Nikon Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S Review

January 24, 2022 | Mark Goldstein | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


Super-telephoto zoom lenses have long been popular with enthusiasts and professionals alike who value an all-in-one optic that can easily handle a lot of different shooting scenarios and subjects, from portraiture to wildlife and sports photography, and the new Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S certainly fits the bill for Z-series mirrorless users.

Nikon are proceeding full steam ahead to replace their DSLR camera and lens range with mirrorless equivalents, and the Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S effectively replaces the AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR DSLR lens, which was released back in 2013.

Unlike Canon, who have chosen to introduce a 100-500m mirrorless zoom for their R-series camera, Nikon have decided to play it a little more safe by only going up to 400mm.

This is still by far the longest native lens currently available for Nikon Z-series cameras - there's the Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S and Nikon Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR, but they both end at 200mm. Nikon are planning to release 400mm and 800mm mirrorrless lenses, but they aren't available yet.

The Nikon Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S lens is undeniably big and heavy, but that’s a sacrifice most professionals and high-end enthusiasts will be willing to make for the versatile zoom range on offer. You also get excellent build quality, customisable function buttons and a display window for the outlay.

On top of that, you get a lens which is capable of producing fantastic images, with an excellent degree of sharpness throughout the focal and aperture ranges, even wide-open, super-fast autofocusing, inbuilt vibration reduction and the possibility to shoot at even longer focal lengths by attaching one of Nikon’s 1.4x or 2x teleconverters.

As you’d expect, all of this excellence comes at a price. At the time of writing, the Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S retails for around £2,700 / $2,700, so it’s hardly likely to be an impulse purchase.

It’s around £500 more expensive than the F mount 80-400mm, so if you already have an FTZ-adapter, you could save a little money by going for the older version. Over time, the prices are likely to get closer, and we’d always recommend going for the proprietary version if you can.

Although this is by no means a cheap lens, considering the wide range of subjects you can shoot with it, it still represents pretty good value for money, especially if you’re a professional or advanced enthusiast.

Overall, the Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S is highly recommended for anybody that wants a superb all-in-one zoom for photographing subjects such as portraits, wildlife, sports or action.

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 4.5
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 5
Value for money 4