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Lens review

Nikon Nikkor AF-S 180-400 mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR

23 May 2018
Arkadiusz Olech

8. Vignetting

First let’s look at the vignetting performance on the smaller sensor of the Nikon D500 – appropriate thumbnails we present below.

Nikon D500, 180 mm, f/4.0 Nikon D500, 180 mm, f/5.6
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 180-400 mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR - Vignetting Nikon Nikkor AF-S 180-400 mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR - Vignetting
Nikon D500, 300 mm, f/4.0 Nikon D500, 300 mm, f/5.6
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 180-400 mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR - Vignetting Nikon Nikkor AF-S 180-400 mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR - Vignetting
Nikon D500, 400 mm, f/4.0 Nikon D500, 400 mm, f/5.6
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 180-400 mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR - Vignetting Nikon Nikkor AF-S 180-400 mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR - Vignetting
Nikon D500, 550 mm (TC), f/5.6 Nikon D500, 550 mm (TC), f/8.0
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 180-400 mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR - Vignetting Nikon Nikkor AF-S 180-400 mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR - Vignetting


At shorter focal lengths that aberration won’t be noticeable at all. At 180 mm and by f/4.0 it is just 8% (−0.23 EV), and at 300 mm and f/4.0 it reaches 16% (−0.50 EV) to decrease to 3% (−0.09 EV) on stopping down the aperture to f/5.6. At 400 mm and the maximum relative aperture the vignetting gets to 22% (−0.71 EV) and decreases to just 6% (−0.19 EV) after employing f/5.6. Very similar results you can observe at 550 mm - by f/5.6 we officially got 21% (−0.67 EV), and by f/8.0 just 3% (−0.10 EV).


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Now let’s check how the situation changes as you progress to full frame. Below you can find thumbnails produced by the Nikon D3x camera.

Nikon D3x, 180 mm, f/4.0 Nikon D3x, 180 mm, f/5.6
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 180-400 mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR - Vignetting Nikon Nikkor AF-S 180-400 mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR - Vignetting
Nikon D3x, 300 mm, f/4.0 Nikon D3x, 300 mm, f/5.6
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 180-400 mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR - Vignetting Nikon Nikkor AF-S 180-400 mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR - Vignetting
Nikon D3x, 400 mm, f/4.0 Nikon D3x, 400 mm, f/5.6
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 180-400 mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR - Vignetting Nikon Nikkor AF-S 180-400 mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR - Vignetting
Nikon D3x, 550 mm (TC), f/5.6 Nikon D3x, 550 mm (TC), f/8.0
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 180-400 mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR - Vignetting Nikon Nikkor AF-S 180-400 mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR - Vignetting


In the case of the 180 mm focal length and the maximum relative aperture you don’t have any problems with noticing brightness loss as it amounts to 39% (−1.45 EV). That aberration decreases on stopping down so by f/5.6 you deal with a moderate level of 24% (−0.79 EV), and by f/8.0 you see a value of 15% (−0.46 EV). The aberration becomes imperceptible by f/11 and f/16, where it reaches respectively 11% (−0.33 EV) and 6% (−0.19 EV).

The results we got at 300 mm are very similar to those obtained at the shortest focal length. By f/4.0 you deal with light fall-off amounting to 39% (−1.43 EV), and by f/5.6 you see 22% (−0.73 EV) of brightness loss. By f/8.0 vignetting is 12% (−0.36 EV), and by f/11 just 7% (−0.20 EV).

After passing to the 400 mm focal length nothing changes. Once again by f/4.0 you deal with a value of 39% (−1.42 EV), and by f/5.6 the vignetting level is 21% (−0.69 EV). It decreases to 11% (−0.32 EV) after employing the f/8 relative aperture and becomes imperceptible by f/11 (5% and −0.16 EV).

After switching the teleconverter on the vignetting decreases to 33% (−1.16 EV) at the maximum relative aperture and to 14% (−0.43 EV) after employing f/8.0. By f/11.0 that aberration becomes completely imperceptible, reaching just 4% (−0.13 EV).

What’s interesting, at all standard focal lengths so in the range from 180 to 400 mm, and at the maximum relative aperture we got the same result, that of 39%. Still we show these thumbnails and isophotes for a reason. These 39% in the very corners of the frame can be reached in a completely different way and such is the case of this lens. At 180 mm you have a wide area completely vignetting-free; that aberration starts to increase very sharply close to the very corners of the frame. At 400 mm, for a change, vignetting appears closer to the centre and it increases slower as you move away from it.

Nikon D3x, 180 mm, f/4.0
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 180-400 mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR - Vignetting
Nikon D3x, 300 mm, f/4.0
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 180-400 mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR - Vignetting
Nikon D3x, 400 mm, f/4.0
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 180-400 mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR - Vignetting
Nikon D3x, 550 mm (TC), f/5.6
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 180-400 mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR - Vignetting