The Nikon AF-Southward Nikkor lxxx-400mm f/4.v-5.6G ED VR ($2,299.95) is an appealing walkaround
lens for nature photographers and sports shooters working in bright light who appreciate a long range of coverage, but don’t need to shoot in the dim lighting that makes event photographers attain for a fixed f/2.viii lens. It covers nearly twice the range as the AF-S Nikkor seventy-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II ($599.00 at Amazon)(Opens in a new window)
for well-nigh the same toll, at the cost of a narrower maximum discontinuity that puts more than limits on
, our Editors’ Choice
The 80-400mm ($2,296.95 at Amazon)(Opens in a new window)
is well-nigh average in size for a
. The front element has a thread for 77mm filters, and the lens ships with a reversible hood, removable tripod collar, and a carrying case.
As is the case with most modern Nikkor lenses, the butt is a mix of metal and tough polycarbonate, finished in matte blackness with gilded accents. There are a number of control switches on the side, including a focus fashion selection toggle and a focus limiter that can limit the range to vi meters to infinity, or to the full range, including close focus. The VR system is turned on or off via a switch, and some other switch lets yous set it to Normal fashion, for when yous’re shooting from
There are two big control rings on the barrel. The manual focus ring, covered in ridged rubber, sits toward the lens mount. Turning information technology in any focus manner moves the altitude scale (shown in anxiety and meters) across the v.7-human foot (1.five
The lens focuses on subjects as shut every bit v.seven anxiety, fifty-fifty when zoomed to 400mm. This gives information technology a modest 1:v macro reproduction ratio. That’s non quite best in grade—Canon’due south remarkable EF 100-400mm f/iv.v-5.6L IS Ii USM ($2,199.00 at Adorama)(Opens in a new window)
captures objects at ane:3 life-size—but it’s still handy for capturing smaller subjects.
I tested the eighty-400mm with the 36-megapixel D810 ($one,889.00 at Amazon)(Opens in a new window)
. At its widest angle and discontinuity, 80mm f/iv.v, it puts up excellent numbers in Imatest(Opens in a new window). The average score is 3,156 lines per picture
Image quality remains strong at 135mm. The maximum aperture has narrowed to f/5, and the lens scores 3,162 lines. Edges are a little softer, at 2,486 lines, but still amend than what nosotros want to run into at a minimum. They improve at f/8 (2,959 lines), equally does the overall score (3,659 lines), and summit functioning is once once more achieved at f/11 (3,907 lines), the setting that also delivers the best prototype quality at the edges of the frame. You lot tin get away with shooting at f/xvi (3,525 lines) if
At 200mm the maximum discontinuity is f/5.three, and the zoom does a fine chore, notching 3,146 on boilerplate with very good (2,666-line) edge operation. Stopping down merely a little bit to f/v.half-dozen pulls the periphery in a higher place 3,000 lines, nonetheless, so you lot may want to consider doing so when shooting. The score remains solid at f/viii and f/11—you see about 3,850 lines at both settings, and it loses simply a piffling bit of resolution at f/16 (3,495 lines).
Results are still excellent at 300mm f/five.6—the overall score is 3,440 lines and edges only lag behind by 250 lines. Images get crisper at f/viii (three,612 lines) and f/16 (3,362 lines), before dropping off at f/22 (ii,642 lines).
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At 400mm there’s a drop in image clarity when shooting at f/5.6. The lens drops to 2,624 lines, with fairly even functioning beyond the frame. That’south still in a higher place our cutoff for acceptable sharpness, but the results are non every bit potent as at 300mm or wider. To become the best images you’ll want to terminate down to f/viii at 400mm—y’all’ll get images that prove about iii,351 lines there. At f/eleven it’south even meliorate (iii,682 lines). In that location’s a drop at f/16 (3,267 lines) and f/22 (2,545). Y’all can stop the lens all the way down to f/twoscore, just I don’t recommend doing so.
Sharpness isn’t the only thing we look for in lens performance. Distortion is also a factor, although not one we weigh as heavily, as in-camera correction is often available for JPG shooters and Raw conversion software like Lightroom ($ix.99/Calendar month at Adobe)(Opens in a new window)
and remove it easily, often with a single click. The 80-400mm doesn’t testify a lot of distortion. There’s a negligible amount of barrel distortion at 80mm, and you need to zoom all the way to 300mm in lodge to notice pincushion distortion—about 1.one percentage at 300mm and 1.2 percent at 400mm.
Imatest’south Uniformity tool evaluates how evenly the lens captures low-cal. I employ an ExpoDisc(Opens in a new window)
to capture a flat gray
The Nikon AF-Southward Nikkor eighty-400mm f/iv.5-5.6G ED VR is a solid choice for photographers who want more zoom reach than is provided past a 70-200mm, but don’t want to sacrifice a lot of wide-angle coverage. Information technology’southward best used in brighter light, making it a fine option for shooting outdoor sports and wildlife. Effect photographers will no doubt want to stick to
Nikon AF-Due south Nikkor fourscore-400mm f/iv.5-5.6G ED VR
The Bottom Line
The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 80-400mm f/four.5-v.6G ED VR lens offers the convenience of a long range and doesn’t show a lot of baloney, but images lose some crispness when zoomed all the way in.
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