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Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED VR AF

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Reviews Views Date of last review
39 147412 Apr 25, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
79% of reviewers $1,297.04
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
8.26
8.05
7.9
1996NAS_180

Specifications:
Result of VR (Vibration Reduction) is equivalent to using a shutter speed three f/stops faster
VR is automatically detected during panning operation. Two modes of VR: Image plane and Viewfinder
3 ED glass for high resolution and high contrast even at maximum apertures
Filter does not rotate during zooming.

Filter Size 77mm
f/Stop Range 4.5-32
Minimum Focus Distance 7.5' (2.3 m)
Magnification 1:4.8
Zoom/Focus Control Two-touch
Compatible Formats FX
DX
FX in DX Crop Mode
35mm Film
Angle of View DX-format: 20 - 4
FX-format: 3010' - 610'
Groups/Elements 11/17 (3 x ED [Extra-low Dispersion] elements)
Tripod Collar Yes (detachable)
Length 6.7" (17 cm)
Maximum Diameter 3.6" (9 cm)
Weight 2.9 lb (1.3 kg)


 


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Grognard
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Registered: Jun 11, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 2153
Review Date: Apr 13, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: A good zoom range, the VR works, and works well.
Cons:
A little heavy, and the tripod foot stinks- I removed mine.



Apr 13, 2006
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Clint Thayer
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Registered: Mar 12, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 26
Review Date: Mar 12, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,300.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Spectacular color and contrast. Maybe even a tad bit more color than the 300mm f4.0 AF-S. Very sharp. Suprisingly fast AF with Nikon D200.
Cons:
Stiff zoom ring takes getting used too. AF/MF lock switch a bit clumsy. Loud AF if it needs to rack fully in or out.

The best thing about this lens is the stellar optics. The VR system is just a bonus (more later). Colors are vibrant, pure and dynamic. In fact, between 80-350mm it will match the clarity and sharpness of any other Nikon AF-S zoom in their lineup; elbeit it a bit slower glass.

When matched to a hefty AF engine in the Nikon D200 or greater class, this lens will focus quickly and confidently even with a single table lamp lighting a full living room. Prepare for some AF focus hunting in low light with D70 class cameras. Suprisingly, this lens works very well in tracking movement (such as flying birds) while both continuous focus and VR switched on. Automatic VR panning also gets engaged and the results are quite good shooting birds in flight or animals in motion.

How well does the VR work? Trust me. It takes practice. Not all of your subjects will be shake free- even if they are stationary. I've taken shots at 350mm 1/30 second that are first rate. Conversely, I've done the same at 350mm 1/125 that were shaky. You will eventually learn the personality of the VR and begin to appreciate the benefit of it.

My advice with all VR lenses is to treat it first like a standard lens with the shutter speed at least matching the focal length. Then, if that is not possible, go ahead and stop down shutter speed and use the VR feature when you need it. Don't shoot low speed just because you can.

Nikon's tradeoffs work well here. The elimination of the AF-S feature and just a stop or two reduction in full focal length glass speed has saved the photographer thousands of dollars. Optically speaking, it is superb at least from 80-350mm and absolutely liveable at 400mm (especially at f11).

The only other zoom choice you have in a Nikon that covers this range is the $5000 200-400mm AF-S VR. In fact, the results of the 80-400mm VR here is markedly superior to that of a 80-200mm f2.8 ED used with the 1.4 or 1.7 extender. It's that good.

Practice with it and extract the best from it. It's Nikon's real value and I hope it stays in their line at this price. You may want to see some examples of this lens at http://www.pbase.com/clintthayer.

Definately thumbs up!


Mar 12, 2006
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jbarrant
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Registered: Feb 23, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Feb 23, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $970.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Great range, excellent contrast, nice colors, sharp, great value. No other lens can even come close at this price range
Cons:
Focus sometimes hunts between 350 - 400 mm, otherwise it fast between 80-350mm

Great, versatile semi-pro lens.

