Nikon has recently released a new super-telephoto lens for their full-frame Z mount mirrorless cameras, the NIKKOR Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S. It features a light and compact design optimized for handheld shooting, an optical stabilization system that provides 5.5 stops of compensation, and silent, fast autofocus for stills and video. It is now available for pre-order for $3,246.95.
At the beginning of the year, Nikon released a 400mm f/2.8 super-telephoto lens for their Z mount ecosystem. This was followed shortly after by the NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S, which is still the longest focal length available for Nikon’s Z mount mirrorless cameras.
Also, the company announced its intention of greatly expanding its Z mount lens lineup in the coming years. So here it is, the brand new Nikon NIKKOR Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S, which represents a lighter and compact option compared to its fast f/2.8 brother. Let’s take a closer look.
Nikon NIKKOR Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S: overview
The new NIKKOR Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S is a super-telephoto prime lens designed to work with Nikon Z full-frame mirrorless cameras.
Such a long focal length is ideal for wildlife and sports applications and can also be expanded by pairing the lens with the existing Z TELECONVERTER TC-1.4x and TC-2.0x, thus reaching an equivalent of 560 and 800mm respectively.
According to Nikon, this lens, which is part of the company’s premium S-Line series, should pack high imaging performance in a compact form factor.
Therefore, compared to its f/2.8 equivalent, it should facilitate users during handheld operations. However, this advantage comes at the expense of light transmission (aperture range: f/4.5 – f/32).
The lens is equipped with optical vibration reduction (VR) technology, which should provide about 5.5 stops of compensation. Nikon claims that a maximum of 6 stops can be achieved by pairing the lens with in-camera stabilization on the Z 9, their RAW-video-capable full-frame flagship model.
Also, this super-telephoto lens features a stepping motor (STM) focusing mechanism that should provide silent, fast, and accurate autofocus performance for both stills and video.
Nikon NIKKOR Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S: physical and optical design
The Nikon NIKKOR Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S weighs about 1,245g/2.7lbs. and measures 104×234.5mm/4.1×9.2” in size. That means is approximately 57% lighter and 38% shorter than the NIKKOR Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S.
The lens is designed with rubber gaskets that make it dust and drip-resistant, while a removable tripod collar is there to take away some stress from the camera’s lens mount when attaching your setup to a tripod.
The optical design features 19 elements in 13 groups. These include one ED (extra-low dispersion) element, two Super ED elements, and a single SR (short-wavelength refractive) element. This construction should keep optical and chromatic aberrations down to a minimum.
Also, the lens exploits the benefits of Nikon’s own Nano Crystal Coating technology, which usually helps reduce unwanted ghost and flare effects. Finally, the front element has a fluorine coating that is dirt and oil-repellant.
Like most Nikon lenses of this kind, the lens barrel is populated with buttons and switches that grant quick access to some of the most fundamental settings.
These include two customizable L-Fn buttons, one of which is accessible from four different locations. Furthermore, a Memory Set button allows users to quickly recall pre-saved focus positions.
The lens has two switches on the left side. One is for selecting focus mode (M or AF), while the other is a focus limiter. Indeed, the full focusing range of the lens (from 2.5m/8.2′ to infinity) can be restricted (from 6m/19.7′ to infinity).
Finally, this new super-telephoto lens boasts some extra smart functions, such as a programmable Control Ring (which can be assigned to control aperture, ISO, or EV compensation) and focus-breathing compensation for video.
Price and availability
The new Nikon NIKKOR Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S super-telephoto lens is now available for pre-order from B&H for $3,246.95. For reference, the f/2.8 version is much more expensive, being priced at $13,996.95.
Do you often use super-telephoto lenses for your video work? What do you think of the new Nikon NIKKOR Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!