Telephoto Questions Abound

Now that Nikon's provided us more telephoto options in the Z mount, it seems like questions about "which telephoto?" now rule the In Box. Let me try to answer some of them as briefly as possible:

  • 400mm f/4.5 or 500mm f/5.6 PF? Probably 400mm f/4.5 unless you always need 500mm+. Why? Bag friendly, more exposure, no fiddly FTZ, uses native TCs. Both lenses resolve quite well with 45mp cameras. The 400mm is also quite decent with the 1.4x TC, so 560mm f/6.3 is covered.
  • 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 or 400mm f/4.5? Probably 100-400mm unless you're always at 400mm. Why? Bag friendly, flexible focal length,  less expensive, in stock. Most people aren't going to notice the difference optically at 400mm. If you're a frequent user of TCs, this may switch the decision, though, as the 400mm f/4.5 is somewhat better with the 1.4x.
  • 200-500mm f/5.6 or 500mm f/5.6 PF? Probably 500mm f/5.6 PF. Why? Better focus performance, better optically, easier to hand hold. But you lose focal length flexibility and you pay much more. Most people considering this choice should also wait to see what the 200-600mm looks like.
  • 400mm f/2.8 or 400mm f/4.5? For most everyone, 400mm f/4.5. Why? Bag friendly, far less expensive, holds its own optically. 
  • 400mm f/2.8 Z-mount or 400mm f/2.8 F-mount? F-mount. Why? You'd only ask this question if cost is an issue. Used F-mount lenses are far less costly than the Z-mount version, and optically just as good. You're also likely to get your lens sooner, too.
  • Something with TC or 800mm f/6.3? 800mm f/6.3. Why? Assuming you really need this much focal length regularly, nothing else will be optically as good, faster in aperture, or as simple (no extra mount issues).

Many more versions of this question exist, and my quick answers don't apply to everyone, they're just a suggestion of where I start when replying to questioners. Typically, something I wrote in those brief answers brings up sub-questions that eventually dictate the decision. 

Thing is, we have choices now, and those choices are multiplying and will continue to multiply. I'll have more to say when I've completed some additional testing of the above.

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