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Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by MikeMcA², Jul 13, 2008.

  1. Anyone use this? Seems like a nice "walking around"/zoo lens. I thought I had seen some sharp examples here. Seems well made when I ogle it in the store and it has tripod collar, VR, etc. Just wonder about image quality.
  2. Gandalf


    Nov 15, 2006
    Hi Mike,

    I've seen a lot of great pics posted by members using the 80-400. However, I still haven't mastered mine. I have more trouble with sharpness on my 80-400 than I do with my other lenses, especially at around 400mm. Probably just my technique, though. I'm still working on it. I usually shoot hand held.
  3. I liked mine. I usually use a heavy lens on a tripod, but I used the 80-400 vr when I shot loons in a tripod. I thought the image quality was fine.
    See here.
  4. ecalcagnino


    Dec 18, 2007
    Chicago Area
    From what I have read the new Sigma 120-400 OS may be a better option. It's a few hundred cheaper brand new than a used 80-400VR. If you can lose the wide end then I would suggest doing some reading and checking one out.

  5. I had the 80-400, with a couple others when I moved to the 200-400. However I do miss it for its walk around capability. To me the IQ was pretty good, especially in the F8,F11 range.

  6. IQ is good at f7.1/f8 and above. A little soft at f/5.6

    It works well in zoos. It is a little slow focusing so it is not ideal for birds in flight. Although I have used it successfully for it I lost more shots than I can count tying to track a bird with it.

    It is not a fast lens at f5.6 so it does not work well for indoor sports or in any low-light situation without longer exposure.
  7. Great hiking lens for wildlife. IQ is pretty good, and the zoom is quite useful. Most of my wild horses are with this lens. Only downside for me is it's a slow focuser.
  8. Thanks everyone. I have a 70-200 f/2.8 VR, a 200 f/2 VR, and 400 f/2.8 AF-S II for primo long/fast (and heavy) glass, but was just looking for something I can walk around with all day without hiring a Sherpa. :smile:

    The D3 would allow me to shoot higher ISO, so the f/5.6 - f/7.1 or f/8 for sharpness would be managable. Probably just a pipe dream, since I'm not sure I need to spend $1400 on a lens to shoot images I'll never sell. Just wondering if it's worth it quality-wise.
  9. I've had 2. Sold the first one when I needed some cash. The second I bought for a vacation and then sold it afterward, it was cheaper than renting one for 2 weeks.

    I love the range and size, but the focusing speed is very slow. Although I have never had a D# series body and I know the AF would be much better on one.

    I can tell you that if I were too look for another vacation/walk around lens I would probably look at the 2 new sigma offerings. Both with updated OS and HSM. Both are under a $1k.

    If I didn't need the reach it would be the 70-300 AF-S VR.
  10. barisaxer


    Apr 6, 2006
    Albany OR
    It is a good lens if you need the length and use it right. I shoot some baseball and do not use VR just a good fast shutter speed. At 400 it improves lots a stop down.
    focus is not great but on a D2x or h pretty good in light. D300 ok D70 0r 80 slow. I have a 80-200 afs and a sigma 100-300 and use those in that order unless I need the reach or flexability of the 80-400.
    That said the VR on this is slow and the reason most folks have trouble using it. It puts a sleight delay in it and does not always do its job well so shoot multiple frames or hold the button and let it settle in for a second or so before firing and keepers will go up a lot.
    If used a fast shutter speeds and tripod use it is really easy and produces acceptable results.
    It is not like the other VR lenses I have used that it is transparent in vr mode. It is the single nikon lens that I do not understand not going up to vr II. Come on nikon.....
  11. The 80-400 was my first long lens. Yes, like everyone else, I wish it was AFS, wish it was f4. But buying one used (they're typically around $1k) is still, IMHO, a good buy. It takes great shots as far as I'm concerned. It's no 300 f2.8, but its not supposed to be. Here's some from the zoo, where I normally use it:

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    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    But since you've got the 70-200, I woud think a 1.4 TC on that lens would work great as a zoo lens. I don't own that, so I can't judge the length/weight of the 70-200 - but the 80-400 is about the perfect size on a D200. And focus is acceptable for zoo shots.

    I have toyed with selling mine several times, but just can't.
  12. I dunno, the one I tried out this week at the store had the mount, and B&H's website still shows the version wih the mount.
  13. I like the 80-400 VR with the newer bodies like the D3/D300. Stick to f/8 and up and don't shoot at 400mm, stick slightly below like at 350mm. In daylight, the lens works really well.
  14. wingspar


    Mar 16, 2008
    Most threads I’ve seen on the 80-400 end up with 50/50 either loving or hating the lens. It’s slow to focus, and sharp shots are a hit and miss for me. More of a miss. This lens has always been one of my least used lenses. It spends most of its time sitting on a shelf. If I was you, I’d add a 1.4 and or a 1.7 TC to your 70-200 for a lot less money than an 80-400, and probably about the same weight.

    The 80-400 is a good lens when you learn to work with it’s shortcomings. One good thing about them is that they retain their value. I’ve had mine for about 5 years, and I could probably still get most of my money back if I were to sell it.
  15. I have the 70-200 VR and 300 f/4 AF-S, as well as all 3 Nikon TC-E converters. But I still ended up getting the 80-400 VR, and I actually like that lens a lot!

    The 80-400 VR is lighter than the 70-200 VR + TC for hiking around, and if you primarily need the 300-400mm range it has better IQ, too! Against the 70-200 VR + TC-17E, the 80-400 is about equal for IQ up to 340mm but beats it for 400mm vs a cropped image from the 70-200 + TC combo.

    A 70-200 VR with a TC-20E is also not as sharp as the 80-400 VR.

    On a D300 or your D3, the AF will be pretty snappy - not as fast as the naked 70-200, but decent enough if you use the focus limiter!
    On a consumer body like the D70 or D80, the 80-400 will be a lot slower to focus, however.

    The way I categorize my lenses:

    - 300 f/4 AF-S with TC is my long lens for tripod shooting
    - 70-200 VR with or without TC for portraits/action/birds in flight
    - 80-400 VR for casual, handheld wildlife pictures while hiking

    Works for me :smile:


  16. Graet lens optically but very slow, esp on non-professional bodies, i got my picture on F80 (film body), took me a whole roll of film for one half decent shot. You would need something like F4/F5/F6 or D2/D3 to get decent action performance. Part exchanged for D300, but if Nikon ever comes with AF-S version count me in.



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  17. Mladen,

    that pictures was shot in low light on a consumer body with a slow AF motor. Precisely the conditions under which the 80-400 does not shine!

    Give the lens some light and put it on a pro series body, and it can do remarkably well. And it is the smallest and lightest 400mm option out there - great for carrying it around.


  18. Hi Mike,

    You are right about consumer body and poor light, it would be much better on D300 no doubt, but part exchanged it for said D300, will never know but no regrets. Will go for AF-S if it ever sees lights of a day.



    By the way 80-400 was my first Nikon lens took many pictures on film both slide and negative
  19. What's film?

    The 70-300VR is AF-S, has the latest version of image stabilization (vr2), and has more reach on a d300 than the 80-400 does on an f80. To top it off, it's about half the weight and a third the price of the 80-400.

    And it's pretty good for birding...

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


    View attachment 219370

    and even weeds.

    View attachment 219371

    Note: all three samples were taken at 300mm.
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