Nikon Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR Review

October 17, 2023 | Mark Goldstein | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


Nikon are proceeding full steam ahead to replace their DSLR camera and lens range with mirrorless equivalents, and the Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR effectively replaces the AF-S Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR DSLR lens, which was released back in 2015.

This mirrorless version ups the ante somewhat by providing a slightly wider-angle of 180mm at f/5.6 and a usefully longer reach of 600mm, albeit at f/6.3.

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 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR certainly fits the bill for Z-series mirrorless users.

The Nikon Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR 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 control ring, and weather-proofing for your 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 auto-focusing, 5.5 stops of in-built vibration reduction, and the possibility to shoot at even longer focal lengths by attaching one of Nikon’s 1.4x or 2x tele-converters.

If the Nikon Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S doesn't provide quite enough reach for you, then the new Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR is a superb alternative as it offers 50% more zoom and can still be used with both the 1.4x and 2x teleconverters.

It does weigh 500g more than the 100-400mm, though, plus it's 4cm longer, offers slower maximum apertures at both ends of the focal range, and isn't as wide-angle.

So you really need to make sure that you'll benefit from the extra 400-600mm reach to justify choosing this lens over its stable-mate.

One of the most attractive things about this lens if the price. It may not have the desirable "S" moniker afforded to the 100-400mm zoom, but at at £1799 / $1699 is around £$1000 cheaper, making it a something of a comparable bargain.

The AF-S NIKKOR 200–500mm f/5.6E ED VR is still available for around £1399 / $1399, but once you factor in the additional cost of the FTZ adapter it doesn't make a lot of financial sense. Over time, the prices are likely to get closer, and we’d always recommend going for the proprietary version if you can.

Overall, the Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR is highly recommended for anybody that wants a superb all-in-one zoom for photographing subjects such as portraits, wildlife, sports or action without completely breaking the bank.

4.5 stars

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