Af Vr Zoom-nikkor 80-400mm F/4.5-5.6d Ed

By | 05/11/2022

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Nikon 80-400mm VR

FX AF-D f/four.five-v.half-dozen (2000-2013)

Nikon 80-400mm VR AF-S

Nikon 80-40mm AF-D VR

Nikon 80-400mm

Nikon lxxx-400mm f/4.5-v.6D VR.
(FX, DX and 35mm coverage, 77mm filters, 42.7 oz./one,210g without tripod collar, seven.5’/two.3m close focus, well-nigh $ane,900 new or about $400 used). My biggest source of support for this free website is when you use any of these links, specially this link directly to it new at Amazon, or this link direct to them used at eBay (see How to Win at eBay), when you get
anything, regardless of the land in which you live. It helps me keep adding to this free website when you get yours through these links — simply I receive
for my efforts if you buy elsewhere. Thank you for your support! Ken.

Nikon lxxx-400mm VR AF-South
05 March 2013. This new AF-Southward lens adds instant transmission-focus override and closer, faster focusing to the original 80-400mm VR lens reviewed hither.

Janaury 2020

Nikon Reviews   Nikon Lenses   Nikon Flash   All Reviews

For sharpness comparisons, see:

105mm Center Comparison

105mm Corner Comparison

200mm Centre Comparison

200mm Corner Comparing

Please help


Baronial 2009 update:
The fourscore-400mm VR works nifty on DX, FX and film. The newer, smaller, lighter and much less expensive 70-300mm VR does everything as well or better, merely only goes to 300mm, not 400mm. Personally, I prefer the convenience of the 70-300mm over losing merely a niggling chip at the long end.

The rest of this article is from 2006, before the invention of FX or the lxx-300mm VR. The 80-400VR is marvelous on FX, merely that the seventy-300mm VR works as well for a lot less coin and weight.

This lens is a miracle. I bought one in August 2002. Information technology’s small, sharp, low-cal and has very footling distortion and flare, possibly the simply 80-400 zoom on the planet that can do this. Non only this, but the VR feature actually works, allowing you to shoot this long lens handheld in all sorts of light. Every bit I recall the Tokina 80-400 is well made but has a lot of baloney and I have no idea how sharp it is.

See also Why VR Matters.

It weighs less than the Nikkor 80-200 AF-S. Due to that, as well equally its great optical quality and freedom from ghosting this VR replaced the 80-200 AF-Southward in my bag until it was replaced by the 18 – 200 VR in my bag in 2006. I withal grab my lxxx – 400 for long shots.

Except for the VR feature, this lens is completely compatible with all Nikon cameras of any historic period from 1959 and newer. Y’all’ll need to take a coupling prong added if your camera is a pre-AI camera from 1976 or older.

The VR characteristic works with the most contempo cameras, specifically D80, D200, D2H, D2X, D1/Ten/H, D100, D70, F5, F100, F80/N80 and the F65/N65. VR doesn’t work on the N55, but everything else does. Check your camera’south instruction book for details; as Nikon introduces new cameras evidently my lens’ instruction book can’t update itself.

This lens is perfect for the wander-around-and-see-what-you-find photography I do. It is Not good for sports or depression-light motility photography due to the tedious f/stop and boring autofocusing speed. More on that afterward.

Hither’s the initial press release from Jan, 2000. It didn’t actually become available until the middle of 2001.


Proper noun

Nikon calls this the Nikon ED AF VR Nikkor 80-400mm f/iv.five-5.6D.


Nikon 80-400mm internal diagram

Internal diagram.
ED Drinking glass.

17 elements in 11 groups.

3 are of ED glass.

It’south multicoated, which Nikon calls Nikon Integrated Blanket.


Bang-up ix-bladed diaphragm. Information technology uses curved blades which provide a pretty much circular opening down to near f/11.

Filter Thread

77mm, the professional standard. The front plastic filter band does not rotate, ever.


It is non an AF-Due south lens, simply one of the erstwhile-manner mechanically focused lenses. It’s one of Nikons slowest focusing lenses. You volition demand to move switches around to go between AF and transmission focusing. The Canon 100-400 IS is AF-S way, equally is the 70 – 300 VR. AF-S lenses permit y’all grab the focus ring for instant manual focus override.

Close Focus

7.v anxiety (2.3m), not that bang-up for nearly of the focal range covered.

The Canon 100-400 IS focuses closer.

The 70 – 300 VR focuses closer nonetheless ( 4.nine’ (i.5m) and the 18 – 200 VR clostest, at 1.5 anxiety (0.45m).

