Nikon announces new surprisingly compact Z 400mm F4.5 VR S supertelephoto prime lens
posted Wednesday, June 29, 2022 at 12:01 AM EDT
In addition to the compact and affordable Z30 hybrid mirrorless camera, Nikon has also debuted a new supertelephoto lens for full-frame Z-mount cameras, the Z 400mm F4.5 VR S. This new supertele lens joins the Z 400mm F2.8 TC lens from earlier this year as the second 400mm prime lens in the Z-mount lineup. However, this new F4.5 version is not only significantly more affordable but also much more compact and lightweight. In fact, this is the lightest 400mm full-frame lens Nikon has ever made, weighing at 2.55 lbs (1,160g). It's lighter than any Nikon 400mm lens as well as any full-frame 400mm prime with an F4.5 or slower aperture on the market currently. Though not the brightest 400mm supertele prime, this compact and lightweight lens is an ideal choice for outdoor sports, birding and wildlife photography pursuits when handheld usability and a compact setup are required.
Besides the lightweight build, the 400mm F4.5 is surprisingly small, with a total length of just 9.2 inches (234.5mm), which further adds to ease of use and portability. As an S-Line lens, the build quality and construction are considered top-of-the-line, and the 400mm F4.5 is no exception. The lens features robust dust- and moisture-resistant sealing and features fluorine coating for easy cleaning of dirt and moisture. The lens features optical Vibration Reduction that is rated for up to 5.5 stops of stabilization on its own, or if paired with the Nikon Z9 and its in-body image stabilization, you can expect up to 6 stops of combined "Synchro VR" image stabilization.
In terms of its optical design, the Nikon Z 400mm F4.5 VR S is comprised of 19 total elements situated into 13 groups and includes one ED element, two Super ED elements and one SR (Short-Wavelength Refractive) element. Despite the surprisingly compact design, the new Z 400mm F4.5 is not a Phase Fresnel (PF) like a few other compact Nikon supertelephoto lenses, such as the 300mm F4E PF lens or Nikon 500mm F5.6E PF lenses. According to Nikon, the optical designers were able to create a smaller, lighter lens by using fewer optical elements rather than utilizing a PF element -- which would have required more elements to correct for optical aberrations. Without a PF design, the lens is also protected from a flare aberration unique to PF lenses. Additionally, the optical layout is arranged in such a way as to put more elements towards the rear of the lens, thus helping to improve balance.
The lens utilizes Nikon's Nano Crystal Coat to help reduce ghosting and flare, while the ED and Super ED elements help to reduce chromatic aberrations. CA is further reduced thanks to the SR element, which is a specialized high-dispersion glass element that significantly refracts short-wavelength light for more precise CA control. The SR element also acts like a normal optical element, which allows for more flexible and lightweight lens designs.
Autofocus is powered by an STM actuator, which promises fast and quiet focusing performance. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 8.2 feet (2.5 meters). Additionally, despite being a stills-centric lens, the 400mm F4.5 is also suitable for video applications, with the focusing system designed with a focus-breathing compensation function. This function reduces the shift in the angle of view when focusing. The lens is also compatible with Nikon's Z-mount 1.4x and 2.0x teleconverters for even more reach.
Pricing and Availability
The Nikon Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S lens is set to go on sale starting in July 2022 for a suggested retail price (SRP) of $3,249.95.