Gear Photography Video

Nikon goes lighter and longer with the Z 800mm

Aimed at serious sports, action and wildlife photographers, this super-telephoto prime has some knockout features

Here’s some great news for sports, action and wildlife fans. After teasing it earlier in the year, Nikon has officially introduced the Nikkor 800mm f/6.3 VR S. The new super-telephoto lens promises exceptional performance twinned with portability, while its 800mm focal length should allow frame filling shots of even small or distant subjects. 

Top of the requirements for a super-telephoto lens is sharpness. All that reach is pointless if results are soft or smeared. As one of Nikon’s S-line lenses, superb detail is promised. The construction uses 22 elements in 14 groups, including three ED and one SR element, and like some of its previous F mount optics, the Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S uses a specially shaped and positioned Phase Fresnel (PF) element, which is instrumental in keeping sharpness high while reducing size and weight. The lens also uses Nikon’s Nano Crystal Coat to remove ghosting and flare. 

© Edin Whitehead

Also keeping things sharp is the lens’s optical Vibration Reduction. This is, of course, vital as camera movement is magnified on these long lenses and optical stabilisation is more effective than in-body compensation when extreme focal lengths are in play. In actual fact, the Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S communicates with the camera body to produce Synchro VR of up to 5.5 stops when this lens is paired with the Z 9. No data for use with other IBIS-equipped Z Series cameras is currently available.

© Alex Schwarz

The third part of sharpness is reliable AF. The Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S promises fast, quiet and precise focusing via a stepping motor (STM). Closest focusing is 5m, while there’s a two-step focus limiter switch to switch from the full range and avoid foreground distractions within 10m. 

To aid focus, the Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S has a Memory Recall function. When set to one of the lens function buttons – of which there’s one L-Fn at the rear and four L-Fn2s nearer the front – it’ll instantly snap back to a stored focus position, for instance a corner on a race track or an eagle’s nest. Other AF functions that can be assigned to the L-Fn buttons, too. And like other Z lenses, the control ring can adjust ISO, aperture, and exposure compensation if required.

The Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S also supports Nikon’s Z Series teleconverters. If you need even more reach, the Z TC-1.4x will turn it into a 1120mm f/9, while the Z TC-2.0x gives a 1600mm f/13. And to make using filters more accessible, there’s an integrated filter slot that takes drop-in filters. A lens hood is also included, using a sliding release tab that helps it to be removed with one hand, letting photographers retain their shooting position more easily. 

Handheld shooting is encouraged by the lens’s size, weight and balance. Weighing 2.3kg and measuring 140x385mm, it’s lighter and shorter than its F-mount counterpart, and Nikon says the centre of gravity is closer to the camera body, making it easier to handle. 

As you’d expect, the Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S is weather sealing to keep dust and moisture at bay, and includes a rubber gasket on the lens mount, while its front element is fluorine-coated for easier cleaning. 

The Nikkor Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S will be priced £6,299. Check out some more example images from the lens below…

© Edin Whitehead
© Edin Whitehead
© Edin Whitehead
© Edin Whitehead
© Edin Whitehead
© Alex Schwarz
© Alex Schwarz
© Alex Schwarz