Nikon Formally Announce the Z-Mount 400mm/f2.8 S w/ 1.4x TC

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by ShunCheung, Jan 18, 2022.

  1. Interesting (kinda!) the built-in TC has 1 built in ED glass element out of 7... whereas the 'conventional' external TC Z 1.4 has 1 Aspheric out of 6.

    Looking at the MTFs, with, and without internal TC, the IQ takes quite a modest hit, mostly at the edges.

    I look forward to seeing Z400mm frames, cropped to 560mm compared to 'native' 560mm frames and then compared to Z400mm + Ext. TC 1.4 Z

    ... and them maybe compared to 400mm E FL + TC 1.4e iii

    I still run DSLRs too, so might decide a 400mm E FL is better 'value' to me.
  2. I would expect that a dedicated TC built into the optical system of the lens will do better than a TC that is attached behind it. There's a noticeable difference in the MTF charts between the Z-mount 400 with TC and the F-mount 600/4 - with the latter clearly doing better (whether or not those differences can be seen in real life images is a different story). Also appears to be worse than the F-mount 180-400 with TC engaged - though that's at f/5.6 and not f/4. Not sure what to expect with regard to comparing "cropped 560" vs "560 w TC" - I expect that pixel peeping will favor the TC images.
    mike_halliwell likes this.
  3. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I copied Nikon's 400/2.8 S cross section diagram here. The group I am highlighting in green forms the 1.4x teleconverter that can be swung out from the optical path. Notice that those TC elements are smaller (with a smaller diameter) than the elements in front of and behind them. Therefore, Nikon can manage to use a reasonably small bump on the side to store those elements when they are out of the optical path.

    As Dieter points out, the MTF curves with the TC engaged is inferior to the straight F-mount 600mm/f4 FL. For those who need 600mm, I think it is best to wait for the true 600mm/f4 S lens, which potentially may also have a built-in TC. The main advantage of this arrangement is that during sports/action photography, you can add or remove the TC in a fraction of a second. When these lenses are on a tripod, it is a pain to remove the body and add/remove a TC. Frequently you also change the composition a little.
  4. It's even worse when hand-holding, especially when not using a shoulder strap. Not enough hands to hold the camera, the lens, and the TC. Not to mention, removing or adding the TC's front and rear caps. Steve Perry carries his TC in a belt pouch - without the caps attached to make mounting and unmounting them to the camera easier. I would very much prefer a built-in TC that I can engage/disengage at the flip of a switch.
    Mary Doo likes this.
  5. In a way, now that 1.1/2 stops is pretty irrelevant, ISO wise, they could have been brave and put in a x1.7.

    680mm is a useful increase, where-as 560mm is a bit, well, meh!

    Whether it's a 1 stop or 1.1/2 stop 'hit' is pretty insignificant.


    Course, if you were real innovative, they could be all on a 4 mount rotary TC ring, a bit like the astronomers have with filter wheels for different viewing or photography filters... even 6 is quite common.

    A 4 shot (TC) revolver, if you will.

    Blank, x1.4, x1.7 and x2...:D

    .....or maybe it's just easier to make a 400mm 2.8 > 800mm f5.6 ZOOM....:cool::p

    .....or maybe not??? ;)
  6. Or unconventional and make it a 1.5x - to get a 600/4 out of the 400/2.8.
    At $20K - better not! Too bulky and unwieldy too. Just get the Sigma 200-500/2.8 instead. I am sure there's a 1.4xTC available (280-700/4). Only $26k and 35lbs.
    mike_halliwell likes this.
  7. As Shun showed above, the size of the internal TC is small. 4 TCs on an axial quad 'axle' wouldn't be that much heavier, another 800gm?

    Certainly no-where near a 400mm 2.8 AF-I.......:)
  8. Assuming that the internal TCs follow the longitudinal dimensions of the external ones, then a 2x would need more space than a 1.4x one - and there's preciously little of that left in the 400/2.8 as the above diagram shows. Don't know if that space could be made bigger so that a 2x would fit without causing optical issues for the 1.7x and 1.4x - after all, empty space in an optical path isn't just doing nothing. I wonder if a design of a universal lens head with exchangeable barrels would not be a better and more convenient way than using TCs at all. Create a lens head that's good for 400/2.8, 500/4, 600/4, and 800/5.6 and provide optimized rear-barrels completing the lens for each. Since the front (head) incorporates the large lens elements, it would be the expensive part of the lens; the barrels themselves would be comparatively cheaper. Quite similar to the old Novoflex, Nikon, and Leica design with a focusing-unit in the back and interchangeable lens heads - just with the roles reversed (fixed head, interchangeable rear).
    mike_halliwell likes this.
  9. OK, that is what I didn't figure out from the first picture above.

