Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR Announcement

In a rather surprising announcement today, Nikon released a major update to the existing 12 year old Nikkor 80-400mm AF-D lens. The new Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR has a completely redesigned internal focus optical formula with Nano Coating, Super Integrated Coating and extra-low dispersion glass elements. On top of that, the lens sports a second-generation Vibration Reduction (VR II) system for up to 4 stops of shutter speed compensation and a silent wave motor (SWM / AF-S), which means that autofocus will function on any modern Nikon DSLRs, including entry-level models like D3200. This is one of the few Nikkor lenses to have “Super ED Glass”, which has a lower refractive index and light dispersion than ED glass, making the new 80-400mm a premium lens for both enthusiasts and professionals. And with a versatile focal length of 80-400mm, the lens is well-suited for sports and nature photography.

Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR

Being a premium lens, the new Nikon 80-400mm is not cheap. At $2,699.95 MSRP, it is priced higher than the professional Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II. And with the current $300 rebate, makes it even pricier than the 70-200mm with the TC-20E III 2x teleconverter. For some, this price tag was a surprise, since the old 80-400mm AF-D sells for $1,350 (with a $350 instant rebate), which is exactly twice cheaper than the new version. However, I was expected the lens to be priced above $2K, because the AF-D version also sold for over $2K when it was introduced, plus we are getting all the new goodies like Nano crystal coat, ED / Super ED elements and VR II. And as you will see from my upcoming Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G vs 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D comparison, the new lens is much better optically. To those who are wondering between a 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II + TC20E III versus the 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G for reach at 400mm, don’t even go there – the 80-400mm will be far better optically. The 70-200mm + 2x combo requires stopping down the lens to f/8 to get acceptably sharp images – the 80-400mm will be very sharp wide open, as can be evidenced from Nikon’s MTF charts:

Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR MTF Wide Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR MTF Tele

One major difference between the previous and the new 80-400mm lenses, is the fact that you can actually attach a Nikon teleconverter on the new 80-400mm lens. This is huge, because with the TC-14E II (1.4x), the lens becomes a 112-560mm f/8 lens! At this time, the only way to get close to the 600mm range on the budget is to get the Nikon 300mm f/4 AF-S + TC-20E III, which is a bad setup (optically) with non-working AF. So this lens is currently the best budget option for maximum reach. Forget about TC-17E II and TC-20E III on the 80-400mm, since autofocus will be practically inoperable and sharpness will suffer a great deal.

Note: The side by side comparison between the 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR and the 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D VR will be provided in a separate article.

Official Press Release

Official press release from Nikon USA:

Nikon Zooms In on Ultra Telephoto Versatility with the AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f4.5-5.6G ED VR Lens

Newest High-Power NIKKOR Lens Offers Photographers the Long Reach and Exceptional Clarity Needed in the Field and on the Sidelines
MELVILLE, N.Y. – Today, Nikon Inc. introduced the AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR, a versatile FX-format telephoto zoom lens designed to provide top-class performance and a long reach for a variety of shooting scenarios. Sporting a long 5x zoom range, the 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G is capable of capturing vivid colors with exquisite sharpness, whether shooting stills or HD video. Ideal for sports and nature photography, the addition of the AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR reaffirms Nikon’s commitment to providing a stable of lensing options for all types of photographers.

“Nikon’s next generation of the 80-400mm lens gives advanced photographers yet another top-quality NIKKOR lens to help capture every precise moment with intense detail and exceptional clarity,” said Bo Kajiwara, Vice President of Marketing, Planning and Customer Experience, Nikon Inc. “It’s a one lens solution that combines a versatile 5x zoom range, long focal length and core Nikon technologies to help create beautiful stills and HD video.”

High-Performance, High-Power Zoom

Nikon’s newest telephoto zoom lens features a versatile 80-400mm focal length (5x zoom equivalent) that offers photographers a high-power FX-format lensing option to help capture stunning stills and HD video. Whether birding or shooting from the stands, the lens is also compatible with DX-format bodies to extend the maximum reach to 120-600mm (35mm equivalent). Additionally, alongside a 1.4x teleconverter, the lens can be expanded to an f/8 aperture to retain compatibility with the AF system on the most recent Nikon D-SLR cameras.

The AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR is loaded with essential NIKKOR technologies to help ensure top performance for the advanced photographer, including Vibration Reduction (VR) allowing for up to four stops of image stabilization while Auto tripod detection VR allows for effortless stabilization when mounted on a tripod. The lens sports Nikon’s exclusive Nano Crystal Coat to prevent ghost and flare, a Silent Wave Motor (SWM) to ensure fast and quiet AF operation, and two focusing modes including M/A (AF with manual override) and M (manual). A new optical formula features 20 elements in 12 groups and includes one Super ED Glass Element and four ED glass elements for maximum clarity in a wide variety of shooting environments.

Price and Availability

The AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR will be available in early April 2013 for a suggested retail price (SRP) of $2,699.95. For more information on these and other NIKKOR lenses as well as other Nikon products, please visit

Pre-Order Link

If you like our site and our work, please support us by pre-ordering the Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR from the below link.

Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR for $2,696.95 at B&H


  1. 1) Shawn
    March 5, 2013 at 11:56 am

    I think $2700 for a variable aperture zoom lens is crazy as a soup sandwich.

    • March 5, 2013 at 11:57 am

      Shawn, superb optics, teleconverter compatibility, AF-S, VR II, Nano Crystal Coat and ED / Super ED glass = doesn’t sound cheap, does it? :)

      • 1.1.1) Martin
        March 5, 2013 at 12:07 pm

        Hello Nasim, before I can judge the price issue I think we need testing on the D4 D800 and D600 and D7100. so, there is a lot of work waiting for you? But he price is huge. Do you think it would be possible for you to compare it also to the mighty 200-400mm? The weight issue is so important if you go for wildlife, that if this zoom would “replace” the big zoom a interesting combo might be the 500 f/4 combined with this smaller zoom. Looking forward to read your thoughts.

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          March 5, 2013 at 12:12 pm

          Martin, yes, there is a lot of work to be done :) And I would love to test the lens against the 200-400mm, although I can tell you upfront that the 200-400mm will be sharper than the 80-400mm, simply because it is a different class lens. I suspect AF will also be slower, but probably not as bad as on the old 80-400mm. Wait until I test my sample, which should be arriving within the next 3-4 weeks and I will let you know what I think. Looks like there will be some wildlife trips later this year…

      • 1.1.2) Shawn
        March 5, 2013 at 12:20 pm

        no, Sir, it does not. But I rather think “Nano Crystal Coat” and “Super” ED glass are designed to do exactly one thing: sound expensive!

        I think there are other options. here are a couple:

        1) Last-gen (not the one just announced) Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 is grey market around $2200-$2400 currently, and the copy I tested was very good optically.

        2) Nikon 300 f/4 is about $1400.

        Neither of those get to 400mm, but with the 24-36MP sensors Nikon is putting in recent FX bodies, 300mm + crop is likely functional for 90% of users vs 400mm.

        Neither covers the bottom end of the range either, but most people won’t be buying this lens as their first piece of glass. If a person already owned an 85mm prime, then the Sigma’s a possibility. If a person already owned a 70-200mm, the 300 f/4 is a possibility. And so on.

