Nikon 180 400 Vs 200 500

By | 01/11/2022

The AF-Due south Nikkor 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR (180-400mm f/4E) and AF-S Nikkor 200-500mm f/five.6E ED VR SWM IF (200-500mm f/5.6E) offering a similar focal range for Nikon shooters after a telephoto zoom for sports and wildlife.

With one costing almost 10 yard more, aye TEN Grand, we were intrigued to see how much better it actually is. Armed with a couple of D5’s, we headed off to shoot some sport, wild animals and the odd issue to find out where all that extra cash goes.

200-500mm f/5.6E 180-400mm f/4E
FX mount (DX compatible) FX mount (DX compatible)
200 – 500mm focal length 180 – 400mm & 250 – 550mm
f/5.half-dozen u2013 f/32 discontinuity range f/4 u2013 f/32 & f/5.half-dozen u2013 f/45
NORMAL + SPORT VR modes NORMAL + SPORT VR modes
2.2m minimum focus distance 2m minimum focus distance
95mm filter thread C-PL405 circular polarizing filter uniform
Protruding front element Internal zoom and focus
108×267.mm (LxD) 128×362.5mm (LxD)
2300g 3500g
Price: u00a31,349 Toll: 10999

Snap Verdict

The 180-400mm f/4E is phenomenal. Built to withstand the demands of regular pro use, knocks paradigm quality out of the park through its standard focal range, with the convenience of a built-in teleconvertor when you need more reach.

At £10,999 information technology’s not feasible for most enthusiasts though, which is where the 200-500mm f/5.6E comes in. Build and image quality remain good on the cheaper lens; in fact I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was at f/5.6.

The 200-500mm isn’t very minor or light, information technology’s still a large lens, but it’s much more realistic for most of us and will accept huge appeal for enthusiast Nikon shooters after a telephoto zoom.

Build Quality

Although these lenses basically comprehend the same focal range and offer like features, there are some central differences.

The 200-500mm f/5.6E is in the enthusiast military camp in terms of build – that doesn’t hateful bad, information technology’s perfectly well-built – merely uses lighter and cheaper materials compared to the 180-400mm f/4E, which is congenital like a tank.

The 200-500mm’s front element also protrudes as you lot zoom, and rotates when focusing, so information technology’s not fully weather-sealed like the 180-400mm f/4E.

The 200-500mm f/5.6E’s offers a constant f/5.half-dozen discontinuity, and so you go the aforementioned transmission at 200mm and 500mm, which is a bonus. The 180-400mm f/4E offers that extra end though, then more than lite for the focus arrangement, greater depth-of-field and the possibility of faster shutter speeds.

If y’all need more reach though, just picture the congenital-in 1.4x teleconvertor switch – conveniently located at the base – and instantly switch to a 250-550mm f/v.6.

Some other significant deviation is the 180-400mm f/4E’s assignable function buttons and focus memory set controls. These requite quick access to change focus settings and reset focus to a pre-adamant distance using buttons on the barrel, which are much appreciated by pros working in fast paced environments.

Both lenses feature Nikon’s Vibration Reduction (VR), offering up to 4.five stops of image stabilization and three VR modes – Off, Normal and Sport, with the latter only correcting vertical movements for use when panning.

Other similarities include the standard A/M Thousand/A focus switch and full-time manual focus override, a focus limiter to prevent excessive focus hunting and a tripod neckband.


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Operation

In that location’s no getting away from the fact the 180-400mm f/4E is a large, heavy slice of glass. The build quality is immense, you can use it in the pelting and shoot 400mm f/4 or 550mm f/5.6. That makes information technology versatile too, but it’south a big beast.

I used it mainly handheld but, to exist honest, it’due south the kind of lens you take to a specific shoot in the Peli-mode hard instance and set up on a monopod/tripod. Y’all really don’t want to be lugging it around as well much.

So, to be honest, when the caput-to-caput testing was done, I plant myself reaching for the 200-500mm f/five.6E more oftentimes. It was merely easier.

Autofocus performance on the 200-500mm f/5.6E is pretty good too, I didn’t have any major complaints and was pretty pleased with my ‘striking rate’.

