Nikon 600mm f/4E FL ED VR vs Nikon 600mm f/4G ED VR
First, let’s take a look at how the lens compares to its predecessor:
While the older 600mm f/4G ED VR is no-slouch, we can see that the newer 600mm f/4E FL ED VR has much better overall sharpness, especially on a high-resolution camera. There is roughly a 10% difference in sharpness at large apertures between the two lenses, which is certainly quite a bit. Stopped down to f/8, there is very little difference though, even in the extreme corners.
You can roughly estimate differences in teleconverter performance as well – the 600mm f/4G ED VR will be obviously inferior in comparison.
Nikon 600mm f/4E FL ED VR vs Nikon 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR + TC-14E III
What if we compared the Nikon 600mm f/4E FL ED VR with the superb 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR and 1.4x TC attached? The resulting combo is a 560mm f/4 lens, which is fairly close in focal length and maximum aperture:
Without a doubt, the Nikon 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR is a phenomenal lens that couples better with the TC-14E III than the 600mm f/4E FL ED VR. As you can see, it is able to reach phenomenal sharpness levels with the 1.4x teleconverter, especially when stopped down to f/5.6. However, if we look at the two at the maximum aperture of f/4, we can see that the Nikon 600mm f/4E FL ED VR on its own is visibly sharper than the 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR with a teleconverter. In addition, the 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR + 1.4x provide worse sharpness in the mid-frame and the corners, although that part is probably not relevant for most photographers out there. Still, it is pretty impressive that the 400mm f/2.8E can provide such sharpness levels with a TC, certainly not what I experienced with the 600mm f/4E.
Overall, the above comparisons show that the 600mm f/4E FL ED VR is an impressively sharp lens, whether you compare it to its predecessor or another modern FL lens like the 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR with a TC. If you are wondering about sharpness differences between the 500mm f/4E FL ED VR and 600mm f/4E FL ED VR, they are very similar. Although I had better luck with 1.4x TC on the 500mm f/4E than on the 600mm f/4E, the latter is going to be noticeably sharper on its own.
If you need to get to 600mm, your best bet is to still get the 600mm f/4 rather than another super-telephoto with a TC, but it all depends on what focal length you use more. Those who use a 400mm f/2.8 with TCs need to be able to get down to 400mm, which is obviously not an option on the 600mm lens.
To understand framing differences between a 600mm and a 400mm lens, take a look at the below comparison:
That’s obviously a pretty big difference. Oftentimes, it is safer for both the photographer and the wildlife to keep a good distance though. I am sure you have seen your share of people dangerously approaching wildlife just because their lens is not long enough. Keep all this in mind when choosing your super-telephoto!
Table of Contents