Tripod Neckband

The tripod neckband comes off. I took mine off the moment I got information technology! I do the nasty and employ the camera’southward tripod socket. The 80 – 400VR’south collar is a pain, so information technology’s left at dwelling.


HB-24 plastic bayonet hood, included with the lens and non needed anyhow.

Size” (91mm) around and six.7″ (170mm) long.


42.7 oz (ane,210g).

47 oz (1,340 g) if yous leave the dizzy tripod collar on.

Nikon Product Number:
1996, in catalog as of bound 2008.

Nikon’south data is hither.

Price, The states

$i,900 new or about $400 used if you know How to Win at eBay, Janaury 2020.

$1,510 new or about $500 used, April 2018.

$1,675 new or about $800 used, Baronial 2009.


AF Speed

AF speed is slow. If you want fast AF, get the 18 – 200 VR or 70 – 300 VR.

VR is for fixing hand milkshake blur during longer exposures, not for stopping action. This lens excels for stills, but for sports you may want the 70 – 300 VR.

With a hot photographic camera similar the D2H/X, D1/H/Ten or F5 information technology’southward OK; with an amateur camera like the F100, D100 or slower it can be abrasive. The focus shifts as you zoom, so yous always need to exist sure to refocus after you are washed zooming. This is not what you want for tracking activity up and down a field.

Even on a pokey camera like my D70 I can track some activity, like cars moving at 45MPH.

Information technology is the slowest focusing AF lens always made by Nikon as far as I know. It but focuses to 100′ with one full turn of the AF screw. This is more than twice as slow as the current AF 70-300 f/iv-v.6D and more than six times equally boring equally the recently discontinued AF 70-210/4-5.6D. And you think you’re going to shoot sports with this? Nah, this lens is for stabilizing camera milk shake, Non subject move! The 80-400 VR is even slower than the original AF 70-210mm f/four.0 from 1986.

This lens focuses the old-fashioned way: with a motor in the photographic camera and a mechanical linkage that couples the camera to the lens. This is non why information technology’s slow. It’s wearisome considering the gearing is designed to exist slow.

Depending on the gearing of this conventional AF linkage one either gets blazingly fast AF like the 85/ane.8, 35/two.0, xx/two.8 and 70-210/4-5.6D AF lenses, or a pig like this VR lens.

This lens is optimized for handheld photos of still subjects, NOT sports! I practice shoot some sports with my D1H camera, but would circumspection you to bank check to encounter that the AF is fast plenty to track action for you depending on what you are shooting, specially with anything other than a D1 series or F5.

Nikon salesmen brush this off as “well, its not AF-Southward,” just equally you see to a higher place plenty of mechanically autofocused lenses are very fast. In this instance this lens is just geared very slowly.

The dull AF is OK because the VR lens is not for shooting sports or action anyway. Don’t be misled by the illustrations in the sales literature. The point of the VR feature is to be able to shoot all the same subjects with long exposures without needing a tripod. It is not to be used for shooting things that movement quickly requiring fast shutter speeds. For sports you ought to be using a faster lens assuasive faster shutter speeds, or if yous don’t take an f/ii.8 super telephoto, faster picture.

There is a focus range limiter switch.

At that place is an updated Auto/Manual focus mode switch which can be moved with one mitt and has no lock button (unless you lot desire it locked). This is an comeback over prior Nikkor AF lenses, but still primitive compared to Canon and Nikon AF-S lenses.


Bokeh is neutral at 400mm.

It looks non so great at 200mm.

I have non looked besides closely at this, so best to try for yourself.

See as well my Bokeh Comparisons page for examples, where information technology looks groovy at 135mm.


Plug these figures into Photoshop CS2’s lens distortion filter to correct the baloney. These aren’t facts or specifications, they are the results of my research that requires hours of photography and calculations on the resulting data.

FX at infinity

DX at infinity

DX at 50′

























© 2007

Construction Quality

It’s got a lot of plastic and feels cheaper so the metal Canon 100-400 IS, which is priced the same.

On the other hand, later living with information technology a chip I realize that this saves weight, which is a Godsend. It’southward lite and has a lot of plastic on the exterior, all the same the quality is very loftier. This is different the expensive Mamiya 7, which is also made of plastic, but cheap and sloppy plastic.

The Nikon 80-400 VR’s plastic is summit rate. The filter threads are metal, covered in prophylactic, the best of all worlds..

Of grade the mountain is metal. I’m unsure virtually the important internal cams.

Vibration Reduction and Image Stabilization

The VR seems to work very, very well. I got useable only even so slightly blurred images at speeds effectually 1/15 at 400mm!!!

