AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR
Worth the wait
It feels like I waited ten years for this lens to be released. It was worth the wait! Photos have been extremely sharp and even though the lens is a bit heavy, with the VR it can be hand held with good results. Used the 28-300 prior to this lens and while it was "good enough" at the time, it's no contest now. Tested both just prior to a trip to Hawaii and there was no question which one was making the trip. Took one hand held shot from a lookout high above a rocky beach and you could see the grains of sand and extremely clear and sharp gradations in the rocks surrounding the swimming area. This lens completes the set of lenses I need for almost any situation. Worth every dollar.
August 9, 2013
I love this lens!!!!
I have had one of the original 80-400mm lenses almost since it was introduced, and it has been my mainstay lens for hiking and finding wildlife. It performed quite well, and while it had its issues, the versatility and weight more than made up for them.
This lens takes that concept and upgrades it to amazing levels. There are very few things to be snarky about on this lens.
* Takes teleconverters. And still has great AF and sharpness with the 1.4x TC. The old lens doesn't work with TCs.
* Much sharper and better contrast. Wow. There is a quite noticeable improvement in optical quality even at normal viewing. The old lens took great photos but was a little mushy. My 600mm prime is sharper, but this is pretty darn good, and I would probably not see the difference except that I was looking at similar bird shots with the 600mm and this lens with the 1.4xTC right next to each other. Without the TC, it's sharp enough that it would be very difficult to see anything to complain about except under lab conditions.
* Autofocus is faster. Honestly it's not so much faster than the original 80-400 that you would get many, if any more shots because of it. Continuous tracking autofocus is noisy but is better than the original. For birds, it's pretty good. You lose focus sites with a teleconverter attached because of the minimum f/stop, but it's still pretty darn good. It locked and tracked the airplane for my daughter's first solo flight perfectly. This is a superb airplane/airshow lens.
* Close-focus. Still darn good and fast. Good for critters you can get close to. Great for birds at a feeder.
* Improved VR. VR will help dramatically for some subjects when handholding, but is pretty useless for fast-moving subjects. VR can help with some nice bird effects, allowing for wingtip motion blur while holding the scene solid. You'll still probably find yourself bumping up the ISO unless you're in full sun with this lens, especially if you are using a TC.
* Really expensive.
* Tripod collar is even more lame than the original 80-400mm. You can not release the foot from the tripod collar, which is annoying for handheld use. I've already replaced mine with a third-party unit.
This is is still a heavy lens, and you will get tired handholding it unless you're in reasonably good shape. If you're going to use it a lot, get some exercise! Taking pictures is a good method :) If you have the luxury of being able to use a tripod, then do so. It will help. Get a gimbal head if you can.. Ball heads are lousy for tracking subjects but are quick and easy to set up, smaller and lighter. This lens is heavy enough that a ball head will want to flop over or creep.
This lens + the 1.4X teleconverter is an amazing kit for nature/wildlife/airshows/car racing/motorcycle racing etc. I don't have a 1.7X, but the 2.0X is too much of a compromise on finder brightness, f/stop and focus capability for me. This combo is easily transportable and easily handled. Much of the time the 80-400 is enough, and when it isn't, the TC works great. If you can justify the expense, this kit will make you very happy.
August 8, 2013
Worth Upgrading from the First Version
I purchased the first version of this lens second hand and was pleased with the results. The down side was the speed of focus, so I took the plunge, paid the extra money and purchased this lens. Buyers remorse has yet to kick in, which I take as a good sign.
While this lens may be heavier and larger than the original it feels more balanced in my hands, reducing the need for a mono/tripod. I should point out I have large hands, so others may not agree with me.
The speed and precision of the auto-focus is in a different league to the old lens. No more hunting around trying to focus. This alone is a great reason to upgrade. I have yet to use the lens with fast moving subjects, in particular sports events under artificial lights, and the relatively slow F stop may be an issue. That said, the newer cameras and their improved high ISO performance help.
This is a great lens, but it is not for everyone. If you don't need a 400mm lens on a regular basis, your money may be better spent on a 70-200mm 2.8 lens with a tele-converter. If like me, you use long focal lengths on a regular basis, this lens is justified. If you use the old version of this lens, trade it in, pay the extra money and you will be a happy photographer.
July 5, 2013
A solid replacement still in a packable form
I bought the first version of this lens back in 2000, but I had issues with its VR system and the D100. So I went for the 200-400. Unfortunately, that lens is huge. So when I have to hike way back in the field, I again got the original version of this lens. It was too slow to focus on quickly moving wildlife.
Well, when this came out, I pounced on it. It focuses fast, still has a similar compact size. I have found that while it can work well with wildlife, it focuses relatively close, so it works on flowers and small objects, where a narrow field and focus works well to isolate it from the background. The bokeh with a lineated background is pleasing.
So all in all I am very pleased with this lens and am contemplating a little sell off of some of my other lenses this overlays. It is heavier than the original, but not overly so. I look forward to spending a great deal of time in the field with this one.
June 10, 2013
it's nice lens excellent.am using for wildlife and prorate.
May 6, 2013
Having owned the original version of this lens, I can only say that Nikon has hit a home run with this new version of the 80-400. Focus hunting is a thing of the past - this one locks right on to your subject - and the optics are superb considering the focal length range - outstanding at 400 mm even wide open. The VR does it's job and although I have used the lens mostly on a monopod or tripod, I've been able to get tack sharp images hand held when mounted on my D800. If you've been waiting for the original 80-400's replacement, it has definitely arrived.
