Author Topic: Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S Lens  (Read 1315 times)

Michael Erlewine

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Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S Lens
« on: May 18, 2022, 02:48:11 »
After five months, today I received my copy of the Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S Lens. I tried a bunch of quick tests, which I then forgot most of which order the shots were, yet I was very clear about this one shown in this post.

Here is a shot of some Trillium flowers in our yard, a uncropped shot and a cropped shot. This was about 40 feet away, quite a distance. You can see how far away they are. And then, here is a cropped photo of the same shot. Look at the detail that is available at this distance. This says more to me than the bunch of test shots I did in the studio. It looks to be a great lens and also very useful, being able to get that kind of quality from such a distance. Sorry to be so unprofessional, but I never chose to be a professional photographer, did I.
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Fons Baerken

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Re: Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S Lens
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2022, 14:49:15 »
These triliums are great not found here

Michael Erlewine

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Re: Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S Lens
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2022, 14:55:05 »
These triliums are great not found here

They are protected here in Michigan. These are in our yard and were here some 41 years ago when we bought the place. In the woods there can be huge batches of them. We live within about a mile of he Manistee National Forest, some 900,000 acres of wilderness.

Here is a better photo of Trilliums taken with the Nikon NOCT 0.95 Z Lens.
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Robert Camfield

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Re: Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S Lens
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2022, 03:37:35 »
They are protected here in Michigan. These are in our yard and were here some 41 years ago when we bought the place. In the woods there can be huge batches of them. We live within about a mile of he Manistee National Forest, some 900,000 acres of wilderness.

The range for trillium extends deep into Ontario, and I think it is under provincial protection. My experience with trillium is slow germination and then several years to flower...certainly beautiful when they come forth. A stand of nodding trillium was present in the front yard of some property held a few years ago. Also, Michael, I wanted to mention that I'm quite familiar with the Manistee National Forest including the Luther and Tustin areas as well as the Pine and Big- and Little-Manistee Rivers and surrounds.   


Lucabeer

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Re: Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S Lens
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2022, 07:26:13 »
Got my 100-400 yesterday, but I have to wait until next weekend to go to the mountains to try it with animals and nature. So far, from the first shots from my balcony, I am impressed.

I have also got the 2X converter, and while it loses some sharpness it still remains very decent in quality (although focus at 800 mm tends to hunt a bit).
Mountain and nature photographer / Nikon Z6 + 14-30/4 S + 20/1.8 S + 50/1.2 S + 24-70/4 S + 105/2.8 MC S / 100-400/4.5-5.6 S - Nikon D700 + AF-D 16/2.8 + AF-S 17-35/2.8 D + AF 50/1.8 + AF-D 105/2 DC + AF-D 80-200/2.8

Wally

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Re: Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S Lens
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2022, 21:08:20 »
I am very interested in this zoom for my ongoing transition to mirrorless equipment. Main goal is to complement my hybrid DSLR / mirrorless lens focal range.
The Z 24-120 S is excellent but due to an ongoing loss of my dexterity the zoom ring feels very stiff and I can't change / zoom quickly. How is the zoom ring on this tele zoom? Does it rotate smoothly? I appreciate any first hand comparison since I may opt for the Z 400/4.5 S instead. Thanks.
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Lucabeer

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Re: Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S Lens
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2022, 08:51:48 »
The zoom ring is not particularly stiff, but neither it is particularly smooth to operate. I guess that a looser zoom ring might have caused lens creep, so they opted for a medium stiffness. I don't have the 24-120 to compare, though. It's more or less comparable to the 14-30 and 24-70/4, maybe a tiny bit stiffer than than.

Anyway, I have played a lot with this lens in the past 3 months on my Z6, and optically I can offer the following considerations:

NAKED LENS (no converters)
- The lens is balanced and handholdable, ergonomic and a great compromise in weight.
- Quality at long distances is very good at all focal lengths and apertures. It's already excellent in the center from wide open, and slightly benefits from stopping down only in the corners.
To make a comparison, at 100mm it's better at full aperture than the Z 105 MC at 2.8: unfair comparison, maybe, but considering that the macro lens is one of the sharpest 105mm lenses ever... The Z 105MC still has a slight edge if stopped down, though (as is to be expected).
- Image quality only degrades a bit at very short focusing distances and towards 400mm, but still very reasonable in the light of the very short minimum focusing distance: and this is an advantage compared to the fixed 400/4.5, because it allows for nice "almost macro" closeups.
- Focusing is quite fast, although it may hunt a bit at the long end in low light before grabbing focus: this is also due to the Z6, and everything points to better (and almost impeccable) behaviour on the Z9.

WITH 2X TC
- Losing two stops and becoming f/11, clearly the focusing speed suffers even in normal light conditions (again, it should be better on the Z9)
- Quality when using the TC at lower focal lenghts is very good. There is absolutely no difference in sharpness between shooting with the bare lens at 400mm and the lens @200+2X TC, which is telling on how good the TC is   
- Quality definitely takes a hit in the 300-400mm range (600-800mm equivalent), and especially at short distances. It actually very much depends from situation to situation. But still, it's better than cropping, especially at long distances: the difference between 800mm with the TC and a 2X crop sees a reasonable advantage for the TC
- While the bare lens is very good at full aperture, stopping down half/one stop is rather recommended with the TC to improve sharpness and reduce slight instances of bloom
- As I said before, "it depends from situation to situation": ideal light will yield good results. But anything less than ideal will amplify the TC limits. Low light? Flat results. Contrasty light? Some loss of contrast due to blooming. Terrain heat/haze/humidity? Even worse. This last warning goes for ANY long telephoto, of course, but I feel that together with the loss of quality induced by the TC it's amplified. Some close shots I have done to small animals @800mm in hot days and harsh light were not exactly flattering, and actually quite soft. A partial remedy? Stop down to f/14-16, and then go heavier with the sharpening in PP.
- Bokeh is very much affected by the TC, becoming nervous and generally distracting


