Nikon Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S Overview

Nikon Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S Overview


The Nikon Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S is Nikon’s flagship mirrorless supertelephoto lens – a $15,500 piece of glass meant for demanding sports activities and wildlife photographers. It options professional-grade construct high quality, dealing with, and picture high quality. Few lenses command such a excessive worth, however then once more, few lenses are this spectacular.

As superior as this lens is, it’s definitely an indulgence. Nikon’s earlier 600mm f/4 DSLR lenses already approached optical perfection, and at the moment they promote for surprisingly low costs on the used market. What do you get should you spring for the most recent Z mannequin as an alternative? Lighter weight, a local Z mount, and – maybe most of all – a built-in teleconverter.

To be particular, the Nikon Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S has the power to interact an inside 1.4x teleconverter by way of a easy change, turning it into an 840mm f/5.6 on the flick of your wrist. In that sense, it’s like shopping for two lenses in a single. As you’ll see later on this evaluate, the picture high quality you possibly can attain with the built-in teleconverter is kind of robust. The lens additionally works with Nikon’s exterior Z-series teleconverters (each the 1.4x and a couple of.0x TC), permitting even additional attain in case your topic calls for it.

Whereas most photographers won’t want such an costly and specialised lens, the probabilities it provides are unmatched for individuals who require it. For the evaluate you’re studying at the moment, our workforce take a look at three copies of the Nikon Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S – one copy that I examined within the lab and within the area, and one every that Libor Vaicenbacher and Massimo Vignoli examined within the area.

It’s no shock that such an costly lens performs on the higher echelon of what’s potential at the moment. However are there any faults with it? And are there different lenses that you need to be contemplating? On this hands-on evaluate of the Nikon Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S, I’ll reply these questions and extra.

Nikon Z 600mm f4 TC VR S Product Photo Photography Life
The Nikon Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S
Cheetahs Nikon Z 600mm f4 Sample Photo
NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S @ 600mm, ISO 125, 1/640, f/4.0 © Massimo Vignoli

Construct High quality

After all, this lens is well-built. That’s anticipated for the value. However as huge and durable because the Nikon Z 600mm f/4 lens seems visually, it manages to keep away from extreme weight. The scales prime out at 3260 grams / 7.19 kilos with this lens – not dangerous for what it provides.

Take the earlier technology Nikon 600mm f/4E FL for comparability. When that lens was launched in 2015, photographers praised it for the way a lot lighter it was in comparison with its predecessors – and it was. However it nonetheless weighs 3810 grams / 8.40 kilos, and naturally, it doesn’t have the interior teleconverter. Add Nikon’s TC-14E III teleconverter and the FTZ II adapter, and also you’re as much as 4125 grams / 9.09 kilos, making the brand new lens meaningfully simpler to hold round all day. To not point out that the Nikon Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S can also be higher balanced, with extra of the load towards the physique of the digital camera. The result’s a lens that’s considerably handholdable, no less than should you’ve been consuming your Wheaties.

Rabbit photo Nikon Z 600mm f4 TC VR S
Handheld – NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S @ 600mm, ISO 360, 1/1000, f/4.0 © Massimo Vignoli

That mentioned, it’s nonetheless a hefty lens, and it’s not the lightest lens in its class. Canon and Sony have 600mm f/4 mirrorless lenses that weigh rather less at 3090 grams and 3040 grams respectively (6.8 and 6.7 kilos). Nonetheless, neither of those lenses provides a built-in teleconverter. By that customary, the Nikon Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S’s weight of 3260g / 7.2 kilos is kind of cheap.

If you need a very mild 600mm lens, nonetheless, it’s greatest to go together with Nikon’s 600mm f/6.3 VR S – an optically glorious lens that weighs a mere 1245 grams (2.74 kilos). You’d additionally save a little bit of weight, with out sacrificing the “unique” nature of the lens, by choosing the Nikon Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S as an alternative, at 2950 g (6.5 kilos). Though the 400mm f/2.8 and 600mm f/4 are inside the identical ballpark of measurement and weight, I discovered that utilizing them side-by-side, it was meaningfully simpler to handhold the 400mm f/2.8 for lengthy durations of time.

Nikon Z 600mm f4 TC VR S Sample Photo
Handheld – NIKON Z f + NIKKOR Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S @ 600mm, ISO 500, 1/640, f/4.0 © Spencer Cox

I wish to observe a few issues concerning the construct high quality that aren’t essentially negatives, however value retaining in thoughts. First, the screw that tightens the tripod collar of the Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S requires much less pressure to tighten than earlier generations. This appears like a great factor, nevertheless it may end up in over-tightening – even damaging the screw threads – should you use the identical quantity of pressure that was required for older Nikon supertelephotos.

