The NIKKOR NIKON Z 600mm F4 TC VR S is a telephoto lens in Nikon’s premium S line. The built-in 1.4x teleconverter turns it into an 800mm F5.6 supertele in no time.
TESTRESULTS NIKON Z 600mm F4 TC VR S:
Thanks to the built-in 1.4 teleconverter, the Nikon Z 600mm F4 TC VR S gives you two super-telephoto lenses for the price of one.
The NIKKOR Nikon Z 600mm F4 TC VR S is Nikon’s fourth telephoto fixed focal length lens for the Z system cameras. The focal length is ideal for sports, nature and wildlife photography. Like the Nikkor Z 400mm F2.8 TC VR S, the lens features a built-in teleconverter. Turning it on turns it into an 840mm F5.6 lens – ideal for when you want to bring your subject even closer. This is done simply by pulling a lever, which of course is much easier and faster than having to mount a separate 1.4x teleconverter between camera and lens. You also don’t risk getting dust in the camera when you install a teleconverter on safari.
If an 840mm focal length is still not enough, know that the lens is compatible with is compatible with Nikon Z-mount 1.4x and 2x teleconverters for the equivalent of 1176mm or 1680mm, albeit with another 1 or 2-stops loss of brightness.
So you could say that with this lens you have not one but two super telephoto lenses in your camera bag. By the way, the NIKKOR Nikon Z 600mm F4 TC VR S is compact enough to fit in a camera bag that meets the hand luggage requirements of most airlines.
The NIKKOR NIKON Z 600mm F4 TC VR S is a hefty lens, which, with a focal length of 600mm and maximum aperture F4, isn’t all that surprising now. But it is lighter than Nikon’s 2015 AF-S 600ll F4 FL ED VR: 3260 versus 3810 kg, and that despite the addition of the teleconverter.
The weight loss is mainly explained by the use of fluorite glass for the largest lens elements. A pleasant side effect of this is that the lens is better balanced, as the center of gravity is above the tripod mount. This makes it easier to use out of hand than the AF-S version, where the center of gravity is more at the front.
Now, a lens weighing more than 3 kg you prefer to use on a tripod or monopod anyway. Unfortunately, the tripod mount nacelle Nikon comes with is not Arca-Swiss compatible. So you need a coupling plate, or wait until an alternative nacelle comes on the market.
The NIKKOR NIKON Z 600mm F4 TC VR S is equipped with seals around all moving parts and the lens mount. These keep out dust and moisture. A fluorine coating protects the front element from moisture and fingerprints. The substantial lens hood keeps out stray light. You can’t use screw-in filters, but the lens does have a holder for 46-mm diameter insert filters.
The lens has a wide focus ring if you would like to focus manually. As on most Z lenses, there is also a programmable focus ring that lets you adjust aperture, the ISO or exposure compensation, among other things, as you choose. There are also five programmable Fn buttons, and a button to store certain focus distances in memory. You recall these focus distances via an Fn ring; it is ribbed and therefore distinguishable by touch from the zoom and setting ring.
Of course, the integrated 1.4x teleconverter is an important feature. You can turn it on or off by simply turning a lever. This also works after some practice without having to take your eye away from in front of the viewfinder. When a small bird pops into view, you pull the lever and you are immediately working with the equivalent of an 840mm F5.6 optic.
The NIKKOR NIKON Z 600mm F4 TC VR uses a Silky Swift Voice Coil Motor (VCM) focusing system. That uses magnets instead of gears to move the focus groups. It provides higher accuracy and smoothness. An optical ABS encoder registers the position of the focus group with high accuracy.
A switch lets you choose the focus limit: either focus between 4.3 meters and infinity, or between 10 meters and infinity. With the latter, you avoid unwanted camera focusing on a subject that is closer. There is also a switch to toggle between autofocus and manual focus.
On previous telephoto lenses for Nikon Z, focus worked accurately and reliably; we’re curious to see if the same will be true with the NIKKOR NIKON Z 600mm F4 TC VR.
The optical formula counts 19 elements in 16 groups including, as mentioned, two fluorite lenses. Four elements consist of special glass types (SR, ED, Super ED) that enhance image quality. The built-in 1.4x adds another 7 elements in 4 groups.
Judging from the MTF chart, the Nikon Z 600mm F4 TC VR S delivers with excellent sharpness from corner to corner, even at open aperture. With the teleconverter engaged, sharpness in the center remains excellent; in the corners it decreases slightly but remains very good.
The lens features Nikon’s Meso Amorphous Coat, an anti-reflective coating that prevents ghost and flare effects. As a result, colors and contrast remain good when shooting in backlight or taking shots of bright light sources.
To ensure that shots are sharp, the lens features image stabilization (VR). This provides a gain of 5 stops (5.5 in combination with certain Z cameras).
NIKKOR NIKON Z 600mm F4 TC VR S
|image angle (diag)
|min setting distance
|yes, 5 stops
|162 * 437 mm
Conclusion test Nikon Z 600mm F4 TC VR S
The Z 600mm F4 TC VR S is not for everyone, but it promises to be one of the best 600mm telephoto lenses on the market.
There’s no getting around it: with a suggested retail price of €17,249, the NIKON Z 600mm F4 TC VR S is not for everyone. It’s still several thousand euros more expensive than the Sony FE 600mm f4 GM OSS and the Canon RF 400mm f2.8L RF 600mm f4L, although then again those don’t have a built-in TC. It is also more than twice as expensive as the Nikon Z 800mm F6.3 VR S. But for those who can afford it, it promises to be a superior telephoto lens.