Lens review

Nikon Nikkor Z 400 mm f/4.5 VR S

23 May 2024
Maciej Latałło

11. Summary

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  • sensational image quality in the frame centre,
  • good image quality on the edge of the APS-C sensor,
  • sensible image quality on the edge of full frame,
  • negligible longitudinal chromatic aberration,
  • imperceptible lateral chromatic aberration,
  • lack of any noticeable problems with spherical aberration,
  • very low distortion,
  • nice out-of-focus areas,
  • excellent coma correction,
  • silent and accurate autofocus,
  • moderate vignetting,
  • excellent image stabilization,
  • compact dimensions for offered parameters.


  • performance against bright light should have been better,
  • noticeable focus breathing.
I spent two weeks taking photos with the Nikkor Z 400 mm f/4.5 VR S and I have to admit I enjoyed every moment of it. Physical dimensions and weight of this instrument make it completely portable, a very nice companion on even long walks. You can hunt for nice shots of birds or wildlife and the results will be of really good quality. If you add to that an excellent optical quality, a very accurate autofocus, a very efficient image stabilization unit, and protection against inclement weather, I suppose you get a recipe for a lot of photographic happiness. Of course such a huge amount of happiness doesn't come cheap. Your wallet should be very well lined because the tested Nikkor costs about $3000 and if you wish to add a teleconverter to it you have to spend almost $550 more. However, keeping in mind the amount of money you had to pay for the Canon EF 4/400 DO IS USM, the price of the Nikkor might seem quite affordable.

The preliminary requirement when it comes to granting our 'Editor's Choice' badge is just one flaw of the tested instrument. Still, that badge being a reflection of my personal and completely subjective opinion, sometimes I am willing to make slight exemptions. In this particular case the list of cons includes two positions but, when it comes to ghosting and flares, we were really close to a medium level. Focus breathing, on the other hand, is not a serious flaw because this particular lens virtually will never be used for video shooting. What's more, the fact that because of that breathing the effective focal length increases slightly for smaller working distances creates in fact a positive effect. After analysing it all very carefully I had no doubts that the Nikkor Z 400 mm f/4.5 VR S deserves our badge.

Nikon Nikkor Z 400 mm f/4.5 VR S - Summary