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Nikon 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR

What is the very best long range super telephoto zoom for Nikon out there? Is it worth buying? Let's find out!

Author: Thushara Verhoeven | Photo & image credits: © Nikon, © TPJ Verhoeven Photography | Published on: 6 October 2021 | Last edited on: 28 October 2021


1. Introduction

Imagine this: you are a sports photographer and want to catch a player full frame, midfield, from the sideline. You are working above the arctic circle in the polar region, trying to capture an ice bear with her cubs on Svalbard or... you are with the security forces on a stakeout, trying to capture a suspect in the building six blocks down the street on the other side of the bay at night time... Sounds familiar? Then, yes.. you definitely might indeed need the highest quality super telephoto lens that's possibly out there.


It's one of the biggest mantras in photography: "It's not the gear that takes the photo: it's the photographer." And yes, this is partially true indeed because a camera is in essence just a tool and the right tool is a powerful weapon in the hands of an artist. They say that as a photographer it shouldn't matter which camera you use. But then again... it does. In all honesty I have to admit that this mantra tires me a bit. Yes, it's a fact that having a keen eye for composition and being artistic and creative both are imperative to get outstanding images. You have to have at least some photographical talent and develop it further in your career, but as a full time Nikon professional I can assure you that the right tool for the job can help you be even more creative and versatile, because the right tool often makes the job easier. Shooting with a high end flagship camera doesn't mean putting out Pullitzer Prize winners per se, but the main thing is that it makes the job easier. 


So: 'the right tool'. What does that mean? Good gear can open up new pathways if you know how to implement it in your workflow. Knowing your gear inside out is just as important. However to my clients it really doesn't matter what I use as long as they get their photos. I myself want something more from my gear: I need to be able to get the shot as best I can, meaning: what I want, when I want it


In my experience a cheap lens certainly can get me good images, but often an expensive lens will help me get the same shot, only more comfortably and often in better quality as well. Sometimes an expensive lens even enables me to just get a shot that I simply would have missed if I tried it with a cheap lens. To me my gear are my tools. They are simply a means to an end, but I'd rather have the very best tools at my disposal than gear I have to fight with to get decent results. That's the main reason I'm very serious about gear. Unfortunately I had a rather serious gear related issue that bothered me for quite some time.


The problem I encountered again and again was this: whenever I had a job that required long focal lengths, I would find myself increasingly unhappy with the images from the telephoto glass I had over the years. Out there in the field at the back of the camera's LCD screen the images all looked rather nice and sharp, but often the disappointment came when I got home and started viewing the results on the big screen. Then most of the magic would fade away quickly because upon closer inspection the photos would turn out soft, out of focus or... the lens simply could not keep focus track of the subject, meaning that I simply would miss a lot of shots. Often images taken at the widest aperture would turn out to be... well, not very good. This was especially noticeable at the long end of the focal range.


In hindsight this was already the case right from the moment I got the second hand 80-400mm, right up to the point where I simply couldn't accept the results I was getting anymore. So almost immediately after getting it, a plan already started to hatch to get a better one in the future. This is the story of that plan: my three year long quest to find and get the ultimate long range telephoto zoom lens.

My own in-depth analysis

"Everyone can capture a bird, but not everyone can capture a bird" • If you ever shot with a focal length of 70mm or more, then you essentially have shot with a telephoto lens. If you enjoyed the results you might know why shooting with these kind of lenses is so much fun. But to truly be able to capture the really small and fast, you need quite a lot of millimeters to get truly unique and world class images.

About three years ago I started gaining serious interest in super telephoto lenses. My philosophy about these lenses goes like this. It's great fun bringing close to your eye that what is actually (really) far away. It feels a little bit like... magic. You get to observe something as if you were watching it live on tv: you are a mere spectator to a scene you yourself are not a part of. The subject feels totally undisturbed, completely at ease and all this happens while you watch the scene unfolding right in front of you. Both animals and people alike start showing normal natural behaviour as soon as you move out of sight and away with your camera. The longer the focal range, the more this effect is amplified. Your subject is not disturbed by your presence anymore because from its perspective you are simply just... not there.

I was increasingly bothered by the underwhelming performance of one of my two telephoto lenses and I also ran into the limitations of the other. Because of this I was having trouble editing my photos and I simply didn't enjoy the results. Don't get me wrong. Up until October 2021 there were two Nikon telephoto lenses in my camera bag, which theoretically should be providing me with both awesome images and a great shooting experience (image quality and handling). The former: only partially and the latter: unfortunately also partially. I'll elaborate.

I had these two lenses. Let's start with the good news:

• The Nikon 300mm f/4E PF - Let me start off by telling you that I absolutely love this lens. It comes in a very tiny package and it's featherlight for a 300mm f/4 prime. It delivers tack sharp images, is incredibly fast focusing and accurate and it definitely has that unique professional Nikon feel to it. This lens is so much fun to use because there are almost no downsides to it... Almost, because unfortunately to me there are two: it only goes to 300mm and most important to me: it lacks the flexibility of a zoom.

• And then... there was the Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G - On paper this is a killer lens. Except to me it was not. I was far less fond of this one, what resulted in a hate-love relationship that started almost right from the moment I got it. Early on I already worked out that I must have bought a bad copy of this lens. Simply a matter of naivity (and a bit of bad luck), because at the time I didn't have the gear experience I have now. One pointer should have been that it already was quite heavily used when I bought it. I am not a pixel peeper but whenever I shot wide open on its longest focal length with it (400m f/5.6), the images would turn out all soft and fuzzy. And after my research prior to the purchase I simply did not expect that from a lens with those specifications and price tag. The sharpness and quality would improve slightly after stopping it down to f/7.1~f/11, but even then it was never on point. As a result this lens often cost me a lot of time editing the images, which in turn caused a lot of frustration. To make matters worse: most of the time editing didn't improve the image quality by much (and no, that's not my editing skills, software or my camera body). As far as quality goes, you simply cannot put in there what's not already in there. Artificially enhancing an image has to be done very subtle (if even) and it should only be done up to a certain point, after which it starts to look fake. A good image straight out of the camera with my copy of this lens was rather a matter of coincidence than skill. During my time with it I already quickly came to a point where I wanted and needed a better lens, because let's be honest: the main reason one buys a telephoto lens is that one can zoom in with it and get awesome shots. 