        Really looking forward to your side by side review with the older version: you do great work and new posts on this site are always a must-read.


        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          March 5, 2013 at 12:37 pm

          Shawn, ED glass elements are not cheap. Coating lenses is not a cheap process either, there is a reason why pro lenses with ED / Coated optics are so expensive.

          I haven’t tested the Sigma 120-300mm, but now that you said it, I would be interested in comparing it with the Nikon 80-400mm. Nikon 300mm f/4 is superb, but it cannot go beyond 420mm with the TC-14E II (I own this lens). And if you are adding camera crop to the mix, then the same advantage goes for the 80-400mm. I would say if someone needs the reach, the new 80-400mm is currently the best option from Nikon. Otherwise, I personally favor the 300mm f/4 for AF speed and sharpness.

          I will surely compare the old 80-400mm, the 300mm, the Sigma and the new 80-400mm in my upcoming review, so we will see what works out the best.

          • GlobalGuy
            March 5, 2013 at 5:18 pm

            I would say that the Sigma 120-300mm, is going to be THE Nikon 80-400VR2 killer. Especially since Nikon neglected to put VR-3 in this lens, which is a shame, and something which the Sigma can pounce on, having the same generation OS.

            The Sigma is a few hundred more, but Sigma has shown a willingness to adjust prices and modify lenses in the past. Being an f/2.8 lens, the Sigma can take a 2x teleconverter, I believe, giving you a 600mm/5.6. Although that is going to be slow to focus, it will be brighter and longer than the 80-400 with a 1.4xTC.

            I am not a Sigma fan, due to earlier quality issues — but they do seem to be improving by a lot (their new Artisan lenses especially). If you wait a while, I am reasonably confident that Sigma will take on this lens and introduce an Artisan version of a 100-500/3.5-6.5 OS for a few hundred less.

            A final note — if you look at the prices of ALL Nikon pro-lenses, they tend to regularly come down in price, in predictable “waves.” Products which are over $2,000, tend to come down by $300, and products which are $1500-2000, tend to come down by $200 or so. And products which are $500-1500 tend to come down by a $100 or so.

            I urge everyone to WAIT for this lens, if at all possible — you will save probably $300-400 dollars. Unlike those who were foolish enough to buy the 70-200VRII at $2,400….. which now goes for $2,100. You can say thats a one time sale but its a very predictable pattern with Nikon.

            Just wait, and save $300-400 on this lens. It is consumer class glass — it is not meant to be so specialty as the 200/2VR or 300/2.8VR, which never go on sale. I think this lens is exactly like the 70-200VRII — it will have a $300 discount within one year.

            (Wait 1 year for every lens, and not only will you received the improved versions with the bugs worked out, you will save enough money to buy another lens).

            • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
              March 6, 2013 at 12:27 pm

              I agree, waiting a little before purchasing lenses is always a good idea.

              As for the Sigma, I am very happy that they are improving in quality. The new 35mm is phenomenal (review to be posted within the next 2 weeks) and I really hope they continue this trend. Cheaper prices, better quality optics = challenge Nikon and Canon. Always great for us consumers!

          • Allen Johnson
            May 29, 2013 at 11:28 am

            Hi Nasim,

            I already have the 70 200 VR II and you are right with a TC 2.0III the sharpness is just not there, I used to own the old 80 400 but sold it when I bought the 70 – 200 f2.8 VR II, now I will wait for your review to see if I should change back. I seem to always use the 70 – 200 at 200 or 400 and use my 24 – 120 f4.0 for most photo’s these days. This is the perfect lens for everyday and holidays, but when you are off to see Polar Bears I suspect I will need the extra range of the 80 400.

            With a 16-35, the 24-120 and the 80-400 with a 50 f1.4 and a TC 1.4 to go with my D800, I think I will be set for a very long time.

      • 1.1.3) marcos baumann
        March 11, 2013 at 2:53 pm

        Dear Nasim,
        First of all, thanks for all the useful insights in your website.
        I love birdwatching since I can remember.
        Last year ( 5months ago) I purchased a Nikon D7000 , an AF-s 300mm f/4 ED lens +TC 1.4 and a 18-300mm VR(for general purpose). I took a couple of courses in digital photography and edition. Since then I have been able to do nice pictures of birds, very happy about the results.
        now I just jumped in the pool…order a 70-200 f/2.8 VRII ,which I already have and a 500mm f/4G VR, that one is on the way.
        Here goes my question ;
        As back up and complement for the 500mm f/4G what would you recommend ? ;
        70-200 f/2.8 VRII+ TC 1.4 and/or TC 1.7 ( super fast AF )
        300 f/4 ED ( no VR , AF not very fast, but OMG ,how sharp and beautyful !!! )
        My short experience comparing both lenses is that both lenses are tack sharp, but with the 300mm when i’m inside the woods, all the pictures come out blurred.
        Thanks in advance and congrats for your work.
        Regards from Santiago- Chile,

    • 1.2) Steve sanders
      March 14, 2013 at 7:57 pm

      B & H just shipped mine. Months earlier than I expected.

  2. 2) Pravan
    March 5, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    This thing is compatibel with teleconverters? Dannnnnggggg! I am getting myself one. Little birdies here I comeee.

    Great job Nikon, I am excited!!! OK, now I need to think what to buy for my wife, so that she can allow me to purchase this lens. Any suggestions from fellow readers?

    • March 5, 2013 at 12:06 pm

      LOL Pravan, take it easy and breathe :) 560mm does sound exciting for little birdies for sure, but wife comes first :)

      • 2.1.1) Stefan
        March 5, 2013 at 12:28 pm

        Hey Nasim,
        is it sure that the new 80-400 will support the 1.4x?
        Although by calculations it shouldn’t be a problem, Nikon don’t mentioned anything on the website.
        I’m looking forward to see your tests. Particularly in these directions:
        1) sharpness at 400mm vs. 70-200 (2.8) + TC20III 2x
        2) fast focusing vs. 70-200
        3) VR effectiveness against the new 70-200 (VRIII)

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          March 5, 2013 at 12:53 pm

          Stefan, yes, the TC compatibility is listed in the official press release :)

          • Stefan
            March 5, 2013 at 1:22 pm

            Nice, I missed that.

    • 2.2) Michael
      March 5, 2013 at 12:10 pm

      “…OK, now I need to think what to buy for my wife, so that she can allow me to purchase this lens. Any suggestions from fellow readers?”

      How about a D4. Well you can always tell her you got her the very best DSLR available. Nothing but the best for the best. May you should toss in a day at a very luxurious spa, too. :-)

      • 2.2.1) Pravan
        March 5, 2013 at 12:18 pm

        Thanks Michael :O

        A D4 would be nice, but that’s an expensive proposition! Plus, my wife doesn’t care for my expensive hobby, other than having great pics of our kids :)))

  3. 3) Gary Clark
    March 5, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    I bet that thing weighs a ton!

    I have a D3200 with a battery grip and a Nikon AF-S nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 and that’s pushing 1.5kg at a guess. I know that ain’t much but its entry level!

