Best Wildlife Lenses for the Nikon Z8
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Best Wildlife Lenses for the Nikon Z8

For those who purchased a Nikon Z8, you most likely already know that it’s one among the finest cameras for wildlife, interval. Not solely does it have the identical autofocus system as Nikon’s flagship Z9, but it surely manages this excessive efficiency in a way more compact and transportable physique that’s nice for touring.

Nonetheless, you might be having a little bit of bother deciding which lens could be finest in case you’re a wildlife photographer, contemplating what number of choices Nikon has.  On this article, I’ll cowl the high decisions, together with the reason why every may very well be an incredible lens for the Nikon Z8.

Nikon Mirrorless (Z-mount) Lenses

The next desk summarizes the finest wildlife lenses which are native to the Nikon Z mount. For those who plan on shopping for them at B&H, think about using the hyperlinks on this desk to help Photgraphy Life!

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

The Nikon Z 100-400mm is a moderate-reach Z-mount lens. Because it maxes out at 400mm, it’s higher suited to photographing bigger or nearer wildlife. Its wonderful 0.38x magnification (minimal focus distance of 75cm) additionally makes this lens a incredible selection for close-up, near-macro pictures.

There are two potential downsides with this lens, and so they go hand-in-hand. The primary is that the most aperture of f/5.6 on the lengthy finish doesn’t let in as a lot gentle as an f/4 or f/2.8 lens, which additionally makes it more durable to make use of teleconverters. The second is that 400mm isn’t at all times lengthy sufficient for small, distance topics. So, it is a nice lens, but it surely’s not the proper selection for all wildlife photographers.

Nikon Z9 Review Sample Photo Wildlife Bison
NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S @ 320mm, ISO 800, 1/1250, f/5.3
Bison in the water Yellowstone
NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S @ 400mm, ISO 400, 1/1250, f/5.6
Dragonfly taken with Nikon Z9 pre-releast burst 1
NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S @ 400mm, ISO 800, 1/8000, f/5.6

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

Nikon’s alternative for its venerable F-mount 200-500mm f/5.6 is the Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 lens. it is usually the lens that the majority of photographers are probably to decide on as their first and even their major wildlife lens for the Nikon Z system. Coming in at about 1.9kg (4.3lbs), this lens is hand-holdable. And for the value, it’s extraordinarily interesting.

Nikon Z 180-600mm f5.6-6.3 Official Product Photo Top

Not like the Nikon 200-500mm lens, the newer 180-600mm lens is internally zooming, which offers higher stability in comparison with the older zoom. Not solely that, however its improved optical system makes it sharper. With a wonderful magnification of 0.25x (1:4), this lens will probably be good for smaller mammals, lizards, frogs, in addition to the extra typical topic of birds and huge mammals.

No, it doesn’t supply the quicker aperture or excessive sharpness of the costlier primes, however of all of Nikon’s wildlife lenses, that is definitely one among the most versatile lenses that may very well be paired with the Nikon Z8.

Nikon Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S

The Nikon Z 400mm f/4.5 is a compact and ridiculously sharp lens that’s good for bigger birds and birds in flight. It’s considerably costlier than the Z 180-600mm, and even a bit costlier than the Z 100-400mm. So, why would you get this lens as a substitute?

First, it’s quicker than each of these zoom lenses by about 2/3 of a cease. This does make a distinction in difficult wildlife circumstances. Specifically, it’s a lot simpler to make use of a 1.4x teleconverter with this lens, turning it into a really cheap 560mm f/6.3. It’s additionally the sharpest of those three lenses at 400mm, though elements like atmospheric distortion and your focusing method will play a much bigger function in a wildlife picture’s sharpness.

Lastly, the Nikon Z 400mm is extraordinarily gentle for what you get, particularly in comparison with the 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3. This makes a giant distinction if you’re carrying the lens and different tools all day.

