Author Topic: SHOWDOWN: Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL ED vs. 600mm f/4E FL ED  (Read 6935 times)

MFloyd

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Re: SHOWDOWN: Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL ED vs. 600mm f/4E FL ED
« Reply #30 on: February 15, 2018, 23:25:27 »
Picture #2 Skeleton is my preferred. This 70-200 mm f/2.8E FL is really outstanding.
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Bob

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Re: SHOWDOWN: Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL ED vs. 600mm f/4E FL ED
« Reply #31 on: February 16, 2018, 07:50:39 »
Hi all,
I'm fairly new to NikonGear.  Today was my last day of employment and now I'm officially retired!  I've been agonizing over what "gift" I wanted to give myself for the last few months.  I knew I wanted a very good telephoto lens.  I already have the 300mm pf and the 200-500.  My initial thought was the 600mm f4, then I changed my mind and was planning to get the 500mm f4, mostly due to it's lower weight.  After settling on this lens for a month, I thought that it really wasn't going to give me a lot over the 200-500.  What frustrates me with the 200-500 is the slow speed in low light and cranking up the ISO.  A few days ago, I shifted gears again and decided on the 400mm f2.8.  To my surprise, B&H had a used, mint condition 400mm f2.8 E FL!  I ordered it a few days ago and it arrived this afternoon!  It's a beauty!  Tomorrow, I'll work on the autofocus fine tuning and head to the local wildlife refuge!  The eagles are returning to their nests!

Bob

MILLIREHM

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Re: SHOWDOWN: Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL ED vs. 600mm f/4E FL ED
« Reply #32 on: February 16, 2018, 23:10:15 »
Hi all,
I'm fairly new to NikonGear.  Today was my last day of employment and now I'm officially retired!  I've been agonizing over what "gift" I wanted to give myself for the last few months.  I knew I wanted a very good telephoto lens.  I already have the 300mm pf and the 200-500.  My initial thought was the 600mm f4, then I changed my mind and was planning to get the 500mm f4, mostly due to it's lower weight.  After settling on this lens for a month, I thought that it really wasn't going to give me a lot over the 200-500.  What frustrates me with the 200-500 is the slow speed in low light and cranking up the ISO.  A few days ago, I shifted gears again and decided on the 400mm f2.8.  To my surprise, B&H had a used, mint condition 400mm f2.8 E FL!  I ordered it a few days ago and it arrived this afternoon!  It's a beauty!  Tomorrow, I'll work on the autofocus fine tuning and head to the local wildlife refuge!  The eagles are returning to their nests!

Bob
Fine that you got your 400/2,8 FL, I assume it is not too comon to get it used. I agree it gives more added value to your 200-500 than the 500/4 would have brought. 600/4 is a different story
Enjoy!
Wolfgang Rehm

MILLIREHM

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Re: SHOWDOWN: Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL ED vs. 600mm f/4E FL ED
« Reply #33 on: February 16, 2018, 23:51:52 »
Just a try to contribute my few cents

I have shot (amongst others) the 800mm f/5,6 FL the 600 mm f/4 G VRII and the 400 mmf/5,6 FL, I have no experience with the 600 mm FL
I am not a systematic tester but rather give the impressions I have got from my shootings -  effects of potential sample variation have to be kept in mind because I have not experienced a larger sample of lenses of each type but just one.

The FL lenses are rather modular - comparing the 800-400 they share the same front lens diameter, the identical lens shade and tripod mount , same design just that the  400 is built shorter. What i found remarkable is the reduced front lens diameter of the 400/2,8 FL compared to it sprecedessor, together with the lighter FL lens element it makes it more hand hold capable. I dont know if the 600 FL shares this qualities.

In terms of image quality i see them all competitive  (including the older 600 mm lens) and they are all fast lenses (relative to their focal length)  so you better chose your preferred focal length, 800 mm (i know it was not proposed here) will be too long for many purposes (and is the most expensive)

Which one is the sharpest? Lenscore ranks the 400/2,8 at the top and that has some foundation as it is razorsharp and the only lens I needed to adjust my usual sharpening settings. That does not say that it is the best solution for all because each lens renders in a different way (I am tempted to compare the situation with the 85 mm/1,4 D which is razorsharp but sometimes too much for portrait, whereas the 105 mm f/1,4E is very sharp but has more benign portrait rendering). the sharpness of the 400/2,8 has some kind of supernatural touch, the 600/4 VR appears very sharp but does not have that attitude, the 800s sharp but smooth rendering gives the images  a very special and different impression. Under practical shooting conditions IQ differences derived from tests do not count as much as other factors, such as proper stabilisation (see below).

