Nikon has had an 80-400mm lens in its range for the past 13 years, which it has now updated. This is not just a bit of a tweak though; the new lens is sharper, better corrected for distortion and chromatic aberration and full of new technology. It is also heavier, bigger and more than 50% more expensive – so is it worth it?
Further readings for the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 80-400 f4.5-5.6G ED VR review: Nikon’s ‘Super-Zoom’ versatility at a price
To provide photographers with a broader perspective about mobiles, lenses and cameras, here are links to articles, reviews, and analyses of photographic equipment produced by DxOMark, renown websites, magazines or blogs.
As you might hope for a replacement for a lens that's over a decade old, the AF-S Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G ED VR clearly outshines it predecessor. It performs better in practically every respect - it's distinctly sharper, especially wide open at the long end, and has much lower distortion and chromatic aberration……
I am surprised that this lens got a DxOMark score of 22 and a sharpness of only 14 P-Mpix with the Nikon D800 (36 Mpix), but got a DxOMark score of 21 (lower and expected) and a sharpness of 15 P-Mpix (higher, but not expected) with the Nikon D610 (24 Mpix) when all the other lens metric scores were the same. Could you explain?
D800 score vs D7100 with this lens (Nikkor AFS 80-400 DX)
<div id="linkdxomark">This a comment for <a href="http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Lenses/Nikon/Nikon-AF-S-NIKKOR-80-400mm-F45-56G-ED-VR">this page on the website</a></div>D7100 has a smaller pixel pitch compared to a D800 and the sharpness of the lens is implied as 9 Mpix. The D800's score is an implied 14 Mpix.
Why would a sensor with smaller pixel pitch that uses only the sharpest portion of the full frame image have an implied sharpness value less than a sensor with a larger pixel pitch?
Shouldn't the 24 Mpix D7100 show a sharper score than the 36 Mpix D800 because the pixel pitch is small and thus more pixels are on target with similar framing?
I'm struggling with this lens and want to know if it's my camera, my copy of this lens, my ability, or if I should move to full frame for sharper images.
I just can't get very sharp images with this lens and the D7100....even after AF Fine Tune.
Any information on the DX test procedure that result in a 9Mpix sharpness score for the D7100 vs a 14 Mpix sharpness score on the D800 would be greatly appreciated.
Re: D800 score vs D7100 with this lens (Nikkor AFS 80-400 DX)
Hi kconfer, Thanks for posting your question on this forum. Please keep in mind that we do not take into account pixel pitch or image sensor size when we normalize our data. The only important matter is the number of pixels on your final images. In the end, two criteria explain the difference between the D800 and D7100: - pixel count difference: 36 Mpix on the D800 and 24 MPix on the D7100. - lens limitation: the 80-400mm is not sharp enough to take the full advantage of the D7100 very small pixel pitch.
Re: D800 score vs D7100 with this lens (Nikkor AFS 80-400 DX)
When you test both sensors do you maintain the distance to the subject or do you adjust distance to fill the frame. For example would you move closer with a full frame sensor vs a crop sensor with the same lens.
I am disappointed in the refresh of this lens. Nikon doubled the price of the old lens. But the biggest issue I have is that if you want add a @x teleconverter you will be at F11 and no camera body is going to give you autofocus at this aperture. I prefer the Nikon F4 lens which allow me to have autofocus at least with the D600 and D800 bodies as well likely as future Nikon body releases. The 300/4 and 70-200/f lens give more flexibility that the new 80-400mm.
I use this lens just fine with the 1.4x TC-14E. Fast focusing, adds only 1 stop which at the long end is f8, not f11. I have even used the 1.7, which surprislingly worked better than expected. My use has been both on the D800 and the D7100. I have not tried with my TC-20E, but that is not the purpose of this lens. Looking at the price of the 70-200 f4 and 300 f4, it is pretty much a wash money wise. Use the lens on a D7100 where you can also use 1.3 crop mode for a 2x FOV factor and I would argue that this is a more flexible option than the pair of f4 lenses.
What made you expect anything different? Obviously the refresh of the 80-400 4.5-5.6 is going to have a similar aperture range. Otherwise it'd be a whole new lens. And if it were constant f4, it'd be more like a super-successor to the 200-400, which is in a completely different league altogether (at least in terms of price and weight). I'll concede the new price is hard to stomach, but it's still many thousands of dollars less than the next & last tier, of the 200-400 and the super-telephoto primes.
In any case, the quality with the 2x teleconverter is going to be marginal. The new 80-400 is impressive at 400 even wide open, but it's not working miracles. The 1.4x or maybe 1.7x are much better options (and this is true in use on almost all lenses) w.r.t. balancing reach with image quality.
FWIW, I've used the 1.4x myself on this lens and there's no obvious image quality degradation (or autofocus impact). Though I haven't pixel-peeped.
I've been using the 80-400 for a couple of months now and am very happy with it. I've favoured it in practice over the 70-200/2.8 VR II when light allows (I haven't tried the 70-200/4). Not always sure why, though at least sometimes it's because of the extra reach and narrower depth of field (200/2.8 vs 400/5.6).
Good to see it compared against Sigmas, since they have quite a few big zooms at value price points. It'd be interesting to see a comparison against the 50-500 and 150-500 too, as they're popular alternatives to the 80-400.
I caution that the 300/4 isn't an equivalent alternative, though. In my experience the 300/4 is a pretty sharp lens - certainly better than your low-end zooms like the 55-300, but it's not as sharp as the 80-400 and has a lot more distortion (plus the lack of really useful features like instant manual focus override and the ability to zoom). Fingers crossed it gets a refresh soon, though - could be amazing.
It seems evident, however, that your chromatic aberration test is only evaluating lateral chromatic aberration. The 80-400 is indeed awesome in this regard. But it does have a sadly large amount of axial chromatic aberration. I don't know if it's better or worse than similar super-zooms or high-telephoto primes - which is why it'd be great if you'd consider testing for that in future. :)
You say that maybe the 70-200 plus the 300 F4 might be a better combination but what do you know that we don't? ;-) The 300 F4 has not officially been tested by DXO and thus isn't there to compare. Would be nice if you added this popular, affordable lens to your database.