Really sorry to hear that about your 80-400mm VR. I assume it's too late to return it. I was actually trying to buy one on Ebay and noticed they always get bid up to $1,000-$1,100. And, they always sell--the lens seems to be in high demand. Luckily I found the Nikon refurb for only $1,099. If you can no longer return it, you could do one of two things:
1. Call the Nikon rapair center in El Segundo, California, and whine about your lens until they do something about it--for free. I bet they'll either re-collimate or replace it if you whine enough.
2. List it on Ebay and sell it for $1,000 or a bit more.
No, I only shoot RAW if I'm doing a shoot for a portfolio or gallery piece. I probably should have shot RAW for the tests, however. Normally I shoot .JPG-L. Yes, I know that (reportedly) the D90 corrects in-camera for CA. I think what I was actually witnessing was "blooming" from over-exposure. But, I just sent the 50mm f/1.4G back to B+H this morning, so I can't do any more tests. I think, after my re-tests, while, "okay," it certainly wasn't any sharper than my old AF-D, and may have had a slightly warm color cast to it as well. Plus, the AF-D definitely focuses faster than the new AF-S G does. In any case, I just didn't feel "good" about that lens. It was never "snappy" sharp. I think I did get a poorer copy, and I think there is perhaps more variation in current Nikon samples than we may have been led to believe, especially in the samples made in China and Thailand. Oddly enough, the sharpest Nikkors I own are all Japan-manufactured.
Moreover, I think where my particualr copy of the 80-400 VR shines is, as I said, in its resistance to flare. The lens' MTF just appears to outshine my other Nikkors due to its inherent high-contrast. The lens has been noted by other reviewers for its high resistance to internal flare, which can reduce the appearance of sharpness.
Oh, also, after my re-tests, I determined that my 80-200mm f/2.8 and 60mm Micro f/2.8 were the softest of all. I'll be trading my 80-200 f/2.8 in today, hoping to save some money on a new DC-Nikkor 105mm f/2.0. One correction: my Nikkor 180mm f/2.8, while not stellar, was on-par with my other lenses, and I am definitely keeping that one.