NIKKOR AF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens to be released on March 14? *UPDATED*


The current Nikon AF 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED lens ($1,348 after rebate)

Update: after a brief email exchange with Digicame-info, the March 14 date is the actual release date in Japan, not the announcement date. This means that the official announcement will be this week - probably on Wednesday or Thursday.

Digicame-info reports that Nikon will announce the Nikkor AF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens on March 14. This lens has been long overdue for replacement - numerous patents were filed in the past and the lens had a designated internal number for years. My guess is that Nikon had this lens ready for a long time, but their current financial situation pushed them to release in now (together with the D7100 and the new DX compact camera) in order to meet their financial goals. The expected price is ¥275,000 (around $2,900, US price will be lower).

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  • Kasponaut

    WOW!!! Finally!!!

    • amien

      expensive lens – a 18-300mm (tack sharp superzoom) will cost you 700$ on sale, and make it a 27-450mm on a DX body.
      D7100 + 18-300mm = 2000$

      • patto01

        “Tack sharp?” I’ve not tried one but that’s not what I’ve read. If you’re right, it’s an excellent point.

        • amien

          yes it is, made several tests vs my beloved 70-300mm VR, it is way sharper and doesnt suffer from heavy. Construction is solid, there’s a block button to avoid the lens extending automatically and it is way easier to handle than a monstruous 80-400mm lens. So, unless you only shoot FX, it is a superb solution and awesome walk around lens.

  • St.

    Will it support teleconverters? I guess not.

    • JonB

      That’s an interesting question. In the past, when Nikon bodies only spec’d AF down to f/5.6, it wouldn’t have. Now that there are f/8 AF bodies, perhaps the upcoming f/5.6 lenses will be made compatible with the TC-14E.

      • IdahoJim

        I’ve tried the 80-400 VR with a teleconverter just to see what would happen.

        As long as there is enough physical space for the converter not to hit the back of the lens they do work on my cameras. (D800/D300s) That is to say it will auto focus and meter if the light is good enough.

        That said, in real world use I found that auto focus was really inconsistent in anything but the best lighting conditions. And, more importantly the decline in image quality was substantial.

        Just my opinion but I feel like the clarity of the current 80-400 VR is in the same ball park as a 70-200 VRII with a 2X teleconverter. Now think about that. A 70-200 2.8 with “no” teleconverter blows the current 80-400 away. So for me at least, even if the focusing works well enough for you (it doesn’t for me), the image quality drops from what I would call good to poor at best. (especially wide open) EG.. Not good enough for most discerning photographers.

        • St.

          Yes, agree, but if the IQ of the new lens is superb, like the new 70-200 f/4, then I don’t see a problem to use 1.4x teleconverter. It will be = 112-560mm lens (f/6.3-f/8)

          • Ralph

            The 1.4 on the 200 end gives you 280mm not 560. To get 560 you need the 1.4 and the 2x stacked, I’d suggest the quality of your image would be pretty crappy. You also wouldn’t get AF.

            • Groosome

              Context is a wonderful thing – by “it” and 560 I believe he meant the 80-400 would be 560 at the long end = true 🙂

        • JonB

          Yes, but a 70-200 with or without a TC gives <3:1 zoom range, where the 80-400 gives 5:1. When following sports action all over the field, that matters.

        • Crusty

          Now if I had a D400 to stick on the end of this monster I might be more interested.

    • Neil

      Not Nikon ones most likely. It would be mighty slow.

    • Cristian

      I think it will: new slr models can focus in af mode at f/8, so I think it will be only a camera limitation

      • St.

        f/5/6 with 1.4x it will be in the f/8 range (= 560mm)

    • niXerKG

      If it’s variable aperture, then no.

  • johnny

    2900 $ …. 🙁

    • I think the US price will be $2000.

      • lorenzo

        If it comes before the end of March, Nikon might give a $200-300 rebate so the price could even be $1,750.
        I have the old one, what do I do w/ it?

        • Ralph

          I suggest you drive your car over it. I hate that lens with such a passion I really think its the only solution. The new one better be much better.

          • lorenzo

            Almost agree with you but it would be good if I had a 4WD SUV or even better if I had a tank!
            I used that lens a couple of times, it never got the focus but there was one think it was very good at: rapidly discharge the battery. Crazy Nikon still sells it for $1,600+
            Hope it is waterproof, I can take the back element away, fill it up with water and put flowers in it LOL.

          • Why do you hate it? Which body do you use with it?

            • lorenzo

              I bought it when I didn’t have any telephoto, to use on the D100 and D300s and used just twice.

              Here is a funny fact: stores sell an used one in very good conditions like mine for $1,150 but didn’t offer me more than $420, shipping on my dime.

