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Lens reviews update: DxOMark data for 400mm telezooms compared

By Andy Westlake on May 29, 2013 at 13:25 GMT

DxOMark has tested two recently-announced announced long telezooms, the Sony 70-400mm F4-5.6 G SSM II and the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR, as well as the older AF Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED VR. As part of our ongoing collaboration we've added the test data to our lens comparison widget, and to add a little more context we've also included a couple of super-tele primes from Canon. Click the links below to see how these lenses compare, with links to view the results in our lens widget, and for the full data on DxOMark. As always, the lens data can be freely explored using our unique comparison widget.

Old and new Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 lenses compared 

As you might hope for a replacement for a lens that's over a decade old, the AF-S Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G ED VR clearly outshines it predecessor. It performs better in practically every respect - it's distinctly sharper, especially wide open at the long end, and has much lower distortion and chromatic aberration. Click on the links below to explore the test data in our data comparison widget, on both DX and FX format cameras (D7000 and D800):

AF-S Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR vs AF Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED VR on D7000

On full frame, the improvement in the new lens's distortion characteristics is especially apparent. The old model showed pretty extreme barrel distortion at wideangle and pincushion distortion at telephoto - the new version is far better behaved in this respect. 

AF-S Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR vs AF Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED VR on D800

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR vs Sony 70-400mm F4-5.6 G SSM II

The comparison between the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR and the Sony 70-400mm F4-5.6 G SSM II is also rather interesting. Despite the Sony being tested on lower resolution bodies (the 14MP A380 vs the 16MP D7000 for APS-C, and the 24MP A900 vs the 36MP D800 for full frame), which in principle should place it at a disadvantage in these system tests, it measures up very well indeed.

On DX/APS-C format, the Sony compares very favourably to the Nikon. The former is a touch sharper wide open at the short end, but the Sony pulls well ahead for sharpness at 400mm F5.6. In other respects the two lenses run pretty well neck-and-neck.     

AF-S Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR vs Sony 70-400mm F4-5.6 G SSM II on APS-C 

The Sony's sharpness at telephoto results in an interesting comparison on full frame. We'd expect the fact that the Nikon is being tested on the 36MP D800 to give higher numbers here (as we're testing the lens in combination with the camera's sensor). But while the Nikon system is again sharper wide open at the short end, at telephoto the Sony system is a very close match indeed.

AF-S Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR vs Sony 70-400mm F4-5.6 G SSM II on full frame

Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM and Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM 

To give a couple more reference points for comparison, we've also added test data for two of Canon's super-telephoto primes, the EF 300mm f/2.8 L IS II USM and its bigger brother the EF 400mm f/2.8 L IS II USM. The former in particular is considered pretty well state-of-the-art; few lenses perform better.

 Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM vs Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM

Full lens test results on DxOMark

Our lens test data is produced in collaboration with DxOMark. Click the links below to explore the full lens test data on the DxOMark website. 

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Comments

Total comments: 19
Photo Pete
By Photo Pete (11 months ago)

Anyone else find the body / lens test results totally flawed. Too many variables and potential problems with camera performance to make meaningful comparison of lens performance useful.

Please just test the lens without introducing other factors which could vary between samples.

1 upvote
MarkInSF
By MarkInSF (11 months ago)

It's not great for those of us who just want simple scores, but for people who own those bodies, it's very useful. Or if having such a lens is important to you and you want to buy a body that pairs well with a lens. In any case, the Sony is impressive. Very much unexpected.

0 upvotes
mick232
By mick232 (11 months ago)

Ok, please tell us then how you want to test a lens without a camera.

0 upvotes
klw10
By klw10 (11 months ago)

The results of the Sony lens are not unexpected for those of us who have used the first version of that lens. The first version was very impressive.

0 upvotes
Der Steppenwolf
By Der Steppenwolf (11 months ago)

Ther is a typo in article:
Under pic number 3 it says: " Despite the Sony being tested on lower resolution bodies (the 14MP A380 vs the 18MP D7000 for APS-C, and the 24MP A900 vs the 36MP D800 for full frame), which in principle should place it at a disadvantage in these system tests, it measures up very well indeed."

D7000 has 16MP not 18.

0 upvotes
Rooru S
By Rooru S (11 months ago)

Why the a900??? You should be using a recent model like the a99

2 upvotes
oklaphotog
By oklaphotog (11 months ago)

Both cams are 24mp, so aside from slight differences from the AA filter, they should be pretty comparable.

0 upvotes
SHood
By SHood (11 months ago)

Then how can the difference between the A380 and A580 sharpness results be explained. According to DXO the A380 has twice as much detail vs the A580 even though the A580 has a couple more MP.

2 upvotes
TrojMacReady
By TrojMacReady (11 months ago)

Electronic first curtain and microlenses can make a difference too. Just look at the 5DMKII and MKIII. Tiny difference in sensor resolution, quite a big difference in measured resolution.

1 upvote
Plastek
By Plastek (11 months ago)

Different question - why D800 instead of D600? This would make results by far more comparable.

SHood - Well, everyone who used both cameras know that this result from DXO is pure BS. Sadly they are far from being flawless.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Greg VdB
By Greg VdB (11 months ago)

Not entirely sure as to why DPR threw the much more expensive Canon primes into the mix, other than the fact that the 100-400 L still has to be tested... (listed as will-be-tested-in-May on DxO, but that goes for a lot of lenses)

Maybe even more interesting for people (esp those already dedicated to one body system or the other) will be the test of the image-stabilized Sigma 50-500mm. Keep'em coming DxO and DPR ;-)

1 upvote
Lonnie Utah
By Lonnie Utah (11 months ago)

I'm not sure that using the 5 year old Sony A900 vs the Nikon D800 is a fair comparison. Why not use the A99?

6 upvotes
steelhead3
By steelhead3 (11 months ago)

Owning the super sharp Sony; I think Nikon shooters will be very happy with the new 80/400. It measures up nicely. I still have a problem with dxo testing data though.

1 upvote
SHood
By SHood (11 months ago)

Something doesn't seem right with the body comparison. When I go to the DxoMark site and pick the A580 body, the result with this lens is a lot worse than with the A380 body. This puts the whole body comparison results into question.

Comment edited 12 minutes after posting
1 upvote
makofoto
By makofoto (11 months ago)

And an interesting comparison would have been the Canon 300 mm f4.0 ... a more affordable alternative

1 upvote
CarVac
By CarVac (11 months ago)

And 400/5.6.

1 upvote
makofoto
By makofoto (11 months ago)

Why wouldn't the include the Canon 100/400 zoom in the same test ?!

1 upvote
Joesiv
By Joesiv (11 months ago)

And the 200-400mm and sigmas?

Comment edited 20 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
SHood
By SHood (11 months ago)

Probably waiting for the replacement this fall.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 19