photo courtesy Nikon

When the 180-400VR was first announced, because of my gear addiction, I instantly wanted it. I’ve had the 200-400VR since it was first introduced, then upgraded to the 200-400VR2 when it came out. So “upgrading” just seemed the thing to do then I looked at the price. Gulp! I looked through my files for the last 18 months to see how much I shot with the 200-400, not enough to justify the upgrade and so I wasn’t going to buy one. It’s how gear acquisition works in the office. Then two big game projects hit the calendar, a couple of ground to air projects and with that, the math worked out and volla, B&H got the lens to me and now this gorgeous lens is now in the locker. And simply put, it’s spectacular!

What’s the upgrade in the 180-400VR? First is the lower focal length limit is 180mm, the other is the built-in 1.4x teleconverter. So the lens is a 180-400VR f/4 at 1x and with the 1.4x in use, it’s a 252-560mm VR f/5.6. It does this while maintaining an MFD of 6.6′! The thing I really like is the ease of activating and deactivating the 1.4x. You don’t have to take your eye away from the viewfinder, it’s a simple flip of a switch. And, and … you can add an external teleconveter to the 180-400VR with its built-in 1.4x in operation. My choice is the TC-14eIII which when attached to the 180-400VR and its 1.4x is applied, you have a 352-784mm f/8 lens in what I consider a pretty small, light package (remember this comes from someone who’s main lens is the 800mm). But the question you gotta ask is, is it worth it?

The image quality is simply, quite honestly, gorgeous (blog post Monday will have those)! Many will ask how it is compared to the 200-400VR and to me, it’s a tad better. Then they ask how is it with the built-in 1.4x and there, it’s beautifully better than adding the TC-14eIII to the 200-400VR. And with the TC-14eIII attached to the 180-400 with or without its 1.4x in operation, the results totally blew me away! Other things that I really like, the focusing ring it now at the rear and the balance is better. It does weigh a tad more and is a tad longer but it’s not noticeable. What has my mind spinning are the possibilities this lens brings in “compact” lens with big focal length range, 180mm to 784mm, with just a lens and a teleconverter. While I was hesitant in the beginning, I’m so glad I’m all in now!

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