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  Reviews by: Emanuele_C  

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Nikon 400mm f/2.8G ED VR AF-S

Review Date: Jun 14, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: The unique behaviour in rendering images ensures photographs with a "special" signature; sharpness; max. aperture; ideal focal lenght for a broad range of applications; superb build quality
Nikon does not sell an anti-gravity device.

The 400VR arrived last week and my experience is fairly limited so I will post briefly some first impressions. If you konw the 400/2,8 Nikkors, then you're aware of their dimensions and weight: the new 400VR is fairly heavy but well proportioned and balanced. Just to make a quick comparison, my previous 200-400/4VR, while lighter, was somewhat "uncomfortable" due to its center of gravity shifted to the front of the lens. On the contrary the 400VR is "fatter" and its mass is better distributed over the entire lenght. As a matter of fact, I'm able to shoot handheld most of the time with good results but I would suggest a monopod to support this monster, especially for prolonged shooting sessions; a gimball head / tripod would be ideal for shooting from a fixed position.
Another aspect to consider is the double-pieced lens hood: it could seem a cumbersome design but I came to a compromise using only the first part while leaving the second one into the closet. In very bright environments I have both mounted on the lens.
One of the things I've appreciated immediately is the VR ON/OFF ring switch: it's the same as the 200VR and I always found its design to be better than the 200-400/4VR's button one.
As for the tripod foot, it's prone to vibrations when mounted on tripod but for hand-held shooting it's very good because its "L" shape allows for a perfect grab: I use a pair of SetWear leather fingerless gloves with extra padding into the palm.
Now for the optical performance of this puppy, I can say that its top-level under any condition. Using regularly some razors (200/2VR, Leica 90APO Asph for Nikon F, Voigtlander 125/2,5 not to mention the 14-24/2.8), I can say the 400VR is quite as sharp from wide open and draws micro-contrast beautifully, emulating the 3Dness of Zeiss glass. Bokeh rendering is absolutely among the best my eyes had the pleasure to see: at F2,8 the subject seems to be "glued" onto a background painted by an artist. Regarding CA, it's remarkably well corrected.

Price. Acceptable for this kind of tool.

A perfect lens? Well, I don't know but it's my "dream lens" for sure.

Nikon 200mm f/2G IF-ED AF-S VR

Review Date: Mar 2, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Everything one can do with a telephoto having such large aperture.
If you try it, you'll buy it. You'll regret to sell it.

Sharpness starting from F2 is something spectacular. My previous large aperture telephoto lens was the legendary Leica APO Summicron 180/2: when I've switched to Nikon, my FIRST concern was to find something comparable. And I found it! The Nikkor 200/2VR is one of those lenses that do not need tons of positive words or comments: just go, try and buy this lens if you can afford one. The price, not cheap at all, should be considered NOT a downside because the Leica and the Canon (200/2 IS soon to be released) equivalents cost more. I use it hand-held all the time: the lens is somewhat heavy but it's short and well balanced with the weight shifted to the camera body. If you find the lens hood too big and bulky (I've always appreciated the retractable one found in the Leica 180/2), shoot without it: I use the hood rarely because the lens, under normal lighting conditions, performs very well in regard of flare and ghosting.
AF is blazingly fast even using a D40x body (central focus point); VR is really effective. I rate this lens as an artistic tool made for a special kind of photography (as my Leica was): portraiture, low light scenes in wich you want to catch the available light that is drawing something particular in front of you and that would not be recordable in any other way. If you love to separate the subject from the background using the natural available light only and without disturbing the actors that made the scene, this is the lens you were searching for, this is your holy-grail.