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Nikon 400mm f/2.8G ED VR AF-S

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9 43577 Apr 18, 2017
Recommended By Average Price
100% of reviewers $7,066.67
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VR II operation realizes the equivalent of a shutter speed four stops faster.
New Tripod mode reduces vibration that may occur at shutter release when shooting with a super-telephoto lens attached to a tripod.
Enhanced optical formulas, engineered to produce exceptional sharpness, contrast and color, render outstanding image integrity.
Three ED (Extra-low dispersion) elements control chromatic aberration while enhancing sharpness and contrast, even at the widest apertures.
Exclusive Nikon Nano Crystal Coat and a Meniscus protective glass element combine to further reduce ghosting and flare for even greater image clarity.
High-performance Nikon Super Integrated Coating realizes superior color reproduction while minimizing ghosting and flare.
Nikon's exclusive Silent Wave Motor enables fast autofocusing with exceptional accuracy and powerful, super-quiet operation.
Rounded diaphragm opening (9 blades) makes out-of-focus elements appear more natural.
Newly added A/M mode reduces the possibility of unintentional switching from Auto to Manual.
Focus Preset function instantly recalls preset focus points with the push of a button.
Engineered to Nikon professional D-SLR standards to effectively resist dust and moisture.
Magnesium die-cast for a lightweight body with rugged construction.

Filter Size 52mm or gelatin filters via rear drop-in slot
f/Stop Range 2.8-22
Minimum Focus Distance 9.5' (2.9 m)
Magnification 1:6.3
Angle of View 6 (35mm format)
4 (Nikon DX format)
Groups/Elements 11/14
Tripod Collar Yes
Length 14.5" (36.8 cm)
Maximum Diameter 6.3" (16.0 cm)
Weight 10.2 lb (4.6 kg)
Usable Nikon Teleconverter TC-20E II, TC-17E II, TC-14E II, & TC-20E III (maintain autofocusing), or TC-301 & TC-14b (manual focus only)


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Registered: Sep 13, 2016
Location: Philippines
Posts: 2
Review Date: Apr 18, 2017 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: sharp even at f2.8, quick focus
weight, takes some practice to get used to, monopod needed, you feel the vr kick and (maybe?) shake the lens

I just shot the Bahrain GP and this lens was lent to me care of the Nikon folks here. I used a D7000, D500, and D750 on it respectively for 3 days with the D500 yielding the best results and performance for motorsports photography and the D750 still being capable if you time your shots.

I use to hate carrying heavy equipment specially the 70-200mm 2.8 specially for long periods. On my first day with this lens I did not have a monopod and hand held shooting, even with vr was not pleasurable. On day2 and 3 with the monopod, lugging the lens, camera body, strap, and monopod took time for me to learn that putting everything over your shoulder as most would do was not the best was to carry the setup. Having the strap across your chest and supporting the lens/monopod with your right hand was better.

It made me forget about the 12-24, 24-70, and 70-200. Using the 400mm was surprisingly addictive.

Apr 18, 2017
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la puffin
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Registered: Jun 19, 2016
Location: United States
Posts: 720
Review Date: Mar 15, 2017 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $5,700.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Image quality is off the charts. AF is very fast, great contrast and color, and 2.8
It's heavy but the newer FL is lighter and at a cost

I bought this as I found it as the sweet spot between the latest and previous versions. If you're serious about sports photography, you've for to have a 400/2.8.

I could go on with all of the other things people are saying, but it's redundant. A reason to consider this over the less expensive previous version, is that Nikon only guarantees to support lenses for seven years after they fall out of protection. For this lens, that was 2014, so I figure it's good until 2021. The original foot wasn't a good idea. Check out 3rd party options and I recommend an Aquatech rubber lens cover.

Mar 15, 2017
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Registered: Aug 3, 2013
Location: United States
Posts: 205
Review Date: Nov 2, 2015 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $6,000.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharpest lens I own. Period. Autofocus is crazy fast and accurate, and will grab subjects when all my other lenses fail. Light carbon fiber hood is a nice touch.
Pretty heavy, but with VR I can hand hold for a while. Very expensive, but you already know that. The two piece hood is a pain, and the screws become stripped easily. The tripod foot is just plain too small.

Plan on buying an aftermarket foot for this thing, because the oem is just too small to be practical. The two piece hood is so it can fold up in the case when reversed, but with a new foot you cannot store the hood in the case.
This lens is big, fast, and the VR lets me hand hold shots at around 1/125 without much thought. I was looking at buying the D-II version of this lens, but some of those lenses are so old, I didn't want to gamble with motors dying after purchase. I wish these weren't so bloody expensive, but this is the cost of entry into true professional sports photography.

