Opinions - Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR Lens

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by dan_brown|4, May 26, 2014.

  1. I sold my 300/4 AF-S, kind of expecting the VR version to be announced, but that has not happened.
    With 200mm as my longest lens, I was thinking about going longer, and definitely want top notch VR.
    For those of you that have shot the latest 80-400G-VR, what is your opinion, especially compared to a lens like the 300/4AF-S. Is the new zoom crisp on a body like the D800?
    Thanks for your thoughts.
  2. There are posts with an excellent analysis of this lens in this thread on fotozones, which is publicly available. While there is some discussion in the first few posts about the health of the OP (more important, actually, than any lens) you can get a great deal about the 80-400 AF-S from the discussion that follows.
    BTW, other areas of fotozones require registration.
  3. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I don't think I have a whole lot to add since I wrote the review last year: http://www.photo.net/reviews/nikon-80-400G/
    Please take a look at the follow up comments to the review. Yes, there is one person who trashes it, but he openly admits that he has never used one. Otherwise, those who actually own it are happy with it. One person even comments that he is planning to sell his 400mm/f2.8 AF-S VR. Another person who is frustrated from using this slow 400mm/f5.6 under dim light; that is also right on the money. That is why an expensive and heavy 400mm/f2.8 still has its place.
    I have used this lens extensively on the D800E, D7100 (which has even higher pixel density than the D800), and D4S. Without a doubt this is an excellent super tele, similar to the very best Nikon super teles such as the 200-400mm/f4 AF-S VR and 600mm/f4 AF-S VR.
    However, at $2700, the 80-400mm/f4.5-5.6 AF-S VR is very expensive for a fairly slow super tele. And just like any other 400mm/f5.6 lens, it is not effective under dim conditions, including indoors. But it is also a lot more compact compared to the 200-400mm/f4: http://www.photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00bnh5
  4. Thanks for the good info. Bjorn's thread has some good info, and Shun's review is excellent. Accepting the f5.6 limitation
    and the usual need for an after-marked collar, it all looks pretty good. Focus breathing at 400mm is certainly not a good
    thing, but it's a long range lens. Of course, the price is the biggest hurdle.

    Wishing there was a crystal ball to tell me there will be a 300/4 VR and how much that might be?
  5. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I have no insider information, but I kind of doubt that Nikon will upgrade the 300mm/f4 AF-S to VR in another year or two. The 80-400 and 300mm/f4 are two similar, competing lenses. It doesn't make business sense to introduce them shortly after each other.
    The current 300mm/f4 AF-S is optically excellent already. Its main issue is fairly slow AF, which is solved by the 80-400 AF-S VR, provided that the light is good. Under dim light, AF on any 400mm/f5.6 lens is going to be questionable. Since I mainly use those lenses for sports or wildlife, VR is not important to me. The 80-400mm AF-S has great VR, hand holding down to 1/50 still yields good results, but that is a feature I don't need.
    Unfortunately, the $400 rebate from Nikon USA was over two months ago: http://www.photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00cN8T
  6. Interesting that you should ask about the 80-400 today. I was out back shooting some birds this morning with my D800
    and this lens mounted on a tripod. As I began to adjust the level of the camera, I noticed a slight bit of 'play' between the
    camera mount and the lens. I had never noticed this before when hand holding the camera. I switched to my 18-35 and
    24-70 and did not experience the same movement. I am wondering if I should be concerned.
  7. Even with the Kirk collar for the AF-S 80-400, I wasn't able to get consistent sharpness at slow speeds (8s to 1/60s) at 400mm using a tripod. The Kirk collar is an improvement over the Nikon collar but doesn't completely solve the issue of stability. This eventually led me to sell the lens. At fast speeds (1/320s and faster) I was happy with the lens's performance. I would recommend its use when you need a long lens that can be hand-held indefinitely and are shooting in bright enough light so you can maintain a fast shutter speed. If the situation doesn't allow a fast shutter speed then results are likely to be poor.
    Simon Stafford tested the 80-400 using the RRS Long lens support package and seemed to be happy with it in the review published in the Nikon Owner (UK) magazine. This construction involves a bracket that is almost as long as the lens itself and should provide better support. I didn't purchase it as I felt it would be cumbersome to pack as attached to the lens it wouldn't fit in Nikon's bag for the 80-400. If I were determined to use this as my long lens for landscape, I would probably get that package. It can be used on other long lenses as well.
  8. I used this lens on a D800 in the Kruger National Park in South Africa in August last year and I was very pleased with the results.
  9. I've been using the lens on my D800 since February; primarily for sports. I added the RRS tripod collar, which provides great support for the lens with no play.I generally shoot with a monopod ( as much a weight consideration as stability) and I'm pleased with the results. The auto focus (admittedly in bright conditions) is very quick and when boring down into the detail area, I've been impressed with the sharpness- even up to 400 mm.
  10. Phil, Is there play between the camera mount and the lens without using the RRS collar?
  11. If you're talking about rotational play when the camera is mounted on the lens, it is fairly common that there is some play. If the lens stays securely mounted, and functions normally, I wouldn't worry about it. If it's something else than rotational play and the lens and camera actually separate then you may need to have the camera and lens looked at by an authorized service; perhaps the mount needs to be tightened.
  12. Thanks Ilkka. I does appear to be rotational play.

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