My research to better telephoto glass continued and I learned about things like internal and external zooming, fixed apertures, fluorite glass elements, panning VR and so on. Luckily as of March 2018 the solution was already put out there by Nikon in the form of this: ▼

Pros who spend time behind a super-telephoto lens know a hard truth: when you need a teleconverter, you often need it in a hurry. For these moments, Nikon proudly introduces the AF-S NIKKOR 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR, a super-telephoto zoom lens with a built-in 1.4X teleconverter. Capture sports, events and wildlife in lifelike brilliance from 180-400mm, then, without breaking shooting posture, engage the integrated teleconverter and increase your reach to 560mm f/5.6 (840mm equivalent on a DX body). Incorporating remarkable advancements in optical design, autofocus performance, Vibration Reduction and durability, this lens is bound to become the new standard for serious field photographers.

2. The Quest

It wasn't a problem that would go away by simply throwing money at it. I had to make certain choices and considerations as a professional photographer. To understand these choices it's important to tell the entire story. 

Zoom or prime?

What would be your choice? - Most photographers lean towards primes because in general primes produce better image quality. There are numerous exceptions today but this actually stems from the early days of zoom lenses. Back then these lenses just weren't nowhere nearly good enough to compete with the umatched quality and sharpness of prime lenses at the time. And there are more benefits to primes. A prime lens often is also lighter because it contains less glass since it lacks both the glass and the mechanism that's needed to move that glass around when zooming. Another advantage: because there's only one focal length, lens makers can put all their effort in maximizing the image quality for that particular focal length to perfection.

Zoom lenses are more difficult to construct. Overall they are heavier because they contain more glass. Therefore generally they are also more expensive to produce, because they preferably need to be sharp and crisp on all focal lengths and apertures. And exactly this is a major challenge for lens makers, hence the very, very steep price for the most professional zoom lenses. If zoom lenses are being offered cheaply then often that's reflected in their overall lower image quality, because opposite prime lenses some things have to be sacrificed for the sake of price and convenience. Also, the greater the focal range of a zoom lens, the more difficult it is to construct a lens that is sharp on all apertures and focal lengths. Often concession are made to image quality or used materials in order to bring the final retail price down to an acceptable consumer level, with the construction of these so called travel / super zooms. Most of the time the two main features 'image quality' and/or 'handling' are sacrificed (a bit) to lower the retail price to an acceptable, sellable level.

The One Lens

Didn't we all, at some point in our photography career, want that ultimate one lens to rule them all? This would be a super fast aperture lens that was tack sharp on all focal lengths and all apertures. It would have zero distortion and no vignetting. You could shoot in all lighting conditions in all directions without flare, ghosting or any chromatic abberation. It was capable of covering the entire focal range spectrum from extremely wide angles to super tele. Well... that lens. 

In theory such a lens could very well be designed if it weren't for the laws of optical physica. In the real world it probably wouldn't even be feasible to actually make it and even if it were at all possible, it would be way too big, heavy and expensive. For camera manufacturers such lenses would definitely not be economically viable to develop, produce and sell, because they would simply be too expensive for any photographer to buy. Such a lens would also become enormous (both in size and weight) to capture all that light, so probably no one would be able to even lift it.

Nonetheless zooms have been invented at some point in the past because of one major advantage over primes: flexibility. They enable the photographer to cover simply... more, because they enable us to get closer to a scene in an instant without the need of walking the actual miles. Luckily for us there are some exceptions to the 'primes over zooms' rule. One of them being: the professional or high end zooms. They are rare but Sony has its 200-600mm G-Master marvel and Canon already has an 180-400mm with built-in TC. The disadvantage of that Canon lens is that the TC has to be switched on with your supporting hand. Regardless, once or twice every decade or so these companies pour all their imagination and skill into one piece of glass that indeed is able to do it all...

Telephoto lenses: what's out there?

A lot! When it comes to the Nikon F mount, there's a lot of good and lesser quality glass out there. In this particular area I have a lot of first hand experience because I used or owned the following telephoto lenses already in the past:

• Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 ART

• Nikon 300mm f/4E PF

• Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G

• Sigma 105mm f/2.8 MACRO

Tamron 70-300mm

• Tamron 35-150mm f/2.8-4

Next to those there are lots of 85mm, 105mm and 135mm prime lenses out there from all kinds of different brands. A company like Tamron also makes lenses with less conventional focal ranges such as the aforementioned 35-150mm f/2.8-4. Talking about fast aperture travel zooms: at the end of September 2021 Tamron even released a 35-150mm f/2-2.8 for the Sony E mount (€ 1.800,-). More about travel zooms: these are basically created so that the photographer has the convenience of not having to switch lenses anymore, reducing bagage weight while travelling for example. In this category you will find lenses that extend into the tele realm as well like the Tamron 18-400mm, 100-400mm (Sigma and Tamron) and both the Nikon 55-200mm kit lens and 16-300mm.

Then there are some extremely good value high quality telephoto lenses as well. They all have a fixed, but slightly slower widest aperture, compared to their professional counterparts, which makes them more budget friendly. Such as the Nikon 70-210mm f/4, Nikon 24-120mm f/4 or Sigma 24-105mm f/4.

There are those that go even further in terms of focal length. Both Tamron and Sigma produce various telephoto zoom lenses that cover the 150-600mm range. Sigma also produces the incredible 60-600mm lens (10x zoom!). They also make a massively heavy but very fast aperture 120-300mm f/2.8 lens, which is a beast both in terms of size and weight. This one is very suitable for fast action sports and wildlife and capable of blowing out the background at a significantly lower price point than its recent Nikon 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED VR N counterpart.

All of these have one thing in common: they all are relatively affordable with prices ranging from € 1.000~€ 2.999.

Of course in this comparison both Nikon PF lenses, the 300mm f/4E and 500mm f/5.6E, can't be missed either. They are very much worth mentioning because of the Phase Fresnell (PF) lens element they contain, making these exceptional prime lenses very small in both physical size and weight for their respective focal lengths.

  • Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 vs 150-600mm Sport

    Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 vs 150-600mm Sport

    Sigma produces various super telephoto zoom lenses at very reasonable prices: 120-300mm f/2.8 (top, € 2.999,-) 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Sports (bottom, € 1.399,-) There's also a 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Contemporary version which costs only € 999,-

300mm f/4 PF vs. 500mm f/5.6 PF

300mm f/4 PF vs. 500mm f/5.6 PF

Both these telephoto lenses contain the PF lens element which makes them very small and light, while retaining sharpness and image quality.

