First preview/samples of the new Nikon 800mm f/5.6 lens

Leon Neal got the chance to use the new Nikon 800mm f/5.6 lens at the 2012 Olympics. Read the preview report with sample images on his blog.

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  • Spacedog

    Many, many possibilities. But i think it will be too expensiv for my budget :-/

  • Ibbo

    Good to see it in action

  • Jack Yell

    It’s not as big as I would have thought

    • FX DX

      That’s what she said.

  • Davo

    Haha.. Must be a dual system shooter or a Canon convert. Still referring to IS instead of VR.

  • Is it my eyes or my monitor or do the swimmers in the picture have have greenish skins?

    • Any Anon


      Someone should try photographing a D800’s LCD with another D800 and see how it looks from the 2nd LCD 🙂

    • mikils

      possibly artificially lightened indoor pools do confer greenish reflections

    • Nikon Shooter

      They do, but it’s more due to noise than anything else. Just shows that even for $6000 you can’t really expect any miracles.

      • It’s a combination of the two really. Shooting at very high ISOs produces some “unusual” results in colour at times but combined with the light in the aquatics centre, it can be a little challenging. Different areas of the pool don’t only have differing exposures but also white balances! Testing, at best…

    • Anonymus Maximus 1st

      Well they have clearly been in the Water tooooooo long!

    • The reality of shooting something like that is you are on such tight deadline and have to push out so many photos that you sometimes miss the obvious when looking at your screen.
      You also sometimes have to send photos the way they came out of the camera and hope the editor on the other end knows what to fix.

      • Thanks Steven, that’s exactly right. I’m shooting in the Aquatics Centre on a tethered system with all of my images being transmitted back to a team of editors who are also looking at four other photographer’s work from the same venue. The sad reality is that the speed and efficiency often over-rides the personal detail and effort you may put into editing your own work given time.

  • Pablo Ricasso

    Most excellent.

  • Optically I’m sure this will be a wonderful lens but the tripod mount looks completely inadequate. I’m sure there will be third party solutions for this similar to what I use on my 400 /2.8 but it’s still disapointing that the engineers at nikon again neglect this aspect.

  • This seems like such a specialized item.

    • ron scuberdriver

      Obviously dude.



      • Obviously, but birders everywhere will wish they could afford it, Mr. Scuberdriver. You could also try a hammer or a saw.

  • Shasta_D

    Why was he talking about IS [VR] when shooting at 1/1250th a second? Isn’t VR generally unnecessary beyond 1/500th or does a 800mm lens change the rules? Me and other sport shooters I know turn it off beyond 1/500th as it doesn’t add any real stabilization to the shot. Perhaps he was using it for viewfinder stabilization before the shot.

    • Plug

      Thinking the same thing. I switch VR off aboe 1/500th. Perhaps the rule is different for very long lenses. Anyone know?

      • Hi there, Yeah, I wouldn’t use stabilisation above 1000th usually, particularly indoors. For the purpose of the test, I tried it on a few shots just to check for lag. I personally don’t have hard and fast rules about when and when not to as sometimes shooting outdoors over a long distance with elements such as wind, floor movement and heat haze, the more stability the better, no matter what shutter speed! 🙂

        • Plug

          Thanks for your thoughts! 🙂

        • Shasta_D

          I was under the belief that VR has a certain sampling rate and only works for a certain range of vibration frequencies. And that sampling rate limits the effectiveness of VR above a certain shutter speed because VR just can’t compensate quick enough to extremely short time duration vibrations which would be the only frequency component visible in high shutter speeds shots.

          A higher sampling rate would require a fast VR processor and A/D conversion. All these would add cost and draw more power inside the lens. Perhaps the VR for the 800mm is tuned to work at least at 1/focal length.

          Anyway, I’d love it if one the 800mm lenses dropped into my hands for free.

          • soap

            Considering $0.10 A/D and D/A converters work at 48K I don’t think that is the limitation.

            Considering $0.50 ARM CPUs can perform complicated transforms on 96K data with latencies in the tens of microseconds (not to mention how cheap one could do an ASIC for such a task) I don’t think processing power is the bottleneck either.

            I’m not trying to suggest there isn’t a lag in IS/VR, but I see a reason to believe it is due to either of the things you mention.

            • Ralf

              The VR system is electro mechanical, it’s max frequency I believe is 2000Hz. I believe the max effective shutter speed is 1/1000. The limitation is the speed at which the VR elements can operate. Beyond 1/1000 the VR system will introduce more errors than it solves.

