Nikon AF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR £1900, $2700
A worthy successor to a true trendsetter in Nikon’s lens line-up, now with ultrasonic autofocus
Released at the turn of the century, the original D-mount 80-400mm was Nikon’s first lens to feature VR (Vibration Reduction) stabilisation, but it lacked a built-in autofocus system. This newer G-mount edition is a complete redesign that includes ring-type ultrasonic autofocus. It’s slightly heavier than the original, but is nevertheless the most lightweight lens in this test group, at 1.57kg, and has the smallest filter thread, at 77mm.
Focusing modes include the usual M/A (autofocus with manual override), plus an A/M mode that reduces the risk of nudging the autofocus setting accidentally. There’s a focus limiter switch and a zoom lock switch, too. Posh glass includes four ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements to reduce chromatic aberration, and one Super ED element, with nano crystal coatings, to reduce ghosting and flare. Weather seals are limited to a rubber ring on the mounting plate.
VR performance increases from two stops to nearly four stops compared with Nikon’s older 80400mm lens, and autofocus is massively faster. Image quality is impressive throughout the zoom range, though that range is a little limiting compared with some competing lenses.