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

July 4, 2019 | Mark Goldstein |

Conclusion

The new Nikon AF-S Nikkor 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR lens definitely represents a serious investment, but it could be the only medium-super-telephoto lens that any professional sports or wildlife photographer needs. It offers stellar image quality throughout the focal range that's comparable to equivalent primes, fast, acccurate and quiet auto-focusing, superlative build quality and the alluring versatility of the integrated teleconverter. Apart from some mild vignetting on full-frame FX cameras and the lens' sheer size and weight, there's virtually nothing to complain about and everything to like.

In terms of image quality, centre sharpness is very good to outstanding at all apertures throughout the zoom range, with the corners also being impressively sharp at most zoom settings, including with the 1.4x teleconverter applied. Chromatic aberrations are among the lowest we've seen in any lens, and the bokeh is appealingly smooth - only the vignetting is cause for concern, and that's easily removed in post-processing.

On the features side, the Vibration Reduction (VR) system is very effective in combating camera shake and features both a “Normal” and a “Sport” mode, while instant manual override is possible when the focus mode switch is set to the M/A position. Focus acquisition is almost instant and the AF system is speedy, quiet, reliable and highly accurate. The lens comes with a removable tripod collar which has a well designed and sturdy foot, while the raison d'etre is the inclusion of the built-in 1.4x teleconverter, which greatly extends the versaility of the lens without sacrificing the image quality.

The new AF-S Nikkor 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR effectively replaces the older AF-S Nikkor 200-400mm F/4G ED VR II lens in Nikon's top-end professional line-up, providing a greater zoom range even without applying the built-in teleceonverter.

The price-tag of £10,999 / $12,399 certainly makes the new Nikon AF-S Nikkor 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR lens a considered purchase, but for professional wildlife and sports photographers, it will quickly earn back its initial outlay. It's just as sharp throughout the zoom range as the equivalent Nikon prime lenses, with the added versatility and quality of the built-in tele-converter, which means that paired with an FX and DX camera bodies (or using the FX body in DX mode) it provides an effective focal range of 180/270mm to 1080mm! We can't think of any other Nikon lens that can do that, making it an essential purchase if shooting sports and wildlife is your daily bread and butter.

5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 5
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 5
Value for money 4