Additionally, it’s not out of character for a Nikon supertelephoto, however the lens hood on the Z 600mm f/4 is conspicuously giant. I don’t know of very many digital camera backpacks that may match the lens when the hood is hooked up within the capturing place, so that you’ll typically end up reversing it for journey. At the very least it does a fantastic job blocking rain and mud from touchdown on the entrance component.

Nikon Z 600mm f4 TC VR S with Lens Hood Product Photo
The Nikon Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S and its giant lens hood

However what about sturdiness? Through the time that our workforce examined three copies of the Nikon Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S, it dealt with every little thing that we threw its approach. This included sudden rainstorms, sub-freezing temperatures within the Arctic, dusty Namibian plains, and high-humidity environments. All three copies of the lenses we field-tested carried out flawlessly all through harsh situations.

Dealing with

The Nikon Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S isn’t simply well-built; it additionally handles like a appeal. Greater than the rest, the standout dealing with function is how straightforward it’s to interact the built-in 1.4x teleconverter at a second’s discover. There’s a change on the right-hand facet of the lens made for this function, and it couldn’t be less complicated to function. I took nearly precisely 50% of my pictures with this lens with the TC engaged – rather more than I might with a conventional supertelephoto lens. The flexibility to flip between a 600mm f/4 and an 840mm f/5.6 is intoxicating.

Nikon Z 600mm f4 TC VR S 1.4x Teleconverter Switch and Memory Set Button
The teleconverter change and Reminiscence Set button are on the right-hand facet of the lens

On the left-hand facet of the lens, proven under, Nikon has positioned the A-M (Autofocus-Handbook) change. Close by is the autofocus vary limiter change and a lens operate button. The autofocus limiter could be helpful when your topics are prone to be additional away. When it’s engaged, the lens will keep away from the close-focus vary between 4.3 and 10 meters (14 and 33 toes). This will velocity up the focusing efficiency and cut back autofocus looking – though in observe, the lens already focuses so shortly that this change is only a bonus.

Nikon Z 600mm f4 TC VR S Buttons and Switches on Left-Hand Side
The controls on the left-hand facet of the Nikon Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S

Questioning the place all of the switches from the earlier technology went? Will we miss them? Though I want that Nikon had added some devoted vibration discount switches to the Z 600mm f/4, it doesn’t have some other limitations. There’s nonetheless a plethora of customized operate buttons on the lens.

Furthermore, Reminiscence Recall can now be activated with none switches. That’s as a result of a brand new operate ring has been added for the Reminiscence Set/Recall operate! Once you twist it to 1 facet, you possibly can set or recall a spotlight distance. Once you launch it, the ring snaps again to the center and returns your focus distance to the place it was earlier than. It’s a intelligent and efficient approach to recall focus that works higher than a conventional button-based method.

NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S @ 840mm, ISO 450, 1/1250, f/5.6 © Massimo Vignoli

Of the controls, I haven’t but talked about the main target and management ring. These do precisely what you’d count on them to do. Personally, I desire to maintain the management ring turned off, as a result of I discover it straightforward to hit accidentally. However I do know that Libor likes to make use of it for publicity compensation when capturing in handbook + Auto ISO mode, and there’s loads of customization obtainable right here if you would like it.

Talking of customization, there are two customizable lens operate buttons. One is marked L-Fn; the opposite is unmarked and duplicates itself across the center of the lens, showing 4 occasions in complete. This manner, the button might be in the identical place whether or not you’ve turned your digital camera sideways or not. This may be mapped for a wide range of duties, though it’s far sufficient down the barrel that it may be out of attain relying on the way you’re holding the lens.

Nikon Z 600mm f4_sample images__LVP7792-NEF
NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S @ 840mm, ISO 1100, 1/1000, f/5.6 © Libor Vaicenbacher

Are there any negatives to the dealing with of the Nikon Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S? None that may shock you. I would favor the tripod foot to be somewhat longer, primarily to make it simpler to hold the lens by the foot. And now that I point out the tripod foot, the very first thing I’d do upon shopping for the lens is change it with one which’s Arca-Swiss suitable. That is the case for all Nikon lenses with a built-in tripod foot, so no surprises right here. Maybe sooner or later Nikon will transfer to an Arca-Swiss customary, like we’ve got seen on lenses from Sigma, Olympus, and Tamron.

Additionally, I agree with our author Massimo Vignoli’s impression {that a} completely different lens cap can be somewhat extra ergonomic. As it’s, the Z 600mm f/4 ships with a big bag-like cowl that goes across the entrance of the lens or lens hood. A extra conventional lens cap design like this one from Zemlin (no affiliation with Images Life) is best for fast operation. However these are small factors that don’t detract from the standard of the lens as an entire.

