It’s been a year since Nikon has expanded with the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4. This huge zoom is the first telephoto lens in the Nikkor collection with a built-in 1.4x teleconverter. Some might even consider it to be a dream lens. As one of the largest lenses perfect for outdoor and wildlife, expectations are high. Can the lens capture wildlife with precision and sharpness? Let’s break down the features and special qualities this lens has to offer.
Design and Features
Just the fact that this lens’ focal range is between 180-400mm, means it’s not small whatsoever. Even outdoors, you’ll probably get the attention of animals as you walk around with such an enormous object. It measures at 14.2 inches long with a maximum diameter of five inches.
With that, be ready for the weight that comes with it. Due to its long range and high quality, this lens weighs 7.7 pounds, so hand-holding will get tiring. This lens consists of three long telephoto lenses: a 200, 300, and 400mm with a built-in teleconverter switch on the right side of the lens. This can be accessed easily without letting go of your camera. Once the converter is activated, you have a 500-560mm range.
Located on the left side of the lens are the switches for autofocus/manual focus, image stabilization, setting range, and settings for four preselection programmable buttons.
When it comes to professional lenses like this one, you can expect it to have every seal and fluorine coating on the front lens. Though it’s large, this lens actually more compact and lightweight compared to other telephoto lenses. The length of the lens never increases, even when you zoom or are using the teleconverter. Due to the size of the lens, filters 40.5mm filters can be used in a slot at the back of the lens instead of the front.
Image Quality and Performance
Zoom and Focus
This lens covers 180-400m, without the 1.4X teleconverter, at a consistent f/4 aperture. You can easily adjust your zoom with a ¼ turn of the zoom ring; this is much quicker than the Nikon 200-500mm. The zoom range is ideal for wildlife photographers looking to capture medium to large-sized animals at a close range but falls short when it comes to portraits of predators. If you are looking to get a closer look, the 1.4X teleconverter comes in handy. This enhances the zoom into a 250-550mm lens with an aperture of f/5.6.
The autofocus of the lens is incredibly fast which is perfect for this type of lens and price. It’s faster than the Nikon 200-400mm and 600mm lenses.
Sharpness and Aperture
At an aperture at f/4, the image quality is great and remains sharp throughout all the zoom ranges. Once you activate the teleconverter, the lens gets softer and vignetting becomes noticeable. Regardless of this, the image is usually sharp with incredible contrast. Flare and ghosting are not visible most of the time.
How Does the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 Compare?
|Nikon AF-S Nikkor 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED||Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 ED VR SWM IF|
|Focal Length||180-400mm and 250-550mm||200-500mm|
|Min. Focal Distance||2m||2.2m|
|Filter||Circular polarizing filter||95mm filter thread|
Even with its excellent features and crisp image, this lens isn’t for everyone due to its high cost. Depending on your job and if you have the money though, it can be worth it. A cheaper alternative is the Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6, which is just as great but doesn’t work at the same speed.
As mentioned in the beginning, some might consider the 180-400mm a dream lens, but this dream lens comes with a price. An expensive price. The lens usually sells at $12,000, which is a huge investment, though with it’s many advantages, this lens is worth the price tag. Whether you use it for wildlife photography or take it to a sports event, the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 will capture amazing photos every time.