Nikon 80-400 Review

Nikon 80-400 Review

“Great lens…but you need to learn how to use it”

nikon nikkor 80-400

I just bought this lens to get more reach than I could with my 70-200 f/2.8. Let me first say that my 70-200 does not have VR. Normally, my shots with that lens are great. However, the use of a TC with the 70-200 in order to get the length I needed was intolerable. Shots were soft wide open and were impossible for me without the use of a tripod. It is for these reasons that I went to the 80-400 VR.

I use this lens with a D200. As everyone has claimed at length, the focus is slow (and noisy)…perhaps an AF-S version will come out now that I have already spent my $1500.

I have to say that I actually read the (short) manual before I went out with the lens for the first time. During that outing I was able to take very capable shots of my son’s baseball game even in fading evening light. Photos were clear/sharp at 400mm and colors were bright and accurate.

Using the focus limiter switch made a great improvement in focus speed. No reason not to use it if you are consistently shooting subjects at greater than 15 feet. The other thing is to use position 1 for the VR. This locks the VR when you depress the shutter 1/2 way. Position 2 does not activate the VR until you actually press the shutter all the way down. I found 2 advantages of position 1: first, you can see the VR effect in the diopter and it gives to a chance to reframe your picture (which you will often need to do) and second, it takes about a second for the VR to lock in.

In short, I am thrilled with the performance of this lens. Yes, it is expensive. However, it is extremely capable. I have about 8 lenses in my collection and have pretty well decided that the glass I will need in my bag for ‘everyday shooting’ are the following:

50mm f/1.8 AF-D
18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED-IF AF-S VR DX
80-400 f/4.5-f.5.6D ED VR

The 70-200 will still see the light of day, but not nearly as often. This 80-400 lives up to my expectations in terms of build quality, image quality and color accuracy. The VR exceeds my expectations in every way. The only thing that kept me from giving the lens 5 stars is the focusing mechanism. With AF-S, this would have been 5+.

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Nikon 80-400 Review By D. Hartman (White Hall, MD United States)
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