|Introduction | Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR image quality ranking | Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR image quality ranking | Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR fights off both Canon and Sony | Nikon 600mm f/4G ED VR vs Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM: duel it out, but it’s a tie | Conclusion|
Super-telephoto lenses like these are indispensible for shooting action, sports and wildlife but their high price and limited versatility restricts accessibility to the average user. Most are to be found in the hands of photojournalists working on behalf of picture agencies, but it’s also true to say that a fair number are used by wildlife photographers including working professionals and well-heeled enthusiasts. Read on to see if the current iterations deserve their celebrated status.
Unlike the Nikkor 600mm f/4, which as a manual focus lens at the time was first introduced in back in 1977, the manual focus 500mm f/4 was only introduced in 1988 after repeated requests to the maker to offer a smaller, lighter weight option as that made popular by arch-rival Canon. The current AF version was introduced in 2007, weighs 3880g, boasts 14 elements in 11 groups (including 3 ED glass elements), and a single Nano Crystal Coat. As well as an ultrasonic type AF motor, it focuses to 4.0m (3.85m in MF) also has the latest 4-stop VR II spec and a sticker price of $8,030 to match.
Until only recently the $9,999 AF-S Nikkor 600mm f/4G ED VR was Nikon’s longest and most expensive super-telephoto (though that position is now reserved for the new $17,900 fluorite based AF-S Nikkor 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR). Even so, the 600mm f/4 can still lay claim to being the heaviest at 5,060g (weighing 470g more than the 800mm f/5.6). As with the 500mm f/4, this lens has VR II, Nano Crystal Coat and one extra glass element, bringing the total to 15 in 12 groups (with 3 ED glass elements), an ultrasonic type AF motor and focuses to 5.0/4.8M depending on the focus mode selected.