              I rather put flowers in it 🙂

      • Johnny Dough

        2000 $ …. 🙁

      • lorenzo

        Just verified on the phone: Adorama price $2,700, ready for pre-orders.

        • I received the same info from another source: $2,699 + the ability to attach teleconverters.

  • IdahoJim

    At long last! Will rent to test first but 95% chance this will be the next new lens in my bag. The slow focus on the current 80-400 has been a killer. But, it’s been a great long travel lens.

  • lorenzo

    Will the new VR and the focusing speed be the only improvements compared to the existing one?

  • AlphaTed

    Wow. One of the most awaited upgrade. But I already moved on by getting the 300 AF-S and 70-200 VRII.

    • Jim W

      and spending… ~$2000 more?

      • AlphaTed

        That’s for a period of like 5 yrs.

        The main reason I wanted the 80-400, is the long end of it.
        I went the 300 AF-S+TC route.
        Then when I needed a tele zoom, it was a no-brainer and went with the 70-200 VRII.
        I just can’t imagine myself spending for the 80-400 D lens and not totally happy with it.

    • That’s what I did. Overspent. :/


    Way overdue….. and I’m not excited, and i just can’t hide it.

    • DonD

      I’m about to loose control.

      • preston

        and I think I like it.

        • Johnny Dough

          And I know, I know, I know, I know
          I know I want you, want you

  • Neil

    Hmm, I almost can’t believe it after all these years… I may have to get one since its much more portable than my 200-400.

    • I think Nikon was forced to announce a bunch of products that were planned for later releases in order to meet their financial goals.

      • Neil

        I can see that but I can only think of how many lost sales there have been to Sigma while Nikon sat on this update. You’d think it would have meet their financial goals much earlier…

        • Boosh

          I ended up with Sigma 50-500mm OS in 2010, couldn’t wait any longer for this update and had safari reservations booked. The Sigma autofocus failed half way in the expedition! I hope to get Nikkor 200-400mm f/4 someday.

          • neversink

            good ol’unreliable Sigma with ugly bokah

      • markogts

        I wonder what will happen to the quality if they force the pace. D600 and D800 are not good signs…

  • Very interested, considering I’ve been on the verge of buying the current 80-400… but if the price is gonna be very high, well, I might pass and go for the recent 70-200 f/4 + TC-20E III.

    • Dr SCSI

      Which camera do plan to focus that combo on? Starting at f/8, you should be looking at lower resolution/high ISO capable cameras; but that will really limit your choice.

      You will lose acuity through defraction on a camera like the D800 at f/stops higher than f/8, and on the D600 defraction will kick in just north of f/11, while the D4 will get you to f/14ish. A 12MP FX camera will get you to f/16, barely, but those older FX cameras won’t AF at f/8 very well, if at all. I guess if you were willing to leave it on f/8 at all times, you should be OK well lit situations, but it does put a cramp on your creative abilities if you need to stop down for greater DoF or to just trim daylight away.

  • M T Pockets

    I’ve been using the current model for sports and love it. Don’t know what the new can do that the old one can’t?

    • f/2.8

      Which sport?

      • Turtle racing?

        • catinhat

          I suspect that the majority of people who love to criticize this lens haven’t used it. This lens is fast enough on a pro body if you remember to set focus limiter. The limiter is the key. And by the way, it is pretty sharp too. The only real issue with the old lens is that it is f/5.6 at the long end, — but saves you a lot of money and makes it portable enough for travel.

          • M T Pockets

            Well said. I shoot everything but motorsports with it. It’s very easy to adjust to it’s short comings. See my sports shots at Don’t get wrong it’s not better than some of the faster glass that I have but for day games it’s fine and the reach is great. Besides the LAX, football and softball shots just about all of the ski jumping championships were shot with this lens.

          • Yes, I agree – if you know how to use the old 80-400 it is a great lens even for action… just not for low light. I always shoot this lens at f7.1 for maximum sharpness.

            I’m pretty sure my heart stopped beating for a second when I open the browser to NikonRumors and saw the headline 🙂 I’ll be camped out at the first store where I can find it! (assuming it’s the same compact size as the old one)

  • Update: after a brief email exchange with Digicame-info, the March 14 date is the actual release date in Japan, not the announcement date. This means that the official announcement will be this week – probably on Wednesday or Thursday.

    • AlphaTed

      title needs update too?

      • yep

        • NAq

          Do you know anything about something new being developed for the DX lens palette, that will be announced in 2013?

          • You are an idiot.

            With such a wide open question, even I can answer that: I’m sure that something will be developed. It might be a lens, it might be a camera, it might even be a new set of filters. Any of them would work!

