Comparing the new Nikkor AF-S 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR lens with the old version

Here is a quick specifications comparison between the new and old Nikkor 400mm f/2.8 versions:

 NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR (new version)

 NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8G ED VR (old version)

Nikon-400mm-f2.8E-FL-ED-VR Nikon-AF-S-Nikkor-400mm-f2.8G-ED-VR-lens
MTF Chart Nikkor AF-S 400mm f:2.8E FL ED VR lens MTF chart NIKKOR-400mm-f2.8G-ED-VR-lens-MTF-chart
Lens Design NIKKOR-400mm-f2.8E-FL-ED-VR-lens-design NIKKOR-400mm-f2.8G-ED-VR-lens-design
Focal Length 400mm 400mm
Maximum Aperture f/2.8 f/2.8
Minimum Aperture f/22 f/22
Format FX/35mm FX/35mm
Maximum Angle of View (DX-format)
Maximum Angle of View (FX-format) 6°10' 6°10'
Maximum Reproduction Ratio 0.16x 0.16x
Lens Elements 16 14
Lens Groups 12 11
Compatible Format(s) FX
FX in DX Crop Mode
35mm Film
VR (Vibration Reduction) Image Stabilization Yes Yes
Diaphragm Blades 9 9
Nano Crystal Coat Yes Yes
ED Glass Elements 2 3
Super Integrated Coating Yes Yes
AF-S (Silent Wave Motor) Yes Yes
Internal Focusing Yes Yes
Minimum Focus Distance 8.53ft. (2.6m) 9.5ft. (2.9m)
Focus Mode Auto
Filter Size 40.5mm 52mm
Accepts Filter Type Slip-in Slip-in
Approx. Dimensions (Diameter x Length) 6.3in.(159.5mm)x14.09in.(358mm) Based on CIPA Guidelines 6.3in.(159.5mm)x14.5in.(368mm)
Approx. Weight 134oz.(3800g)Based on CIPA Guidelines 163oz.(4,620g)
 Price $11,999,95  $8,999
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  • Filter size is what? That can’t be right.

    • Why not? It slides in near the mount of the lens.

    • nwcs

      Makes sense, you can now share filters with your Nikon 1 lenses… /s

  • doge

    Why is the good shit always so expensive?

    • Eric Calabros

      cause in business world, you cant produce Lamborgini veneno as many as Camry

      • doge

        Sure they could. If they were cheaper they would sell more of them and therefore produce more of them.

        • Jun-Kai Teoh

          Don’t forget to factor in production + R&D into cost. And then market audience and likeliness of purchase.

          Even if they cut it by $2000 it might not mean they’ll get an increase in buyers. And people who need that gear – namely big companies – will pay the price anyway.

        • Eric Calabros

          Samsung makes smartphone twice as much as Apple, but gain half of Apple’s profit! this alone could explain the whole story

          • doge

            You obviously don’t read the news. Samsung is more profitable than Apple.

            • Eric Calabros

              in a parallel world? Maybe 🙂

            • MRomine

              In the same fields? Smart phones, tablets etc or just overall?

        • Duarte Castelo Branco

          yes, because everyone wants a tele lens, and very heavy one. 100mm tele is more then enough for many people and most prefer zooms

          • doge

            Everyone would want one if it was cheaper.

            • neonspark

              did you know that fluorite crystals are actually “grown” in a lab. it takes weeks if not months to make them this large not to mention all the expensive equipment and precision to achieve this level of reliability.
              this isn’t a freaking shoe man. they don’t have a bill of material of 1200 bucks and taking a 10x profit.

            • doge

              First off it takes 2 hours to make. and secondly, Calcium flouride is dirt cheap. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

            • neonspark

              it isn’t cheap to make at these precisions levels. I realize glass is sand. so you think optical glass is cheap. you’re pissing against the wind.

            • doge

              Me and Seger.

            • jojo

              And as the old Chinese proverb (translated) said:

              Piss not against the wind, for he who pisseth against the wind, wetteth his shirt

            • neonspark

              and in case you need further proof of your unparalleled ignorance let’s see how these 2 hour dirt cheap elements helped the canon 1200mm lens which fluorite crystals took a WHOLE YEAR to grow.


            • doge


            • neonspark

              you should work for canon. maybe they can bring back the 1200mm with 2 hour crystals that are dirt cheap. after all isn’t that your logic? make it cheaper so it sells more HA HA HA. OMG you should be on youtube making a comedy show.

            • Greg

              I know I shouldn’t wade into this argument, but the length of time it takes to grow the crystals is irrelevant unless they’re being painted layer by layer with a basting brush. All that means it that it should take a long time to get the first one assuming they weren’t already growing crystals for other purposes.