Feb 23, 2006
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Andybrightuk
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Registered: Feb 23, 2002
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 77
Review Date: Jul 28, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: Optical quality, covers many popular focal lengths, VR
Cons:
Build quality, AF not rapid,

Using primarily for mobile bird photography with Nikon D2x, otherwise I use a 500mm prime lens (see Sigma 500mm f4.5 review).

The 80-400mm gives the impression of being far more compact than it's Canon counterpart, though there's less in it than it seems.

The famed plastic tripod mount is (or should be!) condemned to spend it's life in the attic. In reality, you buy this camera to avoid using a tripod so it's no big issue... anyone fancy paying more on the lens price for a sturdy tripod mount?

The other item in the box is far more worthy, the lens hood being just the right size instead of the excessively sized hoods I've seen on many 400mm+ lenses.

In use, it does it's job... albeit at it's own pace. VR clunks in and out with a slightly worrying sound. You can choose to have VR operate only during the picture taking process or whenever you pre-focus, the latter more battery sapping.

AF isn't rapid but it is faster on the pro Nikon bodied cameras with their more powerful and responsive screw-drive motors.

Optical quality is reasonably good, some CA despite numerous ED elements but provides accurate colours and able to resolve detail as well as most lenses around. F8 and above really shows what the lens can do but have no fears at f5.6, it can still produce a cracking image.

Despite all those warnings about people getting fingers trapped in the zoom movement, I've yet to have any problems (can't even see how it could happen?)... and the design is a bit more stylish than an embarrassing push-pull design.

All in all I'm more than happy with the results, ultimately the 200-400VR is the ambition and more appropriate to fast action wildlife photography but I don't see myself going down the route of the 70-200VR + 2x tc.

Talking of teleconvertes, not much from Nikon will work with the 80-400mm but the good old Kenko Pro300 series 1.4x will give you AF and VR... just make sure you've got some good light.

Some images from my 80-400mm can be found at http://www.digiscoped.com/Dslrphotography.html



Jul 28, 2005
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Julius
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Registered: Jan 26, 2002
Location: United States
Posts: 954
Review Date: May 17, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,429.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Well built, good zoom range, very sharp.
Cons:
Old technology AF slower than AFS.

It has old AF technology compared to the 70-200 AFS VR lens but well built and very sharp. On my D2X the focus definitely and noticeably improved compared to older camera models and the pictures taken with the lens at f/8-f/16 are every bit as sharp as the 70-200 VR lens at any focal length. Due to the compact size and lighter weight it is always in my camera bag. It is also an excellent lens for macro photography with the Canon 500D close up lens where the VR feature comes handy producing sharp close up images.
The 80-400 range is also excellent, more useful than 100-400.


May 17, 2005
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Kerry Pierce
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Registered: Jan 31, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 3667
Review Date: Mar 28, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,500.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: It's the most versatile Nikon lens made.
Cons:
AF-S would almost make the lens perfect.

The lens has a learning curve that you need to complete before you can maximize its potential. It's sharp with good color and contrast, lightweight and a relatively small size. It's a terrific lens to take when you're heading out to shoot anything that strikes your fancy. Of course, it can't compete with the specialty lenses that are needed for special jobs, but they can't compete with it as an all around lens. It's a 5x zoom with VR that works as well as you're capable of making it work. Nuff said. :-)

Mar 28, 2005
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Brendan Getchel
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Registered: Jun 14, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 1990
Review Date: Jan 22, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $900.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: Nikon's first stabilized (VR) SLR lens. Extremely wide, useful range. Twist zoom versus push/pull Canon style dust vacuum. Adequate sharpness at f/8 and smaller, VERY light and compact for focal range.
Cons:
No AF-S!!! VR is "first generation" and engages slowly. Slow minimum aperture makes it useful only in daylight. Slightly disappointing wide-open -- it really needs f/8 - f/11 to sharpen up. No AF-S!!! (Gak!)

