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posted Wednesday, April 6, 2022 at 12:01 AM EDT
In December, alongside the Nikon Z 28-75mm F2.8 lens – which we just reviewed – Nikon announced the development of a new Z 800mm F6.3 VR S super-telephoto prime lens. At the time, details were extremely scarce, but the promise of a ‘compact and lightweight’ 800mm lens was more than enough to excite us, wildlife photography enthusiasts that we are. Keep the hype train rolling because Nikon has fully unveiled its new super-telephoto prime lens, and it looks amazing.
The Nikkor Z 800mm F6.3 VR S lens is the longest Nikkor Z lens to date and is approximately 48% lighter and 16% shorter than the Nikon 800mm F5.6E FL ED AF-S VR Nikkor lens. Not for nothing, at $6,500, Nikon’s new Z lens is also nearly $10,000 less expensive. The 800mm F6.3 VR S lens weighs about 2,385 grams (5 lb, 4.2 oz) and is 385mm (15.2 in.) long. The lens’s maximum diameter is 140mm (5.6 in.), and the lens accepts 46mm drop-in filters. For easy reference, Nikon’s 800mm F5.6E lens for F mount weighs 4,590g (just over 10 lb.) and is 461mm (18.2 in.) long.
The Nikon Z 800mm F6.3 VR S Nikkor weighs 2,385 grams (about 5.3 lb.) and is 385mm (15.2 in.) long.
The significant reduction in relative size and weight is due to the 800mm F6.3 VR S incorporating a Phase Fresnel (PF) lens element. The lens also benefits from Nikon’s other optical technologies, including a Short-wavelength Refractive (SR) element. The Z 800mm F6.3 VR S Nikkor lens includes a total of 22 elements arranged across 14 groups. The lens includes a trio of ED glass elements and features Nikon’s Nano Crystal Coat. The lens includes a nine-bladed rounded aperture diaphragm.
‘This 800mm lens is smaller and lighter than ever imagined, which is a true testament to Nikon’s advanced optical expertise as well as the next-generation technology that’s at the core of the Nikon Z system,’ said Jay Vannatter, Executive Vice President, Nikon Inc. ‘This latest NIKKOR Z lens is not only surprisingly easy to carry, but also gives photographers the fast focus response, intense sharpness and beautiful color reproduction they need to create amazing images from extreme distances.’
Image courtesy of Nikon
To help ensure sharp, steady shots, even with its extensive telephoto reach, the new lens incorporates optical image stabilization. The VR function provides a compensation effect of around 5 stops, although you can achieve 5.5 stops of shake correction when using the Nikon Z9 camera and its Synchro VR function. Steady shots don’t mean much if they’re not focused, and the 800mm F6.3 VR S promises stellar performance thanks to its STM autofocus system. The lens can focus as close as 5m (16.4 ft.) from the focal plane, resulting in a max magnification of 0.16x. This is slightly better close-focusing performance than the 800mm F5.6E lens, which offers 0.15x max magnification.
Image courtesy of Nikon
Beyond the usability improvements offered by lighter weight and reduced footprint, the new 800mm F6.3 VR S lens is also rugged. It’s constructed using a magnesium alloy and includes Nikon’s fluorine coating, helping to repel dirt and moisture from the front element. The lens also includes a Memory Recall function to instantly recall focus positions using an assigned button and four L-Fn2 buttons, and one L-Fn button, which can control various customizable functions, including subject tracking, AF lock, playback and more. The lens’s Control Ring can be used to adjust ISO, aperture and exposure compensation. The lens has a dedicated focus ring and the lens includes focus limiter and AF/MF switches on its barrel.
If you need even more reach, the Nikon 800mm F6.3 VR S lens is fully compatible with Nikon’s TC-1.4x and TC-2x teleconverters, allowing a maximum full-frame focal length of 1,600mm. You can also use the DX crop mode on FX cameras for a 1200mm-equivalent focal length, which is a nice option for the high-resolution Z7 series and Z9 cameras.
If you require more reach, the 800mm F6.3 VR S is fully compatible with Nikon’s 1.4x and 2x teleconverters
The Nikon Z 800mm F6.3 VR S lens is sure to excite wildlife and sports photographers. You won’t need to wait long for the lens, either, as it will be available starting this month for $6,499.95.