I only know one TC that does not affect the IQ in a clearly visible way, that is the TC-800
The 400/2,8 is the best lens I have ever seen to handle the TC14 and 20E III converters, but the good quality does not compete with the 600VR or the 800 without converter, all other superteles I have experienced give significantly decreased IQ wiht TCs. Dont know whether the 600 FL is as good as the 400 FL in handling converters. But If I'd need the range I'd buy the 600 instead of the 400 plus TC.

it is easier to lug the 800 around (not significantly longer but reduced lens diameter) than the 600 VRwhich is more true with the 400 (the new lens case is a night mare btw) and can be expected to be similar for the 600 FL
Another factor one should not forget: All Nikon superteles badly need replacement feet, the FL series has a more robust design but does not make an exception. Worse the mounting point position is significantly disadvantagious in terms of vibration prevention that appears to be valid for the whole FL series-the 600 VR has advantages here when used with a  proper replacement foot.

In short words: take the  600 FL

P.S. For me the 400 might be the lens with the best IQ but is not the most useful lens (for bird shooting), it's focal lens is just too short. For other purposes it might be the optimal choice
Wolfgang Rehm

Hugh_3170

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Re: SHOWDOWN: Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL ED vs. 600mm f/4E FL ED
« Reply #34 on: February 17, 2018, 07:35:34 »
Off Topic:

This wee operation might make for a useful thread once the operation has been completed and the "patient" has had time to make a full recovery.  ;D

I have a couple of potential candidates that I have been pondering doing the same to.  Will be interested in your thoughts about soldering verses spot welding, and tagged vs non-tagged cells and of course replacement cell choices.

.........................................................

Actually I'm re-celling an EN-EL4.  ;D
Hugh Gunn

Seapy

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Re: SHOWDOWN: Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL ED vs. 600mm f/4E FL ED
« Reply #35 on: February 17, 2018, 09:37:44 »
Off Topic:

This wee operation might make for a useful thread once the operation has been completed and the "patient" has had time to make a full recovery.  ;D

I have a couple of potential candidates that I have been pondering doing the same to.  Will be interested in your thoughts about soldering verses spot welding, and tagged vs non-tagged cells and of course replacement cell choices.

I am on it!  Watch the Nerds...
Robert C. P.
South Cumbria, UK

Gary Irwin

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Re: SHOWDOWN: Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL ED vs. 600mm f/4E FL ED
« Reply #36 on: February 17, 2018, 14:14:21 »
As a wildlife shooter (birder mostly) the 600E got my vote (and money). To me, the 400E is first and foremost a sports lens where the ‘need for speed’ in terms of light for night games and indoor sports can be an issue, as is the f/2.8’s ability defocus messy backgrounds in sports venues. No matter how well a lens takes TC’s I would never want to have to rely on them ... all they do is slow down the AF, soften the image and make fine tuning more complex. First rule of buying a supertele is buy the focal length that will allow you to shoot without TC’s most of the time. Also, f/2.8 is often too shallow a DOF, expecially using FX, for smaller wildlife up close so it may not be as much of an advantage as it might seem.

If 400mm +/- was the desired target range, the new 180-400 would be a better choice, I think, due to the flexibilty of the zoom and reportedly negligible impact when using a the integrated TC. My dream combo is the 600E and 180-400E.

JMO of course.

MILLIREHM

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Re: SHOWDOWN: Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL ED vs. 600mm f/4E FL ED
« Reply #37 on: February 17, 2018, 14:45:48 »
combining a 600/4 (or 800/5,6) with a 200-400mm f/4 lens indeed is a dream combo

If the announced 180-400/4 FL will prove to be what it promises (a significant quality improvement compared to the 200-400) then this is even more true.

BTW: It is NOT a dream combo for hiking, i can tell you that much ;-)
Wolfgang Rehm

JKoerner007

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Re: SHOWDOWN: Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL ED vs. 600mm f/4E FL ED
« Reply #38 on: February 17, 2018, 18:15:28 »
I appreciate everyone's time and input :)



BTW: It is NOT a dream combo for hiking, i can tell you that much ;-)

My thoughts exactly ;D

JKoerner007

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Re: SHOWDOWN: Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL ED vs. 600mm f/4E FL ED
« Reply #39 on: February 17, 2018, 19:09:19 »
First rule of buying a supertele is buy the focal length that will allow you to shoot without TC’s most of the time.

Thanks, Gary. Words to consider seriously ...

For me, the 400mm will be an effective 600mm on a D500 ... which is all I really need + I have the added speed.
Still, a 600mm would give me and effective 900mm on a D500 ... which I do need as often as not :o

The trouble is, the 400mm FL ED is much sharper @ f/4 than is the 600mm:



400mm f/2.8E FL ED Review




600mm f/4E FL ED Review


(Note: I wish they would stick to the same graph format, so the values could be more easily compared.)

Regardless, F/4 is clearly the 400mm's sharpest aperture, while f/8 is the sharpest for the 600mm ...

For a wildlife lens to be at its uttermost @ f/4 is so important, and even exceptionally-sharp @ f/2.8, really not much else needs to be said.

Meanwhile, being its sharpest @ f/8 is what landscape lenses are known for ... but is not really what anyone wants in a super-telephoto lens.