And these are the most expensive lenses from Nikon itself.

They are among the very best fast aperture long range prime telephoto lenses on the planet. It's the very best Nikon has to offer. Ranging from the (not depicted) 105mm f/1.4 and 200mm f/2 to the 300mm f/2.8E, 400mm f/2.8E, 500mm f/4E and 600mm f/4E lenses, all the way up to the ultimate long range telephoto prime: the 800mm f/5.6E (shown on the far right which clocks in a little over 4.500 gr. and sells for the fabulous price of € 20.499,-). All of these lenses are extremely well-built and capable of delivering world class quality images which is obviously reflected in their price tag.

In this high-end category there are two recent zoom lenses as well:

• The Nikon 120-300mm f/2.8E FL VR N (not displayed), which is a professional zoom lens with a slightly shorter focal range that came out in anticipation of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

• And then there's the second zoom lens: the one this article is ultimately about. It's the successor to the famous and beloved NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II (2nd from the left in this comparison photo).

Next to the consumer level and professional category there are more exotic niche type zoom lenses out there that are even crazier. Two are displayed here:

• The whopping 16kg(!) Sigma 200-500mm f/2.8, which is the only 500mm f/2.8 in the world to date. It's nicknamed 'the green monster' and 'the Bigma'. Because of its enormous size and weight it comes in a military styled 24 kg case that was originally designed to transport weapons in. It takes two people or a truck to move it around, but it is capable of some stunning images. Although it has been surpassed in image quality since it came out before the age of the high megapixel cameras back in 2008.

• Same goes for the humongous and much more rare Nikon 1200-1700mm f/5.6-8s P ED IF from which there are only a few copies ever made and in existence today. To put things in perspective: It's 888mm long, also weighs in at 16kg and at the time of release (1990) it had an asking price of $ 60.000-$ 75.000. So if you have a penny to spare you will have a lens that enables you to get things in focus that are as far as 2 miles away!

  • Nikon's Big Primes

    Nikon's Big Primes

    Nikon's biggest prime telephoto lenses in a size and weight comparison

  • Nikon 1200-1700mm

    Nikon 1200-1700mm

    It actually does exist!

  • Sigma APO 200-500mm f/2.8 EX DG

    Sigma APO 200-500mm f/2.8 EX DG

    The Bigma, Sigma's 200-500mm f/2.8 monster lens, weighing in at a whopping 16kg and was priced at $ 25.999,- when it came out back in 2008.

But... let's go back to (slightly) more realistic standards, money-wise. Nikon is a company that brings for over a century worth of experience, skill and knowledge to the lens making table. And though the best lenses are expensive, luckily not everything from Nikon is extremely high priced. The company also offers a very reasonably priced super telephoto lens: the Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E. 

Looking at its focal range this is actually the budget option of the lens this review is ultimately about. There are some distinct differences though: this 200-500mm lens is a stop slower (f/5.6 > f/4). It does however reach 100mm farther (500mm > 400mm). But it lacks a built-in TC, isn't fully weather sealed and it's not an internal zoom. For its price it does deliver good quality images and the most important difference: it's 9 times cheaper...

Below are the two of them side by side: ▼

Nikon 180-400mm f/4E (L) vs. Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E (R)

Nikon 180-400mm f/4E (L) vs. Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E (R)

Surprisingly different but also slightly alike?
The 200-500mm (R) is displayed here in its collapsed state.
Zooming in to 500mm roughly adds 10 cm, resulting in them ending up being approx. of the same length.
Weight is a different story: 3.500 vs 2.300 gr.

Of course this paragraph is far from complete and there are a lot more (super) telephoto lenses out there, but here I listed those that are the most noticable to me personally. As we're coming to a close of this research paragraph there's only this one last lens that remained at the very end of my quest. It's the professional telephoto zoom lens from Nikon that goes by the ridiculously long name of Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR N.


3. Nikon's Holy Grail of super telephoto zoom lenses

Already quite early in the research period my quest led me to the Nikon 180-400mm. And for good reason because let's face it: this focal range is both convenient and practical. It complements the 14-24mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8 lens trinity perfectly.

In terms of focal range and aperture this 180-400mm f/4 is positioned just above these three lenses. 180mm is close enough to let a wild animal come close without being in danger yourself, while 400mm is far away enough to still fill the frame when it leaves or is at a safe distance. Same goes for sports. You can take the headshots mid-game but also zoom out for a little context of the action. And if 400mm is not enough, just flip the switch and instantly have extra reach up to 560mm f/5.6 (FX) / 840mm f/5.6 (DX) at your disposal.

I also wanted something that was still hand-holdable while offering the flexibility of a zoom. This lens weighs in at 3.500 gr and while it's indeed quite noticabe when you pick it up, it's still considered to be relatively lightweight for a professional super telephoto zoom lens due to the used materials (magnesium alloy barrel, fluorite lens elements and so on) to bring the weight down. While it's suprisingly well-balanced, aside from the weight one could also argue that it is in fact quite large as well. For me personally that is the case, considering the fact that I am used to the largest and longest lenses in my camera bag being the 70-200mm and the 80-400mm. The 180-400mm is literally twice as long (especially with the lens hood attached) and 1.000 gr heavier than either of those. On the other hand I do consider it to still be an actually relatively manageable size, taken into account that some of Nikon's biggest top prime lenses are much larger (and heavier). The 400mm f/2.8E weighs in at 3.800 gr, (the 500mm f/4E is the exception at 3.090 gr), but the 600mm f/4E (3.810 gr) and the 800mm f/5.6E (4.560 gr) definitely are heavier and larger.

Some words that are being tossed around on the internet about this lens are: "The Ultimate Telephoto Lens", "flawless & perfection", and "the Last Telephoto Lens you will ever need". Personally I like the appeal of that last one. I came across numerous professional reviews that said that (except for weight and price) optically this lens simply has no flaws. Of course that was hard to believe since I never had a chance to shoot with it before. But all those reviews are done by professionals, since this lens is way out of the price range of the majority of photographers out there (maybe except for the few occasional loaded enthousiasts or hobbyists out there). Since these people are all making money of their photography on a full time professional and daily basis, there had to be at least some truth in their words.