It’s not in the same league equally the 180-400mm F/4E though, which coupled with the 153-indicate tracking system on the D5, was phenomenal.

Focus accusation was lightening quick and tracking fast moving canoeists on the rapids it kept up actually well.

Ergonomically I found handling on both very good, too. The rubberized zoom rings are large and like shooting fish in a barrel to locate with your eye to the viewfinder and switches well-placed, with a reassuringly robust action.


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Image Quality

Allow’s face it, it’s really all about how not bad the images are at the maximum discontinuity on lenses like this.

Sure, you may stop downward from time to time, only to get those fast shutter speeds for action and shallow depth-of-field to isolate the subject field, you’re shooting wide open up.

So how much sharper is the 180-400mm broad open up and how does image quality concord upwardly when yous drop in the i.4x teleconvertor? Let’s have a look.

Sample Photos

Below are a few sample photos taken with the AF-Due south Nikkor 180-400mm f/4E TC1.iv FL ED VR and AF-S Nikkor 200-500mm f/v.6E ED VR SWM IF.

400mm f/4 vs 400mm f/5.6

Shooting at 400mm wide open, the 180-400mm f/Due east is definitely sharper at 400mm f/4, compared to 200-500mm at 400mm f/5.vi – bank check out the crops of the deers face.

400mm f/4 vs 400mm f/5.6

1200×800 pixel crop from the Nikon 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 mounted on the D5 – 1/500th sec, f/4, ISO 100 @ 400mm.

400mm f/4 vs 400mm f/5.6

1200×800 pixel crop from the Nikon 200-500mm f/5.half-dozen mounted on the D5 – 1/500th sec, f/v.half dozen, ISO 160 @ 400mm.

Shooting the deer from around 10 meters or so, so not close to the lens’due south minimum focus distance, I’d say the bokeh is broadly the same. And then you become sharper results, the aforementioned shutter speed with a lower ISO and roughly the same background rendering using the 180-400mm wide open at full zoom.

Nikon_180-400mm_f4_vs_Nikon_200-500mm_f5.6_180.0-400.0 mm f-4.0_015

Nikon 180-400mm f/4E TC1.iv mounted on the D5 – 1/500th sec, f/iv, ISO 100 @ 400mm.

Nikon_180-400mm_f4_vs_Nikon_200-500mm_f5.6_200.0-500.0 mm f-5.6_005

Nikon 200-500mm f/v.6E mounted on the D5 – ane/500th sec, f/5.6, ISO 160 @ 400mm.

550mm f/5.6 vs 500mm f/5.six

Snap in the teleconvertor and the 180-400mm f/4E remains fractionally sharper at 550mm f/v.6, compared to 500mm f/5.6 on 200-500mm, but there’s non much in it. Over again check out the crops.

550mm f/5.6 vs 500mm f/5.6

1200×800 pixel crop from the Nikon 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 mounted on the D5 – 1/500th sec, f/5.6, ISO 250 @ 550mm.

550mm f/5.6 vs 500mm f/5.6

1200×800 pixel ingather from the Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 mounted on the D5 – 1/500th sec, f/v.6, ISO 220 @ 550mm.

It’s the same with the bokeh. Maybe it’due south a tiny scrap smoother using the 180-400mm at 550mm f/v.six, but the 200-500mm is yet lovely.

Nikon_180-400mm_f4_vs_Nikon_200-500mm_f5.6_250.0-550.0 mm f-5.6_016

Nikon 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 mounted on the D5 – one/500th sec, f/5.6, ISO 250 @ 550mm.

Nikon_180-400mm_f4_vs_Nikon_200-500mm_f5.6_200.0-500.0 mm f-5.6_007

Nikon 200-500mm f/v.6 mounted on the D5 – 1/500th sec, f/five.6, ISO 220 @ 500mm.

Nikon_180-400mm_f4_vs_Nikon_200-500mm_f5.6_250.0-550.0 mm f-5.6_015

Nikon 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 mounted on the D5 – i/1000th sec, f/v.half-dozen, ISO 720 @ 550mm.

