right lens if you need to shoot at 500mm (+) or require flexibility? Only you can answer these questions.

And now for my final point... I have fallen for the "newer is better" mindset. When I get bored and do not shoot enough, I begin thinking that the problem are with my lenses, my camera, my computer, etc... Retail therapy is the placebo but not the cure. Point in fact... I purchased the 100-400S to replace my 200-400VR (newer is better, right?). With the exception of some work in photo blinds, this new (and described as amazing by many) lens has not seen the light of day. It is a fantastic optic, easily beats my former 200-400VR in quality and weight, but it adds very little to the way I see the world. Some might say it's a step back, but I'm considering the sale of my 100-400 (not because of some perceived inadequacy) and buy a 300mm f2.8VR. The latter have become so cheap relative to Z lenses, but offers so much opportunity for creative expression....

While I realize I have become long in the tooth... I think it is important to stop and contemplate the real motivation behind the decisions we make.
cheers,
bruce
Good thoughts, Bruce.

In my particular case, I only paid $600 net to move from the 500mm PF to the 400mm f/4.5 (I also sold the 200-500 which more than covered the $600 difference). I had a problem to solve with the 500 PF - specular highlights are awful and make backlit images largely unusable - and the 400mm f/4.5 has beautiful background highlights. That represents a modest cost to move away from the F-mount, the FTZ, and the F-mount teleconverter - plus solve a problem. But - I have the 800mm for the long end. My plan is to use the 400mm f/4.5 for mammals and large wading birds, but my immediate use was sports for the PGA Tour Championship so I have not posted images here.
 

MikeS

Member
I liked the idea of both the 400 4.5 and the 100-400 but couldn't afford both. I shoot sports as a job but love shooting wildlife. I have always used 300 and 400 2.8 lenses for sports plus another camera with a 70-200 2.8 on it. Occasionally when a soccer player ran too close I'd miss the odd shot while changing over from one camera to the other. The idea of using my Z9 with a 100-400 really appealed to me and that's the route I chose and it's been great. It has rapidly become my favourite lens. Under the night lights, I revert to the old set-up but it's quite possible that the 100-400 would still be fine given the file quality of these new cameras plus the noise reduction software out there but I haven't tested this yet. So as someone mentioned earlier the flexibility of a zoom is a real advantage. However, I do miss the look of the out-of-focus areas of the 2.8 lenses but image content is still king for me. Can't have everything!

Regarding the 500 5.6, I wish I owned one! But IMHO I wouldn't buy a 400 4.5 for wildlife with the idea that a 1.4 converter would live on it even if it is a Z lens.
 

BLev65

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Good thoughts, Bruce.

In my particular case, I only paid $600 net to move from the 500mm PF to the 400mm f/4.5 (I also sold the 200-500 which more than covered the $600 difference). I had a problem to solve with the 500 PF - specular highlights are awful and make backlit images largely unusable - and the 400mm f/4.5 has beautiful background highlights. That represents a modest cost to move away from the F-mount, the FTZ, and the F-mount teleconverter - plus solve a problem. But - I have the 800mm for the long end. My plan is to use the 400mm f/4.5 for mammals and large wading birds, but my immediate use was sports for the PGA Tour Championship so I have not posted images here.
Thanks for adding to the discussion Eric... I too am bothered by the specular highlights, especially when photographing backlit shorebirds. It seems that this is the primary time when this phenomena curses the 500PF. However, I am not a bird specialist and a lens like the 800PF offers little more than "bragging rights" for me. I would love to play with the lens, and will likely rent one if I ever had the need. In contrast, the 500PF has become my "daily" user. It is 500mm on my Z9 when shooting FX and offers me a 750mm FOV when shooting DX. I typically leverage my abilities to move in close and expose my body to environments others work hard to avoid. The willingness to lie in muck, be chest high in water, and use watercraft allow me to close the gap with many of my subjects.
With respect to the 400 f4.5... this would have been my dream lens about 5 years ago. Mounted on a DX camera, it is a small 600mm f4.5... now that I've grown accustom to a native 500mm w/ the ability to produce a 750mm FOV with a quick click of a button, I fear the 400mm is now too short (funny how things change).
Finally, as mentioned above, I too was bothered with the specular issue of the 400mm f4.5.. and then I saw this link on FM (560 f6.3) and this link (@ f/6.3) and this link (@ f/8) on FM (different photographer and location) that look no better than what my 500PF would produce under similar conditions.

regards,
bruce
 

Gene_Hughes

Member
Would like to share a couple of examples that may be pertinent to the current discussion.