    Quick question for Nasim, I see you mention that when tougher a teleconverter you have to stop the lens down in order to get sharp images, does a similar rule apply to my scenario? I am using a lens meant for an FX format camera on a DX format camera, typically my Nikon 50mm f/1.8 and my Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 would be sharpest between f/5.6 and f/6.3, that’s on an FX body, with my cameraand its 1.5x crop factor is it possible that I would get better results by stopping down a bit further?

    Thanks Nasim,


    • March 5, 2013 at 12:16 pm

      Gary, when I said that one needs to stop down, I meant when using the teleconverter. The thing is, teleconverters do impact sharpness and contrast, especially when using longer ones like TC-20E III. In your case, the 70-300mm lens is not compatible with Nikon teleconverters. Stopping it down to f/8 will increase sharpness a little, but not by much. Keep in mind that all lenses are stronger when stopped down a little. For prime lenses like your Nikkor 50mm f/1.8, stopping down to f/2.8-f/4 will yield very sharp results, while for your 70-300mm, the sweet spot is right around f/8.

      • 3.1.1) Gary Clark
        March 5, 2013 at 1:40 pm

        Thanks Nasim,

        I know you have a lot of replies to respond to! You may have misunderstood what I was asking, what I meant was, a DX camera with a crop factor of 1.5x essentially has a 1.5x teleconverter built in in that it changes a 300mm to equivalent 450mm.

        My question was do I have to stop down any further because I am using lenses built for FX cameras on a DX camera.

        Thanks again,


        • Murray Foote
          March 5, 2013 at 7:06 pm

          No, you have to stop down some with a teleconverter because that is putting extra glass between the lens and the body and that degrades the image. If the lens has soft edges on FX you may even need to stop down less because you are using the centre of the lens. General rule of thumb: two stops down is optimal sharpness; only a rule of thumb though. Best to test your own equipment to understand it well.

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          March 6, 2013 at 12:29 pm

          Gary, please see my article on focal length and field of view to understand what the 1.5 crop factor actually does. There is no such thing as 1.5x crop factor = 1.5x teleconverter…

  4. 4) David B
    March 5, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    I am still not convinced 70-200VR2 with a TC for less money is not a better deal. It is effectively at the same F/5.6 at 400mm. Nasim thinks it is optically not crazy sharp with 2XTC at 400mm and needs to be stopped down. However I have two arguments against this
    1) The charts are just the charts, lets see if 80-400 at 400 does NOT need to be stopped down either. After all the last 80-400 was not the best and sharpest lens Nikon made, especially at tele end. So how good is it at 400 at F/5.6 remains to be seen;
    2) in addition to be able to use at 400mm at the same F/5.6 with 2TC converter for cheaper, 70-200 has something that 80-400 does not have: you still can remove the TC and use it as a very sharp 70-200 at F/2.8 thus making it much more versatile package for someone deciding between the two solution.

    The bottom line if I don’t have $5000 to spend on both of these lenses, or if I believe that they are redundant as they are covering somewhat the same range (with TC use), or I only have $2500 and have to pick one or the other, would not you pick 70-200VR instead? If you have to pick one?

    I also believe that spending almost $3K on a variable aperture lens is just…wrong….

    • 4.1) PAG
      March 6, 2013 at 12:06 pm

      David, just a few points. First, the 70-200mm w- a TC 2.0 weighs about 10 oz. more. Second, in either good light or with the new f/8 AF points you can add a TC 1.4 to the 80-400 to get a 112-560mm f/8 lens. The only way to get there with the 70-200mm is to stack TCs.

      The new 80-400mm won’t be for everybody, but the 70-200mm w- a TC is most definitely not a direct replacement for it.

    • March 6, 2013 at 12:32 pm

      David, you can trust me that the 80-400mm won’t have to be stopped down to get good performance – just look at its MTF. As for 70-200mm having the option of f/2.8, yes, it is good, but I am not talking about versatility here – I am talking about reach. If you need the reach, the 80-400mm is hands down a better choice. If one needs a great shorter focal length lens, then the 70-200mm f/2.8 is obviously much more flexible and better.

      So it all depends on one’s needs. For reach, the 80-400mm is now a great choice.

  5. 5) Jaimie Mills
    March 5, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    How frustrating, I’ve just returned a tc-17 I tried on my 80-200 afs (didn’t love it) and replaced/paid the extra to get a 300mm F4 and tc-14 combo. I suspect this new 80-400 will be as good or better with the added benefit of VR and zoom?



    • March 5, 2013 at 12:58 pm

      Jaimie, I do not expect the 80-400mm to be better than the 300mm f/4 + TC-14E II optically. The 80-400mm should also be slower in autofocus speed (the previous 80-400mm was a dog). I think you are better off with the 300mm f/4 + TC1.4, but that’s only a speculation – I own the 300mm f/4, so I will make sure to do a thorough comparison in my upcoming review :)

      • 5.1.1) Jaimie Mills
        March 5, 2013 at 2:55 pm

        Phew!! Thank you Nasim, I always trust your concise and well thought out advice. I am very excited about the arrival of my new 300mm lens, am suggesting to my long suffering wife that a trip to the Safari Park may be in order soon, you know “for the family”!!!

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          March 6, 2013 at 12:35 pm

          Jaimie, unless Nikon releases a 300mm f/4G VR, I am not parting with my 300mm f/4! I own a 200-400mm lens and I have used many other expensive primes in the past. The 300mm f/4 gets more used than anything else in my arsenal. It is very sharp, very fast and my TC-14E II stays married to it :)

          Good luck with the “family” Safari :) Make sure to keep the shutter speed high – if you have a recent Nikon DSLR, Auto ISO + faster will do the job nicely!

          • Jaimie Mills
            March 6, 2013 at 12:46 pm

            Hi Nasim,

            Thanks again, I have a D700 and will use your advice!


          • Jaimie Mills
            March 10, 2013 at 12:18 pm

            Hi Nasim,

            Hope you are well.

            Just a quick note to say (taking a phrase from the younger members of the family) O.M.G.!!!! my 300/1.4 combo arrived and I’ve happily been testing it on a friendly robin in my garden, it is AMAZING! So clear, so sharp, yes VR would by lovely but with my trusty D700 and high ISO, it is lovely!!! I’m so pleased (can you tell)? Thank you for the advice, walks all over using it with my 80-200 AFS with the TC17 for reach and clarity!


            • Richard
              March 10, 2013 at 1:32 pm

              Congratulations Jaimie, certainly a decision you will not regret. I find mine, in good light, works fine with my TC17. Just keep the shutter speed up and enjoy, after all who needs VR when the shutter speed exceeds x1.5 of the focal length i.e 1/450 :-)


  6. 6) Jeff
    March 5, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    I think there are better options available. Granted it has some nice bells and whistles at the end of the day it’s still a $2999 lens. I recently picked up a Sigma 50-500mm OS and I was a HUGE Sigma skeptic and I am blown away at the optical quality of the “Bigma” granted it’s not a fast focusing lens but it’s only $1500. People will buy the $2999 Nikkor 80-400mm but not many…

    • March 6, 2013 at 12:37 pm

      Jeff, it is $2,699, not $2,999 :) I agree, the price is a little steep for a variable aperture lens. The Bigma is quite nice, I have used it before.

