Nikon Z 400mm F4.5 VR S Overview

The final time I picked up a 400mm lens, I closed my train ring with a lens that was nearly so long as my very own arm. However what if portability and value are extra prized than an f2.8 aperture? That’s the thought behind the Nikon Z 400mm f4.5 VR S lens. It’s a first-rate with an extended attain but a type issue that’s not going to limit photographers to standing on the sidelines with a monopod or ready out wildlife in a blind. At about 2.5 kilos and simply over 9 inches lengthy, the cheaper of Nikon’s two Z-mount 400mm lenses is simple to hike with. Oh, and it’s additionally $10,000 lower than the f2.8 variant.

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The Nikon Z 400mm f4.5 is a little bit of an oddball. Canon and Sony don’t actually supply something comparable, until you rely Canon’s inexpensive and moveable RF 800mm f11 lens. But, this lens fills an enormous hole by making a high-quality tremendous telephoto that’s compact and fairly priced. The one query is whether or not the additional cease of sunshine within the Nikon Z 100-400mm f3.5-5.6 VR S is price paying for.

The Large Image

One of many greatest options of the Nikon Z 400mm f4.5 VR S is definitely noticeable earlier than even holding the lens: it’s $10k lower than the f2.8 variation. However that’s not the one purpose to like this lens. At about 2.5 kilos, it’s gentle and compact sufficient to hike with. Combine in 5.5 stops of stabilization and there are few causes to make use of that included tripod mount. It’s additionally climate sealed and designed with numerous controls.

As an S collection lens, the 400mm delivers the look Nikon Z photographers are craving: wealthy colours and tack sharp topics. The longer focal size is sufficient to create good bokeh. (That further $10k will in all probability show you how to overlook simply how creamy the backgrounds of a 400mm f2.8 are.)

There are simply two issues I didn’t like about this lens. The autofocus efficiency actually struggles with quick topics heading straight in direction of the digicam. And I believe the autofocus limiter swap ought to have had a 2.5m to 6m place. The f4.5 aperture can also be clearly going to introduce extra noise when compensating with a excessive ISO, but it surely’s a sacrifice that’s possible price the fee financial savings for many.

Saving $10k over the f2.8 makes the lens’ autofocus struggles straightforward to accommodate for all however probably the most demanding sports activities motion. I’m giving this lens 4 out of 5 stars. Need one? Test it out at Amazon or Adorama.


  • It’s $10k less than the f2.8 variation
  • Sufficiently small to really hike with
  • Wealthy, heat colours
  • Sharp pictures
  • VR is nice sufficient to simply handhold this lens
  • Climate-sealed


  • The autofocus has a tough time with quick topics coming straight in direction of the digicam
  • The autofocus limiter swap ought to have yet one more place for shut topics

Gear Used

I examined the Nikon Z 400mm f4.5 VR S with the Nikon Z7 II and a protecting filter from B&W. The lens was a short lived mortgage offered by LensRentals. The digicam physique is on mortgage from Nikon.


A lot of the innovation within the Nikon Z 400mm f4.5 is just relating to measurement. It’s an extended attain 400mm lens, but it surely solely weighs 2.5 kilos and is about 9 inches lengthy. Sure, a lot of the small measurement is because of the truth that the utmost aperture is simply f4.5. However, the largest promoting level for this lens is that it’s simpler to handhold and haul round in a typical sized digicam bag. The one different choice to get this sort of attain in this sort of portability is a 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 lens.


Whereas the Nikon Z 400mm f4.5 isn’t a compact lens by any stretch of the creativeness, it’s a fairly manageable measurement for the 400mm focal size. If you happen to’ve ever shot with a 400mm f2.8, you’ll be simply impressed by its compact measurement. It’s really lighter than the Nikon Z 70-200mm f2.8, weighing about 41 ounces. It’s 9.3 inches lengthy, which is a bit longer than the 70-200mm however solely by about half an inch.

