Nikon Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR review

The Nikon Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR is the first ‘affordable’ ultra-telephoto zoom for Z-system mirrorless cameras.

5 Star Rating
Nikon Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR
(Image: © Matthew Richards)

Digital Camera World Verdict

For action, sports, wildlife, bird and aviation photography, the Nikon Z 180-600mm is a humdinger of a lens. Its monster zoom range really covers the distance and it’s razor-sharp at all focal lengths. The lens is just about lightweight enough for long periods of handheld shooting, for which the highly effective optical VR and customizable function buttons really earn their keep. Combine that with super-fast and deadly accurate autofocus, and the lens delivers a great hit rate even in challenging shooting conditions. All in all, it’s a top performer and very good value for money at the price.


  • +

    5.5-stop optical VR

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    Internal zoom and focus

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    Customizable function buttons


  • -

    Necessarily bulky

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    Typically modest aperture

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    No VR on/off switch

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The Nikon Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR aims to deliver seriously ultra-telephoto focal lengths along with an impressive overall zoom range, at an ‘affordable’ price of around $1,697/$1,799. To put that into context, the Nikon Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S ($2,497/£2,299) zoom and Nikon Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S ($2,997/£2,871) prime lenses give less telephoto reach and are considerably pricier to buy.  The Nikon Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S ($6,497/£6,299) ultra-telephoto prime is another few rungs up the price ladder, while the Nikon Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S ($13,997/£13,499) and Nikon Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S ($15,497/£15,499) with their built-in tele-converters are far too expensive for most of us to consider.

The Z 180-600mm is more of an ultra-telephoto zoom for the masses, following in the footsteps of the Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR for F-mount DSLRs, priced at $1,397/£1,249. There’s something to be said for using this excellent lens on a mirrorless Z-system camera, via an FTZ or FTZ II mount adapter. The same goes for the similarly ‘lightweight’ Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary ($939/£849) and considerably heftier Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports ($1,999/£1,295), both of which are available in F-mount options. It’s interesting to note that the ‘Sports’ edition has been reengineered for Sony and L-mount mirrorless cameras, sold as the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Sports at $1,499/£1,099. However, this lens isn’t available in a Z-mount version for Nikon cameras. All in all, the Z 180-600mm really fills a gap, bringing ultra-telephoto zoom potential while making full use of the Z-system mounting flange’s wide diameter and close proximity to the image sensor, for enhanced performance.

(Image credit: Matthew Richards)

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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.