  7. 7) Jorge Balarin
    March 5, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Dear Nasim , how do you think is going to be the IQ of a 70-200mm VR II + TC-17E II, mounted on a D7100 ( 105-510mm ) versus the IQ of the new 80-400mm mounted on the same camera (120-600mm).

    • March 6, 2013 at 12:40 pm

      Jorge, that’s a tough one – the TC-17E II works really well with the 70-200mm VR II. I will have to do a full analysis to give you a good answer. A lot will also depend on the focus speed. If the 80-400mm has the same slow AF as the current model, then forget about it all – the 70-200mm will be hands down a better choice. But if the AF speed is good, then the 80-400mm will be the way to go (plus, it gives you the option to use TC-14E II on it).

  8. 8) Martin
    March 5, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    Thank you for your comments, I share your idea that the 200-400 will be far superior. There is no free lunch in photography …and do you think you have the possibility to compare it to the Sigma 50-500mm??? Looking forward to read you. Yours

    • March 6, 2013 at 12:41 pm

      Martin, absolutely! I requested a $10K order to test some lenses in the 80-400mm range. Unfortunately, I do not think I can squeeze more lenses, but I will try.

      • 8.1.1) MartinG
        March 6, 2013 at 1:48 pm

        I find the 300 F4 plus 1.4 is clearly superior. The difference is theoretically only 20 ml or so, but at a normal distance to a bird when I take the shot it often seems more like 60 -100ml closer. The sharpness, contrast and detail is clearly superior, the bokeh is smoother and the speed of focussing is better. I’d love VR but I often shoot in bright light and speed is not an issue then.

        I am enjoying the combination a great deal. It was your recommendation that helped me decide to buy the TC 1.4. I already had the 300. I also picked up the 85 1.8g at the same time.

        By the way have you looked at the 3 legged thing carbon fibre tripod range? I am seriously considering Brian as a travel tripod. Many reviews suggest this range is good value with some clever innovative features.–review-15245

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          March 6, 2013 at 1:52 pm

          Yup, that’s what I thought you would say :) Having shot with both the 70-200mm VR II + TC20E III and 300mm f/4 + TC 14E II, you cannot compare the two, the 300mm is far superior. The 85mm f/1.8 is also superb – seriously thinking of trading my 85mm f/1.4G for it.

          As for the tripod, I have not seen that one yet, but it sounds promising and the price is just right for a CF!

          • MartinG
            March 7, 2013 at 12:51 am

            I have used the TC20e III with a 300 F2.8, and that was very good indeed. In fact it was surprisingly good, but I used it on a monopod, it is way too heavy to hand hold.

            The thing I like about the TC 1.4 and the 300 F4 is that it has that intangible quality, balance and assured performance, as if they belong together. If a revised 300 F4 with VR II OR III comes out, I will upgrade but still keep the TC 1.4.
            For the moment I will look very closely at the 80 to 400. I believe the published Nikon charts are a good indicator of quality. If the lens is as good as the charts suggest, then the price of the 80-400 is probably justified, despite the variable aperture.

  9. March 5, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    In the UK it’s launch price is an eye watering £2449 (US$3697). It’s enough to make one think Canon 100-400mm IS! Nikon are really starting to annoy me now, that is some price for a f4.5-5.6 G lens VR or not!
    I could buy a Canon 7D + the 100-400mm IS for £200 (US$350) less!

    • March 5, 2013 at 8:17 pm

      Getting a dog for Polo rather than a horse :)
      I’ve used the Canon lens the 70-300 VR is way better than that.
      And our dear friend William Jones won’t be shooting a dog polo :))

    • March 6, 2013 at 12:45 pm

      Richard, I agree, pricing in Europe for camera gear is beyond ridiculous. Reminds me of Adobe’s recent fiasco with their pricing, where it was cheaper to fly from Australia to US to buy a software suite, than to actually buy it in Australia.

      • 9.2.1) Richard
        March 6, 2013 at 3:30 pm

        When I’m on forums the fact that Europe suffers from inflated prices is largely ignored and it’s almost as if that us Brits just moan and groan. There is only one thing that makes us feel better and that’s the Scandinavian countries where a pint of beer costs £10 ($15) and fuel is around $14 a gallon compared to our meager $10. I know I am moaning too, but it’s hard to enjoy photography when we are crippled by the exchange rates, austerity and Nikon’s profiteering. Not that I’m moaning of course :-)


  10. March 5, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    It is Christmas in March! I used the old 80-400 for years to shoot horse polo (on a D3X). On the newer cameras (D800 & D600), the low power batteries did not have enough “wheaties” to drive that lens, and I therefore sold it (It was very ragged out from use). Polo season starts the end of this month, and hopefully I can get one in time. Will have to see how well it functions (can always return if not satisfied).


    • March 5, 2013 at 1:25 pm

      Nasim, with a little tongue in cheek, if you get your copy before I get mine, and are willing to loan it to me for a few days, I would be happy to put it through its paces by shooting some polo (can shoot on a D3X, D3S, D800E and D600), and provide you both an article and some good shots. Just a suggestion!


      • March 6, 2013 at 12:46 pm

        Sounds good, let’s keep in touch – let me know when you are receiving yours.

    • March 6, 2013 at 12:46 pm

      William, I remember you mentioning the 80-400mm for polo, that it did not quite cut it. I am very anxious about the AF speed on this lens…

  11. 11) Photo Phil
    March 5, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    David, I have to agree with you. The 70-200 f/2.8 can also be used with the 1.4x TC for even more flexibility at f/4. Fixed aperture lenses are always preferable to variable aperture lenses. Try using manual flash on a variable aperture zoom lens, while zooming from wide to tele and watch your exposure go from correct to grossly under exposed, as your lovely bokeh is also ruined!

    “At this time, the only way to get close to the 600mm range on the budget is to get the Nikon 300mm f/4 AF-S + TC-20E III, which is a bad setup (optically) with non-working AF.”

    Also, Nasim incorrectly concludes that (300mm) f/4 + TC-20E III produces “non-working AF” and yet brags about the same net f/8 result on the Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR + TC-14, which can, in fact, only be used at the long end by the newest Nikon bodies that support autofocus at f/8, instead of the prior limit of f/5.6. Both combinations produce f/8, which is now supported on the newest bodies.

    Also, the 70-200mm f/2.8 + TC-20E III combination supports autofocus from 140-400mm on ALL Nikon bodies at f/5.6, and not just the D7100, D600, D800 and D4! Further, on any DX Nikon body, it is an effective 210-600mm at a fixed f/5.6. Put that combination the new D7100 and you now have a 24 MP image at 600mm f/5.6 with full autofocus and consistent manual fill flash at any focal length!



    • 11.1) HomoSapiensWannaBe
      March 5, 2013 at 2:50 pm

      Your said “Try using manual flash on a variable aperture zoom lens, while zooming from wide to tele and watch your exposure go from correct to grossly under exposed, as your lovely bokeh is also ruined!”

