What Is A Nikon S Lens

By | 15/11/2022

The new Nikon Z system created quite a bit of interest among many photographers. As a consequence, there seem to be many questions related to the new Nikon Z lenses that have been appear now and volition be revealed in the futurity. Unfortunately, there are lots of misconceptions and misunderstandings that are getting spread past some people on the Cyberspace, making information technology difficult to truly sympathise the capabilities and the potential of the organisation. In this commodity, I would like to explore the new Z mountain lenses in detail and hopefully respond every bit many questions and concerns as possible.

Earlier we go into the more technical discussion nearly the Nikon Z lenses, let’s beginning have another look at the advantages of the new Nikon Z mount and why it opens up new frontiers for Nikon that the Nikon F mount could not before.

Table of Contents

Nikon Z Mount Advantages

To sympathize the differences betwixt the Nikon Z and the Nikon F mounts, take a wait at the below side-by-side images of the Nikon Z7 and the Nikon D850:

Nikon Z7 vs Nikon D850

As you tin see, the new Nikon Z mount is much larger in diameter compared to the Nikon F mount. While the Nikon F mountain measures approximately 47mm in inner bore, the new Nikon Z mount measures a whopping 55mm in inner diameter, making it the largest total-frame mount on the market. Simply that’s not the but difference – the Nikon Z mountain has a flange distance (which is the altitude betwixt the mounting flange and the paradigm sensor) of 16mm, which is significantly shorter than the 46.5mm flange distance on the Nikon F. This essentially means that the Nikon Z mount has a much larger bending of incidence, assuasive to blueprint loftier-operation lenses that were not possible before with the Nikon F mount.

In addition, the Nikon Z mount will likewise make it possible to accommodate (in theory, via future third party adapters) pretty much any other lens on the market, fifty-fifty lenses from other mirrorless systems, since no other full-frame system has a larger inner diameter or a shorter flange distance in comparing. Although it would probably be impractical to do this due to differences in proprietary lens communication, besides equally differences in sensor filter stacks (which could negatively impact border performance), it is still a possibility.

Nikon Z Mount

Lastly, the new Z mount has a concrete reward over the Nikon F – there are now iv “claws” that concur the lens instead of 3, which allows lenses to demark much tighter to the trunk. This means that there is a smaller run a risk for whatsoever kind of “play”, guaranteeing a very tight fit. This is of import for dealing with electric current, and especially future high-resolution sensors.

A more detailed assay of the differences between the ii mounts is explained in detail in my Nikon Z vs Nikon F commodity.

Nikon S Lenses Are the New Pro-Level Lenses

With the Z-series cameras, Nikon announced three new Z mount lenses: Nikon Z 24-70mm f/four S, Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8 S and Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8S, as well as the evolution of the 4th lens, the Nikon Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct. While the maximum discontinuity of the three released lenses might indicate that these are enthusiast-grade lenses (f/ane.8 and f/4 lenses are typically enthusiast-course lenses, while f/1.4 and f/2.8 lenses are pro-grade), that’s certainly not truthful! In fact, the “S” line (which is marked past the silver-colored band around the lens and a decorative “S” on the lens barrel, which obviously represents the first letter of various words as “Superior”, “Special” and “Sophisticated”, co-ordinate to Nikon) is now the new “Pro” line of lenses, similar to the gold ring lenses that Nikon made for the F mount. The new “S” line of lenses are made to the highest levels of standards and quality control, set up even higher than for the Nikon F professional person lenses! Nikon is promising these lenses to have less distortion, lateral / longitudinal chromatic aberration and ghosting and flare compared to all other lenses.

Nikon Z Lenses

The new Nikon S-series lenses have a refreshed, all-blackness await that makes them look quite a flake unlike when compared to Nikon F golden ring lenses. Some discover this new wait to exist rather boring and tasteless, but that’s all a affair of personal preference. Personally, I don’t mind the new look, as long every bit the lenses provide exceptional performance (which they practise, equally explained further down below). Lastly, all S-serial lenses are going to be weather sealed.

