Today I read about the new Nikon 180-400mm f/4 E FL lens who’s price is in 5 figures ($12,999). And then I went through the specs and all fancy features which that lens is offering. But while I was reading the description of the lens, I came across a very interesting fact which I like to share.
The lens is 180-400mm f/4 constant aperture. There is also 1.4x Teleconverter built in. Now this leads to some interesting fact,
The effective focal length without 1.4x TC
A- On Full Frame: 180-400mm f/4
B- On Crop Sensor: 270-600mm f/4
The effective focal length with 1.4x TC
C- On Full Frame: 252-560mm f/5.6
D- On Crop Sensor: 378-850mm f/5.6
Now this looks like a typical boring calculation. But Point-C caught my attention. This resulting focal length and aperture is almost the same like Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E lens which is 1/10 price of this expensive lens. So quickly some question POP UP in my mind,
- Why this new lens is 10x the price of the cheap 200-500mm f/5.6E lens?
- Will it there will be performance difference between the cheap 200-500mm f/5.6 E lens vs ultra expensive 180-400mm f/4E FL lens?
The answer of the first question is simple. I believe Nikon is now virtually making 2 type of products. One is for total Pro which is expectedly expensive which comes with full blown out performance features. And then there is “lite” version of the same heavy product but with some trade off of the features but at affordable price. Best examples are D7500 which is a LITE version camera of D500. Cameras like D750 and D610 which carry the same sensor but D610 is little inferior when it comes to AF points and ISO performance unlike mighty D750.
For second question answer, Yes there will be significantly performance difference between the 2 lenses. The 200-500/5.6E will be not as fast as this Pro 180-400/4 (with 1.4x TC) when it comes to fast and bang on AF. There are not focus recall buttons of 200-500/5.6E lens. Focus recall memory button is a huge deal for the wildlife, specially bird photographers which is present on 180-400/4E FL lens but not on 200-500/5.6E . People also needs to learn that AF is not only depends on the lens but also on the camera body you uses. AF performance is the combination of both camera and lenses you used on it. Then comes the VR function. This is the point where I personally believe both lens will neck to neck. I have used 200-500/5.6E lens and its VR function is insanely damn good. I have shot at 1/20 second @500mm handheld and the image was tek-sharp. I am sure that 10x expensive 180-400/4E FL lens is no less then 200-500/5.6E when it comes to VR. As far as optics goes, 200-500/5.6E already proven itself. Now lets see how the big brother will be doing in the real life scenario.
Now last thing and most important thing, which lens shall I buy as both are serving nearly identical focal length and aperture (using 1.4x TC)? Shall I go with 200-500/5.6E Lite version? Or go full-on Pro version of 180-400mm f/4E FL lens? Answer is its up to you. Its totally depends on how deep your pockets or how much funded you are. But most importantly, does your work really ask for the Pro 180-400mm f/4E FL lens? If yes then why not. For people like me I am more then happy with 200-500mm f/5.6E lens as it is full filling all my needs. I highly recommend that lens. But yes at the same time, stand alone 180-400mm f/4E FL lens itself give you 1.4x TC flexibility which is not present in 200-500mm f/5.6E. Choice is yours.