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Nikon Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S Compared

Nikon Z 800mm F6.3

Nikon has released the Nikon Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S, their first super-telephoto lens for their Z-mount mirrorless system. And impressively, it costs less than half the price of its old F-Mount equivalent, the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR.

Not only is the Nikon Z 800mm f/6.3 more affordable, but thanks to its Phase Fresnal technology, it is smaller and lighter. So, is the Nikon Z 800mm f/6.3 VR the new go-to lens for wildlife and bird-in-flight photography? Let’s find out. Jump to Conclusion.


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Table of Contents

What is the Nikon Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S

The Nikon Z 800mm F6.3 is the first super-telephoto lens for Nikon’s mirrorless Z-mount. Up until now, Z-mount owners were limited to shorter lenses such as the Nikon Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 or dependent on mounting older F-Mount lenses via the FtZ adapter.

But with the Nikon Z 800mm F6.3, Nikon Z owners finally have a lens to make their F-Mount peers jealous. Not only is it substantially cheaper than the older Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 800mm f/5.6E, but it’s far smaller and lighter too.

Of course, the Nikon Z 800mm’s smaller F/6.3 aperture means it only receives, approximately, 80% as much light as the Nikon’s AF-S 800mm’s larger F/5.6 aperture. But for half the price – should you even care?

Yet despite the price drop and smaller aperture, the Nikon 800mm F/6.3 is fully specified. On the inside, you get premium optics complete with light and dirt-controlling Nano and Flourine coatings. You also get an optical image stabilization system rated up to 5.5 stops – a 1.5 stop improvement on the older AF-S 800mm lens.

On the outside, the lens is littered with controls. These include customizable buttons, a customizable control ring, and a button to save and recall a predetermined focus distance. And at the rear of the lens is a slot for you to drop in your 46mm filters.

Best of all, the Nikon Z 800mm weighs almost half as much as the AF-S 800mm whilst being appreciably smaller too. For all these reasons, the Nikon Nikkor Z 800mm might just be one of the best walkabout super-telephoto lenses on the market today.

Nikon Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S Specifications

SpecificationsNikon Z 800mm f/6.3 VR
Price (US$)$6,496.95
Focal length800mm
Angle of view3.10 Degrees
Maximum apertureF/6.3
Minimum apertureF/32
Diaphragm blades9 Rounded Blades
Lens construction22 Elements in 14 Groups
Optical Image StabilizationYes – up to 5.0 Stops (5.5 stops with Z9)
Minimum focus distance500 cm
Maximum reproduction ratio0.16x
Filter-attachment size46mm
Dimensions (approx)140mm x 385mm
Weight (approx)2385g
Source: Nikon

Nikon Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S Construction

As you might expect, the Nikon Z 800mm F6.3 is built to a high standard. Its compact dimensions are due to the use of a Phase Fresnel element.

Our first encounter with Nikon’s Phase Fresnel technology was the AF-S 300mm F4 PF and then, the glorious Nikon AF-S 500mm F5.6 PF. Despite being so much smaller, both lenses were outstanding performers and it’s great to see PF technology make its way to the Z-mount.

Along with the Phase Fresnel element, the 800mm also features ED and SR elements. Nano and Fluorine coatings are present to control glare and dirt respectively.

Like many premium lenses, the Nikon Z 800mm features some weatherproofing. But unlike the Nikon Z9 and some Olympus/OM System lenses, the Nikon falls short of giving the Z 800mm an official IP rating.

Nikon Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S Controls

The Nikon Z 800mm F6.3 is packed with control points. Towards the mount is a drop-in slot for 46mm filters. And a bit further up you’ll find focus mode and focus limiter switch (10 meters to infinity).

Afterwhich, there is the first of two separate L-fn custom buttons to which you can set to drive autofocus amongst other things. A Memory Set button enables you to save and instantly recall a predetermined focus distance.

Towards the end of the lens are a manual focus ring, a customizable control ring, and 4 L-Fn2 buttons.

Nikon Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S Image Quality

According to the Nikon Z 800mm’s MTF chart – image quality is superb. Of course, how good it is in the real world remains to be seen but you can see some samples here.

Nikon Z 800mm f/6.3 vs Nikon AF-S 800mm F/5.6

Up until now, the Nikon AF-S 800mm F/5.6 has been your only route towards a fast-aperture super-telephoto for your Nikon Z camera. So how does the new Z 800mm f/6.3 compare?

SpecificationsNIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S Nikon AF-S 800mm F/5.6
NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR SNikon AF-S 800mm F/5.6
Price (US$)$6,496.95$16,268.95
Focal length800mm800mm
Angle of view3.10 Degrees3.10 Degrees
Maximum apertureF/6.3F/5.6
Minimum apertureF/32F/32
Diaphragm blades9 Rounded Blades9 Rounded Blades
Lens construction22 Elements in 14 Groups20 Elements in 13 Groups
Optical Image StabilizationYes – up to 5.5 StopsYes – up to 4 Stops
Minimum focus distance500 cm590cm
Maximum reproduction ratio0.16xx0.15
Filter-attachment size45mm (Drop-in) 52mm (Drop-in)
Dimensions (approx)140mm x 385mm160mm x 461mm
Weight (approx)2385g4590g

In broad terms, both the Nikon Z 800mm F6.3 and Nikon AF-S 800mm F/5.6 do the same thing. For instance, both lenses share the same angle of view and similar magnification and aperture.

Both lenses feature premium Nano and Fluorine-coated optics. And both have in-built image stabilization, though the Nikon Z 800mm offers up to 5.5 stops of stabilization versus 4 stops for the AF-S 800mm.

However, the Nikon Z 800mm is smaller and is more than 2 kilograms lighter than the older lens – to which you’d also have to add an FtZ adapter.

As for the price, the Nikon Z 800mm costs US$6496 whilst the Nikon AF-S 800mm F/5.6 goes for $16,268.95 though the larger lens does come with a 1.25x teleconverter and a bigger box.

Nikon Z 800mm f/6.3 vs Nikon AF-S 800mm F/5.6 Image Quality

Both of these lenses are outstanding. However, the Nikon AF-S 800mm F5.6 looks a little sharper in the corners. Whether this translates into a real-world advantage or goes any distance toward justifying its weight and price remains to be seen.


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Conclusion

After a rather lackluster entry into the full-frame mirrorless camera market, Nikon has bounced back strong. The Nikon Z9 is spectacular and the once anemic lineup of Z lenses is now looking pretty enviable.

However, the Nikon Z 800mm F/6.3 is a unique proposition since it’s the only compact pro-grade 800mm lens in existence. And when you look at the older Nikon AF-S 800mm F/5.6 – it’s clear to see how far technology has come in so little time.

But in practical terms, the Nikon Z 800mm F6.3 offers you a route into pro-level sports and wildlife photography that breaks neither bank nor back. For this reason, it’s difficult to see why anyone would opt for the older AF-S 800mm F/5.6 or even a similarly specified lens from another brand.

So, another hit for Nikon Z and yet another reason to close your DSLR’s mirror for good.

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