Nikon's new 180-400mm f/4 lens gets a built-in 1.4x teleconverter

AF-S 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR

While some had hoped we might see a D5S at CES, Nikon has taken the wraps of a new professional level FX-format lens - the AF-S 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR super-telephoto zoom lens.

Replacing the AF-S 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II, the new optic borrows an idea from Canon's EF 200-400mm f/4 L IS USM lens and sports a built-in 1.4x teleconverter and allows photographers to seamlessly swap to a 252-560mm (FX-format) focal range. 

Decreasing the maximum aperture from f/4 to f/5.6, the teleconverter is engaged at the flick of a switch, and Nikon reckons it can be easily operated with a single finger while looking through the viewfinder. 

If you're intending to pair the AF-S 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR with a Nikon D500 or another DX-format DSLR, the focal length is the equivalent of 270-600mm. Engage the teleconverter and the focal range stretches to a staggering 378-840mm. 

The lens has been designed to appeal to photographers shooting sports and wildlife, promising to deliver astounding speed and clarity. 

The new lens features an electromagnetic diaphragm, which has been designed to help create smooth and consistent exposures while shooting high-speed bursts of images. 

With the lens likely to be used a lot with fast moving subjects, the AF tracking algorithm controlling the motor drive has been enhanced, which should increase tracking performance when tasked with keeping up with fast moving subjects. 

For Nikon D500, D850 and D5 users who have the luxury of Nikon’s advanced 153-point AF system, the outer row of AF points are activated as cross-type sensors to significantly enhance the AF coverage throughout the frame.

Improved handling

The AF-S 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR uses a fluorite element, which should deliver improved balance while at the same time minimizing weight. The lens also features a new ball-bearing tripod collar ring that is designed to create a seamless transition from shooting horizontal to vertical composition. 

The VR (Vibration Reduction) anti-shake mechanism offers a normal and sports mode, with up to four stops of compensation to help create sharp images.    

As you'd expect for a lens of this calibre, the construction includes the use of durable magnesium alloy, while the lens is also sealed against dust and moisture. A fluorine coating is also used to help repel water droplets and dirt.

The AF-S 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR lens will be available in March 2018 for a suggested retail price of $12,399.54/£10,999 (Australian pricing to be confirmed). 

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Phil Hall

Phil Hall is an experienced writer and editor having worked on some of the largest photography magazines in the UK, and now edit the photography channel of TechRadar, the UK's biggest tech website and one of the largest in the world. He has also worked on numerous commercial projects, including working with manufacturers like Nikon and Fujifilm on bespoke printed and online camera guides, as well as writing technique blogs and copy for the John Lewis Technology guide.