The Osprey shots are SOOC comparison of bare lens and 2x TC. Nothing fancy, but useful for sharpness comparison I think.

index.php

_GHP6449.JPG
You can only see EXIF info for this image if you are logged in.



The elk demonstrates what Eric was touching on, although this isn't an extreme case. The other guy I was shooting with that morning was using the 500PF on an 850. He was having some issues with highlights as well as having to back up an extra little bit for composition. Didn't seem to hurt his overall results though.


_GHP5213.jpg
You can only see EXIF info for this image if you are logged in.
 

Attachments

  • _GHP6444.JPG
    _GHP6444.JPG
    280.2 KB · Views: 169

sid_19911991

Well-known member
Thread starter
While I am replying to this "response," my comment will be more general and relate to an obsession with "new" or "best" rather than "optimal for the use case".
To me, this is one of those "popcorn" threads where one has to watch where the discussion goes. I recognize a lot of photographers in this discussion from FM (on which I am "owlseyes"), and many of us have abandoned outstanding lenses in order to gobble up the latest and greatest with an insatiable lust. In the end, we obsess about optimal optical quality, when this slightest of advantage is rarely visible to anyone but another pixel-peeping photographer.
Sid in your response you state "100-400's f5.6 on the long end is not too appealing. Also, it is apparently not as sharp as the 400 f4.5. on the long end but nearly as expensive. IDK." ...
In response, I offer the following... (1) 400mm f4.5 is less than a stop faster and most (including you, I believe) will be adding a 1.4x converter making this a slower 560mm f6.3 lens that will be even slower than the 500 f5.6 you currently use. Now I certainly understand the value of f4.5 if 400mm is the focal length you want to use, but many people discussing this lens are looking for a way to replace their more than adequate f5.6 500mm lens. To be clear, there are many reasons to choose the Z-mount lens... top on the list is the ability to do away with an FTZ and "cross-compatibility."
(2) With respect to price and sharpness in the 100-400S v the 400mm f4.5, it makes sense that a $3250 prime (US) lens is going to be sharper at its ONE focal length than a $2650 (US) zoom lens designed to be used across multiple focal lengths. Both lenses represent a compromise here... sharpest optical quality vs focal length flexibility. Plenty of reviews suggest the 400mm f4.5 is sharper (dare I say "duh," but... nobody says the 100-400 is not sharp throughout the range... see Ricci's discussion). As one who has been on safaris, shoots from canoes / kayaks / zodiacs, I have found zooms to be the best choice under these conditions.... YVMV.
But back to my first point... the obsession with newest and best. The latter almost never results in better pictures. In Sony's world, they have a 100-400 and 200-600. The 100-400 is sharper, faster, and lighter than the less expensive 200-600, but most people pull out their 200-600 first because it extends to 600mm. Most are willing to sacrifice the loss in AF speed, aperture, and brute optical quality in order to eek out a bit more focal length. The same will probably be true if Nikon ever produces their unicorn 200-600mm lens. It too will be slower, less sharp, and heavier, than the 100-400 (or 400 f4.5)... but it will be the right lens for many many wildlife photographers.
Right now the 400mm f4.5 is the "fashionable" less expensive super-tele... it is a great idea, it belongs in the Nikon line-up, and it is worth owning... but is it the right lens if you need to shoot at 500mm (+) or require flexibility? Only you can answer these questions.

And now for my final point... I often fall for the "newer is better" mindset. When I get bored and do not shoot enough, I begin thinking that the problem is with my lenses, my cameras, my computer, etc... Retail therapy is the placebo, but it is not the cure. Point in fact... I purchased the 100-400S to replace my 200-400VR (newer is better, right?). With the exception of some work in photo blinds, this new (and described as amazing by many) lens has not seen the light of day. It is a fantastic optic, easily beats my former 200-400VR in quality and weight, but it adds very little to the way I see the world. Some might say it's a step back, but I'm considering the sale of my 100-400 (not because of some perceived inadequacy) to buy a 300mm f2.8VR. The latter has become so cheap relative to Z lenses that it drifts into bargain status. It is different than the Z optics, it is a fast lens that produces a unique bokeh that has the potential to add something very different ...

