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Fast super-telephoto lenses typically come with astronomical price tags on par with what you’d pay for a cheap family sedan. Nikon’s new $14,000 Nikkor Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S is no exception. Thanks to a built-in 1.4x teleconverter, it’s like buying a pair of high-end super-teles in one relatively compact package.
Nikon’s new 400mm f/2.8 for Z-mount weighs in at a substantial 6.5 pounds, but that’s nearly two full pounds lighter than the current Nikon 400mm f/2.8 AF-S ED VR version intended for use with DSLRs. The company attributes some of that weight reduction to a pair of lightweight fluorite elements mixed into a total of 25 elements in 19 groups.
Nikon Z 400mm f/2.8 VR features
Nikon has managed to cram this super high-end lens with a few brand-new bits of lens technology. It’s the first lens to employ the Silky Swift Voice Coil Motor or SSVCM. Yes, that’s really what it’s called. Paired with a redesigned guide mechanism, the SSVCM moves the large glass elements inside the magnesium alloy lens body at high speeds with almost no noise. It needs to be fast to hang with Nikon’s absurd Z9 mirrorless camera, a pairing that will likely see lots of action on wildlife and professional sports shoots.
Like other high-end super-teles, this lens offers a control ring as well as a new function ring that can recall specific focus positions in a hurry.
The built-in tele converter
While the fast aperture of a 400mm prime can be great for shooting in lower light or separating a subject from its background, the lack of zoom can sometimes feel a bit limiting. Nikon’s new 400mm f/2.8 Z employs a built-in teleconverter which allows it to transform into a 560mm lens with a single switch activation. If you’re shooting in particularly bright settings and need a ton of reach, the new 400mm lens will also accept external 1.4x and 2x teleconverters. That pushes this lens all the way up to 784mm or even 1,120mm if you need to shoot something really far away.
Of course, all that reach requires vibration reduction and the system inside this new lens promises up to 5.5 stops even when you’re using the teleconverter. That performance increases, even more, when it’s attached to the Z9.
The emperor’s new coating
Nikon has even more superlatives making their debut in this lens. The new Meso Amorphous coating promises the best anti-reflective performance from any Nikon coating to date. That can seriously cut down on ghosting and flare, which can get out of hand when you’re working with huge glass elements in challenging lighting conditions. The coatings complement a pair of extra-low dispersion elements and another pair of super-extra-low dispersion elements inside to fight distortion and other optical issues.
Nikon Z 400mm f/2.8 pricing and availability
If you’re planning to sell off some NFTs and purchase one of these beautiful lenses, you’ll want to make sure you have $13,995 sitting in your account around the end of February. That’s right after the upcoming 2022 Olympics at which this lens will likely get its first real workout.