Today Nikon announced an update to their popular 80-400 f4.5-5.6 zoom lens. The lens was over a decade old and until today was one of the oldest designed lenses in their range. The old lens was the first to have Nikon’s VR (Vibration Reduction) image stabilisation technology but had a “screw” driven focusing system design as the AFS technology (whereby the motor is built into the lens) hadn’t been introduced at the time. Canon are the only manufacturer who have always had built-in motors in their lenses since day one but this was at the sacrifice to the previous manual focus FD mount; every other manufacture maintained their previous mount and went with a focus motor built into the body often referred to as a “screw drive” AF system.
The new lens was announced today and should be available early April. Along with the latest AFS technology, the camera comes with the latest VR technology and an improved optical design, this is a nice lens when the 200-400 f4 lens is out the price range or too big/heavy. Only a ludicrous SRP US Dollar (Recommended Retail) price is available at the moment so it is unknown what the UK price is going to be , the only thing for sure is that it will be more than the current 80-400’s price; currently £1240 on WEX Photographic. Full details of the lens can be found on Nikon’s website and DPReview have the press release with an editors opinion on the lens here. Another unknown (at this time) is whether the tripod ring is a better design than the previous lens; apparently it was not very stable.
A couple of weeks ago, Sony updated their 80-400 lens too. The previous design was already a very good lens design as it isn’t very old; this already had a built-in focus motor for example. The new design changes the awful silver design (what were they smoking when they went with silver?) to a white one that better matches their telephoto lenses. Both the old and new lenses have a slightly faster variable aperture of f4-5.6.
This lens is slightly faster than the Nikon model but does not have any image stabilisation technology built in; Sony are using a sensor based stabilisation technology instead so the lenses do not need it; they call this technology – Optical Steady Shot (OSS). DPReview have also posted a few details about this lens here. The lens should be available in May for £1800, it can already be pre-ordered from WEX here; as with all new introductions, this costs more than the current model- £1400, this is currently out-of-stock at WEX Photographic (here) which is unsurprising because of the replacement, but you need to find another £400!
So in the space of two weeks, both Sony and Nikon have updated their 80-400 zoom lenses. They have similar features with the latest technologies in them. Canon have their version with a slightly different focal range of 100-400 but also has IS optical stabilisation and the same variable aperture of f4.5-5.6 too and like the Nikon is one of Canon’s oldest lenses in the range. I have blogged about this lens before (here) and suffice to say I would love for Canon to release a much overdue update to this lens too. The new model would hopefully ditch the push-pull design which most users (or in my case a prospective user) do not like, have the latest IS technology and an improved (consistent) optical design too. The only problem is that when Canon do release this it will probably almost double the current model’s price; currently £1189 on WEX . The icing on the cake would be if they could match the Sony with their faster variable aperture of f4-5.6.