Today, Nikon announced its longest and perhaps most exciting Z-series lens to date with the 800mm f/6.3 VR S. Two things make this lens especially stand out: the unusually low weight of 2.4 kilos / 5.2 pounds, and the shocking price of $6500. It ships in April.
We’ve already put the Nikon 800mm f/6.3’s low price into context here, but the summary is that this lens has Nikon’s lowest-ever launch price for an exotic supertelephoto lens taking the focal length and maximum aperture into account. By historical trends, we would have expected around a $10,000 launch price for the 800mm f/6.3 VR S instead of $6500. It’s reminiscent of the Z9’s launch price – which was $5500 instead of the $8000 or so that many expected – but even more pronounced.
The other unique feature is weight. The Nikon Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S has a phase fresnel lens element that allowed Nikon to dramatically lower the lens’s weight. At 2.4 kilos / 5.2 pounds, it’s about half the weight of the F-mount 800mm f/5.6, which measures in at 4.6 kilos / 10.1 pounds. The Z 800mm f/6.3 is also lighter than Nikon’s 500mm f/4E FL VR that was praised for its portability when announced; that lens weighs 3.1 kilos / 6.8 pounds. It’s even lighter than Nikon’s current 300mm f/2.8 VR II (2.9 kilos) by a full pound! I know that the PF element is how Nikon managed this, but I’m going to ask it anyway: How did Nikon manage this?
The end result is an 800mm lens that borders on being handholdable – certainly is backpackable – and loses only 1/3 stop of light compared to the massive F-mount version.
As is expected these days of a Nikon exotic, the MTF chart is essentially perfect:
- Mount Type: Nikon Z Mount
- Focal Length: 800mm
- Maximum Aperture: f/6.3
- Minimum Aperture: f/32
- Aperture Blades: 9, rounded
- Filter Size: 46mm drop-in
- Lens Elements: 22
- Lens Groups: 14
- Special Elements: 1 Phase Fresnel element, 3 ED glass, 1 SR element (Short wavelength refractive)
- Fluorine Coated Front Element: Yes, and rear element
- Electronic Diaphragm: Yes
- Vibration Reduction: Yes
- Internal Focusing: Yes
- Control Rings: Two
- Function Buttons: Yes
- Focus Motor: Stepping motor
- Minimum Focus Distance: 5.0 meters (16.4 feet)
- Maximum Magnification: 0.16× (1:6.25)
- Mount Material: Metal
- Weather/Dust Sealing: Yes
- Dimensions (Length × Diameter): 140 × 385 mm / 15.2 × 5.5 inches
- Weight: 2385 g / 5.26 lbs
- MSRP: $6500
This lens is going to be out of stock for a while. If you want the 800mm f/6.3 or even think you might want it in the next couple years, you should pre-order it today. You should also ideally sign up for NPS to link your order to your account if you’re a professional photographer who hasn’t done so already. The Nikon Z9 still hasn’t shipped for many non-NPS members who placed their order the day of the announcement; the 800mm f/6.3 is sure to be the same way.
We’re affiliates with B&H (pre-order) and Adorama (pre-order) and would love it if you support Photography Life through those links, but I also suggest pre-ordering from smaller retailers that may be able to ship sooner than the huge stores. Place some pre-orders online just in case, but also talk to your local retailer and see if you can get your name higher on the list there as well. With the Z9, we have heard more success stories from people who took that approach, aside from NPS members who were prioritized by B&H and Adorama.
ALL THE DISTANCE, HALF THE WEIGHT1: THE NEW NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S PUTS OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE WITHIN REACH
The Longest Focal Length NIKKOR Z Super Telephoto Lens is Here, Providing Overwhelming Reach in a Surprisingly Compact & Lightweight Design
MELVILLE, NY –
Today, Nikon Inc. announced the NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S super telephoto lens for Nikon’s Z series of high-performance mirrorless cameras. This new S-Line full-frame lens gives aviation, sports, bird and wildlife photographers a super-telephoto focal length to fill the frame with fantastic clarity at extreme distances. The new NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S is approximately 48% lighter and 16% shorter than its F-mount counterpart, due to the use of a PF (Phase Fresnel) lens element. While the NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S benefits from the latest optical technologies for maximum sharpness and fidelity, its significantly lighter weight makes it easier to trek out to the best vantage point, and shoot comfortably, even handheld or with a monopod.