Specifications: fact sheet

Lens barrel (top)

Lens barrel (top)

Brand: Nikon

Full product name: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 180-400mm /f4E TC1.4 FL ED VR

Type: Zoom

Stabilisation: optical stabilisation

Lens structure (elements/groups): 27/19

Built-in TC lens elements: 8

Built-in TC lens groups: 5

Zoom (wide): 180mm

Zoom (tele): 400mm

Mount: Nikon F

Format: FX/35mm

Aperture max: f/4 (with TC: f/5.6)

Aperture min: f/32 (with TC: f/45)

Diaphragm blades: 9

Minimum Angle of View (DX-format):

Maximum Angle of View (DX-format) with built-in Teleconverter: 6°20'

Minimum Angle of View (DX-format) with built-in Teleconverter: 2°50'

Maximum Angle of View (FX-format): 13°40'

Minimum Angle of View (FX-format): 6°10'

Maximum Angle of View (FX-format) with built-in Teleconverter: 9°50'

Minimum Angle of View (FX-format) with built-in Teleconverter: 4°30'

Maximum Reproduction Ratio: 0.25x (at 400 mm), 0.36x (at 560 mm)

Minimum focus distance: 200 cm.

Focus mechanism: Auto focus (internal focus motor), Manual focus

Internal focusing: yes

Auto focus motor: SWM (Silent Wave Motor (Nikon)

IP-classification: weather sealed, splash proof, dust proof

Filter type: drop-in filter

Filter size: 40.5mm

Front element diameter: 128mm

Length: 362.5mm

Weight: 3.500 gr.

Color: black

Lens characteristics

Lenses are lenses. However small/big or cheap/expensive they may be: they do follow a universal design. They all have a lens barrel, a front and back lens element and all kinds of stuff in between. I've written down every (to me) noticable aspect of this lens in my own words.

TELECONVERTER (TC1.4x)

The main feature of this lens is most definitely the built-in TC1.4x. Nikon isn't the first to do this since Canon already has a lens out there with the same specs and TC, but that one differs from the this lens: Nikon let's you operate the TC with your right hand. This means that you don't have to take your eye and focus off the subject, increasing the chances of you missing the shot.

Every photographer out there who ever used TCs shall agree that they can come in very handy when you simply need that little extra reach without breaking the bank (or your back). Usually a TC is a separate device which you add manually. Nikon makes three main types of teleconverters: TC1.4x, TC1.7x and TC2.0x. But adding more reach automatically results in a trade-off: you'll lose stops of light. This means that your widest aperture slows when adding a TC. A TC1.4x will cost you 1 stop of light, a TC1.7x 1,5 stops and a TC2.0x diminishes light by 2 full stops. A TC1.4x f/2.8 lens will become an f/4 and with a TC2.0x even f/5.6. With wide aperture (fast) lenses that's not an issue, but you don't want to add a TC to a lens with a native aperture of, say f/5-6.3, because above a certain aperture your cameras auto focus simply stops working.

The other drawback is that you have to physically unscrew the lens from the body to put the TC in place. This will take time depending on how skilled you are, but more importantly: this is not advisable when shooting in difficult or hostile weather conditions, because it will break the weather seal of your camera/lens combo. Changing TCs might cost you so much time that chances are high that an animal won't be there anymore by the time you finish up adding it, no matter how fast you are. This means that you have to make a choice before leaving: shooting with or without it where if you choose to shoot with it, you have to add it before going out there.

The great thing about this lens is that it has this feature built-in where it can be engaged and disengaged by simply throwing a switch. This can even be done with gloves on while not needing to stop tracking your subject while doing that.

MECHANISM - Operating the built-in 1.4x teleconverter is child's play. In terms of image quality TCs tend to sometimes be good, sometimes be bad, but with this lens Nikon has the TC tailor-made for each individual lens so it won't need any calibration. It can be easily switched on and off without requiring you to take your eye of the viewfinder and losing focus of your subject. This switch can also be locked in order to not accidentally engage it in case it's not needed. All in all: this thing works like a charm and feels very well-designed and thought-through. Engaging and disengaging the TC is a smooth and subtle  and simply having this feature built-in at the ready is just super convenient.

FOCAL LENGTHS - The TC will extend the focal range at the widest apertures from its native FX values of 180-400mm f/4 to 252-560mm f/5.6. On a DX body that translates to 270-600mm f/4 without and 378-840mm f/5.6 with TC. This will be plenty enough to catch subjects that are really far away without the need to crop your image in post.

APERTURE - Just like with a regular TC using this one (1.4x) will cost you one full stop of light though. Max aperture without TC is f/4. Widest aperture with TC is f/5.6 but since it's a fixed aperture, this goes for the entire focal range.


OVERALL LOOK

I'll be brief: it simply looks professional. It's definitely a 100% high end Nikon lens.


PHYSICAL SIZE & LENGTH

It measures 128mm in diameter x 362,5mm in lenght from mount to sensor without the lens hood attached. The lens hood itself is enormous, but very lightweight and extremely sturdy.

This is definitely a long lens, especially in case you're used to the size of the 70-200mm f/2.8, like me. You will definitely notice this lens' size because it is literally twice as long (even larger when the lens hood is attached). It has that unmistakable distuingishable professional Nikon matte black look to it with the golden ring, that matches the one of the 14-24, 24-70 and 70-200mm pro line Nikon F mount lenses. Despite its looks this lens doesn't appear bulky to me.


WEIGHT

When picking it up the weight will immediately hit you though. Plain and simple, this is a big and heavy piece of equipment that definitely demands the photographer's respect. This lens alone weighs 3.500 gr. Add a camera body, grip with batteries and the lens hood and the total weight just topples 5.055 gr (yup, that's 5 kilograms). Because of its size handholding this lens is not for everybody. A sturdy enough monopod or tripod, preferably with a good gimbal, is recommended. However, if you are physically fit and/or used to these type of longer lenses, handholding it interspersed with putting it down is a viable option for strategical amounts of time.

I've walked around town with this lens and camera on a CarrySpeed shoulder strap for over 1.5 hours and although it indeed becomes heavy after a while, it is possible. However to ensure the sharpest images possible when out in the field, a tripod + gimbal will relief you of this burden and let you operate this camera and lens combo with just one finger with great ease.


