Nikon Z 600 f/4 TC S

This h as been a dream lens of mine for a long time. Needless to say, you need to save some pennies and dimes for a while to purchase this lens. With a gear locker now cleaned out and several of my older lenses sold to finance the Nikon Z 600 f/4 TC S, I finally have it and man does it live up to the hype. Let me start off by saying this is the sharpest lens I have ever shot with from edge to edge. It renders beautifully tack sharp images and bokeh at when wide open.

Each year, incredible camera gear hits the market and terms like “game changer”, “revolutionary” and “innovative” are used to describe them. Well the Nikon Z 600mm f/4 TC S is worthy of all of those accolades. I have rented and used past versions of the 600mm lens and this is by far the most ergonomic and comfortable to hold that I have used. Past versions have been hard to handhold and heavy, but this latest version is a pound lighter than its predecessor. Doesn’t sound like much, but it makes a huge difference when handholding and this is with the addition of the 1.4 Teleconverter built in.

Teleconverter

Speaking of the teleconverter, with this 600mm, you are really getting two lenses.  A 600mm F/4 and a 840mm F/5.6.  Nikon really showed their innovative approach by building in this teleconverter on big primes like the 600mm and 400mm F2.8.. If you have ever tried using teleconverters in the field, it can be a pain. Having to stop to open the camera, ad the converter, put the camera back on and by then you may have missed the shot. Now, quick flip f the switch, and done, keep firing frames. This is where I use those colorful adjectives to describle this lens.

Autofocus

Nikon has put a new autofocus motor into the 600mm F4 and 400mm F2.8, and let me just say it is in a class by itself from all previous Nikon lenses.  The new Silky Swift VCM autofocus is lightning fast, even racking through the whole range of the lens instantaneously.. When paired with teh Nikon Z9, this lens just focuses faster than you can imagine.  Accuracy is stunning. The minimal focusing distance in 14 feet according to Nikon. I am rarely that close to a subject and with the reach of this lens, I rarely need to be. This lens has VR and affords 5.0 stops with the lens alone. 5.5 stops is achieved with Synchro VR when used with the Z 9. Check out the video on the Silent Wave Motor used for focusing.

Sharpness

This really goes without saying considering the 600mm F/4 is the latest top prime from Nikon.  At F/4 the lens is tack sharp.  You might be asking but what about with the 1.4x converter engaged at 840mm? Valid question. Tack sharp once again and you will notice no difference in image quality.

Durability

No worries here! With Nikon’s new coatings on the front element, and tight weather sealing, I am not worried about this lens in the elements at all.  Weather-sealed and rugged. Rubber gaskets keep dust, dirt and moisture out of all moving parts, including the mount. Magnesium alloy makes the lens barrel strong yet lightweight, and Nikon’s non-stick Fluorine coat on the front element repels oil, moisture and smudges. This lens is meant for rugged professional use.

Cons

So we have established this lens is in a class by itself. However, there are a couple of things, two specifically, that I think Nikon missed the mark on. The first is the price. It is higher than equivalent primes from other brands. Ok Nikon, I get it, you can set whatever price point you want, but certainly having it comparable to others would have been a bit more appealing IMHO. Secondly, and this is one that I have heard a lot from many folks, is the lens foot. C’mon Nikon, you pay that kind of money for a lens and you cannot even provide and Arca compatible lens foot! This though is consistent with Nikon over the years as they have never provided and Arca compatible lens foot on any of there primes and super telephotos.

Final Thoughts

The 600mm f/4 prime. is lens prized by motor sports, action and wildlife pros for its reach, speed, brightness and image quality. Empowered by the larger Z mount, Nikon has reimagined this lens for today’s high-performance mirrorless cameras. It is Lighter, Faster, and Sharper than any of it predecessors. Given a built-in 1.4x teleconverter that transforms the lens into a powerful yet bright 840mm f/5.6 with the flip of a switch, this lens thus far can be considered a real game changer