Nikon 600mm f/4G IF-ED AF-S VR Nikkor

Lens Reviews / Nikon Lenses i Not yet tested
600mm $9,394
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Buy the Nikon 600mm f/4G IF-ED AF-S VR Nikkor

(From Nikon lens literature) Nikon has announced three new AF-S super-telephoto NIKKOR lenses -- the AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8G ED VR, AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR, and AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR -- to further strengthen its super-telephoto lens line-up. With unprecedented image quality, responsiveness and versatility, these new NIKKOR lenses are certain to set a new benchmark for super-telephoto lenses.

The new super-telephoto lenses are equipped with a Vibration Reduction (VR) function. Nikon's VR II system minimizes image blur caused by camera shake, offering a shutter speed up to the equivalent of four stops faster. The newly added Tripod mode reduces vibration that may occur when shooting with a super-telephoto lens when attached to a tripod at shutter release time. Nikon's VR function also gives photographers the option of a natural viewfinder image even during VR operation.

The superior functioning of the newly developed optical system ensures flawless synchronization with Nikon's digital SLRs. The new optical design features three Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass elements that minimize chromatic aberration while producing consistently high-quality images. The Nano Crystal Coat -- extra-low refractive index coating --- virtually eliminates internal lens element reflections across a wide range of wavelengths and is particularly effective in reducing ghosting and flare. A meniscus protective glass element also minimizes the ghosting that occurs when light is reflected from a digital camera image sensor and in turn reflected off an ordinary flat protective glass element.

Nikon's exclusive Silent Wave Motor (SWM) provides fast autofocus with superior accuracy and ultra-quiet operation. All lenses feature nine-blade rounded diaphragms that ensure a more natural look for parts of a scene intended to be out of focus. The minimum focus distances are 2.9 m/9.5 ft, 4.0 m/13.1 ft and 5.0 m/16.4 ft for the AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8G ED VR, AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR and AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR respectively -- much shorter than their predecessors.

Ergonomically arranged switches and buttons enable easy access and comfortable operation even during handheld shooting. These buttons include the Focus Preset function, which instantly recalls a focal point preset with a simple push-button operation; Focus Limiter switch, which restricts AF-servo movement to a controlled shooting distance range; AF-L switch, which makes it possible to lock focus from the lens; and AF-ON, which engages autofocus from the lens. The new A/M focus mode allows instant switching from autofocus to manual focus, even during AF-servo operation. It also offers a major improvement over conventional M/A modes by significantly reducing the possibility of unintentional switching from Auto to Manual. By employing magnesium die-cast in the lens body construction, the new lenses achieved considerable weight savings without sacrificing rugged field-proven construction resistant to both dust and water.

Major Features:

  • VR II operation realizes the equivalent of a shutter speed four stops faster
  • New Tripod mode reduces vibration that may occur at shutter release when shooting with a super-telephoto lens attached to a tripod
  • Enhanced optical formulas, engineered to produce exceptional sharpness, contrast and color, render outstanding image integrity
  • Three ED (Extra-low dispersion) elements control chromatic aberration while enhancing sharpness and contrast, even at the widest apertures
  • Exclusive Nikon Nano Crystal Coat and a Meniscus protective glass element combine to further reduce ghosting and flare for even greater image clarity
  • High-performance Nikon Super Integrated Coating realizes superior color reproduction while minimizing ghosting and flare
  • Nikon's exclusive Silent Wave Motor enables fast autofocusing with exceptional accuracy and powerful, super-quiet operation
  • Rounded diaphragm opening (9 blades) makes out-of-focus elements appear more natural
  • Newly added A/M mode reduces the possibility of unintentional switching from Auto to Manual
  • Focus Preset function instantly recalls preset focus points with the push of a button
  • Engineered to Nikon professional D-SLR standards to effectively resist dust and moisture
  • Magnesium die-cast for a lightweight body with rugged construction
  • Supplied lens hood effectively minimizes stray light
  • Detachable monopod collar provided

Nikon 600mm f/4G IF-ED AF-S VR Nikkor

Nikon 600mm f/4G IF-ED AF-S VR Nikkor User Reviews

7.5/10 average of 2 review(s) Build Quality 8.0/10 Image Quality 9.0/10
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by bradhill (9 reviews)
    Excellent VR performance, excellent image quality and excellent autofocus performance
    Stock tripod foot excessively massive

    This lens is a truly professional instrument. I have been shooting with it extensively for the past 3 months on both a D3 and a D700 and, once I learned how to truly "play" this instrument, it has produced stellar results.