      Actually, the aperature only changes from F4.5 to 5.6 when set below F5.6 with focal lengths less than 400mm and zooming toward 400mm. At 80mm and F4.5, it will gradually increase to F5.6 at 400mm. This is just 2/3 stop. From 5.6 and smaller, the aperature doesn’t change at all regardless of focal length.

      The change in the degree of background blur between 80mm at F4.5 and 400mm at F5.6 will have more to do with the focal length getting longer than such a small change in aperature.

      Oh well. There’s always the $6749, 200-400 F4.0 if this much less expensive and lighter weight alternative disappoints. I sure wish I could afford one!


      • 11.1.1) Photo Phil
        March 5, 2013 at 11:39 pm

        HomoSapiensWannaBe, you make a good point that the aperture variation of the lens in question is only 2/3 of a stop, compared to many others where it can be two full stops at the telephoto end wide open. This obviously makes the change in manual fill flash mode and bokeh less of an issue with this lens than with others with a variable aperture, but still an important factor. No pro lens I am aware of has a variable aperture.

        As to the 200-400 f/4, it was my first pro lens acquisition, and it now sells for 20% more than I paid for it new some 6 years ago! It’s still my favorite lens, and I highly recommend it to anyone who can justify it! It’s not an expense. It’s an investment that pays dividends long after you’ve owned it, and can usually be sold for close to what you paid for it, making the cost of ownership essentially free! Owning it beats renting it, and if you can justify it, it will more than pay for itself! Use “Bill Me Later” at B & H and buy it today, and pay for it in 6 months with the money you made with it, or just sell it and recoup the purchase price, but keep all the images you took with it! It’s the one Nikon lens that Canon owners don’t have, but all drool over, although, due to demand, rumor has it that Canon finally has one in the works!



        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          March 6, 2013 at 12:59 pm

          Phil, bokeh is another important assessment that I will evaluate. True, variable aperture lenses typically have crappy bokeh, so we will have to see.

          Btw, I also own the 200-400mm f/4 – I bought it new 6 years ago and it also sells for more than what I originally paid. My only problem with it is its crappy AF accuracy at long distances. I hate taking that lens with me to Yellowstone to shoot bears and wolves at long distances, because it always disappoints… I am thinking of trading mine to a 500mm f/4G VR.

          • Photo Phil
            March 6, 2013 at 8:51 pm

            Nasim, we seem to have the same appreciation for good glass! You are correct about the 200-400mm f/4 not being a good lens for very distant subjects, but it totally rocks anything under 50 feet away, and its 6 foot close focusing distance is unequalled! Fortunately, it has held its value, and still been a good investment, should you elect to sell it and purchase a 500 f/4 VR instead, which I know several others are quite happy with as well! Alternatively, get closer to your bears and wolves and carry a gun, just in case! Fortunately, the birds I shoot aren’t dangerous up close!

    • March 6, 2013 at 12:54 pm

      Phil, have you actually used the 300mm f/4 with a TC-20E III? I have, even on the Nikon D800/D4 and it sucked. AF was useless and sharpness suffered too much. As I have stated before, the only TC the 300mm f/4 really works with is the TC-14E II, no matter what camera body you use. Yes, the TC-17E II works in good light, but AF performance + sharpness suffer too much (at least for birding). With the TC-14E II, the 80-400mm won’t have the same problems. It is always easier to use the TC-14E II with any lens, since it does not degrade contrast/sharpness by much compared to other TCs.

      So if one’s purpose is to get to 400mm with the sharpest image, the new 80-400mm is a better choice than the 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II + TC20E III. If you have used the latter combo, you know very well that it requires stopping down to f/8 to get acceptably sharp images. So at the maximum focal length, you are comparing a 400mm f/8 lens to a true 400mm f/5.6. Again, I will do some in-depth testing with these different case scenarios to see what combo is best. These early conclusions are purely based on the MTF charts, nothing else. At the end of the day, AF speed is also going to be trivial. If the 80-400mm has the same slow AF as the old 80-400mm, then forget about it…

      • 11.2.1) Photo Phil
        March 6, 2013 at 8:39 pm

        Nasim, no, since I own the 200-400mm f/4, I had always believed that the 300mm f/4 would be a waste of money, especially without VR. I trust your experiences with it and the TC-20E III, and understand now what you meant by “unusable AF”, despite Nikon’s claims that f/8 is a usable AF on both the D800 and the D4 (and the D600 and D7100). I suspect that your results are more about the quality of the budget priced 300mm f/4 lens, than AF at f/8 on the D800 and D4. At least I hope so. I am counting on f/8 autofocus on my pre-ordered D7100! Others have reported that results with the TC-20E III are even sharper than the TC-14E II (I own both), and the TC-17E is the worst of the lot, and previously couldn’t autofocus on the 200-400mm f/4 with the f/5.6 body limitations, so I never purchased it. I have used the TC-14E II on the original 70-200 f/2.8 (which does not suffer from focus breathing) along with the TC-20E III when I wanted to travel light and leave the 200-400mm at home, while retaining the same reach with autofocus on all older bodies. Clearly, they aren’t the same as the 200-400mm f/4! However, before spending $3,000 on the new 80-400mm and being limited to f/4.5-5.6, I believe the original 70-200mm f/2.8 (which is a truer 200mm at all distances than the new one) with the ability to add any TC for more reach is a better choice for someone, like David B. above, wanting to cover the full focal range of 80-400mm on a budget, especially if combined with a D7100. Similarly, the 200-400mm f/4 covers the full range of telephoto, with even more reach when combined with a DX body, without being stuck with one focal length that may be too long! I look forward to your in depth testing results!

  12. 12) Ertan
    March 5, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Hey, this should definitely be a superb lens, because it’s Nikon!
    I admire the fanboyism. Putting an additional glass, better VR, SWM = Double the price? Not worth it. Canon has been producing a pretty advance 100-400mm with a fast USM and acceptable optical quality over 300mm for over a decade now, and all for aroud 1500$. Is this the best Nikon can do?
    Still waiting for a good and affordable VR telephoto from Nikon for my D800…

    • 12.1) HomoSapiensWannaBe
      March 5, 2013 at 2:59 pm

      If Canon were to release a new 100-400 IS zoom today, it’s price would be much higher than $1500, and I’m sure the optical quality would be improved over the original 100-400. The new Nikon 80-400 will likely be optically superior to the older Canon lens, just as it will trump the original 80-400.

      Also, witness the approx. $5k higher price for Canon’s just announced 200-400 F4.0 than Nikon’s offering. True, the Canon 200-400 has a built in 1.4 TC, but the TC-1.4 adds just a few hundred dollars when to the price of the Nikon 200-400.

      This is certainly an expensive hobby!

      • March 6, 2013 at 1:02 pm

        Fully agreed. The pricing on the Canon 200-400mm is outrageous, but I bet it will be better than the Nikon 200-400mm optically.

        • Photo Phil
          March 6, 2013 at 9:02 pm

          It better be better. Canon has had some 20 years to get it right, without having any comparable alternative! Before I invested in all Nikon pro glass, instead of Canon, it was this Nikon 200-400mm lens that drove my decision! Every Canon wildlife and nature photographer has been after Canon to make this lens for over two decades! It comes 6 years too late for me!

