Really impressed with the new 80-400!!
I know my opinion expressed in this post probably does not add much value - as I cannot post pictures taken with the lens (to respect the privacy of all the school kids whose pictures I took) - however providing it anyway. I received the lens yesterday - I tried a few shots in the backyard yesterday & tested against the old 80-400, 70-200 f/2.8 VR II + TC 17E II - and found them good but was definitely not wowed with the bokeh, etc. But today I had a chance to use it for a school cultural program. I had taken D800 and 3 lenses in the bag - 70-200 f/2.8 VR II, 24-70 f/2.8 and the new AF-S 80-400. A quick check from found that the 70-200 would just not give me enough distance from my position behind the chairs and the 80-400 was just ideal to get wide enough to cover the stage as well as zoom in on individual performers. Stage was outdoors (with harsh sun backlight) & found that everyone had problems getting the picture due to this. Out came the SB-600 that I had in my bag - and what ensued were just fabulous shots - particularly the backlight on each performer's hair + lighting up the faces with the SB-600 - but above all both the clarity & bokeh of the 80-400 was just outstanding (probably better than my 70-200 VR II). Only regret - I wish I had the SB-910 instead for faster flash recycle as well as more power. Also second regret - while I managed to get the best pictures for the last girl's dance (I had gotten a bit better used to the 80-400 VR) - the pictures of my 2 boy's dance (and the boys in their group) were not as outstanding (due to the fast dance and the slow flash recycle). That's a little unfortunate because my wife had directed the boy's group dance (14 boys) and it was a fantastic performance. However I guess we will have plenty of goodwill sharing the pictures with the other parents (most of whom had asked me before to take pictures of their kids as well if possible) - and of course a lot more to my wife for actually making the dance happen and for a great direction for the dance.
But one thing I should emphasize the lens looks like a real winner (though may take a bit of a learning curve for the best picture quality).