Nikkor Z 400 mm f/4.5 VR S `293, 995
The Nikkor Z 400 mm f/4.5 VR S is probably what most wildlife and sports photographers were waiting for. It is a super telephoto lens, small in size and lightweight for a 400 mm prime. The lens was introduced in India in end June, 2022. Let’s see how it fares in our tests…
Design & Build Quality
The Nikkor Z 400 mm f/4.5 VR S is an S-Line lens, which indicates that it is a premium quality lens for the Nikon Z-series camera bodies. The outer body uses polycarbonate (to keep it light) with an internal metal barrel. It looks and feels every bit a ‘pro-lens’. The lens mount is made from metal. Filter size is 95 mm. The lens is weather-sealed and made in China.
The Nikkor Z 400 mm f/4.5 VR S lens is constructed with 19 elements in 13 groups which includes 1 ED element, 2 Super ED elements, 1 SR (ShortWavelength Refractive) element. Some elements have the Nano Crystal Coating ϐ front lens element. The special lens elements virtually eliminate chromatic aberration and colour fringing while the Nano Crystal Coat helps to reduce lens ϐ Ǥ ϐ makes it easy to keep the front surface clean of water spray and hand grease. As mentioned earlier, the lens mount is made from metal and a rubber gasket on the mount reduces the chances of any dust or water splashes from getting into the lens. Eleven AF contacts on the lens transmit data to and fro to the camera body. The lens offers a tripod collar with a removable foot but it is not ArcaSwiss compatible.
Photographers shooting hand-held will appreciate this lens’ design that brings the center of gravity closer to the camera body for an overall comfortable shooting experience. A customizable Control Ring allows you to control either the lens aperture, ISO or exposure compensation. The lens offers up to 6 stops of VR advantage on a camera that supports Synchro VR (the Z9) and 5.5 stops on all other Z-series camera bodies (as per CIPA standards and the VR set to ‘Normal’ mode). The VR uses lens shift mechanism using voice call motors (VCMs). Autofocus employs Nikon’s stepping motor (STM) for quick and quiet operation that does not disturb skittish wildlife, whether shooting ‘stills’ or video. Two lens function buttons (L-Fn and L-Fn 2,) can be set to subject tracking, AF lock, image playback and more. For convenience, L-Fn 2 is available from four separate locations around the lens barrel. A Memory Set button on the lens allows the user to recall a stored focus position using either the Fn or Fn2 button on the lens.
Z-series 1.4x and 2x teleconverters can be used, offering a focal length of 560 mm and 800 mm respectively. With the 1.4x, the lens effectively becomes a f/6.3 lens and with the 2x TC, the effective aperture is f/9.
We reviewed the lens on a Nikon Z6 II body. The combination was quite comfortable to carry around for a while, but after some time, it felt heavy to me. I also missed the convenience of a zoom and realised that the lens is more for wildlife and sports photographers whose subjects are, more often than not, far away.
High ISO Noise Reduction, vignette control, diffraction compensation and auto distortion control were enabled on the Z6 II body. VR was set to ‘Normal’.