Announced just in time for the 2018 Winter Olympics, the Nikon 180-400mm F4E TC1.4 FL VR has a built in 1.4x teleconverter - when engaged it provides a 252-560mm focal range with an F5.6 max aperture. Similar in design to Canon’s EF 200-400mm F4L IS USM Extender 1.4x, we expect this $12,000 lens to mostly find its way into the hands of working sports, action and wildlife photographers.

Though we at DPReview are none of the above, we also weren’t going to pass up an opportunity to give it a try. An exhibition soccer (football) match between two local Seattle colleges provided the perfect chance to shoot with it mounted on the Nikon D5.

Set up at the midfield line, the 180-400mm range was enough to effectively cover most game play. But the extra bit of reached provided by the teleconverter allowed me to occasionally punch in on the action when I felt comfortable. And engaging the teleconverter is as simple as flipping a switch near its base - a satisfying quiet ‘thunk’ sound lets you know it’s in place. By halftime, I'd mastered the art of flipping it on and off with my eye to the finder.

Weighing about 9 pounds, a monopod is a must when using this lens.
ISO 560 | 1/1000 sec | F4 | 180mm

As you might hope from a camera and lens combination costing almost $20,000, the autofocus hit-rate from the soccer match was nearly perfect. A majority of the images were shot with the camera set to its Auto area mode, which for the most part locked on to my intended subject.

Once back in the office, with the images up on a computer, I was impressed by the lens's sharpness, even with the teleconverter engaged. And though there is some pretty heavy vignetting when the teleconverter is used, it can easily be corrected in post (we chose not to for the purposes of this gallery). Of course one soccer match is hardly enough time spent with Nikon's 180-400mm F4 to truly test and appreciate what it is capable of. Fortunately we have a little more time with it and the weather in Seattle is just starting to get nice. So stay tuned for more samples, to be posted soon.

See our Nikon 180-400mm F4E TC1.4 FL VR galleryNote: We ordinarily try to keep sample photos in our lens galleries at ISO 800 or below, however we've included some higher ISO images shot during the match after the sunset. No noise reduction was applied to these images beyond ACR default.