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400 f5.6 Tokina or a 80-200AFS Nikon with a 2Xteleconverter

Irvin Crouse , Aug 24, 1999; 12:57 a.m.

I am wanting a lens in the 400 5.6 range for shooting birds in flight. I have tried a Nikon 300 f4 with a 1.4 teleconverter but it is awfully slow. I have heard good things about the Tokina 400 5.6 ATX. I do own a Nikon 80-200 2.8 AFS and was wondering if it would be better to shoot with the 80-200 AFS and a nikon 2x teleconverter or a dedicated 400 5.6 such as the Tokina 400 5.6 ATX. Any experience or suggestions. Difference in image quality etc. Thanks


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Nick Chronis , Aug 24, 1999; 11:40 a.m.

This has probably been answered somehere here already but here it goes. Nikon unfortunately doesn't currently make a 400 5.6 AF lens. The 300 f4 with a TC is too slow for birds in flight. The 80-200 with a TC20e will still be slow and there will be a substantial degredation in image quality. The Tokina 400 5.6 ATX will hunt for focus and you may have difficulty locking focus (unless you're Moose Peterson). What some Nikon shooters do for bird in flight photography is dedicate a Canon EF 400 5.6L on a Canon Elan or such body and use it. This lens I can tell you is great for in flight shooting from personal use. I think the difference lies in the distance switch on the lens. You can set it to 12m to infinity which probably makes it easier to lock focus.

Scott Eaton , Aug 24, 1999; 01:05 p.m.

I own an older Tokina manual 400 5.6 as well as many Nikons. No question that the Tokina is a much better option than the 80-200 w/converter for image quality.

toan Nguyen , Aug 24, 1999; 02:14 p.m.

I have used the Tokina 400 5.6 SD ATX on my ElanIIE before. I bought it used and sold it couple weeks later. The autofocus is way too slow for a moving subject. I have tried to lock on birds in flight but the lens hunted back and forth w/o being able to lock on to the birds. Optically, it's pretty good when stop down a bit. Good luck.

Kevin C. O'Neil , Aug 24, 1999; 05:52 p.m.

First, I shouldn't answer the question since I don't own and have never owned the Tokina lens you are asking about. I'm not sure however, that this stopped any of the other posters from providing an answer.

I can tell you that I have used the Nikkor 80-200 f/2.8 AF-S extensively with the 20E converter and the results are outstanding. Almost no loss of image quality apparent under a 4x loupe. This combination is a true winner for Nikon.

I can tell you that I have been amazed at the quality based upon the unacceptable results I have received from both older Nikkor and third party brand 2x converters on other lenses. They were absolutley unacceptable for quality loss around the edges and softness in contrast. This combination, however, does not share those problems.

As to autofocus with the 80-200 and the 20E on an F5, although I have not shot birds in flight with this combination, I have shot ducks and geese, as well as mammals, without any problem with the autofocus keeping up with the action. I have used it for sports, including soccer, and the focus was on point every time.

I'm at a loss for the other opinions given you. Maybe I'm lucky and have an excellent matched set of a lens and converter.

A couple of things to consider. This combination is a very expensive way to obtain a 400 f/5.6 lens. In addition, the 20E is almost impossible to find at this time, either new or used, so this may limit your choices.

Again, can't help you with the Tokina, but in my opinion (unike the others), the 80-200 and the 20E are an amazing combination.

Kevin O'Neil Eastern Light Nature Photography, Ltd. http://members.aol.com/kevinoneil

Joe Fuhrman , Aug 24, 1999; 06:44 p.m.

I own a Tokina 400mm f5.6AF lens and have used it with an F5 body for bird flight shots. First and most importantly, the lens is very sharp. The previous people are correct that the auto focus is slow, but that is compared to the newer silent wave technology. This lens is not an S lens, so the auto focus does hunt more. For bird flight shots, you will have some success & also blow some shots. The lens is still better than a manual focus lens, but not as good as an S lens.

Other very good reasons why I have the lens: -it is the least expensive option for this photographic situation, $400.00 presently. -it is very small & lightweight; it easily fits in my vest pocket. -it has a very close minimum focus distance of approx. 8 ft. I use it alot for macro photogrphy, great working distance with many subjects.

In summary, it is the cheapest, most portable option. Hopefully the Nikon executives are listening and that dream lens Nikon 400mm f5.6 AFS will someday be available. In the meantime, this is your best choice.

Dr. Steven Bein , Aug 24, 1999; 11:12 p.m.

Joe is a top bird photographer. He knows his business, so trust his opinion. If you can, the best option is to try to get a lens test and see what you prefer. Opinions are just that, Joe's has a lot of weight, but your own opinion, after trying is the best for your purposes

Fitzroy Hepkins , Aug 25, 1999; 09:06 a.m.

I have the lens for canon eos and think it's a good cheap lens. I use it for horse racing and it's good for that. I tried it on birds in flight and it was hunting like crazy. I would recomend it for big things, but not birds in flight.

Adolfo Sanchez , Aug 27, 1999; 01:24 p.m.

I am a Canon eos50 user and I bought a new Tokina 400/5.6 AT-X, and had a big compatiblity problem, with it. It just worked fine at 5.6, and I could not fix it, so I changed it for a used Canon 300/4. It seemed really nice when it worked. I still think it was a nice lens. Just make sure you do not have similar problems with it before you buy it. Rgds.

John Foster , Aug 29, 1999; 01:40 a.m.

From what Irvin says in his original post, he already owns the AF-S lense. The 20E converter costs about $460 from B&H which is right in the ballpark of the Tokina lense. I would say to go for the AF-S set-up it he could find a converter. The AF would be alot faster.

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