Nikon_180-400mm_f4_vs_Nikon_200-500mm_f5.6_180-400_crop2

1200×800 pixel ingather from the Nikon 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 mounted on the D5 – 1/1000th sec, f/v.6, ISO 720 @ 550mm.

Nikon_180-400mm_f4_vs_Nikon_200-500mm_f5.6_200.0-500.0 mm f-5.6_006

Nikon 200-500mm f/5.six mounted on the D5 – i/1000th sec, f/5.6, ISO 400 @ 500mm.

Nikon_180-400mm_f4_vs_Nikon_200-500mm_f5.6_200-500_crop2

1200×800 pixel ingather from the Nikon 200-500mm f/v.six mounted on the D5 – i/1000th sec, f/5.6, ISO 400 @ 500mm.

Corner resolution on zoom lenses is often an issue, but both these super telephoto zooms are edge-to-edge sharp, even at the maximum aperture. Again at f/four the 180-400mm f/4E is especially impressive, with razor sharp results in the corner.

At f/5.half-dozen on both lenses resolution remains very acceptable in the corner, matching the overall sharpness of the shot. As you can run into from the crops though, they’re non in the same league every bit the 180-400mm f/4E.

Nikon_180-400mm_f4_vs_Nikon_200-500mm_f5.6_180-400@400

1200×800 pixel edge crop from the Nikon 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 mounted on the D5 – 1/2000th sec, f/4, ISO 100 @ 550mm.

Nikon_180-400mm_f4_vs_Nikon_200-500mm_f5.6_180-400@550

1200×800 pixel edge crop from the Nikon 180-400mm f/4E on the D5 – 1/2000th sec, f/5.half dozen, ISO3200 @ 550mm.

Nikon_180-400mm_f4_vs_Nikon_200-500mm_f5.6_200-500@500

1200×800 pixel edge crop from the Nikon 200-500mm f/5.six on the D5 – 1/2000th sec, f/5.6, ISO2500 @ 500mm.

At the wider end of the focal range, shooting the 180-400mm at f/four compared to the 200-500mm at f/5.6, the optically superior pro lens takes the resolution spoils. Again the 200-500mm is good, merely information technology’s not quite at the level of the 180-400mm f/4E.

Nikon_180-400mm_f4_vs_Nikon_200-500mm_f5.6_180.0-400.0 mm f-4.0_013

Nikon 180-400mm f/4E on the D5 – i/2000th sec, f/4, ISO400 @ 250mm.

Nikon_180-400mm_f4_vs_Nikon_200-500mm_f5.6_200.0-500.0 mm f-5.6_003

Nikon 200-500mm f/v.vi mounted on the D5 – 1/2000th sec, f/5.6, ISO 400 @ 230mm.

Verdict

The former adage ‘yous get what you pay for’ generally holds true with photo gear. With the Nikon 180-400mm f/4E you’re paying for its solid weather-sealed build, f/iv constant aperture up to 400mm, the convenience of a built-in teleconvertor and outstanding epitome quality through 180-400mm.

It’s squarely a pro lens. If you demand the convenience of long telephoto zoom for sure sports, demand the best image quality, will haul it from gig to gig shooting in all weathers, it’s worth the £10,999.

That sort of money is well off the scale for enthusiasts shooting sport and wildlife though. At £i,349 the 200-500 f/5.6E is much more than realistic, both in toll and usability. It’south not in the same league every bit the 180-400mm for build, and image quality at f/5.6, compared to f/4 on the 180-400mm, isn’t as good, but it’due south however very respectable.

There’south more than examples on the flickr gallery for you lot to assess for yourselves, merely to my eye sharpness at f/5.6 on the 200-500mm is still very good, if not outstanding, and I didn’t notice any significant issues with fringing or vignetting.

If you need the best Nikon long telephoto zoom, the 180-400mm f/4E is the one to get for. For most of us nonetheless the 200-500mm f/v.6E is more than good plenty and puts loftier quality long lens photography within reach.


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Nikon 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR vs Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR SWM IF

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Nikon 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR vs Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR SWM IF

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Paul Carroll

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