    • March 6, 2013 at 1:01 pm

      Ertan, it is not double the price – the 80-400mm sold for over $2K when it was announced. Factor in inflation, and you are basically getting the lens at the same price, if not lower. I am not here to defend Nikon’s pricing policy – just stating out some facts. If you do not like the price, don’t buy the lens and wait a couple of years. The price will come down to $2K range by then probably…

  13. 13) FrancoisR
    March 5, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    Variable aperture zoom? I prefer to wait for the 300 f4 VR prime. That will be a sure bet. But of course I will be reading everething about it lloll… What is the filter size on this baby?


    • 13.1) Braden
      March 5, 2013 at 2:47 pm

      Hi FrancoisR,

      I am in the same boat eagerly waiting to hear about a 300mm F4 VR to be released. I am just hoping that by adding the ‘G’ designation and VR that Nikon doesn’t ask for a ridiculous price!!


    • March 6, 2013 at 1:04 pm

      FrancoisR, I am also really hoping to see the new 300mm f/4G VR soon. It will probably sell at an outrageous price initially :(

  14. 14) MartinG
    March 5, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    While it is interesting to speculate, we will have to wait for full reviews and proper tests in real world situations. I have the 70-200 VRII and the TC 2eIII. I also have the F4 300 and the TC 1.4. How the 80 to 400 will perform is anyone’s guess. The charts look good. I wonder about focus breathing however. The F4 300 has a lot more reach in most situations with the 1.4 than the 70-200 with the 2 because it does not suffer from focus breathing. It is also a sharper combination. The disadvantage is that it is not a zoom, so you have to zoom by walking backwards if you need a wider shot, and that is not always possible.

    • March 6, 2013 at 1:06 pm

      Martin, what do you feel about the 70-200mm + TC20E III versus the 300mm f/4 + TC-14E II? In my experience, the latter combo is far superior, optically and in AF speed / accuracy.

      You are bringing up an interesting point that I have not thought about. The new 80-400mm might suffer from focus breathing like the 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II, given its decrease in close focus distance and max reproduction ratio. When I receive both the old and the new 80-400mm, that’s the first thing I will look into.

      • 14.1.1) MartinG
        March 7, 2013 at 1:00 am

        See above. I posted my reply to you in the wrong spot, sorry.

  15. 15) Wally
    March 5, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Surprising? Nasim, you work too hard man. You need to take some time and relax, peruse the web. I heard about this two days ago. Well, heard they were going to announce it anyway. I don’t know if this lens has got game but it is pretty well appointed for a upper end consumer lens. The price is a bit rough. The TC at f/8 isn’t exactly a selling point to moi….but the fact its variable aperture pretty kills it for me. I hate ’em. Others love ’em, thats cool but I’d rather chisel in stone than use a variable aperture lens. Give me 2.8 constant (or maybe f/4 constant) or give me death!

    • March 5, 2013 at 5:24 pm

      See my comment #42 below on why I thought it was surprising…

      As for variable aperture vs constant, I think it all depends on what this lens can deliver. I will have it in a couple of weeks when it ships, so we’ll see. I doubt it will be as good as my Nikkor 300mm f/4, but who knows, maybe that Super ED glass is special! :) Working on a comparison article now…

  16. 16) Wally
    March 5, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    All you 300mm f/4 G VR II waiters out there (and I’m one), you know this thing is not going to be cheap? Right?

    • March 6, 2013 at 1:07 pm

      Wally, yes, unfortunately :( I really hope to see the 300mm f/4G this year, despite its high price.

  17. 17) jason
    March 5, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    I think this is going to be the bee knees if the autofocus is snappy. If it’s sluggish like Nikon’s typical variable aperture zooms, well, then I’d hold out for the updated 300 f/4.

    • March 6, 2013 at 1:08 pm

      Jason, fully agreed – AF is the most important factor here.

  18. March 5, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    Thanks Nasim for always taking the trouble to write good reviews. Enjoyed the one on the D7100 and have put in an order to upgrade from my D7000. Looking forward to this lense. Have been using the Sigma 150-500mm for some time and like it but hoping for improved sharpness. As you may remember I primarily do handled bird photography and this lens is a little lighter than the Sigma. Seriously considering switching to this lens for routine use. Looking forward to any comparisons between the Sigma and this lens. Thanks.

    • March 6, 2013 at 1:08 pm

      Amar, I will do my best to do some in-depth comparisons…

  19. 19) M Roper
    March 5, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    I haven’t seen anything about a focus limiter on the new 80 to 400 model. The only way to get decent focus speed with the old one was to use the focus limiter. It would let you limit it to a close or a distant focus. I hope it stays on the new model. Has anyone seen anything about a focus limiter on the new AFS model?

    • March 6, 2013 at 1:09 pm

      You can rest assured that the 80-400mm will have a focus limiter switch.

      • 19.1.1) M Roper
        March 6, 2013 at 10:21 pm

        Thanks, I can’t wait for your full review. I’ve been waiting on the 80-400 update for several years.

  20. 20) Bish Runyan
    March 5, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    I’ve been waiting for this announcement for quite some time. Disappointed with the obscene price though.

    • March 6, 2013 at 1:09 pm

      Bish, just wait for a year or two and the price will drop :)

  21. 21) GlobalGuy
    March 5, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    How can you say this is a “rather surprising announcement”?? You yourself wrote, just on Feb. 16, the following, warning us not to buy its predecessor… with regard to Nikon’s rebates…. Looks like you were pretty ready/prepared for this! ^^

    “Nikon AF VR Zoom-Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED – $350 Off. I am personally not a fan of this lens due to its slow AF motor. Plus, it is long overdue for a refresh. Nikon is probably pushing this one off the shelves, because a replacement version will most likely be introduced later this year (a patent for a new version was filed a while ago).”

    • March 5, 2013 at 5:22 pm

      Surprising, because I thought it would come out a little later this year with another camera body. It is unusual to see pro-level lens announced by itself along with a DX compact.

      • 21.1.1) Wally
        March 5, 2013 at 6:28 pm

        I think you might be the only person on the web that considers this a “pro level” lens. It’s pure consumer all the way. I’ll look again but even the Nikon website claimed it as an advanced enthusiasts lens. It barely makes that grade, to me.
        Oh sure the optics and all that…more goes into a pro lens besides corner sharpness. And if Nikons direction is “pro” lenses with 5x zoom ranges and variable apertures then it’s time to move to another manufacturer.

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          March 6, 2013 at 1:12 pm

          Wally, a gold ring, Nano glass, Super ED and a price tag of $2,699 – how is it not a pro lens? Consumer all the way? :)

  22. March 5, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    Oh boy!
    Perfect match for D7100 and mew models, will be sharper than or same as 70-200 F4 . variable aperture no problem for latest DX cameras at ISO 1600. And getting 600mm AoV in 1.5x DX.
    Takes TC 14 ,even better :)
    if not Pro than Semi Pro at least and in this price range all Pro “holy trinity” is or in lesser price :)
    And wow! what a timing! It was about time to get rid of the old one ,but not VR 3 , well anyway still a LOT better than older model :)
    Pro or not I don’t care :) my shopping list item increased … LOL :)
    I’m not a war correspondent nor going to Antarctica so who cares :)
    As long as you don’t break it, it’s a FANTASTIC LENS!

