I have been waiting on this lens since I first saw the original version 10 years ago in Patagonia, and it has been worth the wait! The new 80-400mm AF-S 4.5-5.6 uses all Nikon’s latest technology to make one really fine lens. I have been shooting this lens now for over two weeks, landscapes and portraits, and I am impressed. First, just how big is it? This lens comes in a little larger than the 70-200mm F2.8; attached to a D4 it is quite the rig. But you get a lot…a full 80-400mm range, with excellent VR for hand hold shooting. Some photographers have wondered why get this lens, and if you have a 70-200 with a converter you can get the same reach. But for my shooting I want this lens on a lot of trips. Shooting wildlife on the run when you can’t get your big lens out quick, or don’t want to carry it. Shooting wildlife from boats…try hand holding the 200-400mm in rough water. Shooting landscapes when I want to zoom in on a feature and don’t have my big lens handy. Quick tight portraits in markets when I want to get really close. The list goes on and on…At $2700 this lens won’t be for everyone, but it is well worth it.
Is it sharp? Yes. Does it have lots of vignetting? No. I just got back from shooting in Arches and Canyonlands, lots of fine detail scenes and clean blue skies to really see how this lens performs. The 80-400mm uses a Nano coating, ED elements and improved VR to produce sharp images with minimal vignetting. The shot above was done to show the sharp detail and lack of vignetting. I’ll admit I have been shooting mainly at F8 so far with this lens; I’ll have to wait and see how things look wide open or fully closed down, but initial reviews from others are good.
I couldn’t resist shooting a few portraits with this lens, although it is not what I plan to use it for. Take a look at the detail in the eyes and face here, this lens is sharp! One day shooting desert landscapes, the next red-haired models for upcoming projects…gotta love it!