              Sand took eons to form, but it isn’t expensive. Gas is cheap, but petroleum wasn’t formed quickly. Whisky ages for years, but doesn’t cost $12k a shot.

              Not saying this is a $500 lens, but the time it takes to form the glass probably isn’t what makes it expensive.

            • Black

              But the length of time and the difficulty it takes to grow the crystals IS relevant. Whether it warrants an additional $3K or not is arguable though.

            • Greg

              My basting brush comment was kind of meant to indicate that yes, difficulty influences cost if it impacts labor requirements or yield, but that isn’t what’s being argued and things can be quick and difficult or slow and difficult.

              Time is only relevant through third and fourth order effects– basically through inefficiencies in timing your supply chain.

            • Veldask Krofkomanov

              You have a lot to learn about camera optics. A quick google will reveal neonspark was right, these fluorite crystals take months to grow to the size of the front element. Educate yourself before making yourself look like a fool.

            • sperdynamite

              Not me. You’d need a sherpa to carry this thing around. Happy with my 50/1.4 thanks.

            • nobody cares

              I’ve seen concert togs using the old one from the pit at many shows. They’re big, but clearly they’re manageable. I’m pretty sure most are carrying a second or 3rd body too.

            • Veldask Krofkomanov

              I wouldn’t. 400mm is too long for anything I do. I hardly ever go beyond 100mm as is.

            • Danny Hernandez

              You guys are getting buttmad, but dude is right. Nikon charges that much because they can. It has nothing to do with development costs. They have made that up years ago. They already have the tooling, and the materials are far from rare. Its a racket. And you are a fool to believe otherwise.

        • Economistic

          Good glass is expensive. You can only make it so cheap before there is no profit to be made by anybody (the manufacturer, retailers and so on). These are big ticket, expensive products but profit margins on these kind of lens are typically lower then at the lower end of the market.

        • neonspark

          dude, listen. *facepalm* you can’t make a lambo cheap. you just can’t.

          • doge

            Not with that attitude.

            • neonspark

              it’s made of exotic materials at precisions you cannot understand. but you think CAF2 crystals are cheap lol. I mean you have your brain up your ass.

            • doge

              wow dude. You’re hilarious. “precisions you cannot understand.” stop. you’re killing me.

            • neonspark

              yup. the internal components of the lambo engine are extremely high precisions to tolerate the forces of such high RPM engine and high output. in mechanical manufacturing, precision = expensive cnc’s = low yields = high price.
              but clearly you think the I-4 on your kia is built to the same standard as the V12 8K RMP capable lambo engine. ha ha. you sir win the moron award of the week.

            • doge

              I drive an Audi.

            • neonspark

              ah, one of the bottom brands in consumer reports reliability ratings per manufacturer. I can explain why you don’t understand why a high price item is reliable, you have a german car LOL.

            • doge

              Is that why they were ranked #3 in this years Consumer Reports rating?

              You are completely clueless to anything but what the marketing teams feed you. Go back to drinking your Metamucil and take a nap old man. I can see that you’re tired and not thinking clearly. Or at all in this instance.

            • neonspark

              yeah sure thing MR “takes 20 minutes to make a CF” element.

            • Jason Ortiz

              Now I now this is old but what the hell. Yes you are correct in what you stated about the inner workings of a lambo engine. “Extremely high precisions” is a perfect way to describe it. Funny thing though, you attack Audi and call it a bottom brand and then poke fun at it being german. You contradict yourself. How so, you ask?
              In 1999 Lamborghini, which was on the verge of death was bought out by Audi. Since then the manufactor has had its greatest success. Audi built the 5.2 V10 in the Gallardo, redesigned the lambo style, changed the doors, and made the most prosperous car in its history. While also making it reliable. Something the the Italians have trouble with.

            • Veldask Krofkomanov

              hahaha bro your stupidity is hilarious…i love reading your post…keep posting idiotic comments, my sides are hurting!

            • Black

              Yup, his comments really are hilarious. My sides are hurting too. @neonspark : You just can’t compete with ignorant people like doge. Just leave them be.

      • Spy Black

        Do you honestly believe a Lamborghini is “good shit”?…

        • neonspark

          I believe it is better than your kia.

          • Spy Black

            At least the Kia isn’t ostentatious…

        • Eric Calabros

          If you cant afford a super car, doesnt mean thats not super

          • Spy Black

            I’ll take that as a “yes”…

            • nobody cares

              It’s a good car if you want a flashy Lamborghini (or similar) car. I wouldn’t buy one. They’re insanely expensive and I suspect they require a ton of maintenance. But anyone that owns one probably has countless millions to spare.