BUILD QUALITY

It really is built like a tank. Like all professional NIKKOR lenses this one feels sturdy. Extremely solid. There's no slacking when turning the rubber zoom and focus rings. All switches are well-placed and won't be thrown accidentally easily. The lens barrel is made from a magnesium alloy to keep the overall weight down. It feels metallical and cold but extremely solid. It's fully weather sealed and it indeed feels like it can cope with all conditions mother nature can throw at it. Also, if I were ever to drop it for some unfortunate reason, the thing it lands on will probably sustain more damage. This lens feels like it can take both a serious splash and hit.


HANDLING

Despite the lens + camera body weighing in at approximately 5 kg it doesn't handle badly.In fact it's extremely well balanced. If you have sufficient upper body and arm strength it's definitely possible to operate the entire lens and all of its buttons without having to actually see what you're doing. Some people however will have a problem with the weight and should want to place it on a tripod. Combined with a good gimball it should be very easy to operate and probably will handle beautifully. For extra mobility a monopod will come in even more handy, but I haven't tried that yet.


ZOOMING 

It's an internal zoom, meaning: the lens barrel doesn't extend when zooming. This has a few important benefits over external zooms. 1. there isn't a shift of weight when zooming in. The lens will keep perfectly balanced at all times which is very usefull for tripod users. 2. Since there's no tube that extends and contracts no dirty or dusty air can be sucked into the lens barrel when zooming. This means two things: no chance mold will start growing inside the lens barrel in the future and it will be perfectly weather sealed at all times. 3. There also won't be any zoom creep. This lens doesn't need a separate lock to keep the lens from extending on its own from the mere movement when transporting or walking with it.

The zoom ring can be operated with just an index finger and a thumb. Zooming is smoothly and doesn't take much effort at all. It only takes about a quarter rotation to zoom in from minimum to maximum and vice versa with the proper amound of .


ZOOM & FOCUS RINGS

The zoom ring is placed at the long end. The focus ring closest to the camera. Both rings are competely weather sealed and operate smoothly but with the proper resistance to enable very fine focusing and zooming. Personally I probably would rather have seen both rings switched but I do get Nikon's choice. The brand always listens very well to its community and since this is the updated version with two predecessors (both 200-400mm versions) this has been done because of reasons.


DROP-IN FILTER

• REGULAR / STANDARD UV - This lens doesn't take screw-on filters. Those would be too big and expensive considering the fact that the front glass element measures 125mm in diameter. Instead it has a drop-in filter unit at the very back of the lens, which takes 40.5mm filters, which are a lot cheaper.

• POLARIZER - There can also be purchased a separate polarizer filter unit with an external scroll wheel to rotate the filter while it's in the lens. Putting in and taking out the filter is very easy with a spring-loaded push and turn button which locks firmly into place. The filter doesn't take other polarizers than original Nikon filters in the separate unit because of the extreme thinness that is needed for these filters to actually fit into the lens. The unit (Nikon designation CL-405) is sold separately. I bought mine from a store in Japan directly.


SWITCHES

This lens has 5 switches. From top to bottom: 1. focus mode (A/M, M/A, M), 2. focus distance (FULL / inf - 6m), 3. VR (OFF, normal, sport), 4. programmable lens buttons focus modes (AF-Lock/memory recall/AF-ON), 5. sound (ON/OFF).


LENS BUTTONS

On the lens barrel near the lens hood there are 4 focus buttons 90 degrees apart, that can be programmed to do a certain action. In the menu this action can be specified and the 4th switch on the lens controls this action.

Near the TC there's a button, called: Memory Set. This button can temporarily store and hold a certain focus distance. It works like this. You focus on a subject and press this button. The lens stores the focal range. You can now refocus anywhere you want and take other shots in the meantime. When you press the button again the lens will instantly refocus to the previously saved position. Very useful if you expect wildlife to appear in a certain spot you already focused on for example. (Pre focusing).


VR

After testing it out during two short walks near my house and a night shot taken from my balcony (more of that later in this review) I can safely draw the conclusion that the VR in this lens is simply awesome. On paper it says that it's up to 4 stops effective. I shot as low as 1/20s at 400mm with it at night, hand-held.... The proof of this is below in the paragraph 'The Night Time Church Shot', but it's safe to say that's pretty f-ing awesome.


TRIPOD COLLAR

The tripod collar is not detachable. It's fully rotatable but it lacks the 90 degree stops, which isn't a major problem but I would've been a nice touch. It is however very well placed because when attaching the shoulder strap to it, the entire lens is perfectly balanced. The tripod collar feels solid and sturdy and on its inside it has rubber padding for extra grip, which comes in handy when carrying this lens by its collar.


LENS HOOD

It's big. The hood (Nikon designation HK-41) is made from a single piece of very sturdy material, finished off with rubber rings around both edges. The screw to tighten it to the lens feels really solid, but it did some getting used to. Both 24-70mm and 70-2mm lenses from Nikon have lens hoods that have mechanism that lock into place after putting it on the lens, so it did feel a bit flimsy the very first time I used it. This feeling was gone after a week: it's as trustworthy as the rest of the lens. Tip: don't lose or break the lens hood though because a replacement will set you back a mere € 499,00(!)


FOCUS SPEED

This lens snaps into focus which is especially noticeable when tracking moving subjects in all different AF-C tracking modes. It's also focuses from near to far in under half a second which is quick for such a big lens considering the amount of glass that has to be moved. In my experience that's almost as fast as my Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL which is half its size. On top of that it's possible to speed up focusing even more by limitting focusing to 6m-∞ with the designated switch on the side. This is especially useful for subjects that are far away anyway where close focusing isn't necesary. 

However, in the first weeks of using it there seems to be a downside to this quick focusing ability as well. Because this is a bigger lens and more glass needs to be moved it burns battery power quicker. On one of my earlier strolls around town with it, it depleted the grip battery down to 57% in 1:15 hours in which I took 205 shots. My D500 is in AF-C S/D9 all the time, which means that as long as I press the AF-ON focus button it's constantly moving the lens elements around. I definitely noticed a faster battery depletion compared to shooting with my 70-200mm for a whole day.


FOCUS TRACKING

The lens helps keeping subjects in focus very well. If the subjects briefly disappears behind a tree for example, focus is quickly regained after it appears again. Of course that has to do with the camera settings as well, but this lens is very accurate and precise. If you yourself are good in tracking fast moving subjects, this lens will aid you even extra. 