Black-mantled Tamarin
NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S + 1.4x TC @ 560mm, ISO 7200, 1/640, f/4.5
Squirrel_Firmware 3
NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S @ 400mm, ISO 4000, 1/1600, f/4.5
Gull_Firmware 3
NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S @ 400mm, ISO 5600, 1/2000, f/5.0

Nikon Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S

Taking inspiration from the Nikon 180-400mm F-mount lens, the Nikon Z 400mm f/2.8 was Nikon’s first Z-mount lens to function a built-in 1.4X teleconverter. This makes the lens very versatile, giving 400mm and 560mm at the flick of a swap. The Nikon Z 400mm f/2.8 can also be an insanely sharp lens, that also appears good at 560mm.

The largest benefit of this lens is, after all, its most aperture of f/2.8. This makes it Nikon’s quickest supertelephoto (at the least for now!) and is a big assist in low gentle pictures. It additionally makes it very simple to make use of teleconverters.

Historically, 400mm f/2.8 lenses had been fairly specialised instruments, being very heavy and a bit brief for smaller wildlife. However this ain’t your daddy’s 400mm f/2.8. Since this lens has a built-in 1.4X TC and important 850 g (1.9 lbs) weight financial savings over the Nikon 400mm f/2.8E, this new Z mount 400mm f/2.8 may certainly be the final wildlife lens.

Paired with the wonderful autofocus of the Z8, the Nikon Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S is a dream equipment. Sadly, that’s mirrored in the excessive MSRP of $14,000.

Masked trogon
NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S @ 560mm, ISO 7200, 1/160, f/4.0
Booted racket-tail
NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S @ 400mm, ISO 16000, 1/500, f/2.8
NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S @ 400mm, ISO 125, 1/640, f/3.5

Nikon Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S

Considered one of the finest Nikon telephoto lenses ever made is the 600mm f/4 TC VR S. Identical to the 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S, this 600mm lens has a built-in 1.4x teleconverter. When engaged, it turns the lens into an 840mm f/5.6.

Nikon Z 600mm f4 TC VR S

Would you discover extra use with this lens, which is a 600mm f/4 and an 840mm f/5.6? Or would you like the 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S, which is a 400mm f/2.8 and a 560mm f/4? It actually is dependent upon the kinds of topics that you simply shoot. I’d argue that the 400mm f/2.8 is definitely extra versatile, as a result of generally you’ll actually need that f/2.8 most aperture. And in case you want an 800mm lens, you would at all times put a 2x TC on the 400mm f/2.8.

Then once more, for most picture high quality at 600mm and past, the Nikon Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S is the lens to beat. Nonetheless, at $15,500, it’s exhausting to justify for anybody aside from skilled photographers.

Nikon Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S

For those who’re trying for the longest attain with out teleconverters, the Nikon 800mm f/6.3 is your lens! It’s the lightest native 800mm lens that Nikon makes. Paired with the Nikon Z8, that is the lightest technique to get a pro-level 800mm lens and a pro-level camera at the moment.

Costing $6500, this lens is dear however much more inexpensive than the 400mm f/2.8 and 600mm f/4. It’s also solely about 2.4kg, which suggests it’s handholdable for longer durations in comparison with most supertelephotos.

The Nikon Z 800mm f/6.3’s major software is birds and different small animals. The truth is, for many conditions, it is going to be too lengthy, and f/6.3 might not be vivid sufficient. However in case you’re photographing small birds which are 10-15 meters away from you or larger (30+ ft), 800mm will probably be very best. By comparability, 400mm and 600mm lenses work higher for normal wildlife pictures outings.

Blue tit_02
NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S @ 800mm, ISO 6400, 1/500, f/6.3
Three Cranes Nikon Z7 and 800mm f6.3 Lens
NIKON Z 7 + NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S @ 800mm, ISO 1800, 1/3200, f/6.3
Moon with Nikon Z 800mm f6.3 lens and 2x teleconverter
NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S Z TC-2x @ 1600mm, ISO 64, 1/200, f/13.0. Not a wildlife picture (as far as we know) but it surely exhibits the loopy attain of this lens!