I would be willing to bet that, with these performance values, the 400mm with a TC 1.4x III would be equivalent in sharpness @ f/4 (equivalent to 840mm f/4 with a 1.4 TC III + D500) as the 600mm would be @ an equivalent 900 f/4 bare on a D500.

In other words where a lens is at its sharpest (f/4?, f/8?, or f/11?) is germane to how well it takes a TC ...

That said, here's a shot I took yesterday, with my 300mm VR II f/2.8 and a 2x TC III.

Keep in mind, the 300 VR II apparently has an even worse curve than the 600mm f/4E FL ED, with its sharpest being @ f/11:



300mm f/2.8G VR II Review


Still, even though f/2.8 is its lowest sharpness point, at an equivalent 600mm f/5.6 (with a 2x TC III + D500) affixed to my 300mm f/2.8 VR II, the images are fairly sharp ...
Thus I think the much sharper (wide-open) 400mm f/2.8E FL ED will do even better with a 2x TC III on it ... and simply exemplary with a 1.4 TC III on it :)

Roland Vink

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Re: SHOWDOWN: Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL ED vs. 600mm f/4E FL ED
« Reply #40 on: February 17, 2018, 19:52:07 »
Don't put too much emphasis on test results such as these, even if the tests are accurate, there is no point in buying the wrong lens because it is sharper. For example the Otus 85 might be even sharper, but you wouldn't buy it for your purposes. If you mostly need 600mm, the 600 FL is surely a better option than 400 + TCs.

Remember, most of these tests are done using a single sample of each lens, maybe they tested a good example of the 400 FL against a bad example of the 600 FL (at this level, QC is very high and I expect sample variation to be minor, but it is still possible one lens has been knocked and put slightly out of alignment). Other test sites could easily give different results. The only place which tests multiple copies of lenses is LensRentals, and they can't test lenses this long.

The Nikon MTF charts are outstanding for both lenses, they show the 600 FL is a bit sharper over most of the image but dropping off towards the corners, while the 400 FL is a tad less good but more consistent to the edges. For bird photography I wouldn't be concerned about edge sharpness since the images are usually part of the background and not in focus anyway. So going by that I would conclude the 600 FL is sharper! Going by the MTF charts, the 500FL is even better, see for yourself here: http://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/lens/index.htm

These sites usually test sharpness at only one distance, and as we know, some lenses are better at far distances and others better at close range. Do the tests above correspond to the distances you will usually shoot at? Impossible to say.

I understand that you want to do your homework before making a big purchase, and it is useful to check these review sites but they can only say so much and you need to take their results with a grain of salt. It might be more useful for you to rent both lenses and get some hands-on experience with them. It might turn out that other factors might sway your decision one way or another.

bobfriedman

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Re: SHOWDOWN: Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL ED vs. 600mm f/4E FL ED
« Reply #41 on: February 17, 2018, 21:29:54 »
shot today with the D5 + 600FL

Nikon D5 ,Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR
1/3200s f/9.0 at 600.0mm iso1100
Robert L Friedman, Massachusetts, USA
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JKoerner007

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Re: SHOWDOWN: Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL ED vs. 600mm f/4E FL ED
« Reply #42 on: February 17, 2018, 21:44:52 »
Beautiful shot, Bob.

Here are 3 I took yesterday with the 300 f/2.8G VR II + 2x TCE III on a D500 (all shots @ ISO 100, f/5.6, between shutter speeds of 1/800 to 1/2000):

Maybe not quite as sharp as yours, but hope you like them :)

bobfriedman

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Re: SHOWDOWN: Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL ED vs. 600mm f/4E FL ED
« Reply #43 on: February 17, 2018, 21:51:56 »
aside the "E" "FL" lenses being lighter - the shot i posted above was "handheld" using a rapid strap.. i rarely even consider a tripod with my 600FL anymore. rare occasions only now;  another point for an "E" lens.. if you shoot 12 fps like i do with the D5, you don't have to work that aperture mechanism on the "G" lenses which can fail in certain conditions which i have experienced leading to light/dark/light..etc..frame-to-frame.
Robert L Friedman, Massachusetts, USA
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JKoerner007

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Re: SHOWDOWN: Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL ED vs. 600mm f/4E FL ED
« Reply #44 on: February 17, 2018, 21:58:07 »
aside the "E" "FL" lenses being lighter - the shot i posted above was "handheld" using a rapid strap.. i rarely even consider a tripod with my 600FL anymore. rare occasions only now;  another point for an "E" lens.. if you shoot 12 fps like i do with the D5, you don't have to work that aperture mechanism on the "G" lenses which can fail in certain conditions which i have experienced leading to light/dark/light..etc..frame-to-frame.


Bob, you hit the nail on the head.

I am for the most part pleased with my G lens, but (@ 10fps with the D500), the G lens' manual aperture fails quite often for BIF shots (with the extender on). It is pretty reliable with it off.

Still, my 2x Ext is pretty much glued to my 300mm G and I am sick of the "fails" (invariably during the most important moments, lol), which is why I want to upgrade to an E lens.