            • Johnny Dough

              In fact if that question were any more wide open it would be at f/0.95

            • desmo

              yup and big BOKEH too

  • Terry

    Is this a photo of the old lens or the new one? I don’t see the gold ‘N’ for Nano Crystal Coat.

    • AlphaTed

      It says “current”, so it’s the old one.

    • Terry

      oops, I just saw that it says, current under the photo. my bad…

    • It’s the old lens, the new version will be a G lens – without aperture ring.

  • The invisible man

    Hi, (yes I’m back, sorry)
    $2900.00 for a f/4.5-5.6 lens, does not look like a great deal for me.
    70-200 f/2.8 + x2 seems a better choice.

    • Dr SCSI

      Hi TMI,

      Forget 70-200 VR + TC20 E II, from my experience, too soft. Although I haven’t tested the newer 70-200 VRII and newer TC20 E – III combined, there may be hope, but I doubt it; would like to hear from others and see images posted from the later combo. Otherwise 300mm f/4 and TC14E II or TC17E II would be my first choices. That 300mm f/4 is lightening quick with the focus, sharp as hell, and a bargain at $1200. I’ve used the TC17E with it and was very impressed with quality.

      • TCs introduce another mount connection, and with that, some additional uncertainty due to the potential for tolerance build up.

        But my experience with the TC-20EIII and both 70-200’s has been pretty good. Either I have very good samples of both or the tolerances all worked out right. But my 70-200/TC-20E is arguably better than my older 80-400mm and even 300mm+TC-14E, not as good as my 200-400mm f/4.

      • neversink

        I did a recent hockey shoot at MSG and part of it I shot with the 70-200 vr2 with the TC20E-III — Sharp, Sharp, Sharp and I was shooting in low light on top of it.

      • neversink

        I did a recent hockey shoot at MSG and part of it I shot with the 70-200 vr2 with the TC20E-III — Sharp, Sharp, Sharp and I was shooting in low light on top of it.

    • desmo

      your right ,
      1k higher than the AF-D version it replaced

  • shivaswrath

    long over due, can’t wait to rent it!!

  • Ken Elliott

    Cool. After adding a TC-20e III to my 70-200 f/2.8 made my bag lighter, and I found I rarely used the 80-400. I sold my old 80-400, but I might consider the AF-S replacement. Maybe. The 80-400 was good on my D700, but wasn’t up to the demands of the D800.

    Nikon – may I suggest a VR update to the 300 f/4? A 400 f/4 and a 500 f/5.6 would bring a lot of birders your way.

    • markogts

      Agree, something more than the 71-75mm aperture, but less than the 110-130mm of the pro guns would make sense. Wth 90mm aperture you can have a 360 f/4, extendable to 500 f/5.6 with a TC.

    • Pat Mann

      A 400 f/4 or 500 f/5.6 would be $4500 to $5000+. A 400 f/5.6 AF-S VR would be perfect for me.

  • PMD

    VRII & moderately weather sealed I guess 🙂 Most awaited lens 🙂

    Welcome 🙂

  • DonD

    Even $2k would be too much for this lens. I was at least hoping for a consistant f4 across the range. If it’s $2k it better be sharp.

    • Maji

      You want a 80-400/4VRII for less than $2000!!!!! Lordy… you guys got to get your expectations under control. Nikon has a 200-400/4VRII, but it goes for $5000+/-.

      Or are you just trolling?

    • Maji

      You want a 80-400/4VRII for less than $2000!!!!! Lordy… you guys got to get your expectations under control. Nikon has a 200-400/4VRII, but it goes for $5000+/-.

      Or are you just trolling?

      • Dr SCSI

        Agreed….however, it doesn’t have to be made of the same magic glass as the 200-400/4 VRII; use plastic optics or cheaper optical glass to provide 4.5 all the way through. Besides, the 80-400 is a telescopic zoom that extends in physical size, whereas the 200-400 is an internal zoom with build specifications to sustain tough environments. One is a pro lens, the other is an enthusiast lens. One is 2K the other 5K. So here is my question, what is the max aperature at 200mm, 250mm, 300mm and 350mm on the enthusiast lens? Surely somewhere between 5.0 and 5.6. Thus $2K is definitely overpriced, so either drop the price or improve the spec sheet; I think this is most peoples sentiments.

