Nikon Z 50mm F1.Eight S

Certainly one of three lenses launched alongside the Nikon Z6 and Z7, on the face of it the Z 50mm F1.Eight S may seem probably the most pedestrian of the group. It is onerous to get too excited a couple of medium-fast 50mm today, however in its promotional literature Nikon claimed that its newest customary prime is something however a customary customary. The truth is, the corporate claimed that the Z 50mm S would supply excellent resolving energy, low aberrations and wonderful wide-aperture efficiency, spectacular sufficient to problem assumptions about what lenses of this sort needs to be able to.

The Nikon Z 50mm F1.Eight is twice as heavy, twice as giant and about twice the worth of the corporate’s equal lens for F mount – however is it twice pretty much as good? We have been taking pictures with one for a number of weeks, and one factor’s for certain – it is a radically totally different lens.

Key specs:

  • Focal size: 50mm
  • Format: Full-frame
  • Aperture vary: F1.8-16 (1/3EV steps)
  • Filter thread: 62mm
  • Shut focus: 0.4m
  • Hood: Included HB-90, bayonet attachment.
  • Size / Diameter: 76 x 86.5mm
  • Weight: 415g (14.7oz)
  • Optical building: 12 components in 9 teams, together with Nano Crystal Coating
  • Particular components: 2 ED, 2 Aspherical.

In comparison with its nominal F-mount equal, the Z 50mm F1.Eight S is an apparent step up by way of optical know-how. That includes superior coatings, nearly twice the variety of components (together with two aspherical and two ED) and three further teams, the brand new prime is considerably extra advanced. Examine this to the one aspherical ingredient within the F-mount model (itself a novelty when the lens was launched in 2011) and it is apparent that Nikon has taken the chance to fully redesign its latest customary lens for the radically totally different dimensions of the brand new Z mount.

Product Pictures by Dan Bracaglia

Design and dealing with

The Z 50mm F1.Eight S is as totally different optically to its F-mount predecessors as it’s cosmetically. Considerably reminiscent in total feel and look to a contemporary Sony ZA or Sigma Artwork-series prime, the brand new lens is clean, fashionable and easy in design. Constructed from a combination of polycarbonate and aluminum, the barrel of the 50mm is dominated by a large and well-damped steel focus ring. A single A / M focus change is the one different transferring half. For the reason that new Z-series cameras characteristic in-body stabilization, the lens itself is unstabilized.

‘Construct high quality’ is a notoriously onerous high quality to measure, and one which we’ve to evaluate subjectively, on the premise of anecdotal (however as intensive as we are able to handle) expertise. The Z 50mm F1.Eight seems to be good, handles properly, feels neither too heavy nor too gentle, and seems to be manufactured to a excessive customary. There isn’t a give within the focus ring, no wobble within the mount, and after weeks of use it hasn’t fallen aside in my fingers. And many others., and so forth.

In frequent with different prime lenses we have seen which are particularly designed for mirrorless digicam programs, the Z 50mm F1.Eight S has a comparatively small, concave entrance ingredient.
The one bodily change on the barrel of the Z 50mm F1.Eight is for guide / automated focus. For the reason that Z6 and Z7 characteristic in-body Vibration Discount, there isn’t any want for the lens to be stabilized.

Much less anecdotally – and extra importantly – we have put the Z 50mm F1.Eight to fairly onerous use up to now few weeks. Unusually onerous, the truth is. I’ve spent hours with the Z7 and 50mm taking pictures in extraordinarily moist and windy circumstances on a number of events just lately, engaged on a photograph undertaking on Washington’s Pacific coast. In rain heavy sufficient to in some way soak down, underneath, into and round a number of layers of waterproof clothes, the Z7 and Z 50mm F1.Eight stored on working with none severe issues.

The one difficulty I had after prolonged publicity to the weather was a really occasional glitch the place the Z7 would change out of automated focus and into MF mode. Re-seating the lens within the mount was sufficient to clear the issue. Whether or not the difficulty was brought on by moisture moving into the digicam (I did not see any once I appeared later) or into the M / A change on the lens I do not know. Both approach it did not stop me from working.

This picture reveals the rubber gasket across the Z 50mm F1.8’s mount, which helps preserve mud and moisture from moving into the digicam. Our expertise taking pictures with the lens in exceptionally moist circumstances means that it is extremely efficient.
That is the Z 50mm F1.Eight S side-by-side alongside the Z 35mm F1.Eight S. Good luck telling these lenses aside in case you’re fishing round inside a digicam bag.

We already know from Roger Cicala’s tear-down that the Z7 is impressively well-sealed, and whereas the Z 50mm F1.Eight S won’t be gasketed to the identical customary (we cannot know that for certain till Roger takes one aside), it definitely appears very properly sealed from my expertise.

One frustration – though it isn’t the optical designers’ fault – the brand new 50mm and 35mm F1.Eight Z primes are so much like each other cosmetically, that they are nearly inconceivable to tell apart in a digicam bag. They’re nearly the very same measurement and form, very comparable in weight, and each use a 62mm cap. A Nikon Z shooter carrying each would virtually be compelled to label them not directly to keep away from mixups within the subject. Ditto the HB-89 and HB-90 lenshoods, that are mechanically interchangeable and nearly indistinguishable (to the extent that I don’t know why Nikon bothered to make two totally different hoods), however that are frustratingly shy of being precisely similar.


The Z 50mm F1.Eight S is an inner focus design (the lens would not get larger or smaller when focusing) and in regular or shiny lighting circumstances, it focuses rapidly and precisely on a Z6/7. Autofocus actuation from the stepping motor is not as quick as Nikon’s snappiest F-mount zooms with extra highly effective ring-type AF motors, however it’s not less than as quick as many of the firm’s older primes and adequate for fast acquisition of most topics. The Z 50mm F1.Eight S focuses barely quicker than the Z 35mm F1.Eight S however there’s not a lot to decide on between them.

In addition to being fast, autofocus is successfully silent, too. Video shooters may detect a delicate ‘zip’ sound on the in-camera audio because the lens makes giant focus changes, however it’s very delicate. Regular video AF actions are gradual and clean sufficient (this may also be personalized) that you just in all probability will not discover it, even in case you’re counting on the in-camera microphones for sound.

The big focusing ring makes up many of the size of Z 50mm f1.Eight S’s lens barrel, and affords fine-geared management over focus through a ‘focus by wire’ system.

The Z 50mm F1.Eight S makes use of a ‘focus by wire’ system for guide focus, which affords very exact management from the huge, nicely-damped focus ring. The motion is speed-sensitive, not linear, which means {that a} gradual rotation of the ring will end in a equally gradual motion of the focusing group. When you transfer the ring rapidly, the motor will reply extra quickly and make a bigger focus motion.

That is nice for stills, however some videographers (particularly people who use comply with focus programs) may discover themselves wishing for a linear response, the place X levels of motion of the ring all the time leads to X quantity of focus motion. That is much less a criticism of the lens, extra of the Z system at this level however we’re hoping that Nikon can alter this conduct through firmware. Equally, it could be good to have the choice of switching the route of the guide focus ring, for photographers coming from totally different programs.


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