The primary financial institution of controls sits near the mount. On the left-hand aspect, an L-Fn sits above an auto to guide focus swap and a spotlight limiter swap. The latter limits the focal distance from the complete vary or from 6m to infinity. There are simply two settings to this focus limiter swap, so you may restrict the lens to the lengthy finish however not the shut finish of its capabilities. On the right-hand aspect of the lens, there’s a reminiscence set button for recalling a particular focal distance.

Subsequent up is the tripod mount, but it surely’s detachable should you’d reasonably handhold. 

The primary dial closest to the mount is the main focus ring. It’s out there even in autofocus mode to make small changes. The second ring is the aperture ring. It’s a skinny however textured ring with a easy flip (no click on). Lastly, in direction of the entrance of the lens, there are 4 Fn-2 buttons evenly spaced for simple entry. The very finish of the lens has an additional grip across the floor.

The entrance of this lens is generally glass, and it will possibly accommodate giant 95mm screw-in filters. The lens ships with a big locking hood.

Construct High quality

The Nikon Z 400mm f4.5 isn’t a steel lens, but it surely does appear to be effectively constructed. It has a really feel just like Nikon’s different S-line optics. It’s additionally weather-sealed. I gave it a superb dousing with a water bottle and the lens and digicam held up high-quality. I additionally didn’t detect any mud on the digicam sensor.


A 400mm has lots of glass to maneuver, and I had this lens paired with the Nikon Z7 II, which is a bit slower than comparable our bodies from Canon and Sony. For many motion, the Nikon Z 400mm f4.5 was capable of sustain. I used to be capable of get an affordable quantity of sharply targeted pictures of children driving bikes and birds flying to a feeder.

However, the lens actually struggled with quick topics coming straight on the lens. The lens will sustain at a gradual jog, however something quicker and the lens received a number of hits in then fell off and didn’t choose the topic again up once more. A leisurely bike trip in direction of the lens, sure, my canine working at full pace, no. Turning off publicity preview and utilizing the AF limiter swap helps some. However, it is a lens that’s going to do greatest on the sidelines of a race reasonably than capturing from behind the end line.

One factor that I believe is lacking from this lens is yet one more spot on the main focus limiter swap. The lens might be restricted to farther topics. However there’s no spot to inform the lens to disregard every little thing distant and simply concentrate on objects from 2.5m to 6m from the entrance of the lens. I believe this is able to have sped up the autofocus pace extra when working with nearer topics.

Whereas the autofocus had some challenges on this lens, I did discover it to be a bit quicker at choosing up birds when in comparison with the Nikon Z 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 VR S.

Ease of Use

1/60 shutter utilizing panning

With 5.5 stops of stabilization and an affordable 2.5 pound weight, this lens doesn’t require a tripod, I used to be capable of shoot at 1/sixtieth of a second and get sharp outcomes, each with panning and simply holding the digicam regular. With a physique that helps Synchro VR, the stabilization bumps as much as 6 stops.

The lens’ completely different controls additionally helps simplify capturing. I like the location of the completely different Fn buttons for simple entry. The one management that I actually missed is that third focus limiter swap place. It additionally doesn’t have the built-in LCD that shows issues just like the focal distance scale, however I didn’t discover myself lacking it an excessive amount of.

Picture High quality

The S line is amongst my favourite Z-mount lenses, and the Nikon Z 400mm f4.5 VR S is not any exception. Topics are tack sharp and colours are wealthy and golden.  The compression of a 400mm focal size is sufficient to give the lens some first rate bokeh, regardless of having a reasonably slender aperture for a first-rate lens.


The Nikon Z 400mm f4.5  VR S trades the brilliant f2.8 aperture that’s extra typical of a telephoto prime for a smaller measurement and a lower cost level. However the lengthy size of the lens helps make up for the narrower aperture. Sure, Nikon’s f2.8 model of this lens goes to create much more background blur and permit for a decrease ISO when utilizing the excessive shutter speeds required for sports activities and birds. However no one goes to take a look at these pictures on Instagram and scold you for not shopping for the f2.8. There’s nonetheless some good background separation and this lens is sharp sufficient that capturing broad open is good. The lens goes to require extra distance to render the background right into a strong colour, however, within the photograph above, the white is a snowbank that’s roughly 20 ft away from the chicken feeder.

