Nikon Announces Compact Super-Tele: the NIKKOR Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S Lens
Continuing the theme of compact, lightweight long lenses, Nikon has launched its latest super-telephoto prime, the NIKKOR Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S Lens. This new telephoto follows in the footsteps of the impressive Z 800mm f/6.3, and Nikon describes it as “the smallest, lightest 400mm” the brand has ever created. Providing a healthy mixture of reach and portability, this lens promises to be an excellent option for nature and wildlife photography, especially when hiking is required, or for handheld sports and action capture.
As similar to the Z 800mm f/6.3 as this lens is, one notable distinction is that the Nikkor 400mm lens does not use a Phase Fresnel (PF) element to achieve its sleek size. Rather, it relies on more “conventional” specialized elements to realize well-controlled imagery while remaining compact. Super ED, ED, and SR (short-wavelength-refractive) glasses are used to control a variety of aberrations and color fringing, and a Nano Crystal Coat is also featured to reduce flare when working in strong lighting.
Besides taking inspiration from the 800mm f/6.3, this lens is also an interesting alternative to the faster, but larger, Z 400mm f/2.8. Aside from the most striking difference in price, the new 400mm sacrifices 1.3 stops of light and a built-in teleconverter for a very handy 3.8-lb weight reduction (the 400mm f/4.5 weighs just 2.7 lb) and a useful 6″ reduction in length—the new lens measures 9.2″ long. In more relative sizing terms, this 400mm prime has nearly the same dimensions as Nikon’s Z 70-200mm f/2.8, but still weighs 4 oz less than that. Portability is one of the key assets for this new lens, especially if you’re able to sacrifice a bit of light and depth of field; you end up with this truly portable, hand-holdable super-telephoto.
Additionally, this lens has a physical configuration that should look and feel pretty familiar to Z shooters by now: there’s a grip ring at the front, followed by an assignable control ring, and then a dedicated manual focus ring. Customizable FN and FN2 buttons are also on the lens barrel, as well as a focus limiter switch and focus mode switch. The tripod mount, while unfortunately not Arca-style compatible, is rotatable and removable if you are going the fully handheld route. Also, there’s a Kensington lock slot built into the locking knob for the tripod-mount collar.
Speaking of shooting handheld, the NIKKOR Z 400mm Lens has optical Vibration Reduction, which compensates for up to 5.5 stops of shake on its own or up to 6 stops of shake when paired with a camera’s IBIS system using Synchro VR. Autofocus is managed by an STM stepping motor for quick, quiet performance, and the minimum focusing distance is a functional 8.2′. Also, as expected with a super-tele, the lens is weather sealed, has a fluorine coating on the large front element (along with a whopping 95mm front filter diameter), and is compatible with the optional Z Teleconverter TC-1.4x and TC-2x to extend the lens’s reach even further.