Has anyone used this lens in lower lighting conditions? There's a few shots in this thread that look like they were taken around dusk and turned out pretty well, but I'm curious about a bit more input. I'm looking into getting my first "big white" and am mostly interested in this lens vs the 400 2.8.
I have had both Lenses on Safari, used both in low light/Dusk/Dawn shooting, the question is a good one and it's probably the biggest decision maker between these two lenses other than Sharpness. I've sold my 400f/2.8 L II since buying the 200-400f/4 but only after doing two Safari Trips with both Lenses to compare, and bringing along my 300f/2.8 L II as well.
I sold the 400f/2.8 II as I feel the versatility of the 200-400f/4 works for me in my own style of imaging to the point where the 400 was no longer necessary, but, this decision becomes easier when you have the 300f/2.8 II sitting waiting for those extreme low light situations.
The 400f/2.8 II is always going to be the better low light Lens, caveat here being what your shooting the lens on, I use the 1Dx and I find the combo unbeatable, the 5DMK III I also shoot with and it is not as good as the 1Dx in low light. The 400f/2.8 obviously has a full stop more light to play with over the 200-400f/4.
The 200-400f/4 though is no slouch in the low light department, what I have found is I simply operate the 200-400f/4 at 1600 or 2500 ISO where I would have operated the 400f/2.8 II at say 800 or 1250 ISO, any graining I take care of in Post. This is where the lighting conditions require higher ISO, otherwise during normal light conditions I would operate either lens at a Base 400, rarely do I shoot lower than ISO400.
Image quality comparisons I've found they two Lenses, same Length, same ISO same f/stop, are pretty evenly matched, again, I feel the Primes will always out the Zooms, but the 200-400f/4 compared to the 200f/2 (@f4) the 300f/2.8 II (@f4) the 400f/2.8 II (@f/4) the 600 f/4 (@f/5.6) and the 200-400 f/4 @ f/4 200/300/400 & 600 similar set up, you are going to find you need to go to zoom in quite a bit to begin to see the benefits IQ wise of the Primes over the Zoom, the 200-400f/4 is the best I have seen when comparing zoom to prime.
My feel is if you concentrate your imaging on low light you may want to go for the Primes, if your low light is say 10% of your Imaging, as is my own case, the Zooms versatility and first class IQ makes the 200-400 a better all round tool.
But that is an opinion knowing that I always have the 300f/2.8 II sitting ready for those low light extremes.
The attached were both shot @ ISO2500.
The Bush Baby with the 400f/2.8 II @ f/2.8
The Female Lion wight he 200-400f/4 @ f/5.6 560mm.
Not a true test of apples with apples, but both Lenses, on the 1Dx, work well in low light.
Both Images were shot with the 600EX-RT for fill flash.
Both Images shot well after sun down full dark, Both Images were shot with Spot light to gain focus, without the spot light neither shot could be achieved as no light/no focus.
This is one area where the f/2.8 will always out the f/4, a point where it's just too dark for the f/4 to achieve focus and the f/2.8 possibly still can.