This week, Nikon unveiled the Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S, a super-telephoto lens that boasts unbeatable features, including a lightweight build, razor-sharp optics, and snappy autofocus – all for a shockingly low price.
Nikon has long frustrated bird, wildlife, and aviation photographers by expanding its wide-angle, standard, and telephoto lineup while neglecting its super-telephoto glass. In fact, prior to this week’s announcement, Nikon only offered a single super-telephoto lens, the Z 400mm f/2.8, which costs an eye-watering $14000.
Yet with the introduction of the 800mm f/6.3, photographers gain access to a top-notch super-telephoto lens, one that manages to surpass existing 800mm lenses in several key ways.
Most impressively, the Z 800mm f/6.3 weighs just 5.25 lb (2385 g), and it’s (relatively) short, too, at 15.2 in (38.6 cm). Compare this to the F-mount 800mm f/5.6, which weighs a whopping 10.1 lb (4590 g) and spans 18.15 in (46.1 cm), and it’s immediately clear just how portable the new lens really is, perfect for on-the-go bird and wildlife shooters who desire super-telephoto focal lengths without the bulk of a pro-level super-telephoto body.
As Nikon’s advertisements demonstrate, the new 800mm f/6.3 is remarkably handholdable; photographers can leave behind their tripod and work unsupported thanks to the lens’s lightweight build, not to mention the Vibration Reduction technology that promises an extra 5 stops of handholdability. Of course, in certain scenarios – especially as the light drops – a tripod or a monopod is still recommended, but it’s always useful to know that handholding is an option.
Despite the lens’s reduced weight, the body features a magnesium-alloy build and is capable of handling knocks, bumps, and all the rigors of professional use; the lens also boasts pro-level weather sealing for photographers who work in rain, snow, and blowing sand.
Optically, the lens is near flawless, or so Nikon claims: “From the sharp contrast of small branches to the finest feathers of distant birds, every detail is rendered with stunning precision.” And Nikon also promises “fast, quiet autofocus…optimized for shooting fast-moving subjects like birds, airplanes, and jets.”
In many ways, the 800mm f/6.3 is the ultimate lens for bird and wildlife photographers in need of a portable super-telephoto option. Its most significant drawback is the f/6.3 maximum aperture, which does limit low-light shooting cabilities, but a wider maximum aperture would undoubtedly cause the weight – and cost – to skyrocket. For reference, the F-mount 800mm f/5.6 costs over $16000, while the new Z version clocks in at a far more palatable $6500.
So who should consider purchasing the Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S? Any wildlife, bird, aviation, or even sports photographers who require that super-telephoto perspective and for whom weight or cost is an issue. A $6500 lens isn’t cheap, of course, but compared to alternatives, it’s an absolute bargain.
The lens should begin shipping this month, and it’s currently available to order on B&H. So if you’re interested in a lightweight, super-telephoto lens from Nikon, go check it out!
Now over to you:
What do you think of Nikon’s new 800mm lens? Are you impressed? Disappointed? Might you be interested in buying? Share your thoughts in the comments below!