Nikon 80-400mm vs. Nikon 200-500mm: Which one to buy?

Telephoto zoom lenses are part and parcel of every photographer’s kit. Nikon comes with the most unique, durable, and sophisticated telephoto lenses. From their series of telephoto lenses, the Nikon 80-400mm and Nikon 200-500mm have remained the best choices for professionals. Also, these lenses obtain remarkable features and specifications that make them confusing to compare. 

However, being similarly effective doesn’t make these two lenses indistinguishable if you know what to compare. This article discusses all the differences between these two lenses and results in a proper guideline to help you choose the right one.

The AF-S FX NIKKOR 80-400mm is one of the most versatile lenses for landscapes and portraits. It’s a lot lighter than other 80-400mm lenses and smaller and slimmer, so it’s easy to use. Also, it has a bright f/4.5 to 5 maximum aperture, so it’s great for low-light photography. It can also capture ultra-wide images with its 80mm focal length.

Besides, the ED glass used in this lens is an improvement over that used in the previous version. The new glass is designed to minimize color fringing and provides better correction for purple fringing. Additionally, one of the most useful features of this lens is the vibration reduction, which makes this lens perfect for capturing action shots. The vibration reduction compensates for any movement while taking photos so that you can get the sharpest and most stable shots.

Moreover, The VC (Vibration Compensation) system works with other Nikon VR lenses so that you can add up to 5 stops of stabilization with this lens. This lens is also weather-resistant, which is perfect for outdoor photographers. It’s rated to a 1,200-meter waterproof rating, so it should be able to handle water splashes and rain.

It’s an excellent lens for landscape and portrait photography and perfect for weddings and other events. It’s also an ideal lens for beginners because it has an easy-to-use focus mechanism and is a breeze. This lens is equally perfect for low-light photography and doesn’t need special adapters to be used with the latest mirrorless cameras.

The Nikon 200-500mm is one of the best lenses on the market, offering incredible image quality for a fraction of the price. In addition, it offers a vast focal range, from a tight 28mm wide-angle setting up to 500mm in telephoto. This means you can easily capture everything from a tight group of people to a vast landscape and everything in between.

It’s great for low-light shots, and it’s even got a built-in flashlight. The flash is helpful for anything from lighting up the scene to adding light to a subject when the ambient light isn’t enough. Also, this lens is excellent for macro photography. It’s built for it, and it’s capable of 1:2 magnification.

And if you’re a professional photographer, the lens has features like vibration reduction and a weather-sealing design. But you know what? It’s not just about the features. It’s about the quality of the build and the performance of this lens.

The build quality is excellent, and the lens is solidly built and well-constructed. The zoom mechanism is silent and smooth, and the focus ring is solid. You can also use this lens on the D3100, but it won’t work on the smaller sensors. The lens is also reasonably sharp and delivers crisp, detailed images. And while there’s nothing wrong with the zoom, it does have some quirks.

It has an excellent optical formula, with four aspherical elements to help create sharp images. In addition, the inner lens group is made from ED glass, which helps reduce color aberration. This lens is also very compact, weighing only 1.2 lbs., which is a significant plus for those who carry their gear around frequently.

Nikon 80-400mm Vs. Nikon 200-500mm: Comparison Table

nikon 80 400 vs 200 500

Though both Nikon 80-400mm and 200-500mm are zoom lenses are significant differences in their specifications. This table will help you to compare these two lenses.

Features Nikon 80-400mmNikon 200-500mm
Focal Length Range80 – 400mm200 – 500mm
Maximum Aperturef/ 4.5-5.6f/ 5.6
VR (Vibration Reduction)YesYes
CoatingNano Crystal CoatingSuper Integrated Coating
AF-S (Silent Wave Motor)YesYes
Auto FocusYesYes
Approx. Weight56 oz.81.2 oz.
Minimum Distance5.7 feet7.2 feet
Photo Filter Thread Size77mm95 mm

Nikon 80-400mm Vs. Nikon 200-500mm: Know The Differences

differences between nikon 80 400 vs 200 500

Nikon 80-400mm and Nikon 200-500mm are both telephoto zoom lenses and have similarities in their features. However, apart from the similarities, there’s much to differentiate between these lenses regarding usability, portability, and durability. Also, these two lenses have differences when it comes to users. So please have a look at this comparative analysis we’ve made.