“This 800mm lens is smaller and lighter than ever imagined, which is a true testament to Nikon’s advanced optical expertise as well as the next-generation technology that’s at the core of the Nikon Z system,” said Jay Vannatter, Executive Vice President, Nikon Inc. “This latest NIKKOR Z lens is not only surprisingly easy to carry, but also gives photographers the fast focus response, intense sharpness and beautiful color reproduction they need to create amazing images from extreme distances.”
The new NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens is built with an emphasis on comfortable usability and extreme optical performance. The Phase Fresnel element is optimally positioned to minimize ghosting, and is combined with three Extra-low Dispersion (ED) elements and one Short-wavelength Refractive (SR) element to effectively suppress axial chromatic aberration. From the sharp contrast of small branches to the finest feathers of distant birds, every detail is rendered with stunning precision. The NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S was engineered with a close attention to balance, as the lens’ center of gravity is positioned closer to the user’s body to enhance smooth panning motion while tracking swiftly moving objects such as a falcon in flight or banking plane.
Primary features of the NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S:
- Extreme super telephoto capability for Z-series photographers with an 800mm focal length that brings distant subjects in close, with incredible clarity and sharpness.
- Easy to pack and carry, weighing in at approx. 5.25lb (2385g) with a reduced footprint of 5.6 in. x 15.2 in.
- Features Nano Crystal Coat, as well as an optimized shape and location of the PF lens element that contributes to a reduction in ghosting for maximum clarity. This is especially useful when shooting into the sky or in the vicinity of bright light sources.
- The optical VR function provides a superior compensation effect equivalent to shooting at a shutter speed of 5.0 stops2 faster. When paired with the Nikon Z 9, an effect of 5.5 stops is achieved with Synchro VR activation.
- Built to pro standards: Rubber gaskets keep dust, dirt and moisture out of the moving parts and the lens mount.3 The barrel is constructed of robust magnesium alloy, offering an ideal balance of strength and light weight. The front element has Nikon’s nonstick Fluorine Coat, which repels oil, moisture and smudges and easily wipes clean.
- A Memory Recall function4 instantly recalls focus positions that have been stored in advance, via pressing an assigned button. This function makes it simple to quickly acquire an anticipated subject on a branch or perch.
- Customizable controls include four L-Fn2 buttons and one L-Fn button, to which a wide variety of functions can be assigned to suit users’ preferences, including subject tracking, AF lock, playback and more. A customizable control ring can also be assigned to adjust ISO, aperture and exposure comp.
- The focal length can be extended to 1,120mm with the Z TELECONVERTER TC-1.4x, and 1,600mm with the Z TELECONVERTER TC-2.0x while maintaining outstanding resolution5. Users of high resolution cameras such as the Z 9 and Z 7II will appreciate the ability to also shoot in DX mode for even further extended reach (1,200mm).
Pricing and Availability
The NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens will be available starting in April 2022 for a suggested retail price (SRP) $6,499.95*. For more information about the latest Nikon products, including other NIKKOR Z lenses and the complete collection of Z series cameras, please visit nikonusa.com.
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Specifications, equipment, and release dates are subject to change without any notice or obligation on the part of the manufacturer.
- The lens alone represents a 48% reduction in weight, or a 49.6% reduction in weight based on lens plus FTZ mount adaptor when compared to F-mount counterpart, the AF-S 800mm f/5.6 E FL ED VR lens.
- Based on CIPA Standard. This value is achieved when attached to a camera with full-frame (Nikon FX-format) sensor, with the camera’s VR function set to “NORMAL”.
- Thorough dust- and drip-resistance is not guaranteed in all situations or under all conditions.
- The cameras compatible with this function are the Z 9, Z 7II and Z 6II only at the timing of the product release. When using the function, the firmware for cameras must be updated to the latest version is required. For other models, this function will be supported via later firmware updates.
- AF performance may deteriorate depending on the subject, brightness and focus position regardless of the camera body, causing inaccurate focus, slow focusing speed or flashing of the focus point.
*SRP (Suggested Retail Price) listed only as a suggestion. Actual prices are set by dealers and are subject to change at any time.