Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED Autofocus VR Zoom Nikkor Lens

Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED Autofocus VR Zoom Nikkor Lens

  • Compact, lightweight 5x telephoto zoom lens
  • Vibration Reduction operation offers the equivalent of using a shutter speed three stops faster
  • VR automatically detected during panning operation
  • Three ED glass elements ensure superior optical performance
  • Nine-blade rounded diaphragm achieves a natural blur for out-of-focus elements

Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED VR AF Zoom

List Price: $ 2,338.99

Price: $ 2,338.99

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3 Responses to Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED Autofocus VR Zoom Nikkor Lens

  1. Douglas A. Greenberg says:
    393 of 399 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Terrific but pricey hand-holdable tele zoom, December 21, 2004
    By 
    Douglas A. Greenberg (Berkeley, CA USA) –
    (VINE VOICE)
      
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED Autofocus VR Zoom Nikkor Lens (Electronics)

    Many photographers who purchase telephoto lenses wind up disappointed in their lenses’ performance; they achieve subpar results and then swear that the lens is “not sharp.” Some lenses indeed might not be optically outstanding, but even in these cases the major cause of soft images, particularly when camera and lens are handheld, is camera/lens shake. People routinely try to take highly magnified photos at shutter speeds that are simply too slow.

    Nikon has come up with a (partial) solution to this problem through its innovative “vibration reduction” series of lenses. These optics are designed to compensate, at least partially, for the camera shake/movement that is inevitable when a lens is hand-held. According to Nikon, the VR mechanism adds two or more “stops” worth of steadiness, meaning that a 400mm. lens that previously might be adequately handheld at 1/500 second now will (often) produce good results at 1/125. Out in the field this can make the difference between a successful photo outing and a frustrating one.

    Does this technology work, and is this 80-400mm. lens a good product overall? To both questions I offer a qualified “yes.” As long as one realizes that VR is not magic and has definite limitations, this feature is definitely worth paying some extra money for, particularly if one’s photographic style prevents the regular and disciplined use of a tripod. The other thing about VR to keep in mind is that since camera shake itself is variable, it’s a good idea always to take multiple photos to ensure that at least one of them is optimally sharp (a slow-mo record of how much one ‘vibrates’ while holding a camera would reveal that from instant to instant there is considerable variation).

    But what about this lens’ performance overall? There definitely are some drawbacks and compromises of which potential buyers should be aware. The lens is fairly heavy, and since it utilizes what is now an “old-fashioned” screw-drive AF mechanism, autofocus can seem very slow and noisy. It would be nice if someday Nikon replaced this version of the lens with an AF-S model, but there apparently is no current plan to do this. To minimize the maddeningly slow “searching” that a slow AF lens can exhibit, Nikon has included a “focus limit” switch. This makes it possible to cut the focus range in half, essentially. If one is taking pictures that are all at a distance or are all reasonably close-up, setting the switch to “limit” will restrict the lens’ focusing range, allowing proper focus to be achieved more quickly.

    Another drawback is that the removable tripod mount that comes with the lens is simply not very good. Photographers intending to use the lens on a tripod regularly are advised to purchase a third party mount such as that offered by Kirk Enterprises.

    Optically, the lens is actually quite remarkable. This is a 5:1 tele zoom, and one would think that given the “jack of all trades” nature of such a beast there would be severe optical compromises. Not so. As with just about all lenses, there is a slight loss of sharpness at full aperture, but once the lens is stopped down even one stop, sharpness at all focal lengths is quite satisfactory. As a bird photographer, I use my lens mainly at 400mm. As compared to my older, manual focus 400mm. Nikkors, the 80-400mm. is not quite as sharp and contrasty, but in practical terms the differences are truly minimal. This lens produces fine images exhibiting good contrast and excellent color rendition. Optically, it’s a winner.