While I realize I have become long in the tooth... I think it is important to stop and contemplate the real motivation behind the decisions we make.
cheers,
bruce

Yes I agree...I think most of us can take far better pics with old gear by investing more time on travel, location...etc...instead we aspire to get the best gadget we can afford... I guess it is just part of our modern culture...

Hypothetically speaking... let's say the 100-400 is as sharp as the 400 f4.5 and of identical aperture & quality, price etc....I would still prefer the 400 f4.5 ... because I hate the idea of an external zoom...it looks so cheap!!!!

As superficial as I am...I am being shamelessly honest here. :D
 

BLev65

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Yes I agree...I think most of us can take far better pics with old gear by investing more time on travel, location...etc...instead we aspire to get the best gadget we can afford... I guess it is just part of our modern culture...

Hypothetically speaking... let's say the 100-400 is as sharp as the 400 f4.5 and of identical aperture & quality, price etc....I would still prefer the 400 f4.5 ... because I hate the idea of an external zoom...it looks so cheap!!!!

As superficial as I am...I am being shamelessly honest here. :D
Thanks for the response...
Sid, I can't disagree with your dislike of an external zoom mechanism. While I am confident that anyone who handles the 100-400 would say that it does not feel or look cheap, it does have an external zoom and this is a weak point of every 100-400 / 100-500 design by all manufacturers (Canon, Sony, Tamron, Nikon, Sigma). In fact, since Nikon was last to release this lens, I had hoped that they would "stun" the photo-community with an internal zoom lens. The latter is what has made the Sony 200-600mm lens such a unique lens. Had Sony simply designed a 200-600 w/ the zoom mechanism of the Nikon 200-500 or Tam/Sig 150-600, I do not think they would have generated the sales and switching that followed after its introduction.
Over the years, external zoom lens have had a short life in my camera bag, but as I try to construct a kit that allows me to carry everything in one manageable bag, the Nikon 100-400 covers a remarkable range in a small rugged package, and is optically a stellar lens.
bruce
 

sid_19911991

Well-known member
Thread starter
Thanks for the response...
Sid, I can't disagree with your dislike of an external zoom mechanism. While I am confident that anyone who handles the 100-400 would say that it does not feel or look cheap, it does have an external zoom and this is a weak point of every 100-400 / 100-500 design by all manufacturers (Canon, Sony, Tamron, Nikon, Sigma). In fact, since Nikon was last to release this lens, I had hoped that they would "stun" the photo-community with an internal zoom lens. The latter is what has made the Sony 200-600mm lens such a unique lens. Had Sony simply designed a 200-600 w/ the zoom mechanism of the Nikon 200-500 or Tam/Sig 150-600, I do not think they would have generated the sales and switching that followed after its introduction.
Over the years, external zoom lens have had a short life in my camera bag, but as I try to construct a kit that allows me to carry everything in one manageable bag, the Nikon 100-400 covers a remarkable range in a small rugged package, and is optically a stellar lens.
bruce
I agree with you 100%. We all like things/living beings that are good-looking. 😀
 