    If you can afford it and really need it then go for it guys ,it’s an all in one solution to your long range :)
    Now no need to mount TCs on D7100 to get 800mm 5.6 VRII while using VF fill with full 51 points and get 15.4 MP :)
    You won’t miss a single shot :)

    Better than 70-200 F4 and nearly same weight of 70-200 2.8 ,takes pro level 77mm filters.

    This lens paired with D7100 only can throw “canon balls” ;) ,if you know what I mean ;))


    PS . if you can’t afford it and want it, I know most of you do,then start saving money rather than whining or saying my this and my that is better and I’m happy with that ,well if you actually do not need this focal range well n good, but if you do then try to get it . Jealousy kills and burns a person from inside ,try to be positive if you like it and need it then set a goal to reach it :)


  23. March 5, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    Follow the math, and the reach on this lens gets very interesting (remember, a lot of this is “apparent reach”).

    On a D800
    FX = 80 to 400
    in 1:2 mode = 96 to 480
    in DX mode = 120 to 600

    Add the TC-14 to the lens on a D800
    FX = 112 to 560
    in 1:2 mode = 134.4 to 672
    in DX mode = 168 to 840

    Now switch to D7100
    DX = 120 to 600
    in 1:3 mode = 160 to 800

    Add the TC-14 to the lens on a D7100
    DX = 168 to 840
    in 1:3 mode = 224 to 1,120 (now that is some reach!)

    Just thought the math on this was interesting enough to share. Hey Nasim, try shooting this lens with a TC-14 on it, while attached to a D7100, & in 1:3 mode. Share a picture or two of the results.


    • 23.1) Afnan Khan
      March 5, 2013 at 8:31 pm

      Thanks for the calculations William very much appreciated :)
      I thought of that but was to lazy to get the calculator started :)
      That’s why I’m overjoyed ,since the 70-200 F4 came I demanded this lens’s upgrade as it was about time :)

    • March 6, 2013 at 1:15 pm

      Yup, thanks for the chart William! As I pointed out in this article, the 80-400mm is currently the cheapest Nikon lens that gives 500mm+ range.

  24. 24) JC
    March 6, 2013 at 8:50 am

    Too expensive. Wonder why all new lenses are above 2000$.

    • March 6, 2013 at 1:17 pm

      JC, not all new lenses are above $2K – remember the 28mm f/1.8G, 50mm f/1.8G, 85mm f/1.8G and some pro primes like 35mm f/1.4G – all under $2K… it all depends. Either way, Nikon’s prices are still pretty high. That’s why I am really glad that companies like Sigma are stepping up in quality. We need third party vendors that can deliver excellent lenses – that’s what will drive the costs down at the end.

    • 24.2) Afnan Khan
      March 6, 2013 at 7:51 pm

      JC ,

      Sadly yes it’s a bit expensive in tele zoom range of compact lenses but has superior optics than all of them and look at the huge focal range it gives in one mount with ability to add TC 14 ,the best 85mm .. is above 1K and the 400 2.8 VR huge prime is around 10K :) so combining those plus 105, 135 ,200,and 300mm in a smaller,compact n lighter package it is the CHEAPEST !
      Good lenses have always been expensive but cameras will always degrade in price as soon as the new model comes on the other hand lenses do go up in price :) and this year it will be cheaper cameras but expensive lenses :)


  25. March 6, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    This is D800 + 300 F4 + TC 14 E II at ISO 1600 (full picture,only re sized )

    I hope that D7100 + 80-400 VR II combo will be far better and might be at ISO 1250 .

    • 25.1) Jorge Balarin
      March 7, 2013 at 1:00 pm

      Hi Afnan,

      Could you tell me why do you think that the IQ of the new 200-400mm is going to be better than the IQ of the 300mm f/4 ? I tought that the IQ of a prime would be better than the one of a zoom with variable aperture. Greetings.

  26. March 7, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    Hi Jorge :)

    I think you wrote your reply in hurry and beside misspelling my name you got the lens wrong and I should have explained a bit more :)

    1- It’s 80-400 VR II not the mighty 200-400 VR II

    2 – 300 mm F4 is with a TC 14 ,so the TC is slightly blocking more sharpness on the prime. BUT if used alone without any TC 300 mm F4 is a superb prime!

    3 – 80-400 VR II not with a TC in terms of matching IQ with a Prime where TC is attached to the prime ,so it more or less equalize the IQ ,but that is just a wild guess ,until my camera and lens arrive.

    4- Based on D7100’s no AA filter and the new sharp zoom 80-400 mounted without a TC the IQ technically has to improve to match a sharp prime as a 300mm F4 with a TC.

    5- 300 mm F4 will win over any zoom in this category without a TC.

    I hope you get the combination of my “matching” and “sharpness” , which is still a guess on the new zoom and D7100 combo :)

    This is D7000 photo with 300 mm F4 without a TC (keep in mind that light, aperture settings,ISO and camera FX vs DX , all come in account ,it is not a comparison) :

    D7100 will have slight improvement.


  27. 27) Mark
    March 8, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    It’s ironic how people have been asking for a major upgrade to the 80-400 for years, and are now surprised that the improved lens is not the same price as the old one. To me this is very exciting news and I’m going to start saving up for it now. This is a much cheaper solution than the 200-400 and as a non-pro I think it will be the best avenue for improving my reach without paying over $5,000 for pro glass!

    • 27.1) Photo Phil
      March 8, 2013 at 2:24 pm

      Mark, pro glass above $5,000 keeps its value much better than the under $5,000 “solutions” to improving reach. Instead of looking for cheaper alternatives to the 200-400, why not get one? The improvement in image quality at distances under 50 feet at a fixed aperture of f/4 with a close focusing distance of 6 feet simply can’t be beat. Put it on a D7100, and you now have a 300-600mm field of view at f/4 with 24 MP. If reach is your objective, put your FX glass on a DX body, and you also are then shooting with the very sharpest center of the lens! It’s a much cheaper solution to the reach problem, than buying consumer glass with varible aperture at an inflated price, which will NOT hold its value, unlike the over $5,000 pro lenses, which often INCREASE in value, like my 200-400mm f/4 (and Nasim’s!). Pro glass is an investment that pays dividends long after you have sold the lens in better images that live forever! Start saving for Pro Glass instead! Used 200-400mm f/4’s can be found for $5,000-$7,000 and Nasim might consider parting with his, if you catch him in a weak moment, as he wants a 500mm f/4 instead (and NOT the new 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6!).

      • 27.1.1) Martin
        March 9, 2013 at 1:59 pm

        To Phil: you nailed it. I use mainly the 500f/ 4. If possible without TC. The best Nikkon tele if you calculate price, weight etc The other lenses are either to heavy for the reach or not good enough. I rent or get the 200-400 for special applications the 300 f4 I am quite disappointed. The prices for the 80-400 is high, a TC adds an other glass to a lenses that has already too many elements.nothing beats monofocals when it comes to quality.

