Nikon makes a number of high-grade super-telephoto lenses, but at just under $9,000 it will come as little surprise to see the highly-regarded AF-S Nikkor 400mm f2.8G ED VR model head this category in optical quality. It has the latest VR II technology (identified externally on the barrel by VR gold-colored paint, earlier VR I models can be recognized by red-paint), but it’s a big and heavy lens to handhold for any length of time.
|Nikon AF-S Nikkor 400mm F2.8G ED VR||8999||34||22|
|Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II||5900||33||21|
|Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR||9999||25||18|
|Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR||8030||24||17|
In second place is the equally respected AF-S Nikkor 300mm f2.8G, and although it can’t quite match the firm’s 400mm f2.8 in peak sharpness this model is almost as sharp at full aperture and has similarly high uniformity across the field. Like the 400mm, this model has low chromatic aberration, low vignetting and good transmission.
While the 400mm is arguably the most flexible model on account of it high-speed and compatibility with tele-converters, the 500mm is often preferred as the best all-rounder. It’s superb performer optically, but the AF-S Nikkor 600mm f/4G is slightly sharper at wider apertures and comes in third-place in our rankings, just ahead of the 500mm. At close to $10,000 it’s not for the faint hearted.