Is This Lens Worth $6,800: Nikon 200-400 F4 VR II Review

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Is any lens worth $6800, that’s the question. This is Nikon’s second version of the 200-400 VR that has been a very popular lens. Second generations tend to mean sharper photos, lighter in weight and better VR.

As you know with my reviews I like to actually take the lens out into real world shooting environments. This time around I shot Maria indoors working out in a very low light situation along with Professional Lacrosse, The Philadelphia Flyers and a High School Baseball game.

Let’s start with the boring stuff. How is this lens built? Like any high end professional lens this lens is built extremely well. It feels great in the hands but I highly recommend using a nice and sturdy mono-pod or tri-pod when shooting. This definitely is not a lens you want to hand hold for a long time (7.4 LBS). With that said I did end up hand holding it in pit at the Arcade Fire Show.

I love Nikon’s top of the line lenses as they have the Nano crystal coating. This coating means sharper images and less lens flair when shooting towards bright light. All of the Hebrew Trinity lenses have Nano coating and I can tell you even when shooting into the sun you will not see any flair.

The truth is when you spend this much money on a lens you can only expect that it is built well and will deliver the results you are looking for.

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22 thoughts on “Is This Lens Worth $6,800: Nikon 200-400 F4 VR II Review”

  1. I own this lens. It's heavy, so use a monopod. Needed it to shoot helicopters in Iraq when deployed where you can't move around to reposition, and the subjects (helos) can be anywhere at any given time. Fast focus. Used a 1.4 teleconverter at times as well. The variable zoom adjustability is what your planning on when going for a 200-400mm lens like this. If your a dedicated shooter of static images then you probably look at fixed lenses at 400 and above.

    I also use this lens to shoot portraits, yes portraits. I'm more of a compression vs bokeh effect person. I'm looking to see the performance using a DX camera such as the D500. Can't find a review yet pairing this lens with a D500 or similar DX camera.

    Reply
  2. Re: Jared's comment: "I just feel that it wasn't as sharp as I wanted it to be…"
    I have downloaded the photos, and did pixel peeping 🙂 I think Jared forgot to fine tune the lens. In few photos you can clearly see that focus area is in front of the player. See 100% crops of first and last image from Jared's ZIP file: https://www.dropbox.com/s/6phhqxjzqv0v2l3/200-400.JPG?dl=0 https://www.dropbox.com/s/2hbwaqbc2ap3uud/200-400-2.JPG?dl=0
    So this might be a photographer mistake or the more likely this is AF Fine Tune issue. I think this lens is very sharp even at f/4.

    Reply
  3. I am a beginner photographer and I was wondering what lens is best for macro and wide angle pictures? I have two lenses right now and I want to expand my equipment. I usually just take pictures of nature but I just got into taking pictures of people so your help would be appreciated!! Thanks!!

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  4. Well considering Canons new 200-400mm F/4 w/ x 1.4 Teleconverter is $11,000.. All you have to do is add the new Nikon x 1.4 Teleconverter on which cost $500 and the price tag seems reasonable.

    Reply
  5. I own the lens and use it for motor racing with a D4 body and I'm super happy with the results. The real advantage is that when the cars are half a mile down the track, you can get acceptable pictures of the action, but when 15 seconds later they are going round a corner just 50 yards away from you, zoom out to 200 and you get a wonderful frame filling shot also. And of course it's good for everything in between. With a fixed 400mm, there's only one or two positions on the track where you fill the frame, and many times you will miss shots when the action moves closer to you unless you're carrying a 70-200mm on a second body.

    What's more, I find the 200-400mm at the very limit of hand holding capability while the 400mm f2.8 (a full kilo heavier) is impossibly big and heavy. if you are using a D4/D4s outside, it can cope with the ISO bump of losing a stop, and for the weight/size trade off (as well as a couple of thousand bucks in your pocket also), walk a mile with this on your back to your shooting location and then you'll be very pleased you chose the 'smaller' option.

    Unless you are a top pro in your field (wildlife/sports) shooting for magazines where a stop might mean the difference between making the front cover or not, I struggle to see how you'd be disappointed with this lens. At the race track, I have never seriously wished I had the 400mm 2.8 on my camera instead, but I know that all those great shots taken when I zoomed out to 200mm when the action got close, had I been fixed at 400m I would have been cussing like sailor. 

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