Nikkor AF 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 ED VR D - Review / Lab Test Report - Analysis
Lens Reviews - Nikon / Nikkor (APS-C)
Article Index
Introduction
Analysis

Distortion

The AF 80-400mm has a 5x zoom ratio but Nikon managed to keep distortion quite well under control. At 80mm there's a moderate degree of barrel distortion (0.8%) changing to a similar amount of pincushion distortion at the long end of the zoom range. At 200mm the lens is basically free of distortion.

80mm:

200mm:

300mm:

400mm:

The chart above has a real-world size of about 120x80cm.

Vignetting

The AF 80-400mm VR is a full frame lens so on an APS-C DSLR it can take advantage of a sweet spot effect and it shows - the lens is basically free of vignetting in this scope.

MTF (resolution)

In the MTF lab the lens wasn't quite able to match the resolution of the 10mp sensor of the D200 but in the 100-300mm range the quality is on a very good level both in the center as well as at the borders of the image field. Unfortunately there's a quite pronounced deterioration at 400mm setting at wide-open aperture. The center is still very decent here but there's a very pronounced drop towards the borders which are a little on the soft side here. The contrast level seems also reduced here (not formally tested). It's a good idea to stop down a little so the borders can catch in performance again.

Below is a simplified summary of the formal findings. The chart shows line widths per picture height (LW/PH) which can be taken as a measure for sharpness. If you want to know more about the MTF50 figures you may check out the corresponding Imatest Explanations

Chromatic Aberrations (CAs)

Chromatic aberrations (color shadows at harsh contrast transitions) are relatively pronounced specifically at the 80mm setting at "large" aperture settings where the issues exceeds an average CA width of 2px at the image borders. However, CAs are relatively well under control from 200mm till 300mm but they're on the rise again at 400mm.

Verdict

The Nikkor AF 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED VR is a decent performer but it also comes with a few glitches. Optically the lens shows a very good but not exceptional resolution characteristic except at 400mm at wide-open aperture where the borders could be a little better. Vignetting is basically non-existing on an APS-C DSLR and the level of distortions is quite low. CAs are an issue at 80mm and 400mm, less so in between Generally the build quality is pretty good but regarding the price class of the lens Nikon should have used a little less plastic and a better tripod collar. The AF performance is acceptable on the D200 but don't expect it to be a speed daemon in this respect.

Optical Quality:    
Mechanical Quality:
Price/Performance:
      
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