Nikon 400mm Qualitative Tests

I have been practicing with the Nikon 400mm f/2.8 manual focus lens and thought I would share some of the initial qualitative results. With improved lighting, that allows for faster shutter times, great improvements to the image sharpness are definitely realized. I am also evaluating the sharpness closer to infinite focus as well as intermediate distances. Here are some images and 100% crops extracted from those images. Click on any of the cropped images to view actual 100% crops.

Nikon D300, 400mm f/2.8, 1/1250s, f/11, ISO 800

Nikon D300, 400mm f/2.8, 1/1250s, f/11, ISO 800

Here is the 100% crop, the sign is located about 3/4 mile (1.2 km.) Note how some of the letters in the sign are crisp and clear while others are rather fuzzy. This is due to heat waves, or convective air currents, and is the reason why long lenses do not work very well on sunny days or anytime when shooting across heat sources.

_DSC0472_cropHere is a shot that shows just how well the resolution of this lens is, in a practical sense. The registration numbers were intentionally blurred but are easily readable in the original image. Also note that the depth of field is still very narrow, the focus is on the boat but the far background is a bit soft or out-of-focus.

Nikon D300, 400mm f/2.8, 1/1250s, f/11, ISO 800

Nikon D300, 400mm f/2.8, 1/1250s, f/11, ISO 800

The boat is about 1/2 mile away (800 m.) Note how easily identifiable the occupants of the boat are even though they are traveling about 30 MPH (48 KPH.)

_DSC0480_cropHere is another image showing the detail of a well lit closely focused image:

Nikon D300, 400mm f/2.8, 1/1250s, f/11, ISO 800

Nikon D300, 400mm f/2.8, 1/1250s, f/11, ISO 800

And here is the 100% crop:

_DSC0502_croppedFinally here is an image using the Nikon D3s using a longer shutter speed while panning the camera and lens with the boat in the foreground thus blurring the boat moving in the opposite direction.

Nikon D3s, 400mm f/2.8, 1/60s, f/16, ISO 100

Nikon D3s, 400mm f/2.8, 1/60s, f/16, ISO 100

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I will be doing some quantitative tests soon using enlarged Koren charts that will allow for much longer distances than were used in my previous tests. Stay tuned…

Added 6:00 PM:

Here are a couple of shots that were taken with an Nikon SB-800 remote flash unit using the D300 as a Commander control unit. The main flash was about two feet from the humming bird while the camera was about 15 feet from the feeder. This was a shot that I had tried to get numerous times in the past with my 70-200mm lens but was never quite satisfied with the sharpness, with the 400mm lens I got it on the first try. Even though the composition is not that good, technically I’m as pleased as pie.

D300, 1/60s, f/11, ISO 200, Flash TTL

D300, 1/60s, f/11, ISO 200, Flash TTL

Here is the 100% crop:

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And another one along with a 100% crop:

D300, 1/60s, f/11, ISO 200, Flash TTL

D300, 1/60s, f/11, ISO 200, Flash TTL

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