Factors of sunshine are rendered to spherical bokeh balls on the middle at cat eye in direction of the sides. A number of the bokeh does sometimes get a little bit of a line on the sting, but it surely’s solely noticeable at one hundred pc.

Colour Rendition

The colours coming from this lens remind me of the colours coming from the Z 70-200mm f2.8 S — wealthy and heat. The 400mm f4.5 is becoming a member of my listing of favorites for golden colours coming from a Nikon physique. Even capturing this lens in a muddy mid-winter soften, the photographs had an amazing heat to them.

Lens Character

The Nikon Z 400mm f4.5 has a pleasant mixture of sharpness, wealthy colours and a little bit of bokeh. The S line of lenses are typically extra technically nice, however there’s somewhat character available right here. Use this lens with out the hood and you may get some gentle solar flares and occasional ghosting spots. Even with the flare, I didn’t discover a lot chromatic aberration or coloured fringing, which is nice.


As a former Nikon F mount shooter, I’ve lengthy been impressed by the sharpness coming from Z mount lenses. This 400mm is not any exception. Topics positioned in direction of the sides will nonetheless have an amazing stage of sharpness and element.

Further Picture Samples

From day one, The Phoblographer has been large on transparency with our viewers. Nothing from this evaluate is sponsored. Additional, numerous people will submit opinions and present numerous enhancing within the photographs. The issue then turns into that anybody and everybody can do the identical factor. They’re not exhibiting what the lens can do. So now we have a piece in our Further Picture Samples space to indicate edited and unedited photographs. From this, you can also make a choice for your self.



Who Ought to Purchase It? 

The Nikon Z 400mm f4.5 VR S retails for about $3,250 — which is greater than $10,000 lower than the f2.8 model. That brings the optics of a high-end tremendous telephoto zoom to a a lot wider viewers. And most of that viewers goes to actually like this lens. Photos are sharp with wealthy colours. And the power to simply carry this lens — and truly pay for it —is price sacrificing a little bit of aperture for. 

I had a bit extra extra luck specializing in birds with this lens over the 100-400mm and the aperture is a bit wider. Nevertheless, that zoom lens is a bit cheaper and, after all, additionally extra versatile. There’ll possible be some photographers that favor the zoom’s versatility and lower cost level than the 400mm’s wider aperture and slight enchancment in efficiency.

However, the 400mm f4.5 can have some bother specializing in most troublesome topics — i.e. quick motion heading straight in direction of the digicam. Photographers with a high-end physique just like the Z9 could possibly squeeze a bit extra pace out of this lens than I used to be capable of. If many of the pictures that you’re visualizing taking with this lens contain very quick topics coming straight for you, the autofocus efficiency could also be a deal breaker.

Need one? Test it out at Amazon or Adorama.

Tech Specs

LensRentals lists the next specs for the Nikon Z 400mm f4.5:

  • Angle of View: 6° 10’
  • Autofocus: Autofocus
  • Model: Nikon
  • Compatibility: Full Body and Crop
  • Filter Dimension: 95.0mm
  • Focal Size: 400.0-400.0
  • Hood Included: Sure
  • Picture Stabilization: Sure
  • Merchandise Kind: Lens
  • Lens Kind: Supertelephoto
  • Max Aperture: 4.5
  • Most Magnification: 0.16x
  • Mfr. Mannequin Quantity : 20112
  • Minimal Aperture: 22.0
  • Minimal Focusing Distance: 8.2 ft
  • Mount: Nikon Z
  • Optical Design
    • Teams/Parts: 13/19
    • Further-Low Dispersion Parts: 1
    • Tremendous Further-Low Dispersion Parts: 2
    • Brief-Wavelength Refractive Parts: 1
  • Aperture Blades: 9, Rounded
  • Bodily
    • Dimensions (Diameter x Size): 4.1 × 9.2″
    • Weight: 2.7 lbs.
  • Tripod Collar: Detachable and Rotating