Nikon Announces 180-400mm f/4 VR Lens

Nikon Announces 180-400mm f/4 VR Lens

Today at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nikon announced their newest lens: the AF-S Nikkor 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR super-telephoto. But what makes it worth its $12,396.95 price tag?

This new lens features Nikon's freshest technology: a built-in teleconverter. Like the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4 L, the Nikkor 180-400mm will be able to extend its focal range to a whopping 252-560mm f/5.6 on a full-frame camera. On a DX camera this lens' focal length is equivalent to 270-600mm f/4, with a 378-840mm focal range and f/4 aperture equivalent once the teleconverter switch is flipped.

As stated in Nikon's press release, the new lens uses a fluorite element "which contributes to improved balance while minimizing weight." Additionally, Nikon outfitted the 180-400mm with a "new ball-bearing tripod collar ring to create a seamless transition from shooting horizontal to vertical compositions."

Compare the 180-400mm to the older Nikon 200-400mm, and you'll notice it has double the amount of ED elements; eight to be exact. ED elements help reduce chromatic aberration, or color fringing, when taking a picture, and increase a lens' sharpness.

So who is this lens for? If the price tag doesn't give it away, I could realistically see professional nature and sports photographers adding this to their camera bag. It's perfect for a photographer who can set up a spot and stick to it for a while, as its 7.7 pounds weight might slow down someone on the go.

Before purchasing, it might be important to consider buying the lighter Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 at just a fraction of the cost ($1,396.95). If you value portability and slightly more natural reach, you may opt for the 200-500mm, but keep in mind you'll also loose a stop of light.

The Nikkor 180-400mm f/4 is set to release in March 2018. Once photographers get their hands on it, I'm curious to see how its quality competes with older models and with models from competing companies.

Log in or register to post comments

53 Comments

Brian Pernicone's picture

Sports journalists and nature photographers who have $12K lying around would probably be better served putting $11k in an IRA and picking up the Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6.

This lens sounds great, but the ROI doesn't seem to be there for the target user.

Tim Behuniak's picture

hahaha I agree. This lens targets a very specific user group. I'm curious to see if Nikon even sells enough to justify the production of this lens. Most semi-pro or serious amateur photographers will have to mortgage their house or sell their car to purchase this one.

Brian Pernicone's picture

A field test of the two lenses would be interesting. I'm curious if there's an appreciable difference that could possibly justify the cost.

Tim Behuniak's picture

I totally agree. I'm thinking there must be. With double the amount of ED elements and that integrated teleconverter, it might end up worth it. I'd love to test one and and see for myself!

Mortgage seems to be the better solution as they may need their car to lug this thing around ;-)

Tim Behuniak's picture

hahaha didn't think of that one - you're probably right! :)

I'm not sure the target user gives a damn about ROI. :-/

I think ROI for this lens is in lens rentals :)

Tim Behuniak's picture

Good point. But think ... how much will it cost just to rent a $12,000 lens? Plus insurance? Might end up coming close to the original cost.

I recently rented a $2400 lens for $59 for six days. That works out to a little over $300 for this lens. Admittedly, I got a good deal but still...

Tim Behuniak's picture

Oh, that's awesome! I've honestly only rented a lens once, but it was a $400 lens a few years back. I wasn't too sure how the prices were nowadays. I think you got a sweet deal, and renting this definitely wouldn't be too too bad! :)

It seems the rule of the thumb for rental prices - lens price/30.

Tim Behuniak's picture

Very good to know for future reference! Thank you for sharing!! :)

Jozef Povazan's picture

In Vancouver we can rent a lens of similar quality aka 400f2.8 for $160 CAD for 3 days Friday, Sat,Sun so I do not see a reason to buy beast like this unless your work allows you to make $$$ and have it paid back within first month of buying it... here is coupe rental prices for super telelenses in local store :) these are single day prices and weekend counts as 1 day rental :) great for sport events...

Motti Bembaron's picture

Well said. However, the sad reality is that there are many with mixed up priorities.

That's probably true but they might question your priorities as well. Just sayin'.

Motti Bembaron's picture

I for one, could not imagine question one's planning for the future (the actual planning not the methods). But hey, we are all different :-).

Tim Behuniak's picture

Not sure what you mean here, Motti. Care to elaborate?

Motti Bembaron's picture

Brian said that smart photographers will buy Nikon's cheaper version and will be left with $11k for their retirement savings. I agree, that's what I would do (and do). However, some have different priorities. Or lots of cash to burn.

Photo Kaz's picture

I have the 200-500 and shoot it on my D810. It's a great lens, amazing for the price actually. I wouldn't say it's super sharp at 500mm though. Very good through 400mm especially stopped down a little. While I agree that the 180-400 carries a steep price jump, the stop of light, increased focal length, and potentially increased image quality would justify the cost. Same thing for any exotics, expensive but unparalleled in quality.

Hmmm...I used the Nikkor 200-500mm 5.6 on a Nikon D500 and Nikon D850 as well. Yes, it is not bad and sharp (except on the long end). But...the Autofocus is really, really slow. I personally don't like it. And the 5.6 is another issue, I take most of my Wildlife shots early morning or later evening. At low light. Cranking up the ISO is what I don't like as I hate noise in my pictures. A 4.0 makes a difference. This I can say. So I will add the Nikkor 180-400mm 4.0 to my Nikkor 600mm 4.0 FL. That is the ideal setting in my opinion. And you know what? For me this lens is a deal here in Shanghai. Why? Because I get it for 62.5k RMB what is roughly 9.8k USD. What means about 2.5k USD cheaper than in US.

Simon Patterson's picture

I'm tipping the IQ will be incredible. At that price, it would want to be.

Tim Behuniak's picture

At this price, everything better be incredible.

Simon Patterson's picture

True. The one thing we know about this lens already *is* incredible - the price! So they've made a promising start...😉

Tim Behuniak's picture

And the weight! My D800 + 70-200 is about 6 pounds altogether. I keep trying to imagine the weight of my D800 + the 180-400!!! Woo!

Simon Patterson's picture

Good point! When I saw the price in your first paragraph, I thought "they must have created a super light and small form factor, with fresnel lenses or something". Nope - the lens alone is 7.7lb!

That's double your 70-200 and over 50% more than my Tamron 150-600. So I guess we can say the weight is incredible, too...still an incredible lens in every way, with the available information! 😂

Tim Behuniak's picture

hahahaha it'd be funny to do a side-by-side comparison in terms of physicality .... this lens could eat both of our lenses, and still have room for more :)

Simon Patterson's picture

Lol, so true; that is a very funny thought! If you do get ahold of one for review on Fstoppers, make sure you also mention the cost of your chiropractor's bill after you try hand-holding it on your d800! 😀

Tim Behuniak's picture

Hahaha and the cost of the gigantic Advil bottle xD

Photo Kaz's picture

double your 70-200 and double the focal length, seems to follow. More than Tamron but faster so requires bigger glass. Fair again.

More comments