IMAGE QUALITY

The images are extremely crips, with little noise (due to its large aperture), full of contrast and vibrant colours. Editing the RAWs is a joy. Background blur is even more present at longer focal lengths and f/4 is enough to completely blur out everything in the background beautifully already at 180mm. At 400mm it delivers simply stunning and unique results when shot wide open. Granted, it's not an 400mm f/2.8E, but it is already incredibly awesome to see this at those long focal lengths. And although it does dip a bit in contrast, even with the TC engaged it's still within limits.

The images simply seem to lack chromatic abberation, even shot against bright and direct light sources. There's some minor barrel distortion and slight vignetting, but nothing that can't be easily fixed in Lightroom.


BOKEH

Soft, round, amazing, with beautiful light fall-off towards the edges. Also the light source star effect is already there from quite wide apertures.

Untitled photo

Nikon D500 + Nikon 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR N


4. Comparisons & competition

Did I want this lens badly after three years of looking at it? Yes, no doubt about it. Did I need it? Three years ago? No. But at this point in my photography career that has become a yes as well. I certainly will find great use for it in the future. When looking at it from a professional business standpoint I am going to earn the investment back in the knowledge that if for some reason I ever have to sell it, it will have retained most of its value. It's fairly likely to think that it'll cost me less than I paid for it in the end.

Here's why. This lens is the replacement for the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II. That one was release in 2010 which now has a retail value of € 8.799,00. But it did drop significantly in value after this new 180-400mm came out. General rule of thumb though is that these top level lenses don't tend to drop much in value in the end. Yes, it's hard to keep up with new technology for both customers and manufactureres but in case of this lens I doubt it'll go out of style anytime soon.  

Anno October 2021 Nikon is shifting its focus towards the Z mount and has already started to phase out their Nikon F mount DSLR line. This lens is the best long range telephoto zoom lens for that older Nikon F camera mount.  Meaning the company probably won't be making much more of these ultra high quality lenses for DSLRs in the future. A new potentially (and probably even) better Z mount model won't fit on a DSLR anyway. In short: if you want (need) the best for Nikon F: this is it and it's probably going to stay that way too.

But then again: you never know. There are still a lot of pro shooters who live by DSLRs who aren't switching to mirrorless anytime soon because trading in their glass is far too costly. In light of this Nikon came up with both a new DSLR pro body (D6, which is actually rather an update D5, a D5s if you will) and a high end super fast telephoto zoom (120-300mm f/2.8E FL) in the run-up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. It's said to be the last DSLR pro body ever, but the future will show whether that is true for lenses as well.

Other same focal range Nikon lenses

From $ to $$$$: here are Nikon's options that in my opinion are directly linked to the Nikon 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR N when looking at their respective focal range. (Prices stated are as of October 2021 in €'s for a new lens).


Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E (€ 1.439,-)

This lens to me is the most important competitor in the lower price range from Nikon itself. Although it's not in my camera bag I actually did consider buying it because of the similar focal range except without being condescending to others who own and love it, I can honestly say that it's not for me. Yes, the 200-500mm is way cheaper and at the same time on paper also better than the 80-400mm. I didn't go for it though because while the image quality of this lens might be better than the 80-400mm, its handling still is not. It's also heavier and larger than the 80-400mm, it's an external zoom (meaning the weight shifts when zooming), they both require close to a full rotation of the zoom ring to completely zoom in and out and to close off: they're both f/5.6 at the long end and at that aperture both don't deliver truly tack sharp images. My copy of the 80-400mm had to be stopped down significantly to f/7.1-8 to get better image quality and while the 200-500mm's image quality is quite solid, I just don't find f/5.6 fast enough for all opportunities. In the end you buy a certain lens to have sharp images preferably on all apertures and all focal lengths and that definitely includes shooting wide open.


Nikon 300mm f/4E PF (€ 1.869,-)

While I am still very much in love with my 300mm PF, I can't go by the fact that it's not a zoom and it only goes to 300mm. In my experience when you want to properly catch sports and/or wildlife without needing to crop you simply need more reach.


Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G (€ 2.259,-)

Up until September 2021 I practically shot all my long range telephoto work with this lens. After I got the 300mm PF this lens basically got shelved. I can now conclude that I didn't had much luck with my copy of this presumably great lens. I wasn't satisfied with the results I was getting. Especially when shooting wide open at 400mm f/5.6, FX / 600mm f/5.6 DX. I bought it used but still, for the money I paid for it, it just wasn't as sharp as I expected it to be. Before I acquired the 80-400mm I also did a lot of research. I expected certain things but it just didn't deliver. Maybe I didn't give this lens enough credit, so I briefly considered buying this lens brand new just to see if there would be any differences, but in the end I didn't go for this option. It would only have cost me more money, because in the end I probably would have ended up going with the 180-400mm anyway. That would've been 2.259 Euros too many.


Nikon 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR (€ 9.449,-)

This is the newest member of Nikon's high end fast aperture zooms' portfolio. I would probably love this lens to bits as well, judging by its specs. It's a professional fast aperture zoom with a convenient 2,5x focal range. It's supposedly tack sharp with a fixed widest aperture of f/2.8. It's capable of blurring out the background even more. With this lens it's possible to frame fast moving athletes or wildlife while keeping the ISO levels even further down, allowing for fast shutter speeds and low noise. Compared to the 180-400mm it's slightly less heavy (3.250 gr.), it's smaller (304mm) and this one actually does take screw-on filters (112mm). Long story short: this is also a killer lens. But again: it only goes to 300mm. Putting a TC1.4x on it converts it a 168-420mm f/4 (FX) / 252-630mm f/4 (DX). The image quality with a TC would probably be less than tis 180-400mm's native f/4. And the final downside: the TC isn't built-in so no 'time saving while changing' here. 


Third party options

There are many third party options out there which definitely give good quality images, but to me it's also in the handling: they simply all present the same problems.  


Summary

In the end I skipped the 200-500mm altogether because of the aforementioned issues I would have with it. Taking everything into account there's only one viable option out there and that is this lens because of image quality and handling. With this lens both are simply superb along with everything else this lens has to offer. It accurately and consistently delivers tack sharp images on all focal lengths and all apertures. That's exactly what I wanted and what I needed and that's exactly what I got.

