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Nikon 80-400 AFS VR Review – Is this lens worth $2,700???

Jared Polin June 30, 2013 Comments Off

Is this lens worth $2,700, that is the question. First off in my sniff test I said it smelled “overpriced” and I meant it. Regardless of the quality of this lens there are other options for less money or slightly more that I personally would go with.

For example you could purchase a 70-200 2.8 VRII for $450 less. On top of that if you wanted a 300 2.8 you could probably find one used for a few more bucks. But it wouldn’t be fair for me to sit here and tell you about other options when this is a review of the NEW Nikon 80-400 VR.

Let me explain how I like to do reviews of lenses. My goal is to take sample images and give you the files and full res images to make your own mind up about quality. On top of allowing you the images to analyze I have to chime in with my own opinions.

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CLICK HERE to download sample RAW images from this lens. This is a 70 meg Zip File.

You would think that an 80-400 would be a large and very heavy lens. Well it is on the larger size but its not that heavy for what it gives you. The zoom range is huge, to be able to go from 80 to 400 without loosing to much light is pretty exciting.

With all variable aperature lenses you have to worry about zooming and loosing light. What this means is at 80mm your f-stop is F4.5. But as you zoom out your f-stop is going to change until it goes to F5.6 at 400mm. See the sample images to see where the f-stops change on the zoom scale.

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In my opinion the image quality is very good for such a mega zoom lens. I have expressed in the past that I am not a fan of mega zoom lenses and I still stand by that after reviewing this lens. But that is for me as a professional photographer, I wouldn’t personally use it on jobs.

What I am looking at with the sharpness is how the lens handles low light situations with VR on. The images of Brandon look fine at a distance but as you zoom in you can see that the eyes are not totally sharp. You will notice a sharpness difference between this lens at a F2.8 lens.

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The VR is beyond fantastic, it is the new four stop VR that allows you to hand hold not just for sharp still images but very stable video as well. Could you imagine needing to do hand held video work while having such a large zoom range? That is where VR shines in these lenses, for video use.

When shooting video you tend not to shoot super wide open because its very hard to focus. A general starting point is around F4.5 to F5.6 so this lens has the ability to do that without an issue.

The ultimate question though is who is this lens for. In my opinion its for someone who can afford the huge price tag. Lets put price aside for the time being and say its for anyone who is looking for a large zoom range in a light portable package. If you are a biker, hiker or backpacker and you don’t have a lot of space for camera gear than this lens would be a great edition to your travels.

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The portability mixed with the image quality makes this a very nice lens. I almost said a very nice lens for the money but at this price, I wish it were an F4 or 2.8.

If you are someone who loves nature and wildlife and wants a lens that gives you huge reach than this lens is for you. If you are not looking for a lens that will allow you to capture low light images inside than this lens is also for you. If you have the money to drop on this lens than of course this lens is for you.

Be sure to check out all the full res edited images as well as RAWfiles listed above. The Jpegs are edited as I feel thats the only way to get a realistic look at how the image quality is.

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