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Keywords: Nikon Nikkor Tele Prime 35mm AF-S VR Stabilized


Registered: November 2005
Posts: 9
Nikon 600mm f/4G IF-ED AF-S VR Nikkor review by bradhill
Review Date: 10/18/2008 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $7,864.51| Rating: 9 

Pros: Excellent VR performance, excellent image quality and excellent autofocus performance
Cons: Stock tripod foot excessively massive

This lens is a truly professional instrument. I have been shooting with it extensively for the past 3 months on both a D3 and a D700 and, once I learned how to truly "play" this instrument, it has produced stellar results.

Some specifics:

1. Image quality: Only my Nikon 200 f2 is sharper - you can't expect anything better from this lens. The "N" coating is effective - even strongly back-lit scenes exhibit good contrast. Bokeh is buttery smooth and exquisite.

2. Autofocus performance: Exceeded my expectations by a significant margin. I expected it would be fast enough to capture slow-moving birds in flight (e.g., eagles at moderate distances) but I never expected I could use this lens to capture swallows in flight (which I have successfully done). Initial acquisition of focus considerably faster than on the 200-400 VR and appears almost as quick as on the 300 f2.8 VR. Definitely impressive for a lens this big.

3. Teleconverter performance: I have found very few lens/TC combinations that please me enough to permit me to regularly use TC's, but I have achieved professionally sharp results using the TC-14EII (1.4x TC) and 600 VR even when shot wide open. With the TC-17EII (1.7x TC) I have needed only to stop down about one stop to achieve professionally sharp results. In terms of colour and contrast - with the 1.4x TC I noticed no degradation of these variables, but there was a noticeable loss of colour and contrast (and autofocus performance) when I used the 1.7x TC - but all these degradations are easily handled in post-processing.

4. VR Performance: My experience with the VR differs dramatically from that of sylvaticus. I find that the VR function significantly extends the range of usefulness of this lens - whether on or off a tripod. When shooting using a tripod (moderately large Gitzo with Wimberley head) I ALWAYS use "tripod mode" except when panning birds. I have run numerous tests and have found that I virtually always get sharper results with VR on (tripod mode) than when the VR is off. When shooting off a monopod or hand-holding the lens (yes, you CAN hand-hold this lens, but not for long!) I use "normal" VR mode and have captured sharp images down to 1/100s. Note that one moose-like Nikon sponsored photographer states that the "tripod mode" of the VR should only be used when you're "absolutely locked down" - my experience is that this is NOT correct. Use Tripod mode whenever on a firm tripod (unless you're panning). Using "Normal" VR on a firm tripod CAN degrade image quality. Sorry moose - in my experience the manual IS right (and the info on your website misleading).

Numerous images captured with the 600 VR are in (and likely will always be in) my gallery of latest additions here:

I hope to have a full review of this lens posted on my website before the end of December 2008. Once I have posted the review I will update this entry with a link to the review



Registered: October 2008
Posts: 1
Nikon 600mm f/4G IF-ED AF-S VR Nikkor review by sylvaticus
Review Date: 10/17/2008 Would you recommend the product? No | Total Spent: $11,000.00| Rating: 6 

Pros: Superb image quality (VR OFF), close focusing
Cons: Woeful tripod foot. VR at best does nothing from a tripod, at worst softens images.

A hefty lens with a hefty price tag especially in Europe. Outstanding image quality (VR OFF), especially for back-lit subjects. The new nano coating works. Focuses much closer than the MKI or MKII 600 AFS. AF is blindingly fast, but then it is on the MKI & MKII 600 AFS. The MK I was a revalation 11 years ago!

The tripod mount is awful, far too tall and flimsy, but that can be partly solved with an after market foot.

The major drawback to this lens though, is it's headline feature - the vibration reduction. Quite simply the VR does not work on a tripod; usually the vibration reduction is counter productive softening images rather than improving sharpness. I have tried this lens with Wimberley II & RRS BH-55 heads on carbon fibre & aluminium tripods. Head loose, locked, VR Normal ,VR Tripod, etc etc. I have set a tripod up so that it was very unsteady to try to get the VR to do something useful, but all to no avail. Occaisionally the VR would give an image as sharp as when it is switched off, but that's the best my copy would do. Mostly images with the VR on are soft. Hand holding is something else; sharp images from vr/normal at 1/125.

My lens has been back to Nikon and the VR supposedly adjusted to Nikon specs. Happily I have not sold my MKI 600 AFS, so the 600 VR has gone back to the dealer. If I had kept it I would very probably have modified the VR ring with epoxy to make sure that I never engaged the VR accidently. It's that bad.


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