Greater Flamingo, Phoenicopterus roseus
Last year, I bought this lens for about $1500 when I was starting to do some bird photography . The lens was introduced in 2000. I remember clearly that year, the Nikon booth at the photographic show in Boston was surrounded by hundreds of people eager to try out this lens. It is the first VR lens on the market, which allows the photographers to hand-held the lens for most photographic situation without tripod.
At the time I bought the lens for use with my D700, I have two concerns, one is the lens is about 10-year old and may the replaced; second, it is not AF-S and was known to focus too slowly for action photography. Well, for a telephoto lens of 400mm, there are really not a lot lenses that we can chose from at that price range and body weight. The lens weights 1.2 kg without tripod mounting foot, which is less than the 70-200mm lens that weights 1.5 kg.
I use the MB-D10 with my D700 and a Nikon AH-4 Hand Strip to have a good hold of the camera and lens. I usually use ISO640, f/8, speed at at least 1/100 and almost never use a tripod.
However, I recently read a report claiming that this is the worst lens that Nikon every produced, not only the focusing speed was slow, but also the image quality was low. At larger aperture, the image quality suffers by Chromatic Aberration, stop down, then the image immediately suffers Lens Diffraction. As I quote "Since this lens is a consumer grade telephoto-zoom lens, the user cannot expect to receive sharp images at all apertures".
Well, AF-S Nikkor 400mm f/2.8G ED VR weights 4.6 kg and 500mm f/4 wights 3.8 kg, both cost close to $8,000. It will be a while that I ever think of moving up from my 80-400mm. The last image was taken hand-held at 200mm, ISO2200, f/5.3, 1/100. It is good enough for me now, a consumer not a professional.
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Happy anniversary Camera Critters!