Honestly, VR is only a gamble like annihilation else. Some images are sharp and some are non. Information technology can’t relieve every paradigm since photographic camera shake is a random function.

Oddly, VR works great from 80 through 300mm, simply at 400mm information technology’s still tough to become perfect images at slower speeds. Aye, VR is e’er improve than no VR handheld, just y’all’ll get some duds at every speed. Here’south what seem to be safety speeds most of the time for me:

80mm one/fifteen
150mm 1/thirty
200mm 1/15
300mm 1/sixty
400mm ane/250

Innocent people would assume that VR effectiveness would vary directly with focal setting, only reality is always stranger than fiction. The minimum speeds have to do with the exact algorithms and impulse responses used in the lens, and their abilities to correct hand jitters as the balance points of the lens and the magnifications shift with focal length. This is what I found; you lot will probably see something different since we all concord cameras differently.

It makes slow pans easy. I go a lot of practiced results easily, although this is non something I practise often.

Believe Nikon when they say don’t use VR on a tripod. It screws up the image by
mistiness! Besides, if yous brace the photographic camera against something also plow the VR off.

VR has a baroque and understandable side event. After y’all make your shot you lot will oftentimes come across a unlike framing in the viewfinder. Since the lens is correcting vibration and wobble as best information technology can during the making of your image information technology may endeavor to reset itself for the side by side shot, thus watch framing while using VR. In real photography this means at 400mm often you will get dissimilar results than yous recall. Thus if you crop tightly scout information technology, since yous may unexpectedly lose edges of the discipline in your last image. Endeavour this for yourself.

Flare and Ghosting

I’m amazed. This lens has a staggering SEVENTEEN elements and fifty-fifty with all this glass has no problem with ghosts. Avoid uncoated filters like Tiffen if yous are pointing it straight at a lite source like the dominicus, and otherwise information technology is much meliorate than the eighty-200 AF-Southward which has a existent problem with ghosts.

I can have the sun in my image and non take a problem with ghosting. BRAVO!

I leave my hood at habitation, it doesn’t need it.


On motion-picture show it looks great. On a tripod at f/xi it is every bit abrupt equally any other lens I have.

It is great on the digital cameras. It’s stellar on my D200, which is a picky camera for lens sharpness.

For paw-held use this is a tricky upshot. I’ll admit I always shoot this lens at slower shutter speeds than I ought to, and therefore the sharpness is limited by my luck and the vibration reduction. You, too, will have this result. If you are not getting sharp results retrieve to shoot at broad apertures (or broad open) and use the fastest shutter speed possible. No lens can eliminate subject field motion which often blurs my and your images.

I suspect this is why some people love this lens and others don’t. Information technology encourages you to shoot at speeds much slower than you lot should, in which case subject move blurs the paradigm which some confuse with lens unsharpness. Also 1 needs to focus after zooming to get correct focus, more on that after.

Falloff of Illumination

I saw no light falloff on motion-picture show at full aperture and little edge softening. This is great; shoot at total aperture.

This once again is ameliorate than my 80-200AF-Southward fifty-fifty at the same aperture. Near of the 80-200 f/two.8 lenses have falloff even at f/five.6!

Close Focus

It just focuses to 7.five feet. This drives me basics having to stride abroad from some subjects. Fifty-fifty the Nikkor AF 70-210/4-5.6D focuses to less than 4′ and focuses about five times as fast.

If this is important become the Canon 100-400mm lens instead, or just buy a actually proficient close-up lens similar the Canon 2-element model 500D, 77mm for about $135 (Yes, use the Canon shut-up on the Nikon zoom.).

Due to slop in the manufacturing plant setting of the back focus, the minimum focus distance varies with focal length setting. At 80mm it focuses to vii’ 8,” at 400mm information technology focuses to vii’ 5.”


This is great: all the focal lengths are spread evenly across the zoom band. You can brand precise adjustments at every range. In that location is no function of the range congested into one side of the zoom ring, like the wide terminate of the 24-84 AF-Southward or the long end of the 75-300.

Of course you are moving a lot of drinking glass when you turn this so it requires a house plow with a strong grip, dissimilar the virtually magic 1-finger flipping of the zoom ring possible on lenses similar the 70-210 f/4 AF.

Zoom-through focusing

You need to refocus whatsoever time y’all modify the zoom setting. Focus does not track.

Due to sloppy setting of the dorsum focus (this is a mill aligning) the focus shifts while zooming in my sample. You need to focus at the final zoom setting, since the focus shifts with focal length. I’m unsure if all samples are similar this.

