Nikon AF 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED VR Lens Review

I was able to find an absolutely mint condition used Nikkor AF 80-400mm FX lens to couple with my Nikon D7000 DX body, which basically converts to a 120-600mm 35mm equivalent range lens.  I earlier owned the Sigma 170-500mm and while the range of the Sigma went a bit further, having the lower band is definitely better.

Nikon AF 80-400mm f4.5-f5.6D ED VR
Nikon AF 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED VR

One of the beautiful aspects with this glass is that it has VR (Vibration Reduction), where the Sigma did not, meaning that I do not have to use a tripod for most shots.  When using this lens handheld the percentage of in-focus shots (not blurry due to shake) is nearly 100%.  With fast action shots there may be some blur due to the speed of the object in motion, but certainly not always.  And, at times, that even looks good.

There are occasions when the lens does not focus as fast as my prime 50mm or even my 18-105mm but the difference has not caused me to lose any shots I really wanted.  And, if you don’t need the full range there is a “Limit” switch which, when turned on, allows for faster focus.  For me, the primary reason for my purchase is the long range so I really do not use that feature.

Spring Training
From behind the center field fence.

The colors are crisp and clear with great contrast.  The zoom is smooth throughout, with no stickiness anywhere.  The collar can get in the way when focusing so mine is off almost all of the time.  Like many lenses, there may be some chromatic aberration (CA) in really high-contrast situations where the background is quite bright and foreground objects are extremely dark.

Keep in mind that this is a pretty heavy piece of glass, just shy of three pounds (1.34 kilograms).  That said, it is worth every sweat bead it may have caused. And, I have not suffered any lens creep issues, like I did with the Sigma.

At the races
Approximately 100 yards from the lead car.

This lens does not have the Nikon Silent Wave Motor (i.e., it is not an AF-S version) which means that it will work in both AF and MF mode only with camera bodies that have the motor to drive the lens, such as a D80, D600, D4, D7000, etc.  It will work in manual focus only mode on models without the motor, such as the D40, D60, D3100, D5300, etc.

I love this lens.  For the money paid, I am ecstatic with my Nikkor 80-400mm and would highly recommend it to anyone who must have greater than a 300mm focal range.  If I had the money to get the 80-400mm AF-S model would I?  Not sure.  This is working perfectly for me, with the caveats as above.

Over For Now.

Main Street One