ISO720, 400mm (600mm in 35mm), f/4, 1/500s @ Nikon D500 + Nikon 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR N

At the tree line at the river side
Here the shallow depth of field on a long focal length can truly be appreciated

How I liked it

Here I will state my most important findings, again in my own words.

TELECONVERTER

The built-in TC is the prime feature of this lens. It's the first lens with a built-in TC1.4x from Nikon and it's the greatest find for photographers that love to have the ability of a TC without the hassle. It's there in an instant in case you need it. It can be engaged without the need to remove your eye from the viewfinder and lose focus of your subject. It literally saves precious time when you're in the field and feel like you might need it. The 100% weather seal of the entire camera system will not be broken at any time due to having to unscrew the lens first. No more changing a TC in a damp field or dusty desert, exposing internal camera elements to .... well, the elements and getting moisture, sand or dust in places where it shouldn't.


TC IMAGE QUALITY

Photos taken with the TC tend to be a tad softer wide open at f/5.6 and dip a little bit in contrast there as well but that's to be expected. It's a TC and it is what it is: an extra piece of glass between the lens and the camera. However since in this lens model the TC is tailor-made and fine-tuned for each indidivual lens copy, it's all very much within limit, making this lens capable of decent sharp images with the TC as well.


OPTICAL PERFORMANCE & IMAGE QUALITY

'Everybody' refers to anyone out there that has reviewed, shot with or owned this lens.  They all say the same and they are all correct. Optically speaking it simply has no flaws. It's perfect in every way and if you know what you're doing then you'll be able to grab images with this lens that are simply unobtainable with other lenses. Much of the usual problems with long range zoom lenses have been addressed admirably. Control of chromatic abberation, vignetting and distortion are on point. This lens seems to be capable of shooting in literally all lighting conditions.

The images it puts out are fantastic and unlike anything I have ever seen from any telephoto lens I know. It's offers most excellent full corner-to-corner and edge-to-edge sharpness and it's tack sharp on all apertures and all focal lengths.

Both bokeh and depth of field are stunning at wide apertures. In low light it's just astonishing to see how good it handles in terms of grabbing focus and containing noise.


VR

The VR that Nikon has put in this lens is amazing. I have tested a lot of lenses and to me it's unlike anything I've ever seen. In my opinion exactly this is what a VR should be capable of in a long range telephoto zoom lens. It's on point and does an incredible job, both while looking through the viewfinder as well as in the final image. I tested it and it enabled me to take a photo with a shutter speed as low as 1/20s! Don't believe me? I have the proof and the extraordinary story below. See: 'The night time church shot'.


WEIGHT

It won't be for everybody. You would not want to handhold this lens the entire time. If you decide to go out there without tripod or monopod, carry it with a decent shoulder strap but be ready to carry around 5 extra kg. all day long (camera + grip + lens).

For me personally: it will probably require some (light) strength training to be able to comfortably hand-hold this lens for a prolonged period of time, but my first experiences with it is that I find it managable as long as I put it down strategically. Meaning that if I am not using it, I simply put it down and don't stand around with it for too long. With this kind of lens it's not advisable to do birding without a tripod, but you probably can go hiking with it. And if not: you can always bring one along. However at this point I find it light enough to not limit its flexibility by bringing along a tripod.


PRICE

Of course for obvious reasons this lens is expensive. This is a highly specialised piece of kit but no matter how good this lens is, its price probably can't be justified by most (hobbyist) photographers out there, because for that kind of money you can also buy almost 9 Nikon 200-500mms. Then again, if you want the very best and you can afford it, there simply isn't a better option out there. When after three years of research and anticipation I came to that realisation, it quickly became a matter of saving up. As a result I now can sell my other telephoto lenses that I won't need anymore to earn back some of the investment. It's quite simple: if you know you need it, you get it.


HANDLING

Because of its great handling the images it helps me to capture are simply stunning. It's not too heavy to hand-hold without support for longer periods of time but it's not advisable to not use it. This does make it more versatile than any of the big primes (except the 500mm f/4E) because they all require a tripod and are less handholdable than this lens. I can't stress it enough: to me this lens doesn't seem to have any flaws whatsoever. Not in terms of handling and the image quality provided, which to me are the twi most important aspects. of a lens. To me this thing simply is perfect in every way. It really is the pinnacle of Nikon's long range telephoto zoom lenses.


LIGHTROOM

The standard lens designation in Lightroom is: "180.0-400.0 mm f/4.0". But when you review photos taken with the TC the lens designation changes to: "250.0-550.0 mm f/5.6". For photos taken at 560mm it keeps saying "550 mm". Nothing too serious but Lightroom does distinguish between the two states this lens can be used in. It's like in Lightroom you now have two lenses in one. This might come in handy when organising your library or searching for specific photos. I find it kind of useful to have the photos with TC separated from the rest.

The night time church shot

In the first week I had this lens I took the image below to basically test its low light performance and the VR . The subject in the image isn't particularly peculiar. Yes, it definitely is a beautiful church and it's a historically important landmark in my city, but it has been photographed a gazillion times before. What is so astonishing are the circumstances in which this photo came to be.

When you click on the image and then click on the church you'll automatically zoom in to 100%. Then you'll see for yourself how sharp and crisp and void of noise the straight-out-of-the-camera result is. Obviously I was pretty blown away by the result. And I still am.

(Article continues below the photo)

ISO5000, 400mm, f/4, 1/20s @ Nikon D500 + Nikon 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR N

The 'Grote Kerk' or La Notre Dame de Breda, Breda, The Netherlands • Night Time Church Shot (VR and low light performance test)

This scene was shot around 20:45 pm on 4 October 2021. It's obviously taken way after dawn (1)
It's taken while hand-holding 5 kg equipment without leaning into something for more stability (2)
It's shot at ISO5000! (3)
This church is 1.5 km away! (4)
The shutter speed was.... 1/20s! (5)
The RAW file was imported and exported straight away without touching anything in Lightroom (6)

...and this is the result

For comparison

The image below is taken to put in perspective how far the subject is actually away. This emphasises the fact that it's not so much an achievement from me as a photographer (okay, granted, a little bit, because I had to stand very still while holding 5 kg while looking though the viewfinder and retaining focus), but what is most remarkable is the fact that in these very difficult lighting conditions this gear enabled me to get this particular shot at such a distance at that shutter speed with that little noise!

