Nikon AF-S 500mm f/4E FL ED VR review

The Nikon AF-S 500mm f/4E FL ED VR is a top-end super-tele that sheds some weight

5 Star Rating
Nikon AF-S 500mm f/4E FL ED VR
(Image: © Nikon)

Digital Camera World Verdict

Compared with the previous edition of this lens, the replacement of two optical elements with fluorite glass gives a significant saving in weight. Build quality is top-drawer, catering to the demands of professional action, sports and wildlife photographers. Overall performance and image quality are epic in every way, but there’s no getting away from the eye-watering price tag. The Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports is almost as good and only costs around half the money, while the Nikon AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR is less than half the weight.


  • +

    Excellent build quality

  • +

    High-end feature set

  • +

    Superb performance


  • -

    Lighter but still heavy

  • -

    Very expensive to buy

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The Nikon AF-S 500mm f/4E FL ED VR is one of a number of top-end super-telephoto primes to get a ‘fluorite’ makeover, along with the AF-S 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR, AF-S 600mm f/4E FL ED VR and AF-S 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR. They’re all fully professional-grade lenses with a tough, weather-sealed magnesium alloy build, carbon fiber hoods and come in sturdy hard cases. They’re ideally suited to action sports and wildlife photography.


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Matthew Richards

Matthew Richards is a photographer and journalist who has spent years using and reviewing all manner of photo gear. He is Digital Camera World's principal lens reviewer – and has tested more primes and zooms than most people have had hot dinners! 

His expertise with equipment doesn’t end there, though. He is also an encyclopedia  when it comes to all manner of cameras, camera holsters and bags, flashguns, tripods and heads, printers, papers and inks, and just about anything imaging-related. 

In an earlier life he was a broadcast engineer at the BBC, as well as a former editor of PC Guide.