Nikon AF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR review

The revitalized Nikon AF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR is much mightier than its predecessor

Nikon AF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR
(Image: © Nikon)

Digital Camera World Verdict

This pro-grade Nikon super-telephoto zoom is a massively improved over the original ‘AF’ lens which had dreadfully slow autofocus and relatively ineffective optical stabilization. The ‘AF-S’ edition puts that to rights with speedy ring-type ultrasonic autofocus and 4-stop VR. However, its telephoto reach is a little limited by the latest standards and it’s very pricey to buy. On balance we prefer the much less expensive Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR.


  • +

    Solid build quality

  • +

    Not overly weighty

  • +

    Very good performance


  • -

    Not a constant-aperture zoom

  • -

    A little lacking in reach

  • -

    Pricey to buy

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The Nikon AF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR represents a major redesign. The original edition was Nikon’s first ever lens to feature ‘Vibration Reduction’. The stabilizer only had a 2-stop effectiveness, although it did feature switchable full-time and exposure-only modes, both of which had automatic panning detection.

A problem with the original lens was that it had no internal autofocus motor and AF drive from in-camera motors was painfully slow. It was a limiting factor in the lens’s performance for action sports and wildlife photography, for which the zoom range was ideal. This revamped ‘AF-S’ edition comes with a raft of updates.

Read more: The best telephoto lenses

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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.