Nikon Z Mount Lenses – New Nomenclature

Gone is the typical and often confusing Nikon lens nomenclature similar “AF-S”, “AF-P”, “ED”, “G” or “East” – the letter “South” indicates that these lenses are beefed up with everything Nikon has got to offer in terms of engineering science today. For example, every Nikon S lens utilizes a stepping motor for fast and quiet autofocus performance and the drinking glass is coated with both Nano Crystal Coat to reduce ghosting and flare. Whenever Nikon develops new technologies, such as the new ARNEO Coat or the new multi-focusing system, it volition likewise be incorporated into the “S” series lenses in the futurity. None of this information is now in the lens title – the letter “Southward” replaces information technology all.

Here is the new way all future Nikon Z lenses will be named:

Prime Lenses

S Noct4

1. Indicates Nikon Z lens mount
two. Focal length
iii. Maximum aperture
four. Course proper noun

Some of the highest-quality lenses such as the new NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95 Due south Noct volition take a specific name designation after the letter “Due south”.

Zoom Lenses


1. Indicates Nikon Z lens mount
ii. Focal length range
iii. Maximum variable aperture range from wide to telephoto
4. Grade proper name

Thankfully, it is a much simpler mode to name lenses!

Nikon Due south vs not-S Lenses

In improver to the highest performing “S” series lenses, Nikon is also planning to release enthusiast-level non-S lenses. These lenses are not going to have the same pro-grade quality and performance, merely will come at lower cost points, allowing Nikon Z owners to go for budget-friendly options that have a potentially better price / performance ratio compared to S serial lenses. So if you are worried about the new Nikon 35mm f/1.8 Due south and 50mm f/ane.viii S lenses costing more than than their Nikon F counterparts, these are not comparable lenses by any means, equally you lot will run into further down beneath. Nikon will probably release regular versions of these lenses in the future and price them appropriately.

Nikon Z Lenses Take Stepping Motor

The new Nikon Z mount lenses no longer have the traditional mechanical control of focusing as we accept seen on all Nikon F mount lenses (where turning the focusing ring physically moves and focuses lens elements). Instead, all new lenses will characteristic “focus-by-wire” way of attaining focus, where all focusing is performed electronically – rotating the focus ring requires the photographic camera to be turned on to communicate which way to turn its focus.

While focus-by-wire implementations past some photographic camera companies are often quite frustrating to use in the field due to issues related to attaining precise focusing, holding focus position when turning the camera on / off or when wanting to smoothly transition focusing when shooting videos, based on my limited feel with the Nikon Z-series cameras and lenses, I have to say that I was quite impressed by how smooth focusing felt when using Z mount lenses. I did not experience any loss of focus, focus jumping / skipping or other related bug I have previously seen on other systems.

Focus-by-wire tin have its disadvantages when compared to mechanical control, merely it is conspicuously the futurity, because there is a lot more than can be washed with information technology. For case, Nikon is going to contain an electronic OLED screen on some of the time to come S series lenses that will display things like focusing distance, and such displays tin besides be used to bear witness other useful information such equally hyperfocal altitude, lens discontinuity, etc.

Nikon Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct

More Communication Contacts for Improved Performance

The new Nikon Z mount lenses have more than photographic camera contacts than their Nikon F equivalents. Instead of 8 contacts facing the photographic camera on Nikon F (some Nikon F lenses have 10 contacts, but the last 2 contacts are reserved for teleconverter advice), the new Nikon Z mount lenses now communicate over 11 full contacts for more than refined command and improved performance of lenses. Thank you to the new blueprint and the new stepping motor, Nikon is able to accept advantage of smooth aperture and focus transitions that are configurable through the camera’s menu system, making the Nikon Z system optimal for shooting video footage.

Customizable Buttons and Discontinuity Ring

1 of the coolest features of the new Z mount lenses, is that pretty much every ring and push button is going to be customizable from the camera. Nikon has already enabled customization of the focusing ring on the iii Nikon Due south lenses, merely none of these lenses yet characteristic buttons. In one case more complex lenses are released, they will accept 2 or more buttons that you lot will be able to customize for performing different functions. Have a await at the carte du jour setting that allows adjusting the part of the focusing ring:

Nikon Z Lens Control Ring

This means that I tin leave the focus ring to adapt focus (first highlighted choice), customize information technology to adjust Aperture or Exposure Compensation, or if I desire it to do nothing, I can simply select “None” and the focusing ring volition be disabled. Such customization options would not be available on mechanically-controlled lenses, then this is another do good of the focus-past-wire system.

The upcoming Nikon 58mm f/0.95 S Noct is going to accept a “DISP” button and an additional “Fifty-Fn” (Lens Function) push button, both of which are going to exist customizable through the card to perform different functions.

Minimized Focus Breathing

For smooth viewing experience and continuity when viewing recorded video, Nikon took every pace to optimize every S-serial lens in order to minimize focus breathing issues (when angle of view changes during focusing). This not simply makes them ideal for still and video shooting, only information technology likewise could brand a number of zoom lens designs parfocal.

Why No f/1.four Lenses Upfront?

1 of the most oftentimes asked questions by our readers has been “Why didn’t Nikon focus on loftier-quality, fast-aperture lenses at launch?” for the Nikon Z system. While Nikon certainly did not nowadays us any fast-discontinuity f/i.two – f/1.four prime or f/2.8 zoom options upfront (primarily in lodge to go along the size compact, the weight and the cost downwards), information technology certainly did launch loftier quality lenses! Personally, I applaud Nikon for going with one zoom and ii loftier quality primes, because that’s exactly what most of us volition need with a lighter mirrorless organization. If we saw a 24-70mm f/2.8, a 35mm f/1.4 and 50mm f/1.2 lenses at launch, those would accept been larger, heavier and much more expensive options that would have made it cost-prohibitive for many of u.s.a. to buy into the system. Imagine a $2,400 24-70mm f/2.eight (that’s what the current Nikon F model costs), a $ane,700 35mm f/1.4 and a $one,500 50mm f/i.2 – would yous exist willing to put that much money towards a camera arrangement correct away? I know well-nigh people wouldn’t…

Nikon decided that information technology could make f/1.viii prime lenses that are amazingly sharp and a 24-70mm f/4 zoom lens that has superb overall functioning, all without making their customers break their banks. And if yous think that f/1.8 or f/four lenses are not practiced plenty, encounter the next department to understand that nosotros are dealing with a whole new level of performance for such lenses!

Border-to-Edge Sharpness Wide Open

To empathise how amazing the new Nikon S lenses are, let’southward take a expect at their MTF charts and compare them to other lenses. If y’all don’t know how to interpret the below data, please see my commodity on how to read MTF charts. Kickoff, nosotros volition start with the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 S and compare information technology to the Nikon 24-70mm f/ii.8E VR:

Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 S vs Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E VR

Just a quick glance at the broad stop reveals that the new Nikon Z 24-70mm f/four Due south is overall a sharper lens compared to the 24-70mm f/2.8E VR. Although it starts out a bit less precipitous in the center, just take a wait at its mid-frame and corner functioning – information technology is not fifty-fifty a comparison, and we are talking about wide open up performance here.

The telephoto functioning comparison but leaves the 24-70mm f/2.8E VR in the dust…look at how much college the blue curve starts out at – information technology is supposed to be sharper at 70mm than at 24mm in the center, which is pretty insane. The corners are a bit weaker, but not by much. I can just imagine how the lens will behave stopped downward a little.

Continue in heed that I started out with the best 24-70mm lens on the market. Other budget options like the Nikon 24-120mm f/4G shouldn’t be brought into this comparison, as they don’t stand a chance.

