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

By Click Here to download the FULL RES images as well as sample RAW Files.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

To connect with FroKnowsPhoto please follow below FroKnowsPhoto Beginner Guide
Twitter :
Google + :
Please Subscribe


49 thoughts on “Is this lens WORTH $2,700 – Nikon 80-400 AFS VR Review”

  1. Jared, nice video. Could you recommend this lens for pro wildlife and bird flight photography? I need a lens for a Nikon D500 and it needs to be fast focusing and plenty sharp. How does it compare to the new 300 f4 Vr lens, the 150-500, the 200-400? Thanks in advance for your answer.

  2. Hi Jared. What would be an all rounder lens for a D610 please? I like to shoot landscapes and sports mainly. I was thinking something F4. Really like the 70-200 F2.8 nikon but to expensive. What are your thoughts on the 70-200 F4? Your input is truly appreciated. Budget in hand is $1,700 US. Thanks.

  3. I will buy this lens. It is not a lens for beginners, Nikon recommended the Nikkor 80-400mm AF-S VR even for the Nikon D800: this means that the lens is EXCELLENT and capture a lot of details. Also: this lens gives the best at 400mm. GREAT LENS!

  4. Over $2,800.00 for a beginner lenses.
    That is not cheap for a F5.6 lenses.
    Why many reviewers are claiming it is sharp. Because the lenses is F5.6.

    No one will tell you that 50/1.4 is sharper than a 50/2.8 lenses.
    But many will buy the 50/1.4, just to get that lousy depth-of-look and speed.

    You can tell the beginner lenses, they all have the Viagra effects when zooming. 

  5. Answer to the topic question emmmm no. Just another of the many many over priced lenses from Nikon.
    Sigma and Tamron are really upping their game lately. Good for us.

  6. For $2700, it is supposed to be build with ALUMINUM/Magnesium Alloy, to be same level of build quailty of 70-200mm F/2.8 VR II. Plastic build is so disappointing.

  7. I think at 400mm its VR only about 2.2 f-stop effectively, just like what it advertised. UP TO 4 stops which is only at 80mm not at 400mm. Anyway, It still toe to toe with CANON 100-400mm L IS in terms of image quality and image stabilization at 400mm in most of copies. It is indeed $1300 overpriced and will need to be down to sane level below $2k to be popular enough.

  8. What loss of fstop? 2.8 till 200 then put on 2x tc and then its 5.6 so then same it will be sharper till 200 and maybe a tiny bit softer once the 2x tc on not so absurd for any one actually understands.

  9. that's true – versatility is a big issue I also had in mind. I bought the 70-200/TC combination just today and tested the combination. good choice – from portraits to wildlife pictures – that's versatility. Thx bowhunterxxx

  10. but why better? ok its a good alternative, but nevertheless you would have to carry 2 instead of 1 equipment with you and after attaching the converter to the 70-200 objective and the body,… it is no longer safe from dust and water due to missing rubber stuff on the TC. Today, I am exactly confronted with that problem: either the new 80-400 (2500€) or the 70-200 2.8 + converter TC-20E III (2320€) – 7% savings. What's YOUR recommendations folks???

  11. jared I don't understand you, you do an unboxing of the 55-300 and you hate it because it's f4.5 to 5.6 it even has vr. And now you do this unboxing and a non consisted aperture is completely fine wile this lens is $2200,- more expensive!

  12. I am very tempted to sell my 70-200 and TC to buy this lens. It is very sharp and fast AF. The VR is a bonus. CA is very low, but vignetting is a bit high for my liking. It is about $700 overpriced IMO. In my tests it beats the 70-200 with the TC and the 70-300 in overall quality.

  13. Not sure if this is any indicator but the price of the lens has dropped in the UK by about £400. That could just be a move to bring it closer to the price of the US version, which is still $300 cheaper even after the UK price cut.

  14. That would leave you with 140-400 f5.6 with the sharpness degrading by the teleconverter. Compare that to a sharp 80-400 f4.5-5.6 which has a much larger zoom range and a somewhat larger aperture. This lens has it's place, sports photography for example where a large zoom range at long focal length can be needed in one lens.


Leave a Comment