In general, TLDR: very good lens, but if you plan to use it with the 2X TC don't believe the hype. There are some internet reviews which say "I didn't see any image quality or performance hit with the 2x TC, it's a miracle!". No, sorry, the difference can be seen. Usable, but still not perfect.
Mountain and nature photographer / Nikon Z6 + 14-30/4 S + 20/1.8 S + 50/1.2 S + 24-70/4 S + 105/2.8 MC S / 100-400/4.5-5.6 S - Nikon D700 + AF-D 16/2.8 + AF-S 17-35/2.8 D + AF 50/1.8 + AF-D 105/2 DC + AF-D 80-200/2.8

ColinM

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Re: Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S Lens
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2022, 22:54:39 »
Thanks Lucasbeer.

Care to share a few examples to illustrate these points?
I'm interested in how well it can deal with Birds in Flight at the 400mm end.

Lucabeer

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Re: Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S Lens
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2022, 00:13:49 »
Birds are not my stuff, but here are some recent shots of mine with the 2X:


















Mountain and nature photographer / Nikon Z6 + 14-30/4 S + 20/1.8 S + 50/1.2 S + 24-70/4 S + 105/2.8 MC S / 100-400/4.5-5.6 S - Nikon D700 + AF-D 16/2.8 + AF-S 17-35/2.8 D + AF 50/1.8 + AF-D 105/2 DC + AF-D 80-200/2.8

longzoom

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Re: Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S Lens
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2022, 00:36:28 »
Lucabeer, those goats are stunning. A somewhat low-resolving sensor limits you and your lens. In this case, you will be much better with the Z7-Z9 sensor, but, you know, just wishing... Well done, actually!  LZ

Lucabeer

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Re: Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S Lens
« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2022, 12:08:08 »
But that opens another consideration...

The 2X TC makes sense on the Z6 because it's better than cropping. At long distances, achieving 800mm with the 2X is appreciably better than cropping (in terms of pure sharpness). But at very short distances (below 5-6 meters), I would say that it's a close call: sometimes the TC is better, sometimes it's equivalent to cropping, sometimes (maybe due to user error) even slightly worse.

As a consequence, with a higher resolution body like the Z7/Z9 that would benefit the resolution of the naked lens much more, it might be a different story. With 45 Mpx, cropping the bare lens might offer identical (or even better) results than using the 2X TC. I think that with a high resolution body, the 2X TC would somehow "eat up" too much of the lens resolution. Thom Hogan says more or less the same thing (and he uses a Z9): 800mm with the 2X TC is usable but not recommended.

Of course all these considerations of mine apply at full aperture: if you stop down, even just 1 stop (making it a f/16 lens at 800mm though...), the quality with the TC improves immensely. And careful sharpening (radius from 1 to 2) does miracles too.
Mountain and nature photographer / Nikon Z6 + 14-30/4 S + 20/1.8 S + 50/1.2 S + 24-70/4 S + 105/2.8 MC S / 100-400/4.5-5.6 S - Nikon D700 + AF-D 16/2.8 + AF-S 17-35/2.8 D + AF 50/1.8 + AF-D 105/2 DC + AF-D 80-200/2.8

Lucabeer

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Re: Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S Lens
« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2022, 19:31:02 »
Just a long distance shot (50 meters) that I took a few minutes ago on purpose to show what you should expect (please download it and open it with an external viewer at 100%, to avoid the resizing performed by your browser)...

On the left we have a 200% crop of the bare lens @400mm f/5.6. On the right, we have a 100% crop of the lens+2XTC f/11 (800 mm equivalent).

On the Z6, the result with the TC is slightly better and probably justifies its use. Not oustanding sharpness, but it's OK and slightly/moderately better than cropping. Up to you if the slight quality advantage of the TC justifies its price and the loss of two stops.

Anyway, stopping down at f/16 yields an even sharper result for the TC. And careful post production sharpening helps a little bit too (here I have applied no USM apart from the standard camera sharpening).

Mountain and nature photographer / Nikon Z6 + 14-30/4 S + 20/1.8 S + 50/1.2 S + 24-70/4 S + 105/2.8 MC S / 100-400/4.5-5.6 S - Nikon D700 + AF-D 16/2.8 + AF-S 17-35/2.8 D + AF 50/1.8 + AF-D 105/2 DC + AF-D 80-200/2.8

Lucabeer

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Re: Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S Lens
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2022, 20:51:28 »
Here is the comparison with the 2x TC at f/16, a marked improvement.

Mountain and nature photographer / Nikon Z6 + 14-30/4 S + 20/1.8 S + 50/1.2 S + 24-70/4 S + 105/2.8 MC S / 100-400/4.5-5.6 S - Nikon D700 + AF-D 16/2.8 + AF-S 17-35/2.8 D + AF 50/1.8 + AF-D 105/2 DC + AF-D 80-200/2.8

Andrew

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Re: Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S Lens
« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2022, 11:21:42 »
Z6, monopod, gimbal, TC-1.4, 18mm of Meike ring
ISO 400, 1/160, f10, 560mm

Libellula fulva, female


 
Andrew Iwanowski