The Nikon 800mm Beast is Here!

Today I received the Nikon 800mm f/5.6 lens. Took me a while to unpackage it – almost felt like a Matryoshka, with boxes coming out of boxes! I think there were a total of 3 boxes before I finally got to the beautiful Nikon case. The lens is well protected for sure! Haven’t had a chance to play with it yet, but I will hopefully do it within the next few days – heading out to Yellowstone NP tomorrow. A perfect testing ground for such a lens for sure, since bears and wolves are pretty far at this time of the year.

Nikon 800mm f/5.6 Tripod Foot

NIKON D3S + 50mm f/1.8 @ 50mm, ISO 200, 1/200, f/2.8

Planning to test the lens with the 1.2x TC (comes with the lens), 1.4x TC, 1.7x TC and of course the 2.0x TC! I do not expect the 1.7x and 2.0x TCs to do well, since AF will probably not work or cause the lens to hunt a lot even in good light. And I do not know how I will be able to keep this setup stable at 1600mm. I think I will experiment with Live View and manual focusing to see if 1600mm is even practical for really long range video work. For the most part, I will be shooting at 800mm and 1000mm with the 1.2x TC.

Nikon 800mm f/5.6 with 1.2x Teleconverter

NIKON D3S + 50mm f/1.8 @ 50mm, ISO 200, 1/200, f/4.5

The nice thing is, the lens really does feel rather light for its long range. Although it is a little lighter than the 600mm f/4G, it actually feels even lighter to me when hand-holding it. Seems like the weight is indeed distributed differently on the 800mm. I personally would not hand-hold it for long though, especially after the Nikon D4 is attached to it. Together, that’s about 6 kilos of weight! Just finished updating my Nikon D3s to firmware 1.02 that adds support for the lens. Planning to observe the lens behavior with both D3s and D4 camera bodies.

I will be out for the next 10 days, with our wildlife guru Tom Redd. Will provide a report when we get back from the trip before starting the lens + Nikon D4 review. The timing is a little bad on my side, since I was working on other reviews I promised to publish. Those will have to wait a little longer, so I apologize in advance. My two priorities after I return will be to finish my Sigma 35mm f/1.4 review and start working on the D4 review.

  • Peter G.


    Please send it to me in Australia, and I will swap you my manual Nikon 800mm f5.6 for it :-)


  • FalconRose Photography

    Nasim. This one YOURS, or a borrow? Just wondering. Bought Christian Sasse’s 600mm, and he is using the 800mm (which I believe he sent you a review which you posted). That 800mm is really something. Got a chance to play with it a bit when I went over to his place on June 12, 2013.

  • Peter G.

    Forgot to mention, my Nikon 800mm f5.6 Manual focus weighs 6.00 kg, so, Nikon have had the new one on a diet.

    • Eugene B

      Hi Nasim,

      Please photograph the D3s next to the upright 800mm so that we get to see the scale of it!! I would suggest a sherpa maybe to carry this beastie around?


  • JonBoz


    Undoubtedly, this is a superb lens. Certainly, it’s for a pro (or rich hobbyist), but only a dream for most of us.

    Something we could afford, however, is the Nikon Coolpix P520 with an incredible zoom range of 24-1000 mm and f/3-5.9. This is a more practical system that fits conveniently in most of our camera bags and does not require a porter or set of wheels to transport. It gets good reviews and lots of pros carry them.

    Be careful with your 800 and don’t get a hernia.

    Have fun and be sure to share some images.

  • Chris Chan

    Wow, I was thinking about the Sigma 35mm and the D4 review, this will come handy especially the long await professional D4!

    Enjoy the trip!!

    • B!

      It has only been a year since release, why do it now?

      • Randall

        My thoughts exactly. This 800mm review is more important. Im on pins and needles with my finger on the order button.

        • Nasim Mansurov

          Randall, working on a review for B&H right now and working on reviewing the lens for the site later this week. Will get the 500mm f/4 + 300mm f/2.8 today. I don’t know how I will produce MTF results at such focal lengths, but I will surely try :)

          Stay tuned my friend!

  • fotostocker

    wildlife only use, for sports it ‘s probably too but the cost are to highly for the major part of photojournalist can take aproximation with lenses 400 m.m. and teleconverters x1.4 or x2. to biggest price not for nikon general users …

  • Lois Bryan

    … turning an ugly shade of pea green (with envy) over here … enjoy!!!!!!!!

  • Mike C

    Beast Mode!!!! Thanks for taking the time to test it out Nasim!

  • Peter

    It is my understanding from several military sites that if you remove the internal glass from this lens, you will be left with a 60mm mortar. It will weigh 47 lbs., but that is certainly lighter than the original Nikon 800 mm. lens. Factor in 60mm mortar shells that weigh 3.5 lbs. each which means you’ll have to leave some lenses at home.

    The beast has its price.

  • FrancescoP

    For me it is a matter of academic interest. I would be interested to know how the 800 / 5.6 VR behaves with the D7100 and whether it is better to use the TC14 on FX or a DX camera with an exaggerated pixel density. The factors are many: optical performance; AF; high ISO performance.

    I think that a monster with 2 ° of angle of view is rarely used even by the most experienced wildlife photographers struggling with elusive birds. But the question could interest the public of the rumored D400.

    • Roger

      I agree, Francesco. I have a D7100 and love the sub-crop mode that turns my 300mm f/4 into a 600mm f/4 equivalent with the same pixel density (at 15.2MP) as the D800E, and no anti-aliasing filter either. I’d really like to get an idea how the 800mm f/5.6 will perform on DX, especially becoming a 1600mm f/5.6 on the D7100 without using a TC.

      However, a 1600mm f/5.6 lens is going to need good light, and good light means sunlight, and that means thermal instability in the air just above the heated ground. That could degrade the 1600mm advantage for distant wildlife. I look forward to Nasim’s findings.

      • Peter G.

        You will get thermal distortion. Its unavoidable!

        I was shooting the SUZUKA 8 Hour Motor Cycle Race way back in 1990, with my 800mm f5.6, and was amazed afterwards, how soft the Kodachrome KR100 trannies were. ( KR64 rated at 100 BTW)

        I did get excellent results with the lens, but, learned not to shoot over long distances in the heat of the day.

  • Peter G.

    Nikon designs this lens to use on pro bodies like D4, D3S etc.

  • Ram

    Hi Nasim,

    looking forward for your review of this monster! Can you do a MTF chart for this Lens? I am sure you will need a football field to test its resolution. I would love to see what it is capable off.


  • Samaresh

    Wow! Looking forward to your shots on this beast and also your review. You guys amaze me all the time.