Nikon 800mm Lens – Worth the upgrade?

Nikon 800mm LensA friend of mine recently attended a photo show in Toronto and got a little more information for us on Nikon’s 800mm lens.  We already know it was to have an aperture of f/5.6 and is fully compatible with all of Nikon’s full frame cameras.  And as one would expect it is resistant to water and dust.

What I really wanted to know was the price tag and the weight.  According to my source the Nikon 800mm lens will come in around $12,000 CDN and weigh less than the Nikon 600mm lens and have only one lens hood unlike the 600mm which has two.  Although most of the folks I know that own the Nikon 600mm lens shoot with just the one lens hood attached anyway so no big change here.

The Nikon 800mm lens is great news for all the outdoor photographers as it is ideal for sports and wildlife photography.  Well it is decision time for many of us.  I own the Nikon 600mm lens and it filled in a nice gap for the long range that my Nikon 200-400mm lens couldn’t fill.  I can’t see myself owning both the Nikon 600mm lens and the Nikon 800mm lens unless I win a lottery so the question becomes which lens to carry?

On the plus side the Nikon 800mm lens gives you 200mm more reach however at f/5.6 you’re losing a stop of light given the Nikon 600mm lens comes in at f/4.  With todays low light capabilities in camera bodies like the Nikon D4 and D3S that may not be as big a deal as we can get great quality images at higher ISO’s which allows us to compensate for the loss of light without sacrificing image quality too much.  Then there’s rumour of a weight advantage which is always a plus if you’re humping your rig any distance.

I am curious to compare a Nikon 600mm image with a 1.4x teleconverter (effectively 840mm) to an image from the new Nikon 800mm straight up to see how the image quality compares.  One would expect an extra degree of sharpness from the 800mm however the proof is what I am waiting for along with a lottery winning so I can afford this beast as I have no doubt it would make a great addition to any wildlife photographers lens arsenal.  This is especially so if you like to shoot smaller birds and animals that are tough to get up close and personal with.

No news on a release date yet so this is simply a teaser at the moment to get us all excited.  I am hoping to get a look at one up close and personal at the Henry’s Exposure Photography Expo in Ottawa November 16th and will report back if I get any further nuggets on this fine piece of glass.

 

This entry was posted in Wildlife Photography Gear Review and tagged , .

8 Comments

  1. rlcarle November 2, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    I think the 800 mm lens would be the perfect complement to the 200-400 lens.  After all with a 1.4 teleconverter on the 200-400 you effectively have 560 mm thereby replacing the need for the 600 mm.  Image quality may suffer slightly with this combo but from what I have seen and heard from others not much, at least with the VR 2 version.  I’m interested in seeing how the 800 mm lens is with the 1.4 teleconverter.  I am thinking of replacing my 500 mm lens with this one if it comes in at the right weight and price.

    • bmaynard November 3, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

      @rlcarle With a 500mm lens in your bag I’d be thinking about it the same way you are Rob.  The 500mm just doesn’t give you the incremental reach over the 200-400 where the Nikon 800mm would do nicely.  I expect it to be lighter than the 600mm and around $12k so better start saving those pennies.  If you are interested in selling your 500mm post it up here perhaps one of my readers would be interested.  Be sure to include your asking price.  I’m hoping to get more information on the Nikon 800mm lens when I go to the Exposure show in Ottawa Nov 16-18th.

  2. objurgatus November 6, 2012 at 4:41 am #

    Hi bill. I am quite surprised to
    Know that the lens will cost 12k cdn. I thought it should be priced much higher the canon 800mm as they have been doing. Weight wise I would expect the same weight as canon lens otherwise it will be no easier to carry.
    Since you are planning to attend the expo would you find out the release date for this lens please?
    Thanks
    Ram

  3. objurgatus November 6, 2012 at 4:45 am #

    Hi bill. I am quite surprised to know that the lens will cost 12k cdn. I thought it should be priced much higher the canon 800mm as they have been doing. Weight wise I would expect the same weight as canon lens otherwise it will be no easier to carry.
    Since you are planning to attend the expo would you find out the release date for this lens please?
    Thanks
    Ram

    • Bill Maynard November 7, 2012 at 2:37 am #

      Yes once I get more details I will be sure to report back on as much as our friends at Nikon are willing to release.:))

  4. small business blog November 13, 2012 at 2:16 am #

    Shooting at low light conditions is quite important for me so an f stop of 2.8 and lower is important to me.

    • Bill Maynard November 14, 2012 at 3:10 am #

      Yes shooting in low is important to me as well and with the smaller lenses 2.8 or lower is a great option. With 500mm and beyond that becomes somewhat restrictive on both price and weight. Example the Sigma 200-500 2.8 lens weighs in at 34.5 lbs and $32,000. I find lugging my Nikon 600mm for a few miles is quite enough and anything over $10,000 has to get a second level of approval, namely my wife.:)) The compromise for low light in my view is to get a body that allows you to kick up the ISO to compensate for the lose of light with the 5.6 aperture so you can go with an f4 or f5.6.

      • Bill Maynard November 25, 2012 at 7:25 pm #

        Well I went to the Exposure show in Ottawa and I must say I was very disappointed by the reception I was given at the Nikon booth. One would think if someone came to your booth inquiring about a $12,000 lens that you might take the time to at least answer a few questions. The kens did not even make it out of the case for me to touch. Needless to say I have no more information than before I went to the show. I will also say the guy I spoke with at the Canon booth was very engaging. These folks need to realize that their actions and how they receive the public make all the difference on what newcomers to photography will choose from a brand perspective. If I were making a decision that particular day I’d have white lenses in my bag right now.

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