The Nikkor Z 600mm F6.3 VR S is a super-telephoto prime that cuts down on weight through the use of fresnel lens elements.

Image: Nikon

Nikon has announced the Nikkor Z 600mm F6.3 VR S lens, a super telephoto lens that light enough for long periods of handheld use. Long telephoto focal length lenses are generally large and heavy, but this lens is quite lightweight and reasonably compact thanks to its Phase Fresnel lens element. This also marks Nikon's second PF lens for the Z series, joining the Nikon Nikkor Z 800mm F6.3 VR S.


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The Nikkor Z 600mm F6.3 VR S is 278mm (11") long and at 1,390g (3lbs), Nikon also claims it's the lightest and smallest 600mm in its class. However, it's an odd claim and should be noted that "in its class" is doing a lot of stretching as there are no other 600mm lenses around F6.3 on the market.

Image: Nikon

Nikon had some success with its previous phase fresnel (PF) lenses, so it's not a surprise they've gone back to the well. In a nutshell, it's lighter, smaller and carries a cheaper MSRP, and that's due to thinner and lighter glass elements in the lens and the cost-saving manufacturing benefits they bring, such as being able to use one STM motor to drive AF.

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There are 21 elements in 14 groups in the Nikkor Z 600mm F6.3 VR S, including two extra-low dispersion (ED) elements and one short-wavelength refractive (SR) element to correct longitudinal chromatic aberration. There's also fluorine coating (for dust) and a nano crystal coating (for flare), 6 stops of VR and the lens has a minimum focusing distance of 4m (12 ft).

The lens is compatible with Nikon teleconverters, which opens the door to having very light super telephoto lenses that won't wear our your shoulder, back or wallet on the sidelines for sports or in the mountains for wildlife, though it'll be F9 with a 1.4x TC and F13 with a 2x. It does include a tripod foot, though to help keep things steady and light during longer shoots.

Price and availability

The Nikkor Z 600mm F6.3 VR S arrives in late October 2023 for a suggested retail price of $4800.

Pre-production sample gallery

We spent a few hours with a pre-production Nikkor Z 600mm F6.3 VR S on a rainy Seattle day. Nikon has limited us to showing only out-of-camera JPEG images, which is not our normal practice and we plan to shoot Raw samples as soon as we acquire a production model. In the meantime, take a look at our sample gallery and let us know in the comments what you'd like to see us shoot for our future update.

Note: Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter/magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review); we do so in good faith, so please don't abuse it.

PORTABLE, POWERFUL & PREMIUM: NIKON RELEASES THE LIGHTWEIGHT NIKKOR Z 600MM F/6.3 VR S SUPER-TELEPHOTO PRIME

MELVILLE, NY (October 11, 2023) – Today Nikon Inc. announced yet another premium super-telephoto lens, the NIKKOR Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S. This latest S-Line prime lens is the newest addition to Nikon’s extremely popular lineup of PF lenses that deliver big reach in a surprisingly small and lightweight package.

Wildlife, aviation and motorsport shooters need spontaneous versatility, fast precise focus, and a lens that won’t compromise image quality. The NIKKOR Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S is an S-Line super-telephoto prime lens that is made to be easily handheld. Users can leave the monopod at home, since it is the lightest in its class[1] , and offers superior optical performance and portability with a total length of only 11in (278mm) and approx. weight of 1,390g (3lbs). Furthermore, the lens is designed so that its center of gravity is positioned closer to the body side, offering optimal balance. This also makes the NIKKOR Z 600mm an ideal lens for panning in situations that require lens control and stability, such as automotive racing, or fast-moving subjects like wild birds in flight.

The use of the Phase Fresnel (PF) lens element contributes to a significantly smaller overall size and weight, reducing the need for a tripod. With advanced AF and VR performance as well as S-Line superior rendering quality, the NIKKOR Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S gives users the confidence to get tack-sharp images of fast-moving subjects from a distance.

Primary features of the NIKKOR Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S

  • Hand-held shooting is made possible with a total length of approximately 11 in (278mm) and weight of approximately 1,390g (3lbs), the lightest in its class.
  • Chromatic aberration is significantly reduced with the adoption of PF and ED glass elements. In addition, the adoption of an SR lens element controls short-wavelength light, the effects of which are difficult to correct, achieving highly precise chromatic aberration compensation.
  • Nikon's original Nano Crystal Coat has been adopted to effectively reduce ghost and flare.
  • By using the Z TELECONVERTER TC-1.4× or Z TELECONVERTER TC-2.0× the telephoto range can be expanded to 840mm or 1200mm respectively, while taking advantage of the lens’ AF and VR performance to realize superior sharpness and clarity.
  • Equipped with Normal VR mode, which demonstrates superior 5.5-stop stabilization, as well as Sport VR mode, which stabilizes the viewfinder display with continuous shooting, making it easier to track rapidly moving subjects.[2]
  • When paired with a compatible body, Synchro VR can be activated to achieve up to 6.0-stop stabilization[3] by combining in-camera VR and lens VR.
  • Adoption of a stepping motor (STM) ensures fast and quiet autofocusing.
  • Superior dust- and drip-resistant performance[4] is supported, and excellent anti-fouling performance is achieved through the adoption of fluorine coat.
  • Equipped with four lens Fn2 buttons and one lens Fn button that can be customized and assigned to a wide variety of functions.
  • Equipped with a memory recall function[5] that instantly recalls a focus position stored in advance by pressing the button to which the function has been assigned.
  • A design that takes video recording into consideration with quiet operation and stable exposure, as well as functions including focus-breathing suppression that effectively reduces shifting of the angle of view with focusing.

Price and Availability

The new NIKKOR Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S will be available in late October for a suggested retail price of $4799.95.*

Specifications, equipment, and release dates are subject to change without any notice or obligation on the part of the manufacturer.

[1] Among f/6.3 and faster interchangeable lenses for full-frame/FX-format mirrorless cameras, including those with a focal length of 600 mm, available as of October 11th 2023. Statement based on Nikon research.
[2] Measured in accordance with CIPA standards. This value is achieved when attached to a camera with full-frame/FX-format sensor with the camera's VR function set to [NORMAL]
[3] Measured in accordance with CIPA standards. In [NORMAL] mode when combined with cameras that support Synchro VR.
[4] Thorough dust- and drip-resistance is not guaranteed in all situations or under all conditions.
[5] Camera firmware must be updated to the latest version to use this function.

*SRP (Suggested Retail Price) listed only as a suggestion. Actual prices are set by dealers and are subject to change at any time.

Nikon Nikkor Z 600mm F6.3 VR S Specifications

Principal specifications
Lens typePrime lens
Max Format size35mm FF
Focal length600 mm
Image stabilizationYes (VR)
CIPA Image stabilization rating5.5 stop(s)
Lens mountNikon Z
Aperture
Maximum apertureF6.3
Minimum apertureF32
Aperture ringNo
Number of diaphragm blades9
Optics
Elements21
Groups14
Special elements / coatings2 ED; 1 SR; 1 phase fresnel; nano crystal coat; fluorine coat
Focus
Minimum focus4.00 m (157.48)
Maximum magnification0.15×
AutofocusYes
Motor typeStepper motor
Full time manualYes
Focus methodInternal
Distance scaleNo
DoF scaleNo
Focus distance limiterTwo positions: FULL (∞~4 m) and ∞-10 m
Physical
Weight1390 g (3.06 lb)
Diameter107 mm (4.21)
Length278 mm (10.94)
Filter thread95 mm
Tripod collarYes