A 600mm super-telephoto lens has been on Nikon’s Z-series roadmap for some time, and now that we have the full juicy details, it’s sounding like a lens that’s well worth the lengthy wait.
A welcome surprise is that the Nikon Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S comes complete with a built-in 1.4x teleconverter, much like the recently released Nikon Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S. This effectively makes it two primes in one, transforming to a 840mm f/5.6 at the flick of a switch. While we’ve yet to put it through our lab tests, Nikon claims that there’s no discernible drop-off in image quality with the teleconverter engaged.
Not only that, but as the lens is fully compatible with Nikon’s TC-1.4x and TC-2.0x teleconverters, it can be converted to an absolutely gargantuan 1680mm monster-telephoto to get incredibly close to the action, albeit with a relatively narrow f/11 maximum aperture. Combined with the high-resolution 45.7 megapixel sensors of the Z 7II and Z 9, this should enable incredible levels of never-seen-before detail.
Aimed firmly at sports and wildlife photographers, this is a fully professional lens that comes with an eye-watering $15,499 / £15,499 / AU$$26,999 price tag.
However, compared to its F-mount counterparts it seems remarkably good value as you’d need two separate lenses to achieve similar focal length ranges – a Nikon AF-S 600mm f/4E FL ED VR at around $12,299/£12,999 and Nikon AF-S 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR at $16,299/£18,999.
Autofocus is courtesy of Nikon’s next-gen Silky Swift voice coil motor tech, which uses magnets to provide incredibly precise, rapid and near-silent operation, combined with an optical ABS encoder – a high-precision sensor that detects and communicates the lens’s position with absolute accuracy.
Vibration Reduction enables you to shoot at up to five stops slower than you would normally be able to – as slow as 1/30 sec while handholding the lens. This increases to 5.5 stops when used on a camera body with Synchro VR, such as the Nikon Z 6II, Z 7II and Z 9.
Nikon Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S sample images
The optical path comprises 26 elements in 20 groups (with seven elements in four groups in the built-in teleconverter alone). Included in that number are two fluorite lens elements, two ED glass elements, one super ED glass element and one SR lens element. As well as Nano Crystal Coat and a fluorine-coated front lens element, a Meso Amorphous Coat suppresses flare and ghosting from any direction, and even when shooting into the light or faced with multiple light sources.
As you’d expect from a professional lens, its rugged build should see it operate trouble-free in the toughest of locations. It’s fully weather sealed with all buttons and control rings incorporating rubber grommets to keep dust and moisture out.
As well as a customizable control ring, the barrel sports a pair of lens-function buttons and a memory recall button, enabling you to carry out many functions without taking your eye away from the viewfinder. In addition to the ergonomic control layout, the lens is nicely balanced, with the centre of gravity towards the middle of the lens.
It comes with a soft padded lens case, like in the 400mm f/2.8, and a rugged lens hood. Despite its generous focal length, it’s compact enough to fit in a camera backpack with airline cabin-friendly dimensions.
The lens is set to be available from November 24.
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