AF VR Zoom-NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED
Affordable Long Reach
I purchased the AF VR Zoom-Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED because I wanted a longer reach than the 24-85 I had. There are other lenses with a 400mm reach, but those are also 4x to 7x times more expensive. As long as it captues a sharp image of a steady subject using a tripod, there's no reason why it can't be used to get sharp images in other situations so long as how aperture, shutter speed, and ISO relates to produce an image is understood.
I first used it to photograph cityscapes at night back in the days of film. The exposures were long (several minutes) focused at infinity so I always used a sturdy tripod that could handle the weight of both camera and lens. The autofocus is slow when zoomed in and also hard to see what to focus on so I would start with the lens zoomed out, focus, then zoom in because what's in focus stays in focus throughout the zoom range.
I've used it to photograph a motorcyle race with the lens handheld and manually focused. It was a good thing I read an article about how a photographer during races got sharp images that were printed on magazines because using his technique helped me improve my skills and loved the results. Basically it's to focus where a moving subject will be. I'm not saying the autofocus of the 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D is bad. Amazing images can still be had without the assistance of autofocus in case this lens is to be used with an entry-level DSLR which can't use the autofocus feature of "D" lenses. I've used it's autofocus to photograph jets doing flybys.
The VR is nice and anything to reduce camera shake when handholding is appreciated. If making a video, the sound VR makes might not be what you want recorded so using an off-camera microphone is recommended.
I've had the 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D for over 10 years and still use it to this day.
July 28, 2015
Great lens for the money.
I purchased this lens for a whale watching trip to Mexico. I like the weight of the lens. Easy to hold. The picture of the white wing dove was the very first picture with this lens.
January 12, 2015
Best Value for a Quality, Portable, Telephoto Zoom Lens
This first generation Nikon 80-400mm auto focus zoom lens was Nikon's first vibration reduction (VR) lens. I have owned it for over ten years and it continues to amaze me in terms of optical quality, resolution, and portability. Below is a photo of a Giant Panda taken with a Nikon D700 camera body, a shutter speed of 1/125 of a second, an aperture of f/5.6, an ISO of 200, a focal length of 270mm, an exposure mode of Program, a light meter mode of Matrix, and a white balance mode of Auto. A Nikon SB-800 Speedlight was used for fill flash to enhance the colors of the panda's fur.
October 16, 2014
Extremely useful on the move
Most reports on this lens indicated slow focusing and average image quality, and my first hand-held shots of flying birds confirmed it at relatively high shutter speeds (1/800 and more) with VR on.
I then took a series of hand-held shoots of still subjects at 400mm from my balcony and I discovered that the images where very sharp at relatively low shutter speeds (around 1/400 and no more than 1/600). That appears to indicate that the VR system needs such a time window to average its effect.
On the other hand, this lens does not have a built-in focusing motor, and autofocusing relies on the camera (only Nikon cameras with a focusing motor are compatible with the feature). Autofocusing is indeed slow. Nevertheless, the lens allows for the selection of autofocus ranges, and I found that, with the proper range, and when it has little tracking to do (for example, following a bird that took off from a standing point), the success rate is surprisingly high at 400mm, with very sharp images (DX format).
Around 200mm, the images are comparable to best obtained with my other lenses.
Although not light, this lens is very well balanced for hand-held shots on a D300 with its power grip, it offers a 12x magnification in the DX format, and the whole set can be comfortably carried, ready to use, in a backpack with a 18-200mm zoom and a flash unit.
November 25, 2011
I like this lens it's range is great. Only thing I would like to see is to make it a bit faster to focus faster.
August 15, 2011