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Nikon Z Super Telephoto Lens Comparison

With the release of the Nikon Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S we decided a Nikon Z super telephoto lens comparison was in order. For this we’ve gathered specifications for the Z 800mm F/6.3 VR S Lens and Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S Lens to find out which offers the best bang for your buck.

New Nikon Z400mm lens

What are Nikons super telephoto mirrorless lenses for?

Professional sports, action and wildlife photographers expect a selection of super telephoto lenses to choose from, with any camera system they’re invested into. Nikon is working hard on providing their these long-lens shooters with a range of options, with the Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S arriving in June 2022, hot on the heels of the April 2022 release of the Z 800mm F/6.3 VR S.

It’s no coincidence that the flagship Z9 sports and wildlife camera has been a huge success and is destined to be the preferred Nikon mirrorless camera body for many users of these super telephoto lenses. That’s not to say enthusiasts who shoot similar subjects with a Z6 or Z7 (mark I or II), or even crop sensor cameras like a Z5, won’t be more than a little interested. One of the benefits of APS-C format is that you can mount any Nikon mirrorless lens onto an APS-C (DX) camera and you’ll get 1.5x greater reach, which is very nice for these kinds of subjects.

Speaking of subjects at least two of these lenses are also used for portraits where 400mm delivers fabulous compression, as well as landscapes to capture vignettes and even fashion, aviation and any subject where a long reach is beneficial.

With teleconverter

Mirrorless Z teleconverter compatibility

It is great news that three lenses are compatible with Nikon’s mirrorless teleconverters, which are the Z 1.4x Teleconverter and Z 2.0x Teleconverter. We thought it would be useful to add some information about these in order for you to gain a better understanding of how using them will impact each lens.

 

Z 1.4x Teleconverter

Z 2.0x Teleconverter

Light loss

One stop

Two stops

Lens construction

6 elements / 4 groups (including 1 aspherical element)

8 elements / 5 groups (including 1 aspherical element)

Fluorine coat

Front and rear elements

Front and rear elements

Minimum focus distance

Same as the Telephoto lens

Same as the Telephoto lens

Weather sealed

YES

YES

Length

18.5mm

32.5 mm

Weight

Approx. 220g

Approx. 270g

Both of the teleconverters are superbly engineered with plenty of optics to deliver the best performance possible, all with only one or two stops of light reduction. Minimum focus distance remains unchanged and they are also both extremely lightweight for the magnification they offer (40% more or 100% more), which means you’ll be able to get significantly greater reach with any of the super telephoto lenses without much weight penalty.

S-Line lens optics

The three Nikon Z super telephoto lenses which we are comparing are all S-Line models. S-Line is essentially the premium range of Nikon mirrorless lenses, which are designed to deliver professional performance with improved bokeh. Primary benefits which S-Line offers include:

  1. High resolving power with excellent sharpness
  2. Minimal colour fringing and image artefacts
  3. Improved bokeh characteristics with rounded shapes
  4. Minimal focus breathing for videography
  5. Weather sealing

Nikon Z mirrorless super telephoto lens comparison

The table below shows essential specifications for each of these three lenses, which all compare extremely favourably. What this means for Nikon photographers is that they now have a selection of long lenses to choose from for their fast-paced and distant subject photography.

 

Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S

Z 800mm F/6.3 VR S

Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S

S-Line

YES

YES

YES

AF motor

STM (stepping motor)

STM (stepping motor)

x2 STM (stepping motor)

Vibration reduction

YES

YES

YES

Focusing system

Internal

Internal

Internal

Minimum focus distance

2.5m

5m

wide 0.75m - tele 0.98m

Maximum magnification ratio

0.16x

0.16x

0.38x

Teleconverter compatible

YES

YES

YES

Programmable buttons

YES

YES

YES

Aperture range

f/4.5 - f/32

f/6.3 - f/32

Variable f/4.5 - f/5.6 to f/32 - f40

Aperture blades

9

9

9

Lens configuration

19 elements / 13 groups

22 elements / 14 groups

25 elements / 20 groups

Special lenses

1 ED, 2 Super ED and 1 SR

3 ED, 1 SR and 1 PF

6 ED, 2 super-ED

Fluorine coat

YES

YES

YES

Nano Crystal coat

YES

YES

YES

Filter size

95mm

46mm (slip-in)

77mm

Length

234.5mm

385mm

222mm

Weight

1,245g

2,385g

1,435g

Price June 2022

£3,299.00

£6,299.00

£2,699.00

What about the Nikon Z 400mm F/2.8 TC VR S?

We decided to leave out the Nikon Z 400mm F/2.8 TC VR S lens due to its £13,5k price tag. Whilst it is the fastest lens, it is also costs more than four times the price of the new 400mm, which places it into a whole different category from these three models.

Summary

The arrival of the Z9 was a breakthrough moment for Nikon’s mirrorless platform and the addition of the Nikon Nikkor Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S lens will no doubt tempt some more DSLR shooters across to the system. It is incredibly compact, fast and includes all of the ingredients to satisfy enthusiast and professional users. In fact all three of these lenses offer a great deal for Nikon mirrorless users to be happy about and reassure themselves they are invested in one of the world’s leading mirrorless camera systems.

Explore the Nikon Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S product here for your telephoto subjects.

Z30 arriving at the same time as the lens

New Nikon vlogging camera

We would be bereft if we didn’t mention the Nikon Z30 which joined the Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S release. The latest mirrorless camera is small, capable and made to be as simple to use as possible for anyone who wants to move beyond a smartphone with better-looking, better-sounding vlogs.

It combines everything you need for content creation with features which we love about Nikon cameras, such as a vari-angle touchscreen monitor, rep grip and beautiful 4K UHD movies.

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By Nick Dautlich on 29/06/2022

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