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Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR Lens: Review & Buying Guide

The Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR lens addresses a void in the Nikon Z lineup, providing Nikon Z users with an excellent blend of performance and image quality at an affordable price. It boasts swift and consistent autofocus, and its relatively manageable weight, given its size, ensures comfortable handheld use for extended durations.

Pros:

  • A versatile focal range
  • Internal zoom and focusing
  • Impressive 5.5-stop image stabilization

Cons:

  • Though relatively lightweight for its size, it is still notably hefty
  • Lacks a direct VR switch for convenient access
  • Not entirely weather-sealed
Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR Lens: Review & Buying Guide

Two-Minute Review: Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR Lens

Overview:

In recent years, long telephoto zoom lenses have become more affordable, particularly the 150-600mm focal range, which is considered reasonably priced when compared to professional telephoto lenses.

Affordability:

The Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR, priced at $1,697 / £1,799 / AU$2,999, offers a versatile focal range suitable for wildlife and sports photography, providing an accessible option for Nikon Z-series camera enthusiasts.

Native Z-Mount:

This lens fills a gap for Z-series camera owners, eliminating the need for adapters that can compromise performance and add length to the setup.

Size and Weight:

Measuring 12.5 x 4.4 inches and weighing 4lb 11.5oz with the tripod collar, it’s substantial but not the heaviest in its class. It remains comfortable during extended handheld use.

Construction:

With 25 elements in 17 groups, including ED and aspherical elements, the Nikkor Z 180-600mm maintains a solid build. It features internal zoom and focusing, preventing lens extension and front element rotation.

Two-Minute Review: Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR Lens

Zoom Control:

The lens offers smooth and quick zoom adjustments with a short rotation of the zoom ring, allowing seamless zoom changes without repositioning your hand.

Weather Sealing:

Although it lacks full weatherproofing, it has some dust and drip sealing. Still, it might not be suitable for heavy rain.

Controls:

Minimal controls include manual focus/autofocus and an autofocus range limiter switch. Four customizable L-Fn buttons add versatility. Unfortunately, there are no dedicated image stabilization controls.

Balance:

It pairs well with Z-series bodies, and a tripod collar facilitates quick transitions between handheld and tripod use.

Teleconverters:

Compatible with Nikon Z 1.4x and 2x teleconverters, expanding the focal range at the cost of a reduced maximum aperture. Using an APS-C camera boosts the range from 270mm to 900mm while maintaining the f/5.6-6.3 aperture.

Teleconverters

Autofocus:

Fast and near-silent autofocus is well-suited for capturing fast-moving subjects, both static and dynamic.

Close Focusing:

While not outstanding, the lens offers flexibility in close focusing depending on the zoom factor. At 180mm, the minimum focus distance is 4.27 ft, extending to 7.88ft at 600mm.

Macro Capability:

While not a true macro lens, it allows for closeup shots of smaller subjects.

In summary, the Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR lens offers versatility and affordability for Nikon Z-series camera users, making it a valuable addition for wildlife and sports photographers. However, its weather sealing and dedicated image stabilization controls could be improved.

Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR: Image Quality and Buying Considerations

Image Stabilization:

Beyond autofocus, the 5.5-stop image stabilization shines. Shooting at 600mm below 1/100 sec yielded mostly sharp results, although steady hands are crucial for optimal use.

Image Quality:

Image quality, a lens’s vital facet, is commendable from maximum aperture to f/11 across the focal range. While not as razor-sharp as pricier lenses, it surpasses adequacy. Minor chromatic aberration can be handled in post-processing or via in-camera corrections for JPEG shooters.

Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR: Image Quality and Buying Considerations

Should You Buy the Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR?

Buy It If…

  • You Need a Versatile Telephoto Zoom: Ideal for enthusiasts capturing wildlife, sports, airshows, or woodland scenes with Nikon Z-series cameras due to its versatile focal range.
  • You Shoot Wildlife or Sports Videos: Its efficient and quiet stepping motor suits video shooting with fast-moving subjects.
  • You Use a Z-Series APS-C Camera: On APS-C models, it offers an impressive 270mm to 900mm equivalent focal range.

Don’t Buy It If…

  • You’re on a Tight Budget: Though reasonably priced, it may not fit every budget. Consider the more affordable Tamron 70-300mm f4.5-6.3 Di III RXD.
  • You Require Top-Notch Image Quality: For superior image quality and handling, expensive prime lenses (e.g., 400mm, 600mm, 800mm) within the Z-series range are available.
  • You Need Full Weatherproofing: While it has dust and drip seals, it may not withstand harsh weather conditions or environments.

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