A 600 mm f4 lens is undoubtably the king of lenses when it comes to photographing wildlife and birds.
But which is the sharpest?
This great video by Steve Perry compares the best 600 mm Nikon lenses, an 800 mm lens and then puts them up against the Sony 600 mm lens.
The video is 12 minutes long so if you are in a hurry you can skim my summary below.
Which lens did he pick as the sharpest?
Sharpest 600 mm f4 lens for wildlife
Steve chose the Nikon Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S although it was really too close to call.
I have made the decision not to purchase the Z 600 mm f4 and you can read why by reading the article linked below.
Sharpest lens comparison (video)
Nikon Z 600 mm f4 vs Nikon 600 mm f4 E
In the comparison of the new Z series 600 mm and the previous f mount 600 mm f4, the differences in sharpness were almost impossible to detect.
The conclusion was the the Z 600 mm TC is marginally sharper than the 600 mm f4 E.
The image below was taken with the 600 mm f4 E.
Nikon Z 600 mm f4 with the teleconverter engaged vs the Nikon 800 mm f6.3 PF
Wit the 1.4 x teleconverter engaged, the 600 mm becomes a 840 mm f 5.6 lens.
Again, there was little difference in sharpness with the 800 mm f6.3 judged to be fractionally sharper.
Nikon Z 600 mm f4 vs Sony 600 mm f4 GM
A comparison was then done between Nikon Z 600 mm f4 the flagship Sony 600 mm f4 GM.
The Sony was slightly sharper in the test although not when a teleconverter was engaged on each lens.
The Nikon looks sharper with the TC engaged which makes sense as it is specifically designed for the lens. The Nikon lens may have the slightly better contrast.
The difference in sharpness is so marginal that Steve concludes you can’t go wrong with any of the lenses tested.
In fact, unless you put the images side by side and increase the magnification, you are unlikely to tell them apart.
The limiting factor is of course the price of these lenses.
The new Nikon Z 600 mm TC f4 is USD 15 500.