    Also, from the lens element cross section, it seems that the TC elements aren't in the rear, as TC usually are. Pretty neat!

    I suspect they won't sell a lot of them, so no economy of scale.
  10. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    So far, there is only one other Nikkor lens that has a built-in 1.4x TC, namely the F mount 180-400mm/f4 RL. That lens' TC is also not at the very end of the lens. In fact, it that were in the very end, the little "pouch" that stores the TC would have been at the very end of the lens, making it very bulky right by the mount.

    That TC needs to stay away from both the AF elements and motor as well as the VR elements. Therefore, there are plenty of restrictions on where they could be placed in the optical path. Obviously they cannot be up front since those elements are huge, and you want to avoid a front-heavy lens that is a lot more difficult to handle.

    Incidentally, the 400mm/f2.8 S is 2950 grams including the TC. I have the 1998 version of the 300mm/f2.8 AF-S that weights 3100 grams. That is a lens I cannot hand hold for very long. Even though this 400/2.8 is a tiny bit lighter, to me, a tripod is a must.

    Nikon F-mount 180-400mm/f4 w/ 1.4x TC
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2022
  11. It is interesting to compare the known ranges of serial numbers for lenses with built-in TC and their closest equivalents without built-in TC. The only prior example is the 200-400/4 and 180-400/4 TC for Nikon. The former started around $5k moved a bit up in price and then the latter came out with almost 2x the price (currently $12397). Canon's 200-400/4 Extender was the one which elevated the price class of this type of zooms, and Nikon followed suit. What's interesting is that although I would have thought the price to be a strong deterrent, the serial number ranges (in Roland Vink's database, which could be incomplete esp. for new lenses) suggest that the 180-400 sold quite well (874 lenses/year) vs. earlier lenses (1763 lenses per year) for such an expensive lens, even though Nikon's market share and overall market size in 2018 had declined and people started to expect mirrorless native lenses. I can only assume that the success of the 180-400/4 TC encouraged Nikon to make other very expensive lenses such as the 120-300/2.8 (though not with built-in TC) and the Z 400/2.8 TC. Still, I rather liked the $5k prices for supertelephoto lenses during the early years of digital SLRs; they felt expensive at the time but not completely out of this world. Today one can get a used 200-400/4 1st version for as low as 1k€, which is a bit of an anomaly as it produces excellent imagery but I guess people just want lighter lenses, or read too much into the long-distance issues that some report with that lens.
  12. I wonder just how good the combined IBIS and VR will be for this beast with the Z9?

    For BIFs, the shutter speed will be pretty high to avoid bird-motion blur, but I wonder just how smooth the EVF will be in such circumstances?

    I've got the 300mm 2.8 VR @ 2850gm, and whilst not wanting to hand hold for long on a stationary target, find it OK for BIF and sniping!

    I wonder if the 2nd hand price of the 400mm 2.8 Fl will drop any time soon?.... rhetorical question really!...:(
  13. VR should be good; even with the VR 300 mm f/2.8 G II the in-camera VR seems highly effective as the view is more stable on the Z6 II than my DSLRs, to the point where it takes quite a bit of getting used to the latter after using the lens with the former. I imagine the Z 400mm with the latest VR technology and improved synchronization with the in-camera VR, it should be effective although as focal length increases the impact of the in-camera VR can diminishes in theory, as the movement of the sensor has limitations and longer focal lengths magnify the shake (at least in the absence of in-lens VR). In practice I have been surprised and happy with the combined effect of the two VR systems at 300 mm.