              Note if I had countless millions, I still wouldn’t buy one. OTOH, I might buy this lens if I had that much cash. 😉

    • kaioip

      back in 2008-09 1 kilogram of regular lens glass worth 1 thousand dollars. This is the price of the glass block. Without doing anything on it. So that might explain why these things are expensive

  • ybp

    Hopefully Sigma will come out with one that is 20% sharper, 20% better contrast, and for 50% less. I remember and a photo of their new lens here:

    • Idontagree

      Sigma? Better? Not possible. Sigma’s products will never be built as well and take a beating like Nikon’s will.

      • doge

        You like to throw your $12,000 lens investments on the ground too?

        I know every time I run over my lens bag with my Range Rover I only ever have to replace the Sigma glass. Such a shame.

        • neonspark

          it goes like this: you go shoot penguins at the south pole. the trip alone will run you about 20-40K.

          the sigma shooter will be at the boat because its lens shortly stopped working in the harsh conditions. While the nikon guy will be on nat geo’s cover.

          • doge

            How’s that Kool Aid taste?

            • neonspark

              I don’t know. I only drink at starbucks.

        • waterengineer

          “Investment” Hilarious! I always have to laugh. An “expense” not an “investment.” Seriously.

          • Guest

            It is an investment! If you are running a business you don’t shell out 12k for an item if you don’t expect to get that money back + profit from it within 3 years from purchase date (business case anyone?). An expense is something like hotel accommodation or postage stamps.

            • waterengineer

              Incorrect. I knew someone would try that tactic. An investment appreciates. An expense depreciates. Go ahead, buy one of these lenses then try to get more for it than you paid. Go ahead, try. Your so-called business case is based on falsehood.

            • Guest

              Unless you are in the business of buying and selling goods you are not expected to resell it at all. You are expected to keep it in your books for a decent amount of time, which is usually strictly regulated/ dictated by some law, at least here in Europe, until it reaches a symbolic value of 0 EUR. After that you can resell it or just throw it away as you wish, because for the authorities it doesn’t exist anymore. You calculate the expected ROI based on the revenue brought in by its usage, not on its expected value in the second-hand market after using it for the above mentioned obligatory amount of time.

              I don’t know how these things work on the other side of the Atlantic. But here you can’t just buy anything you like and call it “expense”.

            • Cyrille Berger

              What you describe is one aspect of “depreciation”, when a company buy an equipement, it goes in the “assets”, and the cost a “liability”. However, since it is acknowledge that you will use that equipment for several years, accounting rules allow you to spread the cost of buying that equipment over a set numbers of years, in your “expense” section, that is the first aspect of “depreciation”. But after those years, the lens does not get a value of 0, it is still in your balance sheet with a certain price.

              And you most certainly cannot throw it or sell it at whatever prices you want, without comiting fraud toward your company (at least in most European countries).

            • waterengineer

              Once again, incorrect. Have you ever heard of depreciation? Please consider depreciation in your so-called business plan, during the “obligatory period.” Thus, the lens purchase is an expense. Selling the lens is called residual value or scrap value. Your ROI calculation is extraneous to the discussion, from a cost accounting point of view.

            • Steve Griffin

              Great tools are an investment in yourself

      • monopodman

        I’m fine with worse build quality / slower AF speed as long as Sigma offers stabilised supertelephotos with similar resolution and bokeh (also with 1.4x converter)

    • neonspark

      cheaper, faster, sharper. pick any two.

  • zoetmb

    Can’t wait to hear all the complaints about the $12,000 price.

    • broxibear

      Hi zoetmb
      The $12000 price is one thing, the fact that it’s $3000 more expensive than the $9000 lens it replaced is worth a complaint. Yes not many people will be buying this lens anyway, but if this sort of steep price increase is seen across other lenses then it becomes an issue for many.
      It doesn’t bode well for future lens prices.

    • monopodman

      The price is the same as Canon 400/2.8L IS II. On paper both lenses are identical (weight / IS generation / optical complexity) so I don’t see any reason why Nikon should cost much less.

      • umeshrw

        Just means that both canon and nikon are ripping us off.

  • Vertigo

    Sorry to say that from a purely aesthetic matter, the new design is plain ugly. Looks like a tamron zoom.

    • doge

      And that’s all that matters, right?

      • Spy Black

        Why, yes…

      • AM I Am

        Yes, it should have matched the retro style of the Df.

  • Paul

    That’s a pretty good weight loss for this lens.

    • Aeroengineer

      If the optics are as good or better, and the build quality and robustness as good, then a near 20% weight reduction is a tremendous accomplishment.

  • NikonFanBoy

    Hi ADmin,

    Thank you so much. This precise information. IMHO you should have included the canon 400 2.8 latest version. It would look great..Never the less thanks for your effort and time.Keep up the good work!

