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Hands-On Impressions of the Nikon Z 800mm f/6.3 for Wildlife

Hands-On Impressions of the Nikon Z 800mm f/6.3 for Wildlife

Wildlife photographer Steve Perry took the newly announced Nikon PF 800mm f/6.3 VR S for a test drive and shared his thoughts on what to expect from a super prime photographic lens.

Perry has been given the opportunity to shoot with a pre-production version of the lens, so there may be some differences between his photos and experiences versus what will appear on the final production model. Plus, due to beach time spent with the lens and because it’s not a Final Edition version, he wasn’t able to put it within his normal testing range. However, Berry was able to take a lot of great photos and was able to form some initial opinions of the new super-telephoto prime.

Shot with a pre-production NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens
Shot with a pre-production NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens

Not only is the lens as durable as Nikon’s other flagship lenses, Berry says, it feels stronger even than 300mm or 500mm PF lenses. There have been some concerns that the lens’s relatively reasonable price means there will be some reduction in build quality, but Berry says he didn’t notice any of them in his testing.

He adds that the change in control ring design is an improvement over previous generations, and found that by placing the programmable control ring in the middle (rather than near the base of the lens), he found it easier to jump off the function buttons, focus rings, and the back, allowing him to focus on his shots.

Shot with a pre-production NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens
Shot with a pre-production NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens

Berry also says he liked the clarity of the images at slower shutter speeds with VR enabled. Nikon says that the new lens comes with 5.5 degrees of VR performance when paired with the Z9 and Berry mentions that usually with a lens of this type, he never shoots below 1/800 as his “ranger rate” drops dramatically if he does.

However, the new PF 800mm f/6.3 lens exceeded his expectations and provided an impressive amount of sharp, usable images when shooting handheld even as slow as 1/200th of a second. The Ranger rating alone was reason enough for Perry to begin referring to the lens as a “game-changer” for wildlife photographers.

“I will initially say that this is the best stabilization I have used with any lens from any brand,” he says.

Berry describes the bokeh and background separation as “almost dreamlike” in his show, which he says does a great job of isolating wildlife images and removing distracting elements.

Shot with a pre-production NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens
Shot with a pre-production NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens

Berry agrees with Nikon’s design decisions regarding lens weight distribution. He says the shifted balance center allows him to rest him in a more comfortable position and results in a better hand-holding experience. This design allowed him to get into position faster than he could with other lenses and gave him more time to capture the fleeting moments that often occur when trying to capture nature in the wild.

Here is a series of photos that Perry took with a pre-production model of the PF 800mm f/6.3 VR S:

Shot with a pre-production NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens
Shot with a pre-production NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens
Shot with a pre-production NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens
Shot with a pre-production NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens
Shot with a pre-production NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens
Shot with a pre-production NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens
Shot with a pre-production NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens
Shot with a pre-production NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens
Shot with a pre-production NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens
Shot with a pre-production NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens
Shot with a pre-production NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens
Shot with a pre-production NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens
Shot with a pre-production NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens
Shot with a pre-production NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens
Shot with a pre-production NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens
Shot with a pre-production NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens
Shot with a pre-production NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens
Shot with a pre-production NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens
Shot with a pre-production NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens
Shot with a pre-production NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens
Shot with a pre-production NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens
Shot with a pre-production NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens

For more from Steve Perry, be sure to check out his YouTube channel and website.


Image credits: Steve Perry’s photo.

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