    One caveat: because this is a complex zoom built from a large number of optical elements, it does NOT perform particularly well with teleconverters. With certain 1.4x teleconverters such as those in the Kenko Teleplus Pro line, the lens actually will still autofocus (even more slowly, however) and the VR mechanism works, sort of. But there is a notable deterioration of sharpness. With a 2x teleconverter, there is no AF, no VR, and even further reduced sharpness. If working with teleconverters is something you are counting on, stick to a single focal length tele.

    Overall, however, for photographers bent on getting sharp photos at longer focal lengths hand-held, this is a fine lens to try and buy. For walkaround bird photographers like myself, it’s nearly ideal. It’s very likely that in a few years this early version of a VR lens will seem antiquated and quaint. For now, however, it represents a very good investment for Nikon users.

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  2. Martin R. Manning "bird watcher" says:
    315 of 320 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    You love it you hate it (updated), June 14, 2006
    By 

    This review is from: Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED Autofocus VR Zoom Nikkor Lens (Electronics)

    This is the absolutely best lens I have ever used but it can also be the most frustrating. After 6 months, with this lens on my D70 most of the time, I have hundreds of magnificent bird and animal photographs including hand held shots in fading light with an effective 35mm focal length of 600mm at f5.6 and 1/100 sec that are razor sharp thanks to vibration reduction. A bonus is that the magnification outweighs the longer focusing distance and you can actually get great close-ups of butterflies etc. As far as I can see you are never going to be able to fault the optics with a 6 Mpixel sensor. The VR technology gives you 2 stops most of the time and 3 stops enough of the time to be always worth a go. But there is a big cautionary tale. The focusing on this lens is slow! It can also get confused and seemingly refuse to focus for no good reason. (You have to refocus on something totally different and then switch back to your subject hoping it is still there!) I have lost a lot of shots while the focus motor is whirring backwards and forwards and then cursed the lens until I see the next really great shot and all is forgiven. It took me about 3 months and 1000 shots to get really familiar with the lens and the shooting techniques needed. On the D70 I generally push the ISO speed up to 400 when I mount the lens to compensate for the narrower f-stop range and I switch to central spot focus to get the best chance of controlling the slow focus problem. For the sort of subjects I like, aperture priority is usually the best approach – sometimes switching to full manual when there is time to set things up. Manual focus is always an option but the D70’s “eyes” are sharper than mine so persisting with auto focus remains my preference. I use the focus limit option switch a lot and I leave the full VR option on nearly all the time. With my other lenses I generally keep about 1/3 of the shots I take, with this lens the ratio drops to about 1/4 or 1/5 but stick a big CF card in your Nikon and just take everything many times. This lens has revolutionized my photography and I love it much more than hate it.
    POSTSCRIPT: This lens just got a bit better. I spent my kids’ inheritance and bought a D200 which now improves the focusing issue. While the basic lens focus speed remains slow, the D200 is obviously quite a bit smarter at homing in on the right focus and hunts backwards and forwards less often than the D70, particularly in low light conditions. I still miss some shots due to slow focusing but definitely less often with the D200 than with the D70.

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  3. R. D. Smith says:
    123 of 129 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Great lens as long as you understand the limitations., March 21, 2005
    By 
    R. D. Smith
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED Autofocus VR Zoom Nikkor Lens (Electronics)

    This is a great lens and takes simply amazing pictures. The results are much better than what you will get with the “plain” 70-300 telephoto lens.

    That being said, there are a few things to consider.

    1) the lens is expensive. It cost more than my D70 did…

    2) the lens is HEAVY. When lugging this baby around, you know *something* is in that camera bag…

    3) the focus is SLOW, particularly compared to the 70-300.

    However, using the tripod mount as a “handle” (an awkward but effective use of the mounting bracket), I got some shots that simply blew me away given the amount of perceived camera shake. I do not have very steady hands (particularly with something so heavy) so the VR feature is invaluable.

    I would recommend this lens, but don’t throw away your 70-300 just yet…

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