Nov 2, 2015
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Registered: Jun 22, 2012
Location: United States
Posts: 65
Review Date: Jun 22, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $9,500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, works well with TC020EIII, fast AF
Heavy, needs a good tripod, requires a second mortgage

Lens Review: Nikon 400mm f/2.8 AF-S VR
(full article here

After my failed experiment with the 600mm f/4, I was a little tentative about the 400. While quite a bit lighter, this is also a large, intimidating lens. This time around, I made sure I had the prerequisites - the Gitzo Systematic Series 3 tripod legs and a solid gimbal head (mine's from Calumet Photo).

I can't overemphasize the importance of a good tripod/head combination to support this lens. In addition, lugging this 25-pound deadweight around requires a commitment to frequent shoulder and neck workouts! A lot of people have asked me whether the final result is really worth lugging this setup around, and after 2 years I can say that the answer is a YES! The lens seems to grow smaller every time you use it and it really isn't a big deal any more.

Build Quality & Handling
Nothing groundbreaking to report on this front - as befits a lens that costs as much as a small island, the build quality is fantastic. I did have an issue where the autofocus completely stopped working, but to Nikon's credit they fixed it for free even though my lens was under warranty. Since then the lens has been a model of reliability.

I almost always use this on a gimbal head or a rest, so handling isn't an issue in my opinion. I've tried handholding it, and take it from me - it's impossible. No matter how often you hit the gym.

Image Quality & Performance
This lens delivers amazingly sharp pictures with good support and long lens technique. Bokeh is unbelievable and really makes the subjects pop. I coupled the lens with the Nikon TC-20EII 2X teleconverter for the first few months that I had it. The results were good but not great - I felt that the compromise in image quality was a little too much. Upgrading to the TC-20EIII teleconverter made a world of difference; I stop down by 1/3 to 2/3 stop for an effective aperture of f/7.1 and the resulting images are tack sharp.

This is also probably the fastest focusing lens I have ever used - it's fast, sure and is a dream to use. However, I rarely use this lens without the 2x teleconverter, and adding the teleconverter sometimes makes the AF hunt a little in low light. However, this and the Nikon 300mm f/2.8 are probably the only lenses that can handle a 2X TC with such ease.

Here are my contributions to the big VR argument - I haven't attempted a scientific test but from what I've seen, using the VR in NORMAL mode it doesn't seem to hurt the images any! How's that for a cop-out?! Seriously, the only time I switch off VR is when I'm doing video - VR makes it sound like you're shooting from inside your local laundromat.

This is one serious lens - both price wise and in the commitment required to use it. However, all this pales into insignificance when you finally snap that picture of a beautiful songbird in perfect focus with the background a soft, dreamy wash of color. For anyone who hasn't used one of Nikon's big lenses, here's my recommendation : rent one - you'll fall in love and eventually buy one!

Jun 22, 2012
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Registered: Nov 2, 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 32
Review Date: Apr 1, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp wide open

I bought two copies of the incredible 400 2.8 vr. Let me start by saying, i shoot mostly sports, action, and some wildlife. This lens for all this type of shooting is the best super telephoto lens from nikon. It is sharp sharp sharp. Wide open 2.8 the lens is just amazing. Auto focus speed is extremly fast, and love the bokeh wide open. I use the lens with tc-20 e iii and my d3s , and 5.6 looks fantastic. It slows down autofocus a bit, but very usable in good light. It is a huge lens , but with proper long lens technique, and some serious legs (gitzo), amazing results. Expensive but worth every peny. I simply love this.

Apr 1, 2012
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Jonathan F
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Registered: Oct 17, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 1191
Review Date: Aug 11, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpest lens ever!
Expensive, heavy and still uses the two-piece hood (though not as bad as the previous AFS I/II hood).

This lens I refer to as my insurance lens. If all else fails, this is the lens that gets the money shot! It is so sharp and renders pictures so beautifully, the only other lenses that matches it for exquisite images is the 600 f/4 VR & 200 f/2 VR. Mated with a 1.4 TC-14E II, this lens makes an awesome 560mm f/4 VR. While I'm no fan of TCs, this is one lens that can easily use them with NO quality loss. I'd recommend getting a replacement foot with a smaller profile as it makes the lens a little easier to manage. This lens is probably Nikon's most versatile. On an FX 12mp body, this lens makes an excellent low-light/smooth bokeh lens. When mated to a DX body, it becomes a 600mm FOV lens in good light and with a 1.4 TC it goes even further.

