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Nikon 400mm F/2.8 TC VR S Z Mount Transition

Nikon 400mm F/2.8 TC VR S Z Mount Transition
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Nikon 400mm F/2.8 TC VR S Z Mount Transition


A Day of Reckoning



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**** Disclaimer **** I own and use Nikon 400mm, 500mm, 600mm Super Telephoto Lenses in my line of work. I speak of experience. Yes, I will transition to the Z mount lenses.

It has been a whirlwind of activity geared toward satisfying the needs of top-level Sports and Action Nikon Photographers of late. We ask Nikon for Pro Level Gear and Nikon is delivering it in spades! The Nikon Z9 Mirrorless, The announcement of an 800mm PF Z mount lens, and now available for ordering a 400mm F/2.8 TC VR S Z Mount lens with a 600mm on the roadmap.

The question is - Do you continue using your current Super Telephotos (400mm, 500mm, 600mm, 8000mm) legacy F mount lenses, or do you jump in with both feet and order up your favorite Z mount or two Super Telephoto right as they become available?

The Four most compelling reasons to transition to the Nikkor Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S lens for me are:

  1. The newly introduced Silky Swift Voice Coil Motor (VCM) uses magnets instead of gears to move the lens focus groups. This design simultaneously delivers higher initial speed, higher accuracy, and the smoothest, most silent operation of any Nikon AF drive system. That maximizes autofocus speeds.
  2. A built-in 1.4x teleconverter that offers the convenience at the flick of a switch to turn the 400mm into a 560mm f/4 without dismounting the lens to add or remove a TC.
  3. Over 5 stops of Vibration Reduction Image Stabilization when used with Nikon Mirrorless Cameras that support IBIS.
  4. No more adapting your legacy 400mm using the FTZ

Transitioning to the NIKKOR Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S at a price of $14,000.00 is a considerable chunk of change, or do you continue to use your current Legacy F mount Super Telephoto 400mm f/2.8 ED FL version for another year or so and pick up the Z 400mm when the price drops? The decision to buy the Nikon 400mm Z lens becomes much more difficult assuming you would use this lens with the Nikon Z9 mirrorless camera.  Recent testing by Steve Perry shows when the Z9 coupled with legacy F mount 400 &600 lens the focus speeds matched and in some cases exceeded that of what the D850 was capable of.  I too verified this using my Nikon 400mm ED FL and 600mm ED FL lenses comparing autofocus speeds with the D850 and my Nikon Z9 with  FTZ - The results were as close to identical to the D850 as I could determine.

My logics tell me if I have been happy using my Nikon D850 with my 400mm & 600mm F mount lenses after all these years and now my Z9 can match or exceed the performance of the D850 with these legacy F lenses what would be so compelling that I would jump in at this early stage and drop 14K on the Z mount 400mm TC VR S Lens? Even if you sold your legacy 400mm you will be out around $7,000.00.

When the Nikon 400mm ED FL lens launched the price was $12,000 and now $1,000.00 less, and even less through Nikons Re-furbished program or on the used market. Nikon is NOTORIOUS for asking very high prices for newly introduced Cameras and Lenses and months later they drop the price and introduce incentives - See my Pre-Order Blog. I have seen in the past the Nikon 400mm ED FL on Nikon's Re-Furbished site as low as $9K including the 10% discount Nikon offers at times. I recommend you get on the email list for Nikon's Refurbished sales.

I see two groups of people buying the NIKKOR Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S lens - Those who make their living going to venues, sporting events, and shooting wildlife for a living. Or those first-time buyers getting into the market, we were all first-timers at some point.

My advice to first-time buyers for Wildlife and especially bird photography - You may want to wait for the 600mm or the 800mm PF and or 800mm coming later. The 400mm focal lenses are borderline adequate for bird photography and do ok for wildlife, even with a 1.4 TC and using DX Crop mode. I too started and still use my 400mm but soon after bought a 600mm for my birding needs - Focal Length Matters for bird photography. If the focal length is what you need consider the 400 vs 600; 400mm with a TC 560 and 840 in DX Crop vs the 600mm 840 and 1260 in DX Crop. For the Sports shooter, the 400mm 2.8 is a near-perfect lens. 

The one downside to the NIKKOR Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S lens is - WARNING: Do not use this product if you have a pacemaker or other medical device. The magnet or magnets in this product could cause medical devices to malfunction. So, if you are out in the field and a curious bystander wonders up as they often do should you have cones and warning barriers set up? 

Except for the special coatings, VCM focus speed increase, the programmable lens control ring, and extended VR, this lens is still a 400mm lens.

  • S-LinePremium Optics
  • 400mmSuper-Telephoto Prime
  • 560mm1.4x Teleconverter Built-In
  • f/2.8Maximum Aperture
  • VRImage Stabilization (5.5 stops)
  • FXFull-Frame Z Cameras

Recouping some of your investment by selling your legacy lens only makes the purchase a little less painful, and yes I have pre-ordered mine.

Please support TrueToad by using my Amazon Associate Links

To unlock the potential of your future Z9 and Nikon 400mm lens combo you will need a High-Speed CFeXpress Card.

Contact author TrueToad


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