            • Guys there is nothing to duscuss – read hear –
              in short – for shutterspeeds faster 1/500 VR is a bad thing

            • soap

              Why y’all telling me this. I think I was pretty clear in what I said.

    • D800E at last

      Trying to have a catch-all cutoff point for VR is like saying that anything in the oven cooks in exactly 12 minutes.

      Camera shake is a function of field of view. You can hand-hold a wide angle lens at MUCH lower shutter speeds than a long lens. Similarly, VR is needed at faster shutter speeds with longer lenses.

      A rule of thumb that I’ve always used is “VR on at shutter speed below 2x focal length”. ie, I use VR for a 1/125th on the short end of a 70-200, and keep it on even when shooting 1/500th at 200mm.

      For a given focal length, each pixel (or grain) is looking at a specific angle of the composition. For long focal lengths, each pixel is looking at an extremely small angle. Smaller the angle, the more sensitive each element in the image is to camera motion.

  • For surfing and sports, I don’t understand why any shooter would limit themselves to an 800 mm fixed focal length lens when they can shoot with the Sigma 300-800 F5.6 lens. The Sigmonster is also incredibly sharp but it doesn’t have any lans stabilization.

    • foo

      Size & weight for one. With a suitable tripod & tripod head, you’re looking at 30+ lbs for the Sigma setup — not including the weight of the camera itself. Your not going to want to move that lens around much.

      With this 800mm you can mount it on a monopod and lug it to wherever the action is.

      • Pablo Ricasso

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the monster he’s talking of weighs a little under 12 pounds and I would guess that this new lens weighs a little under … 12 pounds, although maybe it’s a little shorter.

  • Not a true comparison, but I have had good samples using the Sigma 150-500mm with 2.0x TC at 1000mm. If you can deal with f13 and manual focus. Its not a Nikon 800mm f5.6, but it costs about $6000+ less, and may be good enough if you have a limited budget.


  • Pablo Ricasso

    You know that I might like some Sigma lenses better than anyone who gets on here, but I bet that lens @ 800 doesn’t look anything like this lens @ the same. I looked at all the photos and it was hard for me to imagine that anything longer than a 500 was used. I expected to see some half blurry shots and talk about the incredible narrow depth of field, but I see an image that looks like someone was going over the water on a hovercraft and popping off one eight thousand of a second with a 50 1.4. That’s what I like to see.

    • neversink

      @ Pablo

      Sigma lenses. You are kidding yourself.
      The first thing I dislike about Sigma is that they break down. Their internal motors die.
      The second thing I dislike about Sigma is their bokeh. It is hard and ugly most of the time.
      The third thing I dislike about Sigma lenses is that although they are sharp, they are not as sharp as the Nikon equivalent, or Canon equivalent.

  • Solution 4 D800

    This is Nikon’s solution to the left focus problem on the D 800.

    • RoyL

      Get a life

  • John Richardson

    That’s gonna be sweet on my new Nikon J2

  • Luke

    I knew it, it knew that there’s someone out there between the audience, with a new glas or even cam (cams yet allready known, but you never know)

    and i’m sure there’s even someone with the not so professional d600.

  • NikoFanBoy

    Hi Admin,

    Thanks for the post and keeping us occupied with the latest.

    @-Leon Neal- what about the weight? Is it less then 5.5Kgs? Any chance handholding for short time? Those images look dam good and sharp. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Jabs

    It seems like Nikon is wooing all the sports photographers with the D4 and many new lenses including this awesome 800 F5.6 that has been needed for a while after they discontinued the older version a few years back.
    Looking at the camera venue stills from the last Wimbledon Tennis Tournament and now the London Olympics, it seems that Nikon has made tremendous strides as now there is a ‘sea of black lenses’ instead of the sea of white lenses from former years. Sure is a welcome change and the result to me is less ‘red’ images from Canon DSLR’s like in the Winter Olympics a few years back.

    The images look great from this Preview, are very clear and sharp plus I wonder what this lens would look like on a D800/D800E or even a V1/J1/J2 or V2???

    What do you think?

    • Jabs

      Here is an example of what I am talking about.

      • Pablo Ricasso

        Whaa? You wanted me to look at whaa? Oh, CAMERAS. Why does everybody have to see things in black and white?

      • may

        why are most photographers MEN? hmmm… i seldom see women on this field… each has more than 2 cameras, damn… i thought one camera would be enough…

  • Leon’s #1 fan

    I like the shots. Cool and a little hilarious. Perfect.

  • nau

    that d4 / d3 looks like point and shot on this lens
    soooooooo small

  • NR Enthusiast

    Need .. more .. D600 or D400 .. rumors.

  • JK

    I’m waiting on the 2.8 version.

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