A different problem is cautioned about in the manual: at depression temperatures there may exist some mechanical coupling betwixt the zoom and focus rings. Therefore you are cautioned over again to focus after zooming. Turning the zoom ring may tweak the focus adjustment.

Just brand sure to refocus after any zooming. If you lot forget this that can too atomic number 82 to unsharpness.

Focus Accuracy

Focus is always dead on. This is very of import.

Focus tracking in C (continuous tracking) focus way is too great. I can photograph moving objects and the focus is besides dead on at full aperture.

Why doesn’t it have a modern AF-Southward motor?

Only the Japanese know, and they’re not saying. I’ll hypothesize that:

1.) The AF-S structure takes upward a lot of space inside the lens. Annotation that all AF-S and AF-I lenses are fat right downwards to the lens mount. This is the same place one needs to jam the VR arrangement.

2.) Unlike Canon, Nikon charges big bucks for either system, so would want to charge so much for both that no one would want the thing.

three.) Feature creep. One never introduces a perfect product to start. One introduces a major accelerate (VR) and then subsequently several years when everyone who wants it has bought it, 1 introduces something closer to what people really wanted in the starting time place and then once more folks need to become out and buy the new lens.

4.) AF speed is designed to exist very slow in the VR lens. Therefore adding AF-S and keeping the speed down would tick people off.

I suspect that the reason for the deliberately ho-hum AF speed is because the lens may take varying levels of rest aberration that vary wildly with focal length. The AF system therefore may demand this time to get authentic focus through these aberrations.

The huge zoom range too contributes to this: it needs to be much more slow and deliberate at 400mm and therefore the speed at 80mm is notwithstanding limited by the gearing designed for OK results at 400mm.

The deadening AF speed is acquired by the deliberately tedious gearing of the mechanics, not the lack of AF-S.

Nikon’s salespeople in the US ofttimes mistakenly arraign the slow AF on the lack of AF-S, whereas the AF-Southward really is only most being quieter and assuasive firsthand access to manual focus. AF speed of mechanically focused lenses on mod cameras tin can be just as fast as AF-S, just the the 80-200 two.8 (pod mount) has as much torque reaction during focusing as a car with a big American 5-viii!

Comparison to Canon 100-400 IS

I have friends who own a total of five of the Catechism 100-400s.

The Canon lens costs virtually the aforementioned. Information technology is much more solidly made and therefore heavier. The Canon focuses faster and closer. The Catechism lens is equivalent to the Nikon AF-Southward series and allows firsthand transmission override; the Nikon 80-400 requires manual fiddling to get from AF to manual focus.

Too, the Nikon fourscore-400 is smaller, lighter and has a wider zoom range. Considering that the whole point of this lens over my 400 f/2.8 AF is portability, the Nikon lens is a winner.

The Catechism uses the old-manner button-pull zoom arrangement I detest. This Nikon has a zoom ring I adopt.


I dearest this lens. It is virtually always in my handbag for motion picture and digital shooting. All you demand are this lens and a wide zoom.

This is not a lens for sports or moving subjects, although if you lot have a superlative camera similar the D1, D2H or F5 it does OK. The slow autofocus is potentially limiting unless you accept an F5 or D1 or D2 to track fast moving objects, and the ho-hum f/cease means that yous’ll accept to employ slower shutter speeds or faster movie to capture things that are in motion. As you know, VR does nix to stop your subject; it but eliminates the demand for a tripod.

This lens is intended for handheld architecture, landscapes, animals chilling and still lifes. It is not for the action you see deceptively portrayed in Nikon’due south promotional pieces, although for slow pans it is cool.

Read the transmission. There are all sorts of tips like what power sequencing to apply to go the gyro organization to cage properly.

I took off my tripod neckband and hood and leave them home in the box.

NO Nikon teleconverters work with this lens, except of course the manual focus ones that throw you back to primitive manual focus with no VR and no matrix metering. You don’t want to employ the discount ones either; the combination would be too slow for anything. I hear that with the Kenko Pro 300 2X converter yous practise become VR but the AF is useless of form; endeavor information technology yourself. Just know that y’all are asking for trouble at those long focal lengths since the combined maximum discontinuity is f/11 and you’ll wind up with long shutter speeds almost guaranteeing you blurry images. Endeavour it but beware. I wouldn’t do it.

If you want to focus more closely with the Nikon 80-400 you may desire to effort a close-up lens. Canon makes a 2-chemical element 77mm shut-up lens, model 500D, 77mm for about $135. Information technology will let you focus to about 18.” Yes, the 77mm spiral-in Canon shut-upwards lens should work fine on the Nikon lens.

More info:
see another review written by Steve Danielsson here.

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