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Nikon Z 400mm F2.8 Lens Sample Photos

The Nikkor Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S is Nikon’s first super telephoto prime designed from the ground up for mirrorless Z mount cameras. At over £13k it’s clearly aimed at professional photographers who shoot sports, wildlife and action and it fills a gap in the Z lens line-up for just such a purpose.

Nikon Z 400mm F2.8 Lens Sample Photos

Z 400mm F2.8 TC Features

Built-in 1.4x teleconverter

With a built-in 1.4x teleconverter you’ll be able to get to an effective focal length of 560mm with the usual loss 1-stop of light, going from f/2.8 to f/4. When paired with a camera like the hard to get hold of Z9 you can also employ DX crop mode doubling the focal length without any further light loss for up to 840mm. This removes the need for the recently added Z 1.4x TC and Z 2.0x TC which have been paired with lenses like the Z 70-200mm VR S lens or Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S. You can still use the external teleconverters if you want to and they remain fully compatible with the 400mm prime. There’s a TC switch conveniently to the right of where your hand grips the camera body allowing the teleconverter to be engaged without removing your eye from the EVF.

Sample photo 1 Nikon Z 400mm lens rugby in the rain

Vibration reduction

The new mirrorless lens design brings a very effective 5.5-stops of in-lens vibration reduction, which will clearly assist when handholding in lower light. You’ll be able to capture the same image quality whether shooting at 400mm or with the teleconverter activated using VR.

100 percent crop from previous image above

100% crop from photo above

New AF System

Nikon has taken the opportunity to redesign their AF system for this almighty prime telephoto. They promise the Silky Swift VCM (voice coil motor) autofocus system with optical ABS encoder will deliver ‘phenomenally fast focusing’ – particularly when paired with the new focus algorithms found in the Z9 camera. The lens is on IF (Internal focusing) model with manual focusing possible and there’s a dedicated AF/MF switch on the barrel as expected.

Lens controls

Whilst we’re on the subject of controls the Z 400mm f/2.8 has plenty of them, facilitating lens adjustment to suit various workflows and situations. These include a brand new dedicated fully damped FN (function) ring as well as a silent control ring, which is found on other pro S-Line Z lenses. There are four programmable L-Fn buttons, memory set, MF ring, Focus limit switch and TC switch. The Z 400mm is fully geared towards customisation, so you get the shot using whichever custom settings you need.

Rugby team Nikon Z 400mm lens sample photo

New Meso Amorphous Coat

With the redesigned super telephoto comes the first Z lens to feature Nikon’s new Meso Amorphous Coat. This is designed to give the highest anti-reflection performance in NIKKOR’s esteemed optical history. They’ve used particles which are smaller than nano particles (between 1 to 100 nanometers) to deliver superb control over ghosting and flare. This is intended to retain contrast even with backlit subjects or incidental light from any direction.

100 percent crop

100% crop from photo above

Outstanding image quality

Whether you shoot photos or videos or both, the Z 400 is all about image quality. Naturally there’s a teleconverter inside which affects the amount of glass and Nikon has taken the opportunity to revisit the optical design, which employs 25 elements in 19 groups. These include a series of top shelf special elements (2 ED glass, 1 super ED glass, 2 fluorite lenses and 1 SR element) to resolve high resolutions in crystal clarity. These have special coatings applied including the new Meso Amorphous Coat or ARNEO Coat and a fluorine-coated front lens element to keep any grime at bay. Even when you shoot in tricky lighting the lens should deliver incredibly well controlled results.

Sample photo wildlife

Accessories

When you’re spending professional money on a lens of this calibre you can expect a very well made lens case, which comes in the form of a new CL-L3 Lens Case. In the box you’ll also find a new LC-K105 Slip-On Front Lens Cap, new HK-42 Lens Hood and the LF-N1 Lens Cap. Filtration is handled by optional 46mm slip-in or drop-in filters.

100 percent crop wildlife photo Z 400mm lens

100% crop from photo above

Dimensions and weight

We’re talking about an f/2.8 prime 400mm with a built-in TC so we should be expecting a substantial size and weight. The DSLR equivalent AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR weighs 3800g (without a TC) yet Nikon has managed to keep the weight of the newly designed mirrorless version down to just 2950g. This is pretty incredible given the quality we are seeing together with improved VR, AF and more lens controls. Size-wise the new lens measures approximately 156 mm x 380 mm which is a similar size to the DSLR equivalent.

Sample photo sports cycling

Summary

You’ll know if the Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S has been missing from your arsenal of glass. If that is the case it’s reassuring to know that the wait was worth it, with Nikon over-delivering on several fronts. The lens is lightweight and comes with a series of new technology to help in the pursuit of capturing the best image possible, in every given situation. If your bread and butter isn’t made through shooting super telephoto subjects it may be hard to justify, but for those who do shoot professional sports, wildlife and action it’s a clear winner.

fully crop from previous photo sample

100% crop from photo above

If you’ve enjoyed looking at these sample photos check out our camera and lens reviews here, where we have deep-dives into other lenses including the Nikon Z 50mm And Z 14-24mm Lenses and an in-depth look at Nikon Z Mirrorless Macro Lenses.

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By Nick Dautlich on 19/01/2022

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