Nikon announces Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S

AlanF

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Nikon has just announced their latest telephoto prime. It's not the PF (DO) technology but standard design. At f/4.5 it's 2/3rd stop faster than f/5.6, a 1/3rd stop slower than the Canon 400mm f/4 DO II at about half the price in the UK, £3.300. It's light at only 1.245 kg. The price is the same as their 500mm f/5.6 PF, but the MTFs are not as good. Some will like it as a light walk-around telephoto lens. For me, the modern zooms are sharp enough and so much more versatile. Despite that, the f/4.5 aperture would get more detail out of the R7 sensor and I would like to see Canon have something similar on offer, and would even consider one to pair with it for serious birding trips.
 
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I've never been able to pull the trigger on any telephoto prime lens but very much enjoy the nuanced views of those who have, in terms of positives, negatives and real-world usage.

Here's what I think I know--an M-adapted Canon 100-400 II + Canon TC 1.4 III mated to the M6 MkII puts a whole lotta pixels on the target (at up to 14 fps). For shooting sessions beyond a few minutes, in my hands a monopod is necessary, because of the poor ergonomics of any M-series camera with a lens the size-and-weight of the 100-400 II attached to it.

I do wonder what I would do if the occasional thought of an African safari ever turned into an actual trip--I guess I would start with updating my antique full-frame (5D MkIII) to something with better auto-focus. And to be honest, I think I would probably ask for advice here about lenses...and rent one or two!

But maybe there's a 'serious birding trip' first...
 
Sep 5, 2018
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I ordered it on release to go with the 100-400 and 800. The main benefit over the 100-400 is the brighter maximum aperture and shallower DOF. I think it’ll be mostly used in the twilight months where f/5.6 is ISO passes 10,000 with shutter speeds as low as 1/100. The 100-400 is the only lens of the three I would put on the chopping block, but it is too versatile for when I am walking about well lit areas or doing landscape.

The previews do show a decent difference in the background rendering, and it may let in more or less light than the aperture suggests vs the zoom. We’ve seen before the 500 PF letting in 1/3rd of a stop more light than the 200-500 when both are at f/5.6.

I look forward to getting it in my hands… and the 800 too. Hopefully the 600 f/4.0 shows up next.
 
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Congratulations! Post us some images.
Will do. But for now there is a group that just started up: https://www.flickr.com/groups/[email protected]/ I'll be posting photos there as soon as I finish work for the day and get out.

So far it is lighter than the 500 PF, the test images look sharper with much more separation, AF is markably faster than the 100-400 and 500PF. I need ISO 4000 for my exposure on a teddy in the shade vs ISO 7200-8000 from the 100-400.

The rabbits should be out and about from 7pm so I'll see if I can get them or I may go to the squirrel hide.
 

AlanF

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Aug 16, 2012
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Will do. But for now there is a group that just started up: https://www.flickr.com/groups/[email protected]/ I'll be posting photos there as soon as I finish work for the day and get out.

So far it is lighter than the 500 PF, the test images look sharper with much more separation, AF is markably faster than the 100-400 and 500PF. I need ISO 4000 for my exposure on a teddy in the shade vs ISO 7200-8000 from the 100-400.

The rabbits should be out and about from 7pm so I'll see if I can get them or I may go to the squirrel hide.
I wouldn't mind one from Canon to pair with the R7. The RF 100-500 is sharp enough to take advantage of its sensor and I'm really happy with the performance but the lower weight and diffraction of the 400/4.5 would be wicked.
 
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I wouldn't mind one from Canon to pair with the R7. The RF 100-500 is sharp enough to take advantage of its sensor and I'm really happy with the performance but the lower weight and diffraction of the 400/4.5 would be wicked.
The 400 f/4.5 assuredly feels much lighter than the 70-200 f/2.8 S, 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 S, and the 500mm f/5.6 PF. The 500 and 100-400 feel very front heavy in comparison. I very much prefer the feel and weight of the 400 and it’s going to be my preferred lens when not taking the 800.
 
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Improvements compared to the 500 PF:
- Closer focusing
- No FTZ required
- Much quieter
- Sharper images (MFT's are comparing f/4.5 to f/5.6 and not f/5.6 to f/5.6. Of course a f/5.6 lens is sharper than a f/4.5)
- Creamier bokeh that is less fussy in direct sun (Easily fixed on the 500 by moving a step to your left or right)
- No constant VR noise

Improvements compared to the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 S
- Requires half the ISO on the same subject (Suggesting the 100-400 is a little darker than f/5.6 or the 400 f/4.5 is just brighter than the 4.5 suggests)
- Sharper images
- Creamier bokeh

Improvements compared to both:
- Lighter
- Physically smaller
- Focuses much quicker (no slow down on the Z6 and fc)
- Fits in my bags better, even ones where the 500 wanted to stick out
- Gathers a lot more light, more than the f/4.5 suggests
- Has the weight closer to the body so feels lighter
 
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https://photos.photobunny.co.uk/400-45-raws.zip

Here's a link to some RAW files. Nothing to wow you, just sample shots from the local squirrels.

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My 100-400 just arrived too, so I can do detailed comparisons. Though I think here more people are interested in the prime as Canon already has a fantastic zoom with the 100-500.
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