Constructed-in 1.4x Teleconverter

Supertelephoto prime lenses are fairly area of interest instruments. However the built-in teleconverter on the Nikon Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S signifies that this lens acts extra like a zoom than a main, able to immediately switching to an 840mm f/5.6 with nice picture high quality. It actually expands the lens’s versatility.

Frankly, that is the function that gained me over probably the most. With the built-in teleconverter, the Nikon Z 600mm f/4 has leapfrogged over most different supertelephotos obtainable at the moment. It’s a lot faster than eradicating the lens to connect a TC, and it’s additionally a extra sturdy and weatherproof method. Now not is there a must take off the lens in dangerous climate simply to connect a teleconverter.

Nikon Z 600mm f4_samples__LVP4729-NEF
NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S @ 840mm, ISO 16000, 1/640, f/5.6 © Libor Vaicenbacher

In the event you want much more attain, the lens can also be suitable with Nikon’s two exterior teleconverters, particularly the TC-1.4x and TC-2.0x (see our evaluate of the Nikon Z teleconverters right here). Both teleconverter could make sense for various causes. The TC-1.4x turns the lens into an 840mm f/5.6 and 1200mm f/8 pair. In the meantime, the TC-2.0x turns it right into a 1200mm f/8 and 1680mm f/11 as an alternative.

Whereas the 840mm / 1200mm pair is unquestionably extra versatile, I can’t deny that the power to succeed in 1680mm in a pinch was fairly thrilling. You’ll see extra in our lab checks on the following web page of this evaluate, however the lens is surprisingly usable at 1680mm. I used to be in a position to seize some pictures with it that I wouldn’t have gotten some other approach, like these grizzly bear cubs rolling round within the mud, approach within the distance!

Nikon Z 600mm f4 with 1.4x and 2.0x TC for 1680mm
NIKON Z f + NIKKOR Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S Z TC-2x @ 1680mm, ISO 3200, 1/640, f/11.0 © Spencer Cox

Beneath is a 100% crop – click on it to see full measurement. It demonstrates that the lens’s picture high quality remains to be acceptable at 1680mm regardless of stacking the interior 1.4x and exterior 2.0x TCs collectively. (I ought to point out that a number of the lower in distinction right here is because of atmospheric high quality.)

Nikon Z 600mm f4 TC VR S with 1.4x and 2.0x TC for 1680mm Cropped
Identical picture, 100% crop

As a lot as I discovered 1680mm helpful on this explicit state of affairs, I nonetheless favor the 1.4x TC over the two.0x TC if I had to decide on between the 2. 1200mm is so long as I might usually go for wildlife images, and that’s already achievable with the mix of inside and exterior 1.4x TCs on this lens. The devoted 2.0x TC is normally going to be overkill.

Nikon Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S Specs

  • Full Identify: Nikon NIKKOR Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S
  • Mount Sort: Nikon Z Mount
  • Focal Size: 600mm (840mm with built-in 1.4x teleconverter)
  • Angle of View (FX): 4°10′ (3° with TC)
  • Most Aperture: f/4 (f/5.6 with TC)
  • Minimal Aperture: f/32 (f/45 with TC)
  • Aperture Blades: 9, rounded
  • Filter Dimension: 46mm drop-in
  • Lens Components: 26 (19 ignoring the teleconverter)
  • Lens Teams: 20 (16 ignoring the teleconverter)
  • Particular Components: 3 ED glass, 1 Tremendous ED glass, 2 fluorite, and a couple of short-wavelength reflective SR components (of these, 1 ED and 1 SR component are within the teleconverter)
  • Fluorine Coated Entrance Component: Sure
  • Digital Diaphragm: Sure
  • Vibration Discount: Sure
  • Inside Focusing: Sure
  • Rings: Three (focus, operate, and management)
  • Perform Buttons: Sure (Fn1 and Fn2)
  • Focus Recall Buttons: Sure
  • Focus Motor: Silky Swift Voice Coil Motor
  • Minimal Focus Distance: 4.3 meters (14.1 toes)
  • Most Magnification: 0.14x (1:7.1); 0.2× (1:5) with built-in 1.4x teleconverter
  • Mount Materials: Metallic
  • Climate/Mud Sealing: Sure
  • Dimensions (Size × Diameter): 437 x 165 mm / 17.3 × 6.5 inches
  • Weight: 3260 g / 7.19 lbs
  • MSRP: $15,500 (examine present worth)

Right here is the development of the lens, courtesy of Nikon:

Nikon Z 600mm f4 TC VR S Lens Construction Diagram

The following web page of this evaluate covers the optical traits of the Nikon Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S, together with focusing efficiency and sharpness checks within the lab. So, click on the menu under to go to “Optical Efficiency”:

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