Nikon DSLR (F-mount) Lenses

Likelihood is, you’ll need the newest Z glass in your Z8. Nonetheless, there are a number of F-mount lenses that merely don’t have any Z counterparts and/or are wonderful values on the used market, so it’s worthwhile to think about them. F-mount glass autofocuses very nicely on Z our bodies with the FTZ or FTZ II adaptor.

Lens Size Weight Listing Value (USD)
Nikon 300mm f/4E PF ED VR 14.8cm (5.8″) 0.755kg (1.7lbs) $2,000
Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR II 26.8cm (10.6″) 2.900kg (6.4lbs) $5,500
Nikon 120-300mm f/2.8 30.4cm (12.0″) 3.250kg (7.2lbs) $9,500
Nikon 500mm f/5.6 PF 23.7cm (9.3″) 1.460kg (3.2lbs) $3,600
Nikon 500mm f/4E FL ED VR 38.7cm (15.2″) 3.09kg (6.8lbs) $10,300

Nikon 300mm f/4E PF ED VR

The Nikon 300mm f/4E PF is the smallest 300mm f/4 lens due to its phase-fresnel (PF) expertise that has subsequently been utilized in the F-mount 500mm f/5.6 PF and the Z-mount 800mm f/6.3. As a result of the 300mm f/4 is so small and takes a 1.4X TC teleconverter fairly nicely, it’s a good lens for wildlife photographers who completely don’t need to carry an enormous lens. Since the Z8 is already a reasonably compact camera, placing this lens on it might make a really good journey mixture when wildlife isn’t your major goal.

Nikon 300mm f4E FL VR Sample Images (8)
NIKON D750 + 300mm f/4 + 2X TC @ 600mm, ISO 3600, 1/1250, f/9.0 © Nasim Mansurov

The truth is, this lens is barely 775g, which is sort of half the weight of the Olympus 300mm f/4 lens for micro 4 thirds, and it is a full-frame lens! This lens nonetheless has no equal in Z mount (or some other mount) and thus I’ve seen fairly a number of individuals adapting it to their Z8 cameras for a light-weight and really succesful setup.

That mentioned, the very gentle 500mm f/5.6 PF has changed it for many photographers, and the Z 400mm f/4.5 in a beautiful different for Z-mount customers. The rationale to get the 300mm f/4 PF is that it’s less expensive and even smaller than these two choices.

Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR II

Fairly a bit costlier is the Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR II – an outstanding lens. It’s a workhorse software utilized by professionals for sports activities, wildlife, and even portrait pictures.

I’ve used the Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR II extensively and am at all times impressed by its efficiency, particularly when coupled with teleconverters. The AF efficiency is high notch, with tremendous quick and correct autofocus acquisition. For bigger animals, particularly in low gentle, a 300mm f/2.8 lens continues to be immensely helpful.

Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR II

I’ve been taking pictures with the Nikon 200-400mm f/4 VR lens for the final 4-5 years and I can guarantee you that the Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR II is total a greater lens to purchase.

Burrowing Owl Chick
NIKON D3S + 300mm f/2.8 @ 500mm, ISO 1600, 1/250, f/5.6
American Pika
NIKON D3S + 300mm f/2.8 @ 500mm, ISO 1600, 1/800, f/8.0

See our detailed Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR II Assessment for extra info on this lens.

Nikon 120-300mm f/2.8

For those who like the thought of a 300mm f/2.8G II however in a zoom, that is your lens. Curiously, it’s 3.25kg, which isn’t a lot heavier than the 2.9kg of the 300mm f/2.8. I’d recommend that for most individuals, this lens is overkill at $9500 – however in case you want the final f/2.8 zoom, that is it.

The Nikon 120-300mm f/2.8 is a really specialised software. It’s incredible in case your topic is comparatively giant/shut, and there isn’t a lot gentle. In any other case, there are different lenses I’d choose first. Mainly, in case you’re undecided which lens you’ll want, you positively don’t want this one.

