View Full Version : Suggestion Required Nikon 200-400 VR II or Nikon 500 VR II

Goutham Shankar
29-08-2011, 02:49 PM
Hi All,

I would like to know the experts opinion on these two lenses.
Usage: Mammals & Birds

Goutham Shankar

Bhargava Srivari
30-08-2011, 07:03 AM
If I were to make a choice, it will be keeping in mind what body you use or even plan to use in a few years from now. A lens will most likely stay with you for much longer than a camera bdy, so it is always good to plan for the lens. If you would stick with a 1.6x crop factor camera, the 200-400 makes a lot of sense for mammals because of the flexibility it offers in terms of the focal length range. It could be used with a 1.4x TC for birding once in a while. The reason I chose the 200-400 is, the 500mm focal length might be a little too much in some cases, specially when shooting large mammals. On the other hand, if you are currently using / plan to use a FF camera body, you could just get the 500 f4 VR II lens- it is a gem. For mammals, the bare 500mm will be just ideal and when coupled with a 1.4x TC, it performs quite well too.

On a side note, I've always wondered why nikon's lenses are a lot heavier than canon's equivalent lenses. For example, the canon 500 f4 L IS USM II lens weighs 3190gm while its nikon counterpart weighs close to 3900gm!

Hope this helps a little.

Sabyasachi Patra
30-08-2011, 10:46 AM

The long lens buying decision is based on many factors.

You need to look at your existing lenses and decide. If you have a smaller focal length lens like a 300mm or so, then it makes sense to go for the 500mm. Else, there will be a gap in your lineup and you would find it difficult to click mammals like elephants or even tigers when they are close to the jeep.

For birds, it becomes difficult to get frame filling shots even with long lenses. It is especially true when you are clicking those small birds. The 500mm will give you longer reach. You can use the 1.7x TC of Nikon with the lens and it works well. So I would prefer this one if you are clicking more of birds.

The 200-400 f4 lens is a general purpose lens. If you are planning for only one lens, then go for it. You can use the 1.4x TC with this lens. I have heard reports of people using the 1.7x TC with this lens with mixed results. I don't have information about the Version II of this lens. Specs wise it is better than the earlier 200-400 VR.

Canon has gone a step ahead and has included a 1.4x TC with its version of 200-400 lens. However, It may take 8-10 months or so before it will materialise.

So you need to decide if you need a general purpose lens (200-400) or a longer reach (500mm).

The Nikon cameras have a crop factor/multiplying factor of 1.5 except the full frame cameras. In case of Canon it is 1.6x, 1.3x and full frame.

Nikon 500mm f4 G ED VR II lens has 14 elements in 11 groups. It weighs - 3.88kg
Canon EF 500mm f4 L IS II USM has 16 elements in 12 groups. Weighs 3.19 kgs.

The Canon lens is the latest version II lens. And all the super tele lenses of Canon has gone through a diet program and shed lot of weight. It is due to use of special materials.