    Some specifics:

    1. Image quality: Only my Nikon 200 f2 is sharper - you can't expect anything better from this lens. The "N" coating is effective - even strongly back-lit scenes exhibit good contrast. Bokeh is buttery smooth and exquisite.

    2. Autofocus performance: Exceeded my expectations by a significant margin. I expected it would be fast enough to capture slow-moving birds in flight (e.g., eagles at moderate distances) but I never expected I could use this lens to capture swallows in flight (which I have successfully done). Initial acquisition of focus considerably faster than on the 200-400 VR and appears almost as quick as on the 300 f2.8 VR. Definitely impressive for a lens this big.

    3. Teleconverter performance: I have found very few lens/TC combinations that please me enough to permit me to regularly use TC's, but I have achieved professionally sharp results using the TC-14EII (1.4x TC) and 600 VR even when shot wide open. With the TC-17EII (1.7x TC) I have needed only to stop down about one stop to achieve professionally sharp results. In terms of colour and contrast - with the 1.4x TC I noticed no degradation of these variables, but there was a noticeable loss of colour and contrast (and autofocus performance) when I used the 1.7x TC - but all these degradations are easily handled in post-processing.

    4. VR Performance: My experience with the VR differs dramatically from that of sylvaticus. I find that the VR function significantly extends the range of usefulness of this lens - whether on or off a tripod. When shooting using a tripod (moderately large Gitzo with Wimberley head) I ALWAYS use "tripod mode" except when panning birds. I have run numerous tests and have found that I virtually always get sharper results with VR on (tripod mode) than when the VR is off. When shooting off a monopod or hand-holding the lens (yes, you CAN hand-hold this lens, but not for long!) I use "normal" VR mode and have captured sharp images down to 1/100s. Note that one moose-like Nikon sponsored photographer states that the "tripod mode" of the VR should only be used when you're "absolutely locked down" - my experience is that this is NOT correct. Use Tripod mode whenever on a firm tripod (unless you're panning). Using "Normal" VR on a firm tripod CAN degrade image quality. Sorry moose - in my experience the manual IS right (and the info on your website misleading).

    Numerous images captured with the 600 VR are in (and likely will always be in) my gallery of latest additions here:

    I hope to have a full review of this lens posted on my website before the end of December 2008. Once I have posted the review I will update this entry with a link to the review



    reviewed October 18th, 2008 (purchased for $7,865)
  • 6 out of 10 points and not recommended by sylvaticus (1 reviews)
    Superb image quality (VR OFF), close focusing
    Woeful tripod foot. VR at best does nothing from a tripod, at worst softens images.

    A hefty lens with a hefty price tag especially in Europe. Outstanding image quality (VR OFF), especially for back-lit subjects. The new nano coating works. Focuses much closer than the MKI or MKII 600 AFS. AF is blindingly fast, but then it is on the MKI & MKII 600 AFS. The MK I was a revalation 11 years ago!

    The tripod mount is awful, far too tall and flimsy, but that can be partly solved with an after market foot.

    The major drawback to this lens though, is it's headline feature - the vibration reduction. Quite simply the VR does not work on a tripod; usually the vibration reduction is counter productive softening images rather than improving sharpness. I have tried this lens with Wimberley II & RRS BH-55 heads on carbon fibre & aluminium tripods. Head loose, locked, VR Normal ,VR Tripod, etc etc. I have set a tripod up so that it was very unsteady to try to get the VR to do something useful, but all to no avail. Occaisionally the VR would give an image as sharp as when it is switched off, but that's the best my copy would do. Mostly images with the VR on are soft. Hand holding is something else; sharp images from vr/normal at 1/125.

    My lens has been back to Nikon and the VR supposedly adjusted to Nikon specs. Happily I have not sold my MKI 600 AFS, so the 600 VR has gone back to the dealer. If I had kept it I would very probably have modified the VR ring with epoxy to make sure that I never engaged the VR accidently. It's that bad.

    reviewed October 17th, 2008 (purchased for $11,000)