    The new 400 mm should be less front-heavy and may even be easier to hand-hold than the 300 mm f/2.8 (due to different distribution of weight). However, of course it is always harder to hand-hold a lens with narrower angle of view, and keep the subject in the frame. I imagine I would mostly want to use the 400 mm on a tripod (fluid or gimbal head) but there seem to be a lot of people who resent the use of a tripod. I personally don't like monopods but hand-holding and tripods are okay.

    Price on the second hand market is dictated by availability and demand. I imagine the Z 400/2.8 will increase availability but the Z9 may actually mean there are more takers for both the new and older version of the lens. So I don't see a drastic price cut in the second hand market, in fact I'd expect some increase in price levels for second hand long lenses as the Z9 increases their (AF) performance and utility (silent, high fps photography) over what was available before.
    mike_halliwell likes this.
  14. Perhaps one way to do it without the confine of the tripod would be to put the lens on the ground vertically, supported by the hood - Mike Halliwell, maybe this is the reason why Nikon charges as much for the lens hood as would a good CF tripod. ;). Then lift it quickly when you need to aim at the BIF and put it back on the ground when you got zero bird. Perhaps better than klutzing with the tripod and ballhead trying to aim?
    glen_h and mike_halliwell like this.
  15. For a 400/2.8, I'd use a fluid or gimbal head rather than a ball head (though ball heads vary in quality, the movement is rarely as smooth as on the others). I like fluid heads as they visibly dampen vibrations on long focal length lenses and can be reasonably compact (though the larger ones are very heavy) while gimbals allow fast movements but slow movements can be a little less smooth than on a fluid head, and a big gimbal can make carrying the tripod a bit more cumbersome. Fluid heads can work with both lens tripod mounts and camera plates with suitable adapters but gimbal heads only in practice support lens mounting, and can limit the type of lens that will work. Ball heads are compact and light weight for the stiffness provided, but all of the ones I've used are poorly suited for moving subjects.

    I like using a tripod with a telephoto lens as it stabilizes the view for observation and one doesn't have to scramble to catch the subject in the viewfinder when things start to be more active. But I can understand that hand-held use is more flexible for many situations. I just don't find observing through a hand-held long lens and waiting a long time to be comfortable, in fact I find it very uncomfortable. Another option is to lie down on the ground (or rather something soft placed on it) and shoot hand-held with elbows supported. That also provides advantages that the photographer's size to the subject is smaller and may not be recognized as a human or a threat to the animal as likely as a standing person, and usually the animals seem to forget the person is there after a while. But I'm not sure how realistic it is to hand-hold a 400/2.8 in a lying down position without some kind of tripod. Some place tripod legs in the water to get the optimal eye-level view and blur the background effectively.

    For birds in flight to me 400/2.8 seems overkill and a bit smaller and lighter lens probably is more practical for most situations. f/2.8 would certainly put the AF system to the test and probably a lot of the subject would be outside of the DOF. At long distances on large birds it could be useful. I imagine most would want to use 100-400 or 500 PF or something like that.
    q.g._de_bakker likes this.
  16. I guess for lying down with a big lens, the shoulder stock/pod would work well.... or maybe even add a bipod too.

    Let's face it, it looks kinda heavy weapon-like already so mount it as such....:D
  17. Well the support for a weapon takes advantage of shoulder support because of the conservation of momentum (as the projectile goes forward the weapon moves backward), but there is no recoil on a Z9. I think supporting one's elbows on the ground and use of VR provides adequate stability and one can shoot to the side without turning one's body completely.
    mike_halliwell likes this.
  18. Sorry for being a bit flippant in my previous post - hwvr, the method works because, without the burden of a tripod, one can instantly aim anywhere. The weight of the lens may not matter that much if one just lifts it up to aim and shoot a burst and then put it back to rest on the ground. No additional zooming task necessary with a fixed lens.

    Perhaps a more middle-of-the-road method would be to use a monopod with a Wimberley MH-100 MonoGimbal Head. I used this combination in Zimbabwe to keep my Olympus 100-400mm steady, especially when it was zoomed out to 400mm (800mm in 35mm format) when every movement had monumental effect in the frame.


    Guess we will need to find what works for different situations.
  19. There are two things, mass and moment of inertia. If you just hold it there, it is mass that you feel.

    If you try to (quoting above) "instantly aim anywhere" you will find moment of inertia slowing you down.
  20. Will too when on a gimbal or other support.

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