Nikon has announced a new Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR lens which will be loved by wildlife and sports photographers. As you know from Nasim’s review of the previous version of the Nikkor 400mm f/2.8G lens, this is one sharp lens but weight was a big drawback. Nikon has taken action to reduce the weight by almost 2 pounds and is now actually 3 ounces lighter than the 500mm f/4G, making it hand-holdable for many of us! Some of the weight savings is from using 2 Flourite lens elements. The new 400mm f/2.8E is also lighter than the legendary Canon 400mm f/2.8L IS II.
In addition to saving weight, the minimum focusing distance of the new lens is approximately 12 inches less than the old version. There are 16 lens elements in 12 groups in the new lens, compared to 14 elements in 11 groups in the old lens. The front element diameter of the lens remains the same while the overall length of the lens is slightly shorter by 10 mm. Speaking of the front element, it is the first Nikkor lens to receive the fluorine coating, which Nikon claims will “effectively repel dust, water droplets, grease or dirt, ensuring easy removal even when they adhere to the lens surface“. This new fluorine coating will also be used in the new AF-S teleconverter TC-14E III which was also just announced.
The VR claims up to 4 stops of handheld shooting but has also added a new mode specifically for sports and action. The new lens utilizes an electromagnetic diaphragm, like the new Nikkor 800mm F/5.6E lens to maintain consistent exposure during high frame rate bursts. It also promises to be sharper – take a look at the MTF curves of the old lens (left) compared to the new lens (right).
The 400mm f/2.8 has always been a reference lens for performance, being one of the few super telephoto lenses that works well with all three Nikon teleconverters. As you can see from the above MTF charts, the new f/2.8E MTF curve looks better and more straight, so we expect it to shine even more. If you do not know how to read MTF charts, take a look at this in-depth article.
Accessories have also received some updates. The drop-in filter size has been reduced from 52mm to 40.5mm in the new lens and ships with a circular polarizer. The carbon fiber hood is no longer in 2 sections but has been redesigned as one piece, similar to what we saw on the 800mm f/5.6E. Also, a more rounded and more sleek looking new case (CT-405) for storage and carrying will be included.
Like the amazing 800mm f/5.6E, the new 400mm f/2.8E promises to be a great lens. The complete redesign does come at a cost with the lens weighing in at $11,999, a significant jump in price from the old version. As soon as we can get our hands on this one, we will post a review.
If you are not patient enough to see our review before spending $12K on the lens, you can pre-order your copy from B&H Photo for $11,996.95.