Nikon has been busy churning out new cameras and lenses this year. Just a few weeks ago, it announced the fancy 135mm f/1.8 S Plena lens and a little shy of a month ago, it released a full-frame version of its retro mirrorless camera, the Z f. The company is keeping the ball rolling with its latest announcement, the NIKKOR Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S lens. Nikon explains that it built the super-telephoto prime lens for wildlife, aviation, and motorsport photographers. At $4,796.95, it falls firmly in the pro-level category, and it looks like it offers features to match. Most notable is the relatively diminutive size of just three pounds, plus plenty of on-lens controls and built-in stabilization.
Nikon NIKKOR Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S at a glance
- 11 inches long
- Weighs 3 pounds
- 5.5 stops of stabilization or 6 stops when paired with a compatible body
- Sport VR mode stabilizes the viewfinder during continuous shooting
- Includes a memory recall function to instantly recall focus position stored in advance
- Designed with video applications in mind
- Dust- and drip-resistant
- Compatible with teleconverters
- 95mm filter thread
- Available in late October
Nikon NIKKOR Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S build & optical design
One of the biggest selling points of the NIKKOR Z 600mm f/6.3 is how small it is for a super-telephoto lens. In fact, it is the lightest lens in its class. It weighs just three pounds and is only 10.9 inches long. For comparison, though it offers a faster aperture, the 600mm f/6.3 is roughly half the size of the Nikon 600m f/4. It’s also roughly half the size of the Canon RF 600mm f/4, which weighs 6.8 pounds and measures 18.6 inches long.
Nikon achieved this small size in part by utilizing a Phase Fresnel (PF) lens element. It also features two extra-low dispersion (ED) elements and a short-wave refractive element to reduce chromatic aberrations and prevent light dispersion. And the Nano Crystal Coating reduces flare to improve clarity. All this should result in truly stunning image quality across the board, making it possible to create outstanding wildlife and motorsport images.
The lightweight size of Nikon’s 600mm f/6.3 makes it much more feasible to handhold, which is ideal for shooting moving subjects requiring fast reaction time in changing conditions. Nikon also specified that it designed the lens so that the center of gravity is positioned at the body side of the lens. It should result in excellent balance when attached to your camera and make it easier to control when panning for automotive racing shots or birds in flight.
As part of Nikon’s S-line of lenses, it is dust- and drip-resistant and uses a fluorine coating on the front element for better protection when working in less-than-ideal environments. It also features a Kensington Security Slot, which allows you to use pro-grade cable locks to keep your lens safe from theft.
Nikon NIKKOR Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S handling & autofocus
Even though the Z 600mm f/6.3 is comparatively lightweight, it can still be tricky to handhold super-telephoto lenses and achieve sharp images. Luckily, Nikon built the lens with its Vibration Reduction (VR), its version of in-lens image stabilization. In Normal VR mode, you’ll be able to get 5.5 stops of stabilization. If you turn on Sport VR mode, the viewfinder is also stabilized, which makes it easier to track fast subjects. You can also pair the lens VR with in-body stabilization (IBIS) to achieve six stops of stabilization.
Nikon designed the lens with four Fn2 buttons and one Fn button, which can each be customized with a wide variety of functions. It is also equipped with a Memory Set button, which allows you to save and then instantly recall a focus position. Additionally, Nikon included a focus limiter switch and manual/auto focus switch.
For autofocus, the lens relies on the Nikon Stepping Motor, which is fast and nearly silent. Nikon designed it to keep up with speedy, erratic subjects like birds and motorsports. The minimal noise level, limited focus breathing, and precise electromagnetic diaphragm make the Z 600mm f/6.3 a fantastic lens for video applications as well.
Pricing & availability
The NIKKOR Z 600mm f/6,3 VR S is available for pre-order now for $4,796.95. It will begin shipping on October 26.