Nikon NIKKOR Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S in use
Image courtesy: Nikon

Nikon has announced a new super-telephoto prime lens. The Nikon NIKKOR Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S also includes a built-in teleconverter so you can quickly switch it to become an 840 mm f/5.6 lens.

Optical design

The NIKKOR Z 600mm f/4 incorporates three extra-low dispersion and one super extra-low dispersion lens element. There are also two fluorite and two short-wavelength refractive lens elements. The new lens is part of Nikon’s S line, which means it’s a premium-quality lens like Canon’s L series. In addition, Nikon says that the NIKKOR Z 600mm f/4 is ideal for video use as it has significantly reduced focus breathing and near-silent operation.

Fast f/4 aperture

Nikon NIKKOR Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S
Image courtesy: Nikon

Although some videographers might not consider f/4 a fast aperture, it’s wide for a super-telephoto lens. This means you will be able to film in low-light situations and achieve a great shallow depth of field in your images. The iris also has nine rounded blades, which should give you a smooth, natural bokeh in out-of-focus areas.

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Autofocus

The NIKKOR Z 600mm f/4 lens incorporates an advanced autofocus drive system called the Silky Swift VCM (SSVCM). Nikon says that it is faster, has better accuracy and is quieter in use than previous drive systems. The SSVCM also has a guide mechanism that effectively suppresses vibration within the autofocus drive to increase accuracy.

Image stabilization

This super-telephoto lens has an optical Vibration Reduction (VR) image stabilization function. Nikon says that the VR provides a compensation effect equivalent to around five stops. In addition, if you are using the synchro function of the Nikon Z 9, this is increased to 5.5 stops. You can also choose the SPORT function, which gives you a stable viewfinder image during panning shots or when tracking moving subjects.

Nikon NIKKOR Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S images
Image courtesy: Nikon

Built-in teleconverter

One great feature of the NIKKOR Z 600mm f/4 lens is its built-in 1.4x teleconverter. It means you can instantly convert the lens from a focal length of 60 0m to 840 mm with a maximum aperture of f/5.6. In addition, the teleconverter switch is positioned so that you can operate it with a finger on your right hand while shooting handheld. This means you can quickly switch focal lengths without having to look away from your subject. You can also still optional external teleconverters such as Nikon’s Z TELECONVERTER TC-2.0×. This will give you effective focal lengths of 1200 mm and 1680 mm.

Construction

The NIKKOR Z 600mm f/4 super-telephoto lens weighs 7.2 pounds (3260 g). This might seem heavy, but it’s a full 1.2 pounds (550 g) lighter than the F-mount AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4 lens. The lens size is also optimized to fit in carry-on luggage, with a length of only 17.2 inches (437 mm). The lens barrel is constructed of durable magnesium alloy. In addition, the lens has sealed in the movable parts of the barrel and mount to ensure that it is dust- and drip-resistant.  The front-most lens element also has a fluorine coat to repel dust, dirt and moisture for easy cleaning.

Verdict

Super-telephoto lenses are specialist products and not for everyone. The price of the new NIKKOR Z 600mm f/4 lens will also deter many people. However, if you are a professional sports or nature video shooter who needs images of the highest quality, then you should definitely check this lens out.

Pricing and availability

The new Nikon NIKKOR Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S super-telephone prime lens will be available in late November 2022. It will retail at $15,499.

Pete Tomkies is a freelance cinematographer and camera operator from Manchester, UK. He also produces and directs short films as Duck66 Films. Pete's latest short Once Bitten... won 15 awards and was selected for 105 film festivals around the world.