Lens review

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

4 August 2015
Arkadiusz Olech

11. Summary

  • good quality casing,
  • very good image quality in the frame centre, no matter what focal length you employ,
  • good image quality on the edge of the APS-C sensor,
  • slight chromatic aberration,
  • lack of spherical aberration problems,
  • imperceptible distortion,
  • good control of vignetting, even on full frame,
  • moderate coma,
  • very low astigmatism,
  • blurry areas easy on the eye,
  • silent and accurate autofocus,
  • sensational image stabilization,
  • rich accessory kit.


  • image quality on the edge of full frame should have been better,
  • too many flares and too low contrast during the work against bright light.

Without any doubts the Nikkor AF-S 80–400 mm f/4.5–5.6G ED VR is optically a good lens with a very good autofocus and simply ensational image stabilization. It won’t provide such sharp images as those you can get from the Canon EF 100–400 mm f/4.5–5.6L IS II USM or the Sigma S 150–600 mm f/5–6.3 DG OS HSM but its maximum magnification ratio is superior, amounting to 5x. The Nikon optics specialists had a more difficult task before them and they performed well enough. If the MTFs on the edge of the frame were a tad higher we practically wouldn’t have anything to complain about.

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Still if you look at the price of the lens you might find out there are reasons to complain after all. The old AF 80-400 VR model can still be bought in shops for about 4,500 – 5,000 PLN. The new model costs twice as much. I do doubt whether it is a good idea, launching a successor of an older lens with a price tag two times higher; if you take into account the crisis hitting the market it would be foolish to count on high sales numbers. I understand that a new lens has to be more expensive than the old one but I don’t believe for a moment it has to be twice as expensive. Even the Canon 100-400L II, which is optically better, is a bit cheaper (still remaining too expensive but it’ beside the point). The Sigma S 150-600 mm is noticeably cheaper than the Nikkor even though it is huge and optically outstanding. Taking into account the presence of such instruments as the Sigma C 150-600 mm and the Tamron 150-600 mm on the market you have to admit the competition in this segment is fierce. To be completely honest I don’t believe the Nikkor AF-S 80-400 mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR is selling as well as Nikon have assumed it would.