        IMHO, The best compromise is the 300mm f/4 AF-S + TC 14 E, combined with a 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, all bought used of course for real savings. You then get f/2.8 from 70-200, 300@f/4, and ~420@f/5.6 for about $3K, or for more savings, buy the 70-200 f/4 and the 300 f/4 with TC14EII. You’ll spend about $2.9K for all new gear, and significantly less if you go used, maybe $2.4Kish.
        If weight and budget are a concern, then go with the 80-400. I’ve done worse by buying the 28-300 for vacation/travel purposes. Space and weight are real issues when traveling by air, thus the 16-35 f/4, a fast 50, and 80-400 may be all you can get away with in your kit, but still satisfying 98% of your needs.

        • bossa

          If this focal length range means so much then perhaps some of you guys need to seriously consider a Pentax K-5II and the wonderful DA*60-250. I had that lens until I recently sold most of my Pentax glass to finance my D800E kit. It was pin sharp and a constant F4. On a APSC sensor it’s “equivalent” to 90-375mm on FF. The K-5 has Shake Reduction on the sensor. I wish I’d kept that lens.

        • Anonymous

          I’d love to see where you guys think you can get a 200-400 VRII for $5000. It’s a $7000 lens, and I’ve only ever seen a couple hundred off the MSRP.

  • dmm

    $2000 for a variable aperture lens? I thought the current one was overpriced. I’d rather use 70-200 F4 + 1.4TC with D7100 in crop mode. This lens should have been no more than $1600.

    • cypher

      F4 x 1.5 (DX) x 1.4TC x 1.3 (crop mode) = F11 in FF mode

  • Good news! I will buy it

  • Didi

    I’ve been waiting for that lens for long long time ..

    .. two weeks ago I bought the Sigma 50-500 – a great lens.

    Nikon, you missed that deal!

    • AlphaTed

      You’re making another one who needs it happy though. One more copy available to him.

  • Pat

    With gold-ring, nano-coating, fast AF-S motor like the one on the 70-200s, and next generation VR, long-end IQ comparable to the long end of new 70-200s, I would think US$2000 is a fair price.

    with 14-24/16-35, 24-70/2.8, 70-200/2.8 or /4, and this AF-S 80-400 VR, a lot of FX shooters would be all-set for a very long time; until 16-35/2.8 VR or 24-70/2.8 VR hit the market.

    • Eric Duminil

      “a lot of FX shooters would be all-set for a very long time”
      That is, till they notice that their back hurt, that those wonderful zooms could take good picture if they weren’t at home all year long, and that any 1.4/1.8 prime is optically much better, faster, smaller and cheaper than any of those zooms. 😀

      • MyrddinWilt

        ??? It is a DX lens.

        OK you can put it on an FX camera but it is a f/5.6 VA lens. Its not going to be a bokeh monster. Get the 200-400 for that.

        The use for this lens is going to be birding, birding and birding.

        • Pat

          birding, surfers, wildlife, sports in good light, landscape and airshows to name a few.

    • AlphaTed

      You forgot the 200-400.

      • Pat

        I’m not rich enough to own one 🙂

    • D3200

      How gold ring help improve the PQ?
      It’s just a marketing trick to mark the price up another $1000-

      • Pat

        most gold-ring lenses are rather good. put it this way, I’ve never seen a gold ring lens with nano-coating that performs badly even on the D800E. 16-35/4 and 24-120/4 are somewhat borderline performers compared to their f/2.8 siblings, but they are still decent enough for most uses.

  • Jaded

    Call me jaded, but if this lens doesn’t cost at least $3000 I’m not interested … anything less is pretty well a guarantee it won’t work well with my D800.

    • Iapetus

      Cheaper lens work perfectly well on the D800 as long as you only use the left AF point.

      • Aldo

        left AF point was so last year… this year is about the d400 get with the times gee…

    • Mike

      My $300 50 1.8G works great with the D800

      • Jaded

        We’re looking at a 5x zoom here, not a simple prime. Nikon didn’t get the original 80-400 right even on a 12MP body — I’ll be shocked if the new one is any good on a much more demanding 36MP FX body.

  • Alan

    So is this going to be using new VR or VR from a few years ago. It sounds like the design has been sitting in the closet for a few years….

  • Pat Mann

    Whether I spring for this or wait for the 400 f/5.6 AF-S VR or the 300 f/4 VR upgrade depends on performance of this one at the long end. Many of Nikon’s high-ratio zooms suffer at the long end, and the long end is all I need from this lens – 400mm. If it’s not there, this lens is not for me. $2700 is fine if the quality is there, but I would be much happier with a 400mm f/5.6 prime.

  • VivaLasVegas

    $2,700.00 for a slow variable aperture glass, double the price of the out going lense…….wow!

  • goutam chakraborty

    i have nikon d4, i like to purchase a tele photo lens for bird photography, i am not professional, i need a sharp photo mainly motion bird, please suggest me what lens is good for me, my budge is approx 3 lacs (india)

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