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Arms-on with Nikon's new Nikkor Z 400mm F4.5 VR S super-telephoto Z-mount lens


Nikon not too long ago introduced its new Nikkor Z 400mm F4.5 VR S, a super-telephoto lens for the corporate’s increasing lineup of Z-mount cameras. Whereas DPReview TV has already shared its ideas on the brand new lens, we wished to share a couple of hands-on particulars of the compact super-telephoto prime.

Who’s this lens for?

Contemplating its focal size and respectable F4.5 aperture, it’s clear this lens is designed with wildlife and out of doors sports activities photographers in thoughts. Its comparatively compact kind issue means it may be used with out the necessity of a tripod and may comparatively simply match into even modestly-sized digital camera luggage for photographers needing to make a trek to their finish vacation spot.

Should you’re a wildlife photographer who wants slightly extra attain, this lens has been designed to work seamlessly with Nikon’s 1.4x and 2x teleconverters, which successfully flip the lens right into a 560mm F6.3 or 800mm F9 lens, respectively. The lens also can give a 600mm equal area of view when mounted on one in all Nikon’s ‘DX’ APS-C our bodies, or an FX physique with its ‘DX Crop’ mode engaged.

Optical Development

The 400mm F4.5 VR S is constructed of 19 parts in 13 teams, together with one Further-low Dispersion (ED) factor, two Tremendous ED parts and one Brief-wavelength Refractive (SR) lens factor. Similar to Canon’s Blue Spectrum Refractive (BR) parts, Nikon’s SR factor refracts blue mild greater than inexperienced or crimson, which aides in higher controlling longitudinal chromatic aberration in photos.

Nikon has additionally designed the lens in order that the entire corrective parts are in the back of the lens. This not solely improves the steadiness of the lens when mounted to a digital camera, but in addition means the lens can weigh much less, since these parts will be a lot smaller and lighter.

Optical Efficiency

Whereas Nikon is understood for its Part Fresnel telephoto lenses, it acknowledges that PF parts can have a destructive affect on bokeh. So, by means of its design course of, Nikon sought out a contented medium the place it was comparatively small and light-weight whereas sacrificing as little picture high quality as doable.

Whereas we’re nonetheless engaged on extra intensive testing, our pre-production unit has thus far impressed us. Pictures are sharp throughout the body, bokeh is pleasant sufficient and the Nano Crystal Coating on the front-most factor does assist to dramatically restrict flare and ghosting.

The VR picture stabilization is CIPA-rated for five.5EV correction, however will get bumped as much as 6EV when used with the Z9’s ‘Synchro VR’ system, which combines the impact of the lens and in-body picture stabilization to right for pitch and yaw shake (versus different Nikon fashions that disengage in-body pitch and yaw correction and move accountability to the lens).


Autofocus on the 400mm F4.5 VR S is pushed through a stepping motor, as is the case with practically all of Nikon’s Z-mount glass. This makes for easy transitions, as we have famous in our expertise with the lens, but it surely does imply barely slower transitions when making bigger leaps between one topic and one other.

Nevertheless, being a super-telephoto, topics are typically comparatively shut to 1 one other from a distance, so the affect needs to be considerably minimal, be it for wildlife or sports activities.


The 400mm F4.5 VR S is analogous in each appear and feel to the Nikkor 800mm F6.3 VR S super-telephoto lens Nikon launched again in April. It has the identical general aesthetics, a really related button array and even has the identical type of tripod collar and foot, for higher or worse (contemplating it is not Arca-Swiss suitable).

It is price noting the tripod collar would not have click-stops on the traditional 90-degree increments, so relying on private choice, which will go underneath both the professional or cons header. Nikon has additionally included the identical quick-release lens hood we noticed on the 800mm, making it straightforward to pop on and off as wanted. There’s additionally a Kensington lock for extra safety if you’re not with the lens.

Buttons and toggles

Very similar to the general design of the lens, the button association is similar to its 800mm sibling. Simply behind the main focus ring is a gripped ring with 4 FN2 buttons that may be personalized to activate no matter operate you need fast entry to whereas taking pictures. There’s additionally a single L-Fn button on the rear of the lens, which may also be personalized to fit your wants.

As for the toggles, the lens options each a spotlight swap (Computerized/Handbook) in addition to a spotlight limiter (Full/6m-Infinity). As with the 800mm choice, there is not any swap to manage the VR operate, so all of that may should be executed in-camera, which is lower than handy for anybody used to creating these changes with a bodily swap.

There’s additionally a ‘Reminiscence Set’ button that allows you to outline a pre-set focus distanct with the press of a button. You possibly can then use one of many lens’s operate buttons to leap again to that preset level.

Measurement and weight

One of many major promoting level for this lens is its comparatively compact and light-weight body. The lens measures 104mm (4.1”) in diameter by 235mm (9.3”) lengthy and weighs 1245g (2lb 12oz) with the tripod collar. For comparability, that is solely barely bigger than Nikon’s 70-200mm F2.8 zoom lens in each diameter and size – by 15mm (0.6″) in each dimensions – whereas additionally weighing 195g (6.9oz) much less.

Whereas a bit older (and slower), one other comparability is Canon’s outdated 400mm F5.6L USM lens designed for (D)SLRs. Canon’s 400mm F5.6 lens measured 90mm in diameter by 257mm lengthy and weighed 1250g, with out its collar connected. That is 14mm (0.56″) narrower however 22mm (0.87″) longer and 90g (3.2oz) heavier than Nikon’s new 400mm F4.5 VR S lens for a a lot easier (7 factor, 6 group) design that was 2/3EV slower and did not have picture stabilization.

Pricing and availability

The Nikkor Z 400mm F4.5 VR S lens might be obtainable beginning in June for a prompt worth of $3,295. That is simply over half the worth of the 800mm F6.3 VR S ($6,500), which implies you are kind of getting the identical worth from a per-millimeter perspective.

It is also round $600 greater than the latest Nikkor Z 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 VR S, which is undoubtedly a extra versatile lens. Should you contemplate the rule-of-thumb {that a} one-stop sooner lens roughly doubles the worth, then you definately’ll see that the 400mm F4.5 is 63% brighter than the 100-400mm is, at 400mm, however solely 22% dearer. The prime can be lighter and solely a fraction longer than zoom in its retracted state, so shorter when truly set to 400mm. We’ll should do extra testing to see how they examine optically.


General, Nikon has managed to create an extremely succesful lens that provides respectable attain and pace with out breaking your again or the financial institution. And it is managed to do all of it with out using Part Fresnel (PF) parts, which units our expectations of picture high quality fairly excessive.

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