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on Mar 28, 2013 in Gear Just Introed!

The Nikon 80-400AFS

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B&H got into my hands the new 80-400AFS just prior to my leaving (again) and I’m so glad they did! I was always a fan of the original 80-400, the sharpness, not its focusing speed. The flexibility this lens with its focal length range demanded that I get the new one and test it. So on my drive around MN today, I gave it a quick, initial test drive and first opinion is, damn, schweet!

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The lens is not inexpensive but I think you more than get your money’s worth. The one big issue with the original was its focusing speed and that was the first thing I wanted to test drive. In MN, it wasn’t hard to find something moving by really fast. There isn’t an inch of snow here without sled tracks! Well, shooting with the D4, the 80-400 had NO problem locking on, staying locked on and delivering sharp images frame after frame. Now this is not a conclusive test of its focusing speed, but I know that old 80-400 couldn’t even have done this subject. I have more speed tests coming but my results so far encourage me to push the limits further. (both photos taken at 400mm, f5.6)

photo courtesy Nikon

photo courtesy Nikon

When it comes to the lens itself, it’s quite the lens, more than I was expecting! Its ALL metal housing while heavy feels great. The best part is when mounted on the D4, the 80-400 is perfectly bounced. I really like that! The tripod collar is a winner and like the original 80-400 or 300f4, you can rotate it 40 degrees and remove it. The shade, well I’m not really thrilled by it but that’s a little nit. The zoom is smooth but I don’t think from first testing, it’s a true zoom. Its minimum focusing distance is good, not great.

The reason though why I acquired the 80-400AFS was for wildlife & aviation photography. Yes, I have the 200-400VR2 and it’s not leaving my bag. But this lens which is 1/3 the price and who knows what fraction the size, it a great option for lots of photographers! You could have this one lens and cover a WHOLE lot of subjects and that’s why I’m shooting it. As more unfolds, I’ll post but I am very impressed by the 80-400 so far!