Nikkon 400mm f/2.8 FL ED (A Dream Lens)

Started Aug 12, 2019 | User reviews thread
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John Koerner
John Koerner Contributing Member • Posts: 664
Nikkon 400mm f/2.8 FL ED (A Dream Lens)

I have owned this lens for several months now. It is a terrific tool, made all the more so by the fact it is sharpest wide-open.

The cool thing is, because I have my D850 glued to it, the 47mpx of the camera lets me crop-in to a 600mm DX-equivalent reach, if need be. Therefore, it is almost 2 ultra-special lenses in one.

A lot of people ask me, “Why didn’t you just go with the 600mm?” My reason is critical: MTF values.

The 400mm FL ED is not only a sharper lens than the 600mm, period, but its peak sharpness values are @ f/2.8 to f/4 , not when stopped way down to f/8. The 600mm, by contrast, has peak sharpness values @ f/8 , where I would never bother to shoot at with a lens this expensive.

Because the 400mm FL ED is sharper @ f/2.8 than the 600mm is anywhere, and most especially wide-open, to f/4, this translates to more light + more speed + more beautiful blurred backgrounds, all the while enjoying über sharpness and top-notch auto-focus. The 400 FL ED also takes tele-converters better than any other super telephoto.

While my 800mm FL ED beats them all at long distances, there are times when this extreme focal length is "too much" for closer as well as bigger targets. Together, these two Nikkor super-telephoto lenses make the finest wildlife duo team money can buy.

However, if I had to choose just one lens to deploy, by itself, the 400mm FL ED would be it. The 400mm FL ED's exquisite sharpness wide-open, its sublime rendering, its seamless handling of TCs (for extra reach), when added, losing nothing in AF performance, combined with its subject isolation, make this the overall best, most versatile "single" super-telephoto lens on the planet 😎

Please enjoy these sample images (on both the D500 as well as the D850):

On D500 (~600mm):

American Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)

California Wild Rose (Rosa californica)

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)

Anna's Hummingbird ♀ (Calypte anna)

California Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma californica)

On D500 + 1.4 TC (~840mm):

Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)

California Thrasher (Toxostoma redivivum)

On D500 + 2x TC (~1200mm):

Side-Blotched Lizard ♂ (Uta stansburiana)

Gambel's Quail ♂ (Callipepla gambelii)

On D850:

Tree Swallow ♂ (Tachycineta bicolor)


 John Koerner's gear list:John Koerner's gear list
Nikon D500 Nikon D5 Nikon D850 Nikon Z7 Nikon Z6 +19 more
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR
Telephoto prime lens • Nikon F (FX) • 2217
Announced: May 14, 2014
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Nikon AF-S Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Nikon D500 Nikon D850
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