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

The Nikon Z 100-400mm VR S brings super-tele super-power to Nikon’s Z line-up

Nikon Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S
(Image: © Matthew Richards)

Digital Camera World Verdict

It’s been a long wait, but the Z 100-400mm VR S finally brings a super-telephoto lens to Nikon’s Z-mount stable. And it’s a lens that’s certainly been worth the wait, bristling with technology and handling exotica, and delivering first-rate performance in all respects. It’s a weighty lens with a hefty price tag, but a worthy Z-mount successor to the ageing Nikon AF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens, launched back in 2013 with DSLRs in mind.


  • +

    Superb image quality

  • +

    Fast autofocus and 5.5-stop VR

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    Compatible with Z tele-converters


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    Large, weighty construction

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    Stiff hood with our review sample

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    Pricey to buy

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The Z 100-400mm VR S is the first super-telephoto lens in Nikon’s Z-mount line-up. Naturally, if you shoot with a DSLR or have an FTZ/FTZ II mount adapter for your Z-series camera, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to super-tele prime and zoom lenses.

There’s a feast of up-market, own-brand Nikon glassware to choose from, as well as both high-performance and compact options from Sigma and Tamron. From Sigma, the 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary, 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary and 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports are particularly strong competitors. There’s also the Tamron 100-400mm F4.5-6.3 Di VC USD and SP 150-600mm F5-6.3 Di VC USD G2, although firmware updates might be needed. The original version of Tamron’s 150-600mm requires a service center upgrade and, even then, optical stabilization is unavailable.

The upshot is that the Z 100-400mm lacks the extreme telephoto reach of independent 100-600mm F-mount lenses, or Nikon’s own AF-S 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR, and is considerably weightier than Sigma and Tamron 100-400mm zooms. However, the native Z lens has a fully professional look and feel, along with build quality and performance to match.


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Matthew Richards

Matthew Richards is a photographer and journalist who has spent years using and reviewing all manner of photo gear. He is Digital Camera World's principal lens reviewer – and has tested more primes and zooms than most people have had hot dinners! 

His expertise with equipment doesn’t end there, though. He is also an encyclopedia  when it comes to all manner of cameras, camera holsters and bags, flashguns, tripods and heads, printers, papers and inks, and just about anything imaging-related. 

In an earlier life he was a broadcast engineer at the BBC, as well as a former editor of PC Guide.