Having owned Canon's competing 100-400/IS lens and seeing what Nikon is capable of producing with their stellar 70-200/VR I have to say that I am modestly disappointed with their 80-400/VR offering. Most of this disappointment *could* have been easily averted had they remedied the very real "Achilles' Heel" before releasing this otherwise-respectable lens -- namely Nikon's failure to feature it their "Silent Wave" focus engine. The screw-driven "coffee grinder" autofocus is a decades-old Nikkor holdover that not only has no place on a 21st Century optic from a world leader, but it further demonstrates everything that is wrong with the dragging Nikon philosophy while perfectly illustrating why the bulk of working pros have bitterly abandoned them for Canon.

In a nutshell, this lens holds nothing over its Canon counterpart aside from the superior implementation of a zoom ring versus the dust-sucking trombone configuration of the Canon 100-400/IS. However, the Canon is slightly superior optically and vastly superior in both IS performance (time-to-engage) and AUTOFOCUS performance, considering the Canon variant has USM (AF-S). This is a further embarrassment to Nikon as the 80-400/VR is three YEARS newer! Shame on Nikon.

However, it performs admirably when stopped down and provides VR to mitigate the necessity for a tripod at longer focal lengths in spite of its slow maximum aperture. Bokeh performance is average but falls behind the Canon is this regard as well.

Overall, due in part to the fact that Nikon had YEARS to introduce a true competitor to Canon's aging 100-400/IS, I have to say that I am ultimately disappointed with lens. Seeing what they are truly able to do with their 70-200/VR when they put their heart into it I have to say that they could have done better -- much better. In the final analysis however, if you're a Nikon shooter, this is the only game in town. Sigma's 80-400/OS is inferior is every regard and is just as expensive and there is no way to fully adapt the Canon version to a Nikon mount. In this respect, as the only available option, I recommend it. Your only other options are the Sigma 50-500. which is kludgey and lacks stabilization, or the pie-in-the-sky Nikon 200-400/VR $5,000 Uber-lens.

As the only game in town, your options are begrudginly limited.


Jan 22, 2005
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technik
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Registered: Aug 22, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 170
Review Date: Nov 11, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,150.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Sharp, VR works, Compact size
Cons:
Focus is slow, but this isn't an indoor lens. Wish it was an f/4

This is a great lens. I had never used VR before renting this lens. I was trying to decide between this lens and the Sigma 100-300 f/4 + 1.4X. The fact that I take a majority of my pictures hand held, I wanted to try out VR. The VR worked better than I could have imagined. See the picture below.
Taken hand held, 1/30s @ 400mm.
http://www.pbase.com/technik/image/36174325
I would buy this lens again.


Nov 11, 2004
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john11t
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Registered: Jan 14, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 528
Review Date: Nov 7, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Reach, size, VR
Cons:
Slow

This is a fantastic daytime sports lens. The contrast and saturations are fantastic. If you use the focus lock slow focus isn't a problem. My main con is that it is 5.6 at 400. This slow speed makes it pretty much unusable for night time sports. Sure the VR lets you shoot slower, but that doesn't help you stop action.
Otherwise I love this lens.


Nov 7, 2004
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maljo
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Registered: Mar 1, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 467
Review Date: Sep 12, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: sharp, good VR, nice focal length range, well-made
Cons:
very, very slow AF - slowest lens AF I've ever experienced, maybe the slowest in all of recorded history.

I bought this lens when it first came out.
I have used this lens in Yellowstone, and for a couple of triathlons.
I don't use it much because of the slow AF.
It also doesn't focus very closely. I was photographing street
performers in San Francisco, and I had to keep backing up to get them
in focus. For most tele things I prefer the 80-200/2.8.


Sep 12, 2004
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gavin
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Registered: Jun 7, 2003
Location: Canada
Posts: 468
Review Date: Jul 10, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Sharp, light, 80mm low end, cost. And surprisingly AF speed! (in good light)
Cons:
Bad AF in low light

I have now used this glass at 2 events and taken 5 or 6 thousand images, and I was expecting it to be average for soccer (the first event) but it was not only usable but perfect for the job. When the light deteriated late in the day the AF had problems, so I went back to my trusty 120-300 f2.8 Sigma (best glass in my kit).