Overall I'm very happy with this lens, and use it every chance I get. Highly recommended if you're looking for that one telephoto lens that does it all. If I could pick only one super telephoto lens in Nikon's line-up this would be the one!

Aug 11, 2011
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Registered: Mar 1, 2010
Location: Canada
Posts: 104
Review Date: Jul 11, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Sharp, great build q., the best bokeh I've seen from any lens period.
Terrible hood and foot.

This lens (vrII) is my first super tele. I shoot it with all three of Nikon's current tele converters with pretty good results. The 1.4 is by far the best match to this lens followed by the TC-17 II and finally the TC-20 III.

I shoot equestrian events with this lens for a living and typically shoot it without a tele converter. The rest of the time I take bird and other wildlife pictures with it as a replacement for therapy.

When you buy this lens make sure to budget for a good tripod. I had to surplus a Manfrotto 055 and replaced it with a Gitzo 3530. I have an RRS BH-55 and a Wimberly Sidekick that work like a charm for just about everything.

Jul 11, 2010
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Registered: Sep 5, 2005
Location: Italy
Posts: 400
Review Date: Jun 14, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: The unique behaviour in rendering images ensures photographs with a "special" signature; sharpness; max. aperture; ideal focal lenght for a broad range of applications; superb build quality
Nikon does not sell an anti-gravity device.

The 400VR arrived last week and my experience is fairly limited so I will post briefly some first impressions. If you konw the 400/2,8 Nikkors, then you're aware of their dimensions and weight: the new 400VR is fairly heavy but well proportioned and balanced. Just to make a quick comparison, my previous 200-400/4VR, while lighter, was somewhat "uncomfortable" due to its center of gravity shifted to the front of the lens. On the contrary the 400VR is "fatter" and its mass is better distributed over the entire lenght. As a matter of fact, I'm able to shoot handheld most of the time with good results but I would suggest a monopod to support this monster, especially for prolonged shooting sessions; a gimball head / tripod would be ideal for shooting from a fixed position.
Another aspect to consider is the double-pieced lens hood: it could seem a cumbersome design but I came to a compromise using only the first part while leaving the second one into the closet. In very bright environments I have both mounted on the lens.
One of the things I've appreciated immediately is the VR ON/OFF ring switch: it's the same as the 200VR and I always found its design to be better than the 200-400/4VR's button one.
As for the tripod foot, it's prone to vibrations when mounted on tripod but for hand-held shooting it's very good because its "L" shape allows for a perfect grab: I use a pair of SetWear leather fingerless gloves with extra padding into the palm.
Now for the optical performance of this puppy, I can say that its top-level under any condition. Using regularly some razors (200/2VR, Leica 90APO Asph for Nikon F, Voigtlander 125/2,5 not to mention the 14-24/2.8), I can say the 400VR is quite as sharp from wide open and draws micro-contrast beautifully, emulating the 3Dness of Zeiss glass. Bokeh rendering is absolutely among the best my eyes had the pleasure to see: at F2,8 the subject seems to be "glued" onto a background painted by an artist. Regarding CA, it's remarkably well corrected.

Price. Acceptable for this kind of tool.

A perfect lens? Well, I don't know but it's my "dream lens" for sure.

Jun 14, 2010
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Q Who
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Registered: Jun 18, 2007
Location: Canada
Posts: 15
Review Date: Jan 27, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Fast and accurate AF Precise Optics VR a blessing when hand holding this behemoth Beautiful bokeh Very well built
Two piece lens hood Pricey No wrench for changing feet

Great lens would not except nothing less in this class
I find that all the controls are well placed the sound level of the vr
system is quiet. AF is very fast and accurate image quality is as good at the edge as it is in the center. Great bokeh . Handles the 1.4 and 1.7 tc's well have not used a 2x tc with this lens so I can't say how it would be. Lens comes with two feet one for tripod use and another for mono pod use would be nice if Nikon supplied a wrench for changing the feet not that it is something that I change everyday.
The mono pod foot is low and stable the tripod foot is tall and does allow for some vibration. Don't care for the two piece lens hood.
I would like the trunk case for the lens to have enough room for a body to be left on the lens.
As for the weight of this lens yes it is heavy but not as heavy as it could be.
Pricey but worth the money

Jan 27, 2008
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Nikon 400mm f/2.8G ED VR AF-S

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
9 43577 Apr 18, 2017
Recommended By Average Price
100% of reviewers $7,066.67
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating