What you need to know about Nikon’s new Z 14-24mm F2.8 S and Z 50mm F1.2 S
We’ve known they were coming for a while, but Nikon’s mirrorless lens roadmap moved two steps further forward with the launch of the new Z 14-24mm F2.8 S and Z 50mm F1.2 S. Keep reading to learn more about these two premium Z-mount lenses.
Z 50mm F1.2 S
Good news for Nikon Z shooters looking for a standard lens – you now have another option. The new Z 50mm F1.2 S is positioned between the affordable (and excellent) Z 50mm F1.8 S and the considerably less wallet-friendly Z 58mm F0.95 S.
Size and weight
First (and most obvious) things first: This is a pretty big lens. At almost six inches long (without the hood) and with an 82mm filter thread, the new Z 50mm F1.2 S is almost twice as big as the F1.8, and almost twice the weight (1095g, or 2.4lb). Nikon claims that key optics in this new lens are ‘1, 1/2x larger’ than in the F1.8, and the new lens also houses twin STM motors for accurate focus throughout its operating range.
Amazingly, the Nikon 50mm F1.2 S is even larger and heavier than the Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM, which weighs in at 950g (2.1lb).
Size and weight
For the historically inclined, the last 50mm F1.2 from Nikon (the Nikkor 50mm F1.2 AI-S) weighed less than 400g (0.9lb) and was only 5cm (2in) long. However, due to the compromises involved in stuffing an F1.2 maximum aperture into the narrow F-mount, it was not, sadly, a particularly good lens. This 50mm F1.2, however, promises to be much better.
Optical construction comprises 17 elements in 15 groups, including three aspherical elements and two ‘ED’ extra-low-dispersion elements, and both Nikon’s Nano Crystal Coating and the newer ARNEO coating for flare, ghosting and coma suppression. Meanwhile, distortion is well-controlled and nine rounded aperture blades should help keep out of focus highlights circular at wider apertures.
Because of the exceptionally wide dimensions of the Z-mount, the rear element of the lens can be very large, helping to keep light rays near-perpendicular when they reach the sensor.
Nikon describes the optical construction of this lens as ‘symmetrical’, and in theory this should mean that the Z 50mm F1.2 S is capable of high resolution at all apertures, across the frame. This is obviously something that we want to put to the test as soon as we can.
Twin STM focus motors
The Z 50mm F1.2 S becomes the latest Nikon lens to feature twin STM focus motors, which should increase focus accuracy at close distances, as well as being quieter and more power-efficient than traditional Ultrasonic motors. Minimum focus distance is 0.45m (about 18″) and of course manual focus is also possible using the large focus ring. As we’d expect, this is ‘manual focus by wire’ but very finely-geared for precise adjustment.
Nikon promises ‘minimal’ focus breathing (where magnification changes as the lens is focused), which is good news for videographers.
Handling and operation
There’s no getting around the fact that this is a large lens, and it makes the Z6/7 feel pretty small by comparison. We strongly suspect, however, that it will pair well with those cameras when used with their optional grip, and of course any future high-end Z-series camera with a bit more heft.
Handling and operation
In terms of operation, the Z 50mm F1.2 S is also pretty consistent with other high-end S-series Nikon lenses of late. A control ring can be customized for direct control over exposure compensation or aperture (and other things, but those are the two most useful) and an ‘Fn’ button can be customized via the camera for quick access to various modes and features. Meanwhile an OLED status panel on the barrel shows focus and aperture + hyperfocal distance information. In line with other S-series lenses, the Z 50mm F1.2 S is ‘extensively’ sealed against dust and moisture.
The Nikon Z 50mm F1.2 S will be available in December for $2099.
Z 14-24mm F2.8 S
Nikon’s AF-S 14-24mm F2.8 was a wildly popular lens, and for many years it was among the best wide-angle zooms you could buy. Nikon was always going to create an equivalent for its new mirrorless Z mount and here it is: the Z 14-24mm F2.8 S.
Size and Weight
The old AF-S 14-24mm F2.8 is a famously large, unwieldy lens, thanks mostly to its enormous front element. The new Z 24-24mm F2.8 is an altogether more portable option, and considerably lighter (650g / 1.4lb compared to 970g / 2.1lb). That’s a weight reduction of 35%.
It’s not a small lens by any means, but at around five inches long, it is the smallest and also lightest 14-24mm F2.8 on the market (albeit in a class of only three – the third being Sigma’s 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM Art). Minimum focus is 0.28m (~11in) so get ready to shoot some classic ‘wildflowers at sunset’ landscapes.
Optically too, this lens is totally different to its nominal F-mount predecessor. This is very obvious from the flat front element, which contrasts very clearly with the large, bulging front element of the older AF-S 14-24mm. And yes, this does mean that you can use screw-in filters, although you’ll need to attach the included HB-96 hood to do it, and you’ll need to hunt down 112mm filters – not a particularly ‘standard’ size (or a cheap one), but both Nikon and B+W do make them.
If you don’t fancy shelling out for massive new filters, there’s also a tray for trim-able 40.5mm drop-in gel filters at the very rear of the lens.
Internally, the new Z 14-24mm F2.8 S comprises 16 elements in 11 groups, including three aspherical and four ED elements. Like the 50mm F1.2, it features both Nano Crystal and ARNEO coatings. Nikon promises “stellar point light reproduction capabilities” and excellent coma and flare suppression, which should make this lens ideal for wide-aperture astrophotography.
The front element is coated with fluorine, to aid with cleaning if moisture and fingerprints should make their way onto the glass. Speaking of which, the Z 14-24mm F2.8 is sealed against dust and moisture.
Price and availability
The Nikon Z 14-24mm F2.8 S will be available in November for $2399 – a considerable premium over the older AF-S 14-24mm, but one that’s hopefully justified by its image quality. We’ll be sharing sample images as soon as we get hold of a production lens.