The next event was canoeing and it worked well for this slow sport.
I think this is a 'keeper'
I don't use VR so I can't comment on this to me usless feature.
Gav


Jul 10, 2004
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M Rogers
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Registered: Apr 27, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 36
Review Date: Apr 27, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,700.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: VR works!!!. ED Glass
Cons:
Slow AF

I bought this lens when it first came out in Jan 2001. I tell people that you will have a love-hate relationship with this lens. The key IMHO is to know "How" and "When" to use it. To cut down on focus hunting do not use full, use the limit switch feature. This will solve a lot of problems. Second if shooting moving objects try and pick them up before depressing the shutter. The more time you allow the lens to pick up focus the better the chance of locking on and holding. Forget birds for the most part. I use this lens exclusivly at Air shows and have wonderful results. I try to pick up the jets (Thunderbirds or Blue Angels) as they are approaching and pan when they pass. No problem with hunting. If you are concerned with the tripod collar you can get a Kirk colar for this lens that works as it should. I bought this lens for hand holding however and the VR really works. One thing that I dislike is the stiff zoom ring. I have checked this on many other examples and found them all to have a stiff zoom ring. Unlike the silky smooth ring on the 70-200 VR which you can move easily, the 80-400 makes zooming while shooting an adventure.

Apr 27, 2004
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jespel
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Registered: Aug 1, 2002
Location: France
Posts: 21
Review Date: Apr 16, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,300.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: VR, sharpness
Cons:
AF :(

VR works great, I shoot in 400 position at 1/30 !! pictures and most of them was completely sharp.

Nevertheless, the AF is really slow (very dificult to follow a bird fliying, for example)
It dosn't work (VR) with my F90x unfortunatly but great with the F100
I'm plannig to buy a F2H. Any comment/experience with this camera using this lense?


Apr 16, 2004
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vince
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Registered: Mar 18, 2002
Location: China
Posts: 306
Review Date: Mar 13, 2004 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 6 

Pros: VR really works, good optics, solid build.
Cons:
Pathetically slow AF, no silent wave motor (AF-S), weak tripod collar, slow max aperture.

First the good points, the construction and optics are excellent. The zooming and manual focus actions are very smooth. Sharpness and color rendition are very very good.

Sadly the AF is pathetically slow since for whatever reason Nikon decided not to use the AF-S motor in this lens. With the D100 it takes 15 minutes to AF from closeup to infinity (well Ok just exaggerating). It's OK as a travel lens but the slow f-stop prevents me from shooting fast paced action and shots where I need shallow DoF, such as those you'd get with an f/2.8 or f/4 lens.Tripod collar is flimsy.

If I were to make a choice today, I'd take a serious look at the 70-200VR and skip this lens altogether.


Mar 13, 2004
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SkipL
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Registered: Mar 10, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 5
Review Date: Mar 11, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,399.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Sharp, well placed controls for the most part. Easy to carry
Cons:
Slow AF, Poor quality tripod collar.

I have been amazed how well the VR works and as a result rarely put it on a tripod. Good thing too, because the collar is flimsy and poorly designed. Even after reading many reviews. I was still disappointed with the autofocus, which on the D100 hunts a lot! The carrying case that comes with the lense is nice, but it's a tight fit if the tripod collar is installed. As for the picture quality - Outstanding for the price.

Mar 11, 2004
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Quentin
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Registered: Jan 23, 2004
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 75
Review Date: Jan 24, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Reach, optical quality at the price
Cons:
slight softness beyond 300mm

I'm giving this an excellent rating, because quite frankly, its a steal at the price. Focusing is slow, but the image is sharp, and the VR really works. Not as amazingly sharp as my 85mm F1.4, but sharp by any normal standards.

A regular in the camera bag.



Jan 24, 2004
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Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED VR AF

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
39 147412 Apr 25, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
79% of reviewers $1,297.04
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
8.26
8.05
7.9
1996NAS_180


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