April 29, 2013
Big Lens, small package
After using the original 80-400 MM for some years now, all I can say is wow with this new model. Quicker, more accurate auto focus, sharper and more vibrant photos. Easily hand held. The VR in this model is spot on. I used my TE 20E III 2X tele converter on my D 200, brought my subject up to 1200MM in DX format. This lens is great for Nature, Wild Life, and Sports.
The only downside is that it is heavy, therefore best results are tripod mounted or, like I do, A monopod. Also NIKON went cheap by using a foldout chart as opposed to a booklet. But hey, it's a great lens. But it's not F2.8 therefore a 2X tele converter will bring your subject up close and personal, but auto focus will not work.
April 22, 2013
Being a prior 11 year owner of the 80-400D, and having bought this lens Mar 14, I have shot over 1K exposures with stunning results. Sharp, sharp, sharp even at 400mm! A major improvement over the D.
AF-S, even in continuous focus @5fps on my D600 and D7000, is superb. Contrast, brightness and color @400mm equals my 300mm prime! CA is gone and mechanicals are excellent. Being a product designer/engineer myself, I can only imagine the effort that went into the design decisions and execution of this product. Nikon, big congratulations for bringing this lens to the world!
March 30, 2013
Nikon's AF-S Nikkor 80-400 VR G ED lens is solid, sharp, and silent! Just got mine last week and spend a few hours at a local nature park trying out these new lens. A bit heavier than the older model, but still able to work with it handheld. I have cropped some of the images up to 50 percent and they are still sharp. Will do more testing later and will be interested to see how it works on a tripod with the VR turned off. Hats off to Nikon for a job well done on this one. Great addition to my nature photography toolbox.
March 25, 2013
I pre-ordered this lens with some hesitation because of the limitations of the previous version. Not to worry! This is a great lens. Autofocus is amazingly quick(comparable to the 70-200 2.8) and quite sharp. The VR is so good I can shoot hand held at 1/30 and still have amazingly sharp images even at 100% on a D800.Perhaps low light action might be a limitation with the max aperture being 5.6 at 400mm but with the low light capabilities of most modern DSLR's this is less of a problem than you might expect. Even the tripod collar and foot feel like an upgrade over previous. Great addition to the Nikon arsenal.
March 23, 2013
Great portable option for birding
I bought this lens with a D7100 to replace the older model and a D300. Although the new combination is far superior to the previous one, I realized that it is mainly due to the camera and not to the new lens. On a DX format, I could not find any noticeable difference in image quality between the new and the older model. That does not mean that the new model is bad, just that the older one appears to be as good at the center of the field. Nevertheless, the new model has important advantages : it focuses much faster and the VR is far more efficient at all speeds. As the lens is relatively chunky and heavy and I use it handheld, a nice carrying option is a double shoulder strap connected to the lens and to the bottom of the camera/grip.
February 10, 2014
Great compact lens
I bought this lens for wildlife and landscape photography. Before I had a chance to really test the lens a Coopers Hawk presented itself. The photo is taken THRU a window with a D7000 at a distance of about 30 feet. ISO 1250, f6.3 at 1/320. HANDHELD! I am impressed. The only complaint is the tripod foot.
March 22, 2014
Improved Performance and Functionality
I have owned the previous first generation Nikon 80-400mm VR zoom for about ten years and was pleased to find needed improvements in the areas of focus and tracking speeds, focusing ease and function, camera/lens hand-held balance, and especially better resolution at 400/600mm. My primary use has been in shooting San Francisco's "Fleet Week" with the Blue Angles flight team show, the America's Cup races over the past two years, Maritime subjects, and abstract landscape elements. Due to the weight factor I also use the Nikon 70-300MM VR, and/or the Nikon 70-200mm F4 VR for travel to Japan, Greece, along with Nikon's excellent DX 10-24mm, DX 16-85mm, 50mm 1.8 G with a Nikon D7000 and a D7100 with excellent results. I really enjoy getting the equivalent of a 120-600mm range on the DX bodies. I also use this lens on a Nikon D300's; and a Nikon D600 where I need the full range of 400mm to have high resolution, sharpness, and great contrast for shooting demanding maritime subjects and yacht races. I am really looking forward to many years of quality shooting with this new improved lens. I would have hoped that the new version might have been designed lighter and smaller using high-tech carbon fiber or titanium materials but then its a lot less in cost and weight than an $8,000 Nikon 600mm or the Nikon 200-400mm. I see this as an improved photographic tool for extending my creativity and the end results of a higher percentage of sharp and focused hand-held shots.
March 1, 2014
New 80-400 lens, nice but not perfect
overall great lens, very sharp images once you understand how to work with it. It does have a very distracting feature when using continuous focus, which is my primary mode in shooting sports. As the lens set moves around as it focus on moving objects, either with or without VR on, the movement of the lens groups causes the image you see in the view finder to jump around as well. I've tested this with three camera bodies - D300, D40, and a new D7100, and also tested a second copy of the lens at the store, and it is very evident in all combinations of equipment. If I was ok with using the 70-200/2.8 and a 2x converter, this may have been the better way to go. Working with Nikon support to describe and check out the issue, so we will see if this is just the way the lens works or if I have a problem. Build quality is great, images are great, a blast to shoot with, but the jumping around is annoying for sure.
December 17, 2013