Skye.prf

Member
While I am replying to this "response," my comment will be more general and relate to an obsession with "new" or "best" rather than "optimal for the use case".
To me, this is one of those "popcorn" threads where one has to watch where the discussion goes. I recognize a lot of photographers in this discussion from FM (on which I am "owlseyes"), and many of us have abandoned outstanding lenses in order to gobble up the latest and greatest with an insatiable lust. In the end, we obsess about optimal optical quality, when this slightest of advantage is rarely visible to anyone but another pixel-peeping photographer.
Sid in your response you state "100-400's f5.6 on the long end is not too appealing. Also, it is apparently not as sharp as the 400 f4.5. on the long end but nearly as expensive. IDK." ...
In response, I offer the following... (1) 400mm f4.5 is less than a stop faster and most (including you, I believe) will be adding a 1.4x converter making this a slower 560mm f6.3 lens that will be even slower than the 500 f5.6 you currently use. Now I certainly understand the value of f4.5 if 400mm is the focal length you want to use, but many people discussing this lens are looking for a way to replace their more than adequate f5.6 500mm lens. To be clear, there are many reasons to choose the Z-mount lens... top on the list is the ability to do away with an FTZ and "cross-compatibility."
(2) With respect to price and sharpness in the 100-400S v the 400mm f4.5, it makes sense that a $3250 prime (US) lens is going to be sharper at its ONE focal length than a $2650 (US) zoom lens designed to be used across multiple focal lengths. Both lenses represent a compromise here... sharpest optical quality vs focal length flexibility. Plenty of reviews suggest the 400mm f4.5 is sharper (dare I say "duh," but... nobody says the 100-400 is not sharp throughout the range... see Ricci's discussion). As one who has been on safaris, shoots from canoes / kayaks / zodiacs, I have found zooms to be the best choice under these conditions.... YVMV.
But back to my first point... the obsession with newest and best. The latter almost never results in better pictures. In Sony's world, they have a 100-400 and 200-600. The 100-400 is sharper, faster, and lighter than the less expensive 200-600, but most people pull out their 200-600 first because it extends to 600mm. Most are willing to sacrifice the loss in AF speed, aperture, and brute optical quality in order to eek out a bit more focal length. The same will probably be true if Nikon ever produces their unicorn 200-600mm lens. It too will be slower, less sharp, and heavier, than the 100-400 (or 400 f4.5)... but it will be the right lens for many many wildlife photographers.
Right now the 400mm f4.5 is the "fashionable" less expensive super-tele... it is a great idea, it belongs in the Nikon line-up, and it is worth owning... but is it the right lens if you need to shoot at 500mm (+) or require flexibility? Only you can answer these questions.

And now for my final point... I often fall for the "newer is better" mindset. When I get bored and do not shoot enough, I begin thinking that the problem is with my lenses, my cameras, my computer, etc... Retail therapy is the placebo, but it is not the cure. Point in fact... I purchased the 100-400S to replace my 200-400VR (newer is better, right?). With the exception of some work in photo blinds, this new (and described as amazing by many) lens has not seen the light of day. It is a fantastic optic, easily beats my former 200-400VR in quality and weight, but it adds very little to the way I see the world. Some might say it's a step back, but I'm considering the sale of my 100-400 (not because of some perceived inadequacy) to buy a 300mm f2.8VR. The latter has become so cheap relative to Z lenses that it drifts into bargain status. It is different than the Z optics, it is a fast lens that produces a unique bokeh that has the potential to add something very different ...

While I realize I have become long in the tooth... I think it is important to stop and contemplate the real motivation behind the decisions we make.
cheers,
bruce
It seems to me that a lot of people look to find a good reason to upgrade… it is so fun to have new gear! Like those, I am looking to find the justification to change my 500pf to the new 400S… but… (based on the fact that I have a very good copy!), I can’t justify to change it… ;(… I have the 100-400S… and the 500pf is sharper. With the 1.4Tc… still better than cropping the 100-400… and the 500pf works great with the Z9… on the field… the 100-400 is great enough to sell my 70-200… and, just come back from a travel, I realized that I used only my 24-120 ans my 100-400s… may be I only have to much gear at the end? But… new gear is so fun! :)
 

Skye.prf

Member
Thanks for the response...
Sid, I can't disagree with your dislike of an external zoom mechanism. While I am confident that anyone who handles the 100-400 would say that it does not feel or look cheap, it does have an external zoom and this is a weak point of every 100-400 / 100-500 design by all manufacturers (Canon, Sony, Tamron, Nikon, Sigma). In fact, since Nikon was last to release this lens, I had hoped that they would "stun" the photo-community with an internal zoom lens. The latter is what has made the Sony 200-600mm lens such a unique lens. Had Sony simply designed a 200-600 w/ the zoom mechanism of the Nikon 200-500 or Tam/Sig 150-600, I do not think they would have generated the sales and switching that followed after its introduction.
Over the years, external zoom lens have had a short life in my camera bag, but as I try to construct a kit that allows me to carry everything in one manageable bag, the Nikon 100-400 covers a remarkable range in a small rugged package, and is optically a stellar lens.
bruce
Years ago, I had the Tamron with external zoom… I realized that I had a dog hair in the lens… want to return it to Tamron under guarantee… but they told me that the lens are not 100% dust free and they need to bill me $$$ to clean it… it was my last Tamron… and I hope that Nikon, with the S lens, will be better… fingers crossed!
 
Top