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

October 15, 2014 | Zoltan Arva-Toth |


For a 5x zoom, the AF-S Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR is an excellent performer. Centre sharpness is very good to excellent at all apertures throughout the zoom range, with the borders also being impressively sharp at most zoom settings. Chromatic aberrations and geometric distortions are kept to a minimum. Bokeh is decent (if not in the same league as a prime lens), and pronounced vignetting is only seen at 400mm f/5.6. The zoom range is highly versatile, and auto focus is fast, accurate and quiet. The lens focuses as close as 175cm, which is a significant improvement over its predecessor, although it is by no means a macro lens. Instant manual override is possible when the focus mode switch is set to the M/A position. The Vibration Reduction (VR) system is very effective in combatting camera shake and features both a 'Normal' and an 'Active' mode. The lens comes with a removable tripod collar, although we wish it had a more robust foot. The supplied HB-65 lens hood is very well designed.

Priced at £1,899.00 / $2,696.95 in the UK and US, respectively, the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 80-400mm f/3.5-5.6G VR is certainly not cheap. In fact it's more expensive than many full-frame camera bodies. It's also a lot bigger and heavier than the typical 70-300mm lenses most amateur photographers choose to complement their standard zoom with – but then again, its image quality and AF speed/accuracy put it in a class of its own. If you find that your current telezoom lens is lacking in reach, focusing speed or optical qualities, you are unlikely to regret upgrading to the AF-S Nikkor 80-400mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR – as long as you are willing to pay a hefty premium in price, size and weight, that is.

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 4.5
Ease-of-use 3.5
Image quality 4.5
Value for money 3