Let’s now take a look at the Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8 South and compare it to both the Nikon 35mm f/ane.4G, besides every bit the legendary Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art:

Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8 S vs Nikon 35mm f/1.4G vs Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art

The comparison between the Nikon Z 35mm f/1.eight S and the 35mm f/1.4G shows that the newer mirrorless South version is outstanding wide open – yous can come across only how much better its operation is both in terms of contrast and sharpness. It starts out stronger in the middle and the corners aren’t comparable. One time stopped down a few stops, I am sure the situation gets merely better. All the same, what’due south shocking, is that the lens even beats the Sigma 35mm f/1.four Art – the sharpest 35mm lens on the market place. Await at how much higher both curves are. Additionally, the 35mm f/one.8 S shows practically no astigmatism, while both Nikon 35mm f/1.4G and Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Fine art clearly have quite a chip of it in comparison…

Here is the final comparison of the Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S, when compared to the 50mm f/ane.4G, 50mm f/1.8G and the Sigma 50mm f/one.4 Fine art:

Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S vs Nikon 50mm f/1.4G vs Nikon 50mm f/1.8G vs Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art

Once again, the new Nikon 50mm f/one.viii Due south blows the 50mm f/i.4G out of the h2o – and for a skillful reason, that f/1.4G design is too outdated by now. When we await at the much sharper f/1.8G version, we tin can see that the 50mm f/1.eight South has much amend overall performance broad open. Not only is it sharper, but it as well has much better contrast and suffers from very fiddling astigmatism. The corner functioning is remarkable for a 50mm prime.

When compared to the Sigma 50mm f/1.four, which is a much heavier lens, we can see that it again has improve overall functioning from center all the mode to the edges. The Sigma conspicuously suffers from more astigmatism too.

In fact, I would say that we tin can expect the 50mm f/i.eight S to be probably in line with the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 in terms of potential performance. Unfortunately, it is not possible to practice a direct MTF comparison between the Otus and the Nikon lenses, because Zeiss does not provide 30 line pairs in its MTF charts.

Now keep in mind that the above MTF comparisons are based on the manufacturer-provided MTF and we are merely looking at wide open performance. The situation when stopped down might be drastically different and that’s something nosotros can merely evaluate one time nosotros get our easily on these lenses.

Still, the preliminary comparisons indicate that Nikon has done an amazing job with designing the new Nikon Z mount lenses. All iii show superior performance when compared to any other lens made past Nikon in the past, whether we are looking at lenses of similar maximum aperture, or their pro-grade f/1.four and f/2.eight counterparts. This shows that the new Nikon South lenses are a whole new breed of exceptional performance, something we have never before seen on the Nikon F mount. Clearly, Nikon’s engineers did a remarkable job with coming up with the Z mount, as it looks like they are able to accept reward of the large throat size and a much shorter flange altitude in guild to deliver this level of performance.

Nikon Z Lens Roadmap

All this is but the beginning, which is what is really heady! Nikon is planning to release a number of S-series lenses that volition deliver like or better level of operation in the upcoming years. Take a expect at what Nikon is currently planning to release in 2019 and 2020:

Nikon Z Lens Roadmap

In one case the shortly-to-be legendary Nikon Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct joins the game, information technology will be a 20mm f/1.8, 85mm f/one.8 primes, followed past 14-30mm f/4, 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.eight zoom lenses in 2019. Afterwards that, we will see a 50mm f/1.2 (finally, something Nikon has non been able to practise for many years), a 24mm f/i.8 and a fourteen-24mm f/2.8 zoom. In between, we tin can look Nikon to release non-S lenses that will offer even more lens options.

It is very clear that Nikon is heading towards a bright future with the release of the new Nikon Z mount and the accompanying lenses. While many of usa volition be supplementing the Nikon Z-series cameras with the FTZ mountain to keep on shooting with Nikon F lenses for now, the performance advantages of the Z-series lenses will definitely outweigh everything else in the long run.

Source: https://photographylife.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-nikon-z-lenses