Is the Nikkor 600mm f/4E Nikon's Best Ultra Telephoto Lens? Field Tested in Iceland With Interesting Results

The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 600mm f/4E FL ED VR Lens is an absolute whopper to look at, but it may well be Nikon's best super-telephoto lens. In this review, it's put through its paces in the gorgeous surroundings of Iceland, with some pretty surprising results.

The first thing you notice when Matt Granger is holding the 600mm Nikkor f/4 lens is just how big it is. There are some comparison shots at the start of the video and it dwarfs other comparable lenses such as the Tamron 150-600 mm f/5-6.3. Interestingly though, its 3.9kg weight is almost a full kilogram lighter than its predecessor, which makes hand-held shooting possible, though not particularly recommended.

Granger claims that this Nikkor 600mm f/4 prime lens is better than either the Nikkor 400 mm f/2.8 prime lens or the Nikkor 800 mm f/5.6 prime lens. His reasoning is that if you put a 1.4x teleconverter on the 400mm f/2.8 lens it effectively becomes a 560mm f/4 lens (which is less than you get with the 600mm Nikkor f/4). But if you put a 1.4x teleconverter on the 600mm f/4 it effectively becomes a 860mm f/5.6 (more than you get with the 800 mm). Further, you can use a 1.4x, 1.7x, or 2.0x teleconverter with the Nikkor 600mm f/4 prime lens and still retain auto-focus functionality. 

Priced at over $12,000 you would expect its build to be outstanding, and Granger says Nikon have certainly delivered in the engineering of the lens. But what about its use in the field?

Granger field tests the lens in Iceland and predominantly uses it for shooting birds such as the puffin and the eider duck. It's interesting to see the results he gets and his views on using the lens. However, he freely admits that shooting birds and wildlife is not his specialty so that may have had some impact on the quality of his shots and his experiences using the lens. He has absolutely no doubt that this lens would be outstanding for nature lovers, particularly photographers of birds, but he's not so sure about its practicality for other situations like sports, for example.

What do you think? Have you had any experience with this lens and would you recommend it?

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Brad Smith's picture

But why is he handholding a 600mm f4? Sigh...just Sigh.

Deleted Account's picture

Wheaties! ;-)

Iain Stanley's picture

In fairness, I think he’s just showing that you *can*, not that you should. Then again, if you shouldn’t, what’s the point if you can?

I own the Tamron 150-600mm, which is absolutely dwarfed by this lens, and I never shoot without a tripod or monopod. I can’t imagine why you’d want to, unless you’re combining a gym session with a photoshoot......