  28. 28) Richard
    March 8, 2013 at 1:50 pm


    Not ironic at all, but to develop a lens that is more than twice as much as the old model, but still has the same f4.5-5.6 and just new VR even if it is AF-S is a big ask for loyal Nikon users. If you ask the question “would you settle for a Nikon version of the Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 L IS USM Lens” then I guess the answer would be a resounding YES! Every Canon user I know who has that lens gives it a great press. It’s newer and better technology than the old Nikon 80-400mm at the same price. Most importantly, it’s affordable and that to many of us who longed the arrival of a new version feel let down.

    I would even have accepted a lens at halfway between the old and new lenses.


  29. 29) Mike cessford
    March 13, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    Great articles, so helpful.
    I’m struggling with a choice between putting money into telephoto lenses such as this one, or camera bodies.
    Given that cameras like the D800 are available, from an image quality viewpoint, is it better to buy big lenses or better quality lense to get closer to the subject, or a larger format camera with a large pixel count, and then crop the image. Which gives you better image quality for the investment.
    I know there are a lot of other issues to think about when selecting a lense, but when you have a limited budget you need to make choices.
    Is a 70-200 f4 on a D800

    • 29.1) Photo Phil
      March 13, 2013 at 7:24 pm

      Mike, I can’t speak for Nasim, but pro glass is where to invest your hard earned dollars, instead of into depreciating camera bodies. Buy the best glass you can afford, and buy the least expensive camera that fulfills your needs. Photography is about capturing light. The lens captures the light. The camera body only records it. A great lens on a good body will deliver wonderful images. A cheap lens on a great body will only disappoint, as the weakness of the lens is exposed at higher resolutions. Pro glass holds its value over time. Camera bodies are just ergonomic laptops hooked up to the lens, and laptops are technology based, and obsolete within 2 years. Imagine the D3x owners who are seeing the D800 at less than half the price and 50% more pixels! Best advice is to buy bodies used from the Pro’s who sell them at big discounts to stay on the cutting edge, when the newest replacement comes out. A D600 or a used D700 with fixed aperture f/2.8 Pro lenses won’t disappoint, such as a 70-200mm (original version has no focus breathing, so you get the full 200mm at all distances) with a TC for additional reach when needed! If you really want reach, put a D7100 on the Pro glass for a crop factor of 1.5 without giving up any megapixels, while shooting with the sharpest center of the lens, narrowing the field of view of the 70-200mm to 105-300mm at f/2.8 without any TC or any loss in lens speed or auto-focus ability. Bottom line: put your money into glass, not camera bodies, and learn good photographic technique to improve the quality of all of your images! Hope this helps—Good shooting!



  30. 30) Mike cessford
    March 14, 2013 at 5:38 am

    Thanks for your comment.
    Thinking about what suggested around using a D7100 and cropping to get more reach. Do you think you will get a better result with the best glass you can get (say 80 – 200 f2.8 VR II) and cropping or using a 400 f4.0 and not cropping?

    • 30.1) Photo Phil
      March 14, 2013 at 1:57 pm

      Mike, actually, the D7100 does the effective “cropping” for you through the so called crop factor of 1.5x of the Full Frame lens focal length, while still preserving the option of physically cropping a portion of the 24 MP file to smaller portion of it, or just using the 1.3x crop mode in the camera settings during shooting to get a 16 MP image instead of a 24 MP image.

      Certainly, the 200-400mm f/4 lens will deliver the best image because it will be full frame with all the MP concentrated on the desired field of view, and the spectacular close focusing distance of 6 feet is the same as the 70-200mm f/2.8. Note that the newest VRII 70-200mm f/2.8 is only a 135mm field of view at the 200mm setting at close distances, which won’t provide the desired 200mm reach, unlike the original 70-200 f/2.8 VR version, which minimizes focus breathing.

      There currently is no prime Nikon 400mm f/4 lens. There is a 400mm f/2.8 and a 500mm f/4 and a non VR 300mm f/4. All except the latter are well over $5,000 alone. The minimum focusing distance on the long primes over 300mm is an issue—15-20 feet!

      The 80-200 f/2.8 is an older lens without VR and AF-S and cannot be used with any Nikon TC.
      You want the original 70-200mm f/2.8 VR version, which has VR and accepts all Nikon TC’s.

      The benefit to the original 70-200mm f/2.8 VR is it’s wide aperture when used in low light alone, on an FX body, and its extra reach on a DX body when needed without sacrificing speed or sharpness from using a TC, but still having that flexibility of using a TC when you need it. Much better than spending $3,000 for the 80-400mm at a slow f/4.5-5.6 for a non-Pro lens that no Pro would settle for, which hurts resale value, when you realize it, too!

      Figure out your budget, but put the money into the best glass first, and then add the body, rather than blowing your entire budget on the body first and having to scrimp on the glass!



  31. 31) Mike cessford
    March 15, 2013 at 6:36 am

    Thanks, that’s very useful.
    I have an old 80-200 f2.8 AF, no VR or AF-S. On a D3200 it’s manual only.

    I use a 18-200 f3.5-5.6 G as my main lense, but I have been holding off investing more money until I know if I should keep going DX or swap to FX. And if I need to go for longer telephotos or spend the money on higher quality shorter lenses and crop ( either by going DX or cropping an FX image).

    Decisions, decisions !

    Thanks again,

    • 31.1) Photo Phil
      March 15, 2013 at 12:34 pm

      Mike, if you buy only FX lenses, you can use them on both DX and FX bodies and have another whole different set of focal lengths by merely swapping an FX body for a DX body for more “reach” on the same lens. Otherwise, you have to buy all new glass when you transition from DX to FX, as DX lenses can’t use the full sensor on FX bodies, which is why they are so much cheaper because they can be much smaller and lighter. Buy only fixed aperture fast FX lenses (f/2.8), and put them on a D7100 for the longer reach, until you want the wider angle offered by the lenses without the crop factor. Then, get an FX body to supplement and not to replace the DX body. Two bodies are better than one. Plenty of crop capability in the D7100 24 MP images, and the extra sharpness from the removed moire filter will show off your good glass, rather than expose the poor optics of consumer kit lenses. DX images can be cropped, too! First two Pro lenses to get are the 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8. Then add a 2.0 TC IIIE, and a 1.4 TC. Once you also have an FX body to go with the D7100, consider the 14-24mm f/2.8 which is one of the sharpest Nikon lenses. Happy shopping and image making!



  32. May 30, 2013 at 5:17 am

    Nikon 70-200 f2.8 VRII + TC20III vs 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR
    Have D3S + D800
    Using Nikon 70-200 f2.8 VRII + TC20III to reach 400 mm for wildlife.
    Which alternative – do you believe – gives sharpest photos at 400 mm?
    Thanks for comments.

    / Bjorn (Norway)

  33. 33) Babar
    September 15, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Hello Nasim

    I am in Canada…winter is coming good time to shoot some fantastic birds flying by the lake ontarion and around…..
    Am new in field of wildlife (briding specially)
    I have gone through many of the reviews ( mostly yours)…
    I am plannig to buy D7100 body, please do let me know what lens is good to go with for
    1. Birding
    2. Potrait
    3. Macro
    Macro could be my last option to go with (based on budget)…
    my budget (excluding D7100) is around $2000.00

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