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

Video unboxing of the Nikon AFS 80-400

Just received word that my Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR pre-order from B&H has arrived on 3/15.  Join me as I unbox the telephoto lens and get my hands on this glass and post up a video review !!


My good friend and photographer John “JB” Bruckman at Innereye productions had this glass in its previous “D” configuration and had me envious with the images he has posted in the past.  This 80-400 “G” is still a larger lens to lug around, but it could also be a one lens solution for those air travels who want to get close and take some images of those feather critters. It also plays nice in the 80-100mm region for people and portrait images. When I head south to Florida for critters images, I’ll  have the 200-400 f/4 and I love that lens..but sometimes something shorter (physically) could do the trick…..and I have had instances when I could have used something between 80-200…. These days Nikon has quite a few choices in this telephoto range so this lens has to have something special for your consideration.

What separates this lens from the all others is that you get 400mm, VR3, nanocrystal, and a quick autofocus locking. If you own a D4,D300,D600 those camera AF sensors can now handle focus at  F/8. So you can mount a TC-14 and have an effective f-stop of f/8 and be at 400mm X 1.4 or 560mm, then set your image area from FX to DX and you’ll go to 560 X 1.5 or 840mm.

 Not Bad at all. A poor mans 800!

Wow, I just posted this Image, (3/16) right out of camera, (with critters you should not be playing around with settings in Post, Moose training 101). This Common RedPoll is hanging around the house in his new found spring plumage. The pink and red on his feathers is his way to try and pick up the babes. These birds are from the arctic tundra and someone forgot to tell him that Albany New York is a several thousand miles away from home !

As for the camera, I was shooting with the D3s, ISO200, f/5.6, 1/60sec @400mm. That’s right 1/60sec at 400mm.  The old rule of thumb was to have time denominator be the value of the lens mm. So I should be shooting at 1/400 sec.  Those rules are quite busted. This is handheld, with the new VR technology enabled….. I typically shoot in aperture priority mode and as I was focusing I could feel the AF locking on. It feels like the camera has an internal bracketing type focus mode,you can sense the motor and feel the focus going high, low,mid and then bang lock.  As I am handholding and looking thru the viewfinder, I know the VR is kicking in, the lens, (at 400mm) has no jitters or wobbling, it’s like have my gear locked down on a tripod ! The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR is everything as advertised ……and will be a good addition to your collection !

Speaking of tripods, the tripod foot is the standard Nikon fare.  The tripod collar seems robust. In the past Nikon has taken a lot of abuse of how it designs the collar, but at first glance it seems okay. I’d like to give it some time before I can say for sure. If you are using an arc-swiss type ball head plates then you’ll need to pony up $55 to buy a Really Right stuff foot. (see below). I’m going to have to rummage around my spares part collection and see if I can find a something to use, if not then its off to RRS.

FritzImages | Nikon AF S NIKKOR 80 400mm f/4.5 5.6G ED VR | image name = 80 200mm Sparrow


FritzImages | Nikon AF S NIKKOR 80 400mm f/4.5 5.6G ED VR | image name = Photo Mechanic 5

I also uploaded three additional images to my Client Gallery website. For a quick mini slide show; Follow this link , Password: FritzImages

Finally, I have been doing a bit of research to find an arc-swiss foot plate for this lens.  I already happen to have the really right stuff B96, which fits perfectly and maintains a perfect balance on the Ball head (BH-55) tripod plate. However it is not long enough to accept the RRS flash bracket, so I’ll be ordering up the L84, which is 3.6″ long (about 1.5″ longer than the B96). Both plates are 1.5″ wide.

FritzImages | Nikon AF S NIKKOR 80 400mm f/4.5 5.6G ED VR | image name = RRS Logo 250x60

FritzImages | Nikon AF S NIKKOR 80 400mm f/4.5 5.6G ED VR | image name = RRS Foot Plate

4 replies
  1. Jim Huang says:

    Hello, FritzImages,

    Great review. I just want to make one suggestion, I hope you don’t mind. For your next video, can you please shoot it at a smaller aperture? I really want to see the lens as clearly as possible. Perhaps shoot it at f8, not like f 2.8 or something. :)

  2. PAG says:

    Thanks for the review. Looks like this lens will be on my “next to buy” list.

    FYI, the bird you photographed is a Common Redpoll, not a House Finch. There is an invasion of northern finches this year and they’ve shown up across the United States in pretty big numbers.

  3. Fritzimages says:

    Hi PAG,
    Thanks for the positive comment and feedback on the review. I am very interested to research your’s good of you to post a comment so that we could be aware of the common redpoll.

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