Summary: shooting kids action sports requires a lens that is capable of a wide range of zoom lengths with good optics. The Nikkor 80-400mm looked like the perfect lens. Granted the f/stop range was rather limited and it does not lend itself to low light photography but with most of the sports I shoot being during the day I accepted that limitation. When the lens arrived I was excited to try it out. Almost from the very moment I pressed the shutter I was disappointed.
Summary: This lens drives me crazy. One of the best Nikkors ever made, optically speaking, but one of the worst when it comes to its mechanical construction. This lens is so weak that it's hard to see a week expire without seeing one on eBay that's broken at the mounting flange. That's because all of its weigth is supported by just four thin "ears" on the internal tube, where the mounting screws are fastened.
Summary: The first one of these I recieved locked up and would not work. After some research and persisitence I returned it and it was quickly replaced with a new one. Excellent support and responce. I was very happy. The one I got and have kept works well--- except if you are zoomed all the way in to 400mm it will not auto focus. If you back out just a touch say 398mm it works fine. Why??? I don't know. I did not not want to go through returning it a second time .
Slow to focus and it hunts a lot, but a sound lens
30 July 2010
Summary: The first one I had did not focus well at all. After two trips to the Nikon repair station and a letter to the president of Nikon USA, Nikon replaced the lens. The replacement has produced several fine images. That said, I have found that it is slow to focus and intermittently, it hunts when it focuses.
Summary: I use this for bird photography and find I can get tack sharp images if I first shoot the bird, have it stuffed, glue it securely to a branch, and then use another lens for the shot. Seriously, it's not that bad, but due to the optics and very slow autofocus it is challenging for wildlife. Nevertheless, I have obtained some excellent pics with it. And given the price, I do feel it is worth it for those unable to afford Nikon's pricier glass.
Pros: Durable, Easily Interchangeable, Lightweight, Rugged, Strong Construction
Summary: When the D300 came out I thought I'd finally switch entirely back to Nikon from Canon because I like the newer Nikon bodies so much. I also have a D3. One of my most used Canon lenses is the 100-400mm L IS that I use largely for aircraft in flight. In order to have an equivalent Nikon lens I bought the Nikon 80-400 VR. The first sample was so soft at the edges at longer focal lengths that I returned it for another one.
Summary: Clarity of lens is top notch. The lens is a little heavy but comfortable. The problem is the tripod mounting system. It can't be used with the VR. Results are better with a monopod but still marginal.