Ephotozine Review: Z 100-400/4.5-5.6 S VR

Started Jan 25, 2022 | Discussions thread
Lance B
Lance B Forum Pro • Posts: 34,733
I agree, it is an excellent lens

I own the lkens and have used it on the Z7II a couple of times and mostly the Z9 with birds.

RazorSharpWO wrote:


The first real review came out on the much-talked-about Z 100-400/4.5-5.6 S VR lens. Here are some cliff notes:

  • Insanely sharp, especially for a zoom.
  • Sharpest results @ 100mm
  • Worst results @ 400mm
  • Sharpness falls off dramatically as the lens extends — and yet
  • 400mm is still very sharp (slightly sharper than the 70-200 is @ 200 mm)
  • CA control/rendering is very good, but not as sublime as the 70-200

All-in-all looks like it's worth the money for sure, considering the range, and especially considering extreme reproduction ratio: .38x.

Using what you have used above, I will give my thoughts for what they are worth:

* Insanely sharp, especially for a zoom

Yes, it is very sharp and fantastic for a zoom but it is a smidgen sharper at close distance and drops off a tad a longer distance. Still excellent though, throughout the range. The thing is, it is sharp wide open and that is critical for a lens with this relative slow max aperture.

* Sharpest results @ 100mm

This may be correct. It does seem a little sharper at the wide end compared to 400mm. Again at closer distances compared to longer distance but still excellent all the way through.

* Worse results @ 400mm.

This is correct, it is not as sharp at 400mm *compared* with under 400mm but the difference is minimal at best and again it performs very well close up but again drops off a smidgen at distance.

* Sharpness falls off dramatically as the lens extends — and yet

I think dramatically is a little over the top. It is only slightly less sharp as far as I can see. Also, see comments above.

* 400mm is still very sharp (slightly sharper than the 70-200 is @ 200 mm)

It is definitely sharper than the 70-200 + 2x TC but it is not sharper than the idiotically sharp 70-200 f2.8 VR S. However, the 100-400 is a very sharp lens even at 400mm.

* CA control/rendering is very good, but not as sublime as the 70-200

I agree that CA is very well controlled but I couldn't say whether it is as good as the 70-200. CA in all the Z mount lenses overall has been exceptionally good and this lens is excellent in that rgard also.

There are a few piling on the Ephotozine review, but as anothermike says, the MTF's are only a guide for one camera to subject distance and can therefore only be used as a very loose guide, as it is with all of these review sites. Also, as anothermike says, there are so many variables that affect a len's performance and a single test chart at a single distance tells only very little.

I think they use 50 x focal length for their tests? and if they do, at those distances and from what I have seen from my own use, then the MTFs may be close enough to being a good comparison between the focal lengths and apertures.

I look at Ephotozine along with many of the review sites simply to get a feel for the lens and after looking at their reviews, their tests, their sample images, their thoughts, you can garner a good idea of how the lens should perform. Their overall conclusion is pretty close to the truth, IMO.

At closer focusing distances the 100-400 is very sharp.

Z9 + Z 100-4.5-5.6 VR S, 1/100s f/5.6 at 400.0mm iso2200. Wide open.

The thing with what Nikon has done with this lens, and what they did with the 80-400 f4.5-5.6G VR, is that it has excellent rendering, excellent bokeh for a zoom and the overall IQ is excellent. The resultant IQ is more than just sharpness, the images have a great look to them, IMO. Add to this the excellent build quality, the way the zoom functions - very short throw and weight balancing lens element movement rather than pushing the elements forward and making it front heavy - with fast and surefooted AF etc. As I stated above, the lens is sharp wide open which is critical with a lens with this relatively slow maximum aperture. There is really nothing to not like and everything to like with this lens especially when taken into account the compromises that a lens like this has designed into it. This is a 4x zoom with a max aperture of 4.5-5.6 and has to be viewed in that light. For what it is, it is an excellent zoom for the intended purpose. It is *not* a prime lens and cannot hope to compete at that level but it does a damn good job of it anyway.

This lens is a real winner and it deserves the accolades that both Ephotozine as well as CamerLabs gave it, which both gave it Highly Recommended.

Z9 + Z 100-4.5-5.6 VR S, 1/100s f/5.6 at 400.0mm iso64. Wide open.

Z9 + Z 100-4.5-5.6 VR S, 1/100s f/5.6 at 250.0mm iso1800. Wide open.

Z9 + Z 100-4.5-5.6 VR S, 1/125s f/5.6 at 400.0mm iso2800. Wide open.

 Lance B's gear list:Lance B's gear list
Nikon Z9 Nikon Z8 Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-17E II Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-20E III Nikon AF-S Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR +20 more
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