Nikon 500mm f/5.6 PF

The Nikon 500mm f/5.6 PF lens was a breakthrough lens for Nikon. It allowed photographers to achieve 500mm at a reasonably low value in comparison with the 500mm f/4, and it’s a straightforward lens to handhold all day at only one.5kg. Though it’s an F-mount lens, it’s nonetheless utilized by many Nikon Z8 customers with an FTZ adapter.

Ring-billed Gull in flight
Ring-billed Gull, Nikon D500 + 500mm f/5.6 PF @ 500mm, ISO 450, 1/2500, f/5.6 © Jason Polak

The tradeoff is the narrower most aperture of f/5.6. I believe it’s a good commerce for the elevated versatility of by no means needing a tripod. On the different hand, in case you prefer to shoot when the solar is low, f/5.6 isn’t vivid sufficient even with the Z8’s wonderful sensor. That is very true for mammals which are usually energetic throughout these darkish durations.

Nikon 500mm f/4E FL ED VR

The Nikon 500mm f/4E VR is form of a “candy center” between Nikon’s 400mm and 600mm lenses. Though this focal size can now be roughly reached by the new 400mm f/2.8S lens, in case you’re at all times at 500mm, it is perhaps value saving cash and getting this F-mount 500mm as a substitute.

Resulting from its average f/4 aperture, it’s a a lot lighter lens than a 400mm f/2.8. Optically, it’s an insanely sharp lens – not that there are any duds on this record! Once more, not a lot to complain about when it comes to optics and options. Although Nikon Z8 shooters have quite a lot of 500mm choices, most of them have a narrower most aperture at this level, like f/5.6 or f/6.3.

Nikon 500mm f/4E VR

Does It Make Sense to Use F-mount Glass on Your Z8?

You is perhaps questioning, does it nonetheless make sense to get an F-mount lens now that Nikon is focusing its effort and help on Z-mount? In lots of instances, it nonetheless does. Many aspiring wildlife shooters will little doubt pay attention to the stratospheric costs of supertelephotos. The Nikon Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S is a traditional instance, costing greater than some used automobiles.

Due to this fact, it makes quite a lot of sense to take a look at some calmly used F-mount lenses, the E-versions of that are optically excellent. Getting a gently-used mannequin may prevent many 1000’s of {dollars}, which might go a good distance in the direction of different gear.

Moreover, some good wildlife lenses merely usually are not (but) accessible for Z-mount, akin to a 300mm f/2.8 or 500mm f/4. If well-cared for, such F-mount lenses can nonetheless final a few years. They may also be used on DSLRs, and I’d say for 90% of wildlife, a mirrorless camera won’t present any important benefits over a DSLR and an F-mount lens.

That mentioned, there are some advantages to utilizing a local Nikon Z lens on the Z8 somewhat than tailored lenses. First, you merely don’t should take care of carrying the FTZ adapter. Second, you get entry to Nikon’s newer, wonderful Z-series teleconverters. Third, some Z lenses are completely distinctive, like Nikon’s $6500 800mm f/6.3. And at last, there’s a slight enchancment in autofocus consistency with native lenses – nothing value worrying about most of the time, however seen in check circumstances.

Nikon Z8 800mm f6.3 PF Sample Image Eagle Iceberg
NIKON Z 8 + NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S @ 800mm, ISO 400, 1/2000, f/6.3


Nikon has at all times been an ideal selection for wildlife shooters. They’ve some nice F-mount lenses which have been supplemented in the previous few years with some wonderful new Z-mount lenses. No matter type of wildlife you prefer to {photograph}, whether or not or not it’s giant mammals or small birds, you might be positive to search out the proper Nikon lens.

Do you may have any suggestions or questions? I’d love to listen to in the feedback!

#Wildlife #Lenses #Nikon

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