The first thing that comes to judge is the lens compatibility if you are comparing two of the same category. Likely, the Nikon 80 400 and 200 500 are both telephoto zoom lenses, but their compatibility is not ultimately the same. Such as the 80-400mm lens is compatible only with the Nikon FX-format camera body and has a Nikon F bayonet. On the other hand, the 200-500mm telephoto lens is compatible with both FX and DX-format cameras at the zoom range of 500mm and 750mm, accordingly. However, you will find one similar compatibility in both the cameras; they are both perfectly compatible with Nikon AF-S Teleconverters.


Telephoto lenses are big and require a lot of space in your camera kit. The Nikon 80-400mm and 200-500mm are not also any different. These are both big lenses and hold over 1kg weight. In addition, the 80-400mm lens is around 1570g, and the 200-500mm lens is 2300g. Furthermore, both lenses weigh way more than regular 18-55mm and prime lenses. So, you have to think twice before choosing one. Therefore, the 200-500mm is heavier than the 80-400mm. So, the Nikon 80-400mm lens is ideal for regular use and has better portability.


Lenses come in several variants; no photographer can get a hold of each. That’s where the telephoto lenses come to aid. Like the two, we compare Nikon 80-400mm and 200-500mm. The telephoto lenses can easily capture portraits in sports shorts, making them versatile. In versatility, these two lenses we are talking about are also good enough. Both these lenses are suitable for any shoot. However, the 80-400mm lens is better for macro shots, as you can capture from a distance of 5.7 feet.

On the contrary, the 200-500mm is not so handy for such shots with its minimum distance range of 7.2 feet. But, another type of shot you can take easily with the 200-500mm lens. Compared with the wide range of usability, the 80-400mm lens is more versatile.


The price of the lens also plays a significant role when comparing. Telephoto lenses like these we are comparing are expensive and cost over a thousand grand. So likely, the 80-400mm lens has a price of $2299, and the 20-500mm costs $1399. And there’s a legit difference in the price of both lenses. So though the 80-400mm lens is the winner in all the aspects we have discussed the lenses; the 200-500mm lens is the winner in terms of price.

Nikon 80-400mm Vs. Nikon 200-500mm: Which One Should You Buy?

All the legit differences between the Nikon 80-400mm and 200-500mm telephoto lenses are discussed. However, there are a lot of similarities between these two lenses, so it can get a bit harder to make the buying decision. Also, judging by the features and price range, that is nearly impossible to suggest one of these lenses. So it depends on the user which one to buy. 

For professionals looking for a durable and highly featured telephoto lens, the 80-400mm lens is the best option. This lens has all the features an advanced lens should have, with a long focal length and wide aperture range. Also, this lens is lightweight as a telephoto lens and versatile to capture almost all kinds of shots like macro, wildlife, sports, portraits, etc.; this lens is also compatible with all Nikon FX-format cameras.

On the other hand, 200-500mm is also a good telephoto lens with a wide aperture and long focal length. But, it is heavy and uncomfortable to hold for a long. So, this lens is not so recommendable for day-to-day usage. Likely, this one is for those who already have a set of lenses and looking for one only for outdoor photography, like sports and wildlife. Also, this lens is a good performer in capturing moving objects. Besides, this lens is versatile as it is compatible with all Nikon FX and DX-format cameras. Moreover, the 200-500mm lens is way lower in price than the 80-400mm lens.


Nikon 80-400mm and Nikon 200-500mm lenses are both great options for photographers. However, the Canon 80-200mm lens is better for its portability and advanced features while the Nikon 200-500mm lens is more advanced for those who want a longer focal length. If you are unsure which one to buy, consider which one will be better suited for your needs.

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