    • neonspark

      here is what is directly comparable.

      Brand: Nikon|Canon
      Weight: 3800g|3850g
      MFD: 2.6|2.7m

      in other words, nikon is lighter, focuses closer. probably both are just as sharp. comes down to the nikon knowing where canon parked and easily was able to best them just enough to not drive the cost too much.

      • nasib4bi

        can you really feel the difference of 50 gram when you carry the lens ? can you really point out the difference of 10 cm MFD by seeing the photos ? really ?

  • neonspark

    no mention of the fluorite elements? canon’s version only has one and nikon is very proud of this fact. Enough to merit the new FL stamp on hte lens model.

  • Spy Black

    MTF charts are for different apertures.

    • Aeroengineer

      Good catch.

    • That makes it doubly impressive!


    So it’s a breather – mfd is closer but the max rep ratio is the same.
    RRS will be happy – $12k and Nikon still won’t engineer a decent trpod foot.
    The current CP-L1L drop in polariser won’t fit.
    The new TC-14III will only work with G lenses.
    Nothing unexpected there then.

    • AM I Am

      How many photographers do you know buy a 400mm lens to shoot their subject at 2.6m?

      • Wild Man

        All the wildlife photographers that I know are extremely interested in the mfd, of more precisely the max repro ratio.
        It’s very important for small subjects like dragonflies, small birds, small mamals……..

        • YUUUP!

          Having to go closer for the same RR is not good.
          Haning a smaller RR at the same distance is not good.
          Lens that shorten their focal length as they focus closer are a pain.

  • Global

    Well.. that explains why the front half of the lens looks like Donald Duck’s beak. That is one UGLY lens.

    However, it is very nice that they got the weight down and optics up. The foot also looks arranged in a way that its easier (safer?) to carry this lens.

    • Morris

      i think there is more space in developing for weight down THAN iq up, on top lenses, dont u agree ?

  • Yes, Another Tweet

    I would love to see an MFT Chart of the old 400mm f/2.8 IF-ED (manual focus) lens to compare with these. Cause I swear that my almost 30-year MF version is so scary sharp. I know these are lighter and have AF but that old MF tank is one of the sharpest lens I have ever shot.

  • Wesley

    There’s no question that excellent and fast lenses like this one should be expensive but $3000 more than the previous version is too much. That’s way too much of a premium.

  • Jay Pike

    Oh yay!! How much sharpness is enough you ask? I answer: “Finally, a lens that can resolve sharp images on my D800 when taken at 37mp in RAW so I can crop them down to 1mp to post on Face Book so the whole world can laugh at my lolcat pix taken at 2.6m indoors!”

    • Jay Pike

      I wish I could find something bad to say about the specs on the lens… the variance in MTF between the two is especially impressive considering the newer one’s MTFs are taken wide open at f/2.8 (Nikon’s making a statement there).

      I find it interesting that most ED glass elements contain a fair amount of Fluorite (or is that just Canon’s ED glass that has FL already in it).

      What I’m most interested to see is what we see from the folks at Lens Rentals after they get a dozen or so of these in and see what the MTF variances are (even MTF50 for contrast) in sample variations since Fluorite glass can be very difficult to grind due to its softness….

  • DMT

    Here’s what you need to know (I posted this in one of the other threads):

    The entire super-tele line is being refreshed with the tech that’s in the 800 VR…and it’s a BIG upgrade. Fastest AF of *any* Nikkors, better and also *silent* VR, electronic diaphragm (for exposure accuracy), fluorite glass for less weight, better weather resistance, much improved balance and physical design, optimized for the new teleconverters (with virtually *no* quality drop-off), and even sharper/better optics (including the corners wide-open) along with improved micro-contrast and resolving power.

  • Neopulse

    If this lens got a severe bump up in price (even though quality did go up) can’t wait to see the successor of the favored 300mm f/2.8 and how much it’ll cost, $10k by the looks of it.

  • neversink

    So, according to the specs, i can not use this new 400mm f/2.8 on an F6 film body. Why? Unless Nikon or Admin accidentally left out that this lens will work with the F6. Very weird.
    Any insights, Admin?

    • Fred Phelps

      It will work fine with the F6.

      • neversink

        Thanks. I thought so, but just couldn’t understand why film is left out of the specs under compatible formats. It didn’t make sense.

  • Peter

    Plus: the new one has an electromagnetic diaphragm (“E” designation) which the previous lens didn’t have.

  • Yoyo

    not that it looks ugly but the esthetics bring us to travel journey 15 years bacwards … surprising. Nikon too has lost a Steve Job 🙂

  • MMS

    The lens shape reflects the new vuvuzela technology. . .

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