In the past I have captured this shot many times before in all sorts of weather and lighting conditions, but the results where never this satisfying. This little story alone in itself is a simple hymn to Nikon for producing such an amazing lens because this definitely qualifies as a top level professional achievement.

ISO100, 24mm, f/2.8, 1/640s @ Nikon Z6II + Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E

For comparison: in the centre is the same church during cloudy daytime the next day


5. Real world test situations

I carried out various real world tests to display certain qualities of this lens. Here are my results and findings.

Zooming & TC

All photo are taken from the exact same spot. The first two photos are taken with a wide angle standard zoom (Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E) at both 24mm and 70mm for comparison. The next three photos are shot with the 180-400mm zoom lens to put in perspective how far away this lens can take us. The photos are not enhanced in Lightroom except for my watermark. You can play, pause and watch this slideshow in full screen mode as well.

Zooming capabilities & built-in TC quality

Photo 1: 24-70mm @ 24mm

Photo 1: 24-70mm @ 24mm

CA

Cheaper lenses often suffer from Chromatic Abberation (CA): the purple and green coloured fringes around sharp edges of objects when shooting against a bright light source. This lens doesn't seem to have that problem.

Chromatic abberation control

ISO110, 240mm, f/11, 1/500s @ Nikon D500 + Nikon 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR N

This is how well this lens controls chromatic abberation when shot against the light. There is literally none.

Close focusing & bokeh

This lens is capable of some creamy bokeh and can focus on subjects as close as 2 meters. Even with the TC engaged, this distance does not change.

Bokeh & close focusing distance demonstration

ISO125, 310mm, f/7.1, 1/500s @ Nikon D500 + Nikon 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR N

This flower was shot at the closest focus distance of this lens: 2 meters.

ISO110, 400mm, f/4, 1/800s @ Nikon D500 + Nikon 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR N

This bird is photographed through the yellowish haze of the grass around it. It's shot at wide open aperture.


6. Conclusion

Before I finalise this review I want to make a remark first. Because I do realise I'm very fortunate to have been given this opportunity to purchase this particular lens. This isn't for everyone and I got a bit lucky as well. I have no doubt it is going to serve me well in the future and because of that, it truly is a long term investment. So, did it or will it pay off? Here's my verdict.

Pros & cons

(-) CONS

There are two main reasons why this lens is not for everyone.

PRICE -  It's the most obvious thing that stares you directly in the face when looking up this lens. The price tag automatically puts it out of reach for the majority of photographers. For most people it's the sensible thing to do to not spend 4 years of college tuition money on a single camera lens. Hence, this lens is there mainly for the professionals who make a living of photography and need the best of the best gear to do their job. And of course for the  ocassional enthousiast who can afford it and is willing to pay for it.

WEIGHT - 3.500 gr isn't that heavy but it isn't particularly light either. It is a zoom lens (more glass). It's fully weather sealed and therefore built like tank. With that being said, it's as lightweight and portable as it can be for a lens with these specifications. Everything that could be done to lower the weight of the final product has been done, but for a considerable amount of photographers out there it still remains a big and heavy lens. Not everyone would want to lug around with 5 kg of kit (camera + grip + lens) for an entire day. To avoid back pains and injuries due to handheld shooting, the smart thing to do is bring along a tripod or monopod. That in turn adds to the weight of the total kit even more, but it clearly reliefs the body of the stress of having to carry that weight around the entire time when not shooting and at the same time having it at the ready.


(+) PROS

Literally everything else.

Granted, both cons are important for sure, but it's not all bad. In fact it's actually really good. Professionals who are looking for this lens, will definitely buy this lens. It will give them exactly what they need and look for in a telephoto zoom lens with no compromise to image quality and handling whatsoever. This is a very well thought-through and well-designed, high precision tool from one of world's leading photography companies. It's a true NIKKOR lens and regardless of the price: I trusted the brand that it was going to be good and they most certainly delivered.

Final verdict: is it really worth it?

I have shot with a lot of Nikon F telephoto lenses from all the major brands, both recent and old models. As far as zoom lenses are concerned none of them can match the quality of this lens. Granted: it's not as fast as the recent Nikon 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED VR or far reaching as the Sigma or Tamron zoom lenses that extend all the way up to 600mm. But on this focal range it's unbeatable.

All in all it's an incredible achievement what Nikon pulled off with the lens. Together with all of the above it's right up there at the peak of Nikon's lens engineering portfolio. Arguably only the four big primes are perhaps capable of delivering better image quality on even longer focal lenghts, but this lens has the main advantage of being a zoom. In my opinion it matches the same superior high quality. 

In fact in this particular zoom lens the very best from Nikon all comes together in a single lens. It's the entire shooting experience you'd expect from a professional lens like this. The unmatched image quality, the smooth and easy handling and the fact that it can take a serious hit and splash. I trust in the brand enought to state that this piece of kit probably is not going to let me down anytime soon. It might in the end indeed turn out to be the last super telephoto zoom lens I ever needed and if that is going to be the case... then getting this lens was the best investment I could have ever done in my photography career.

The answer to the question on top of this page is: yes, to me it's totally worth it. I will have to start exercising though, but this search quest is over: mission accomplished.

Thank you, Nikon. 


7. Photo samples

Samples galleries of the first photos I shot with this lens. 


DISCLAIMER FROM THE AUTHOR • "In this article I will solely speak from my own initial experiences. No one is paying me to say certain things about certain brands or products. This article has been created solely in my free time and I don't receive any money for it whatsoever • If you are here for numbers and stats: sorry, this will NOT be a technical review. Here you won't find laboratory experiments, precise measurements to determine its exact sharpness and focusing speed and what its DxOMark scores are, because (let me spoil it for you) a lens like this scores 10/10 on practically all fronts and there's plenty out there that already covers all that. • Instead here you can read about my first impressions with this lens and you will get to see the very first images I shot with it. All taken just casually in my own neighbourhood right outside and around my house. This also means that if you are here for awe inspiring polar bear shots: please stop reading and go do something else because you will be wasting your time, since I regrettably and unfortunately haven't travelled with it yet. • However if you want to know what I think of this lens and how my search inspired me to get it, then by all means please keep reading. I hope you enjoyed this article and be sure to reach out if you want to get in touch or just want to talk photography."


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