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Review Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 S: spectacular wide-angle zoom

Tentoonstelling Duitse expressionisten in Singer Laren.

The Nikon Z 14-30 mm f/4 S is the first (ultra) wide-angle zoom for Nikon's Z system that can be used without adapters. The specifications alone make the Nikon Z 14-30 mm f/4 S very attractive. A nicely compact ultra-wide-angle zoom for full frame, less than nine cm long and less than a pound in weight, and on which you can use filters! And the build and image quality also show convincingly in practice what Nikon meant when the Nikon Z6 and Nikon Z7 were introduced with "Mirrorless reinvented: the revolution." 

TEST RESULTS: Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 S:

PROS

CONS

  • Robust, compact wide-angle zoom
  • Suitable for filters!
  • Less than a pound in weight
  • Bigger zoom range than the Nikon AF-S 14-24 mm f/2.8G ED
  • Image quality even better than the Nikon AF-S 14-24 mm f/2.8G ED
  • Image stabilization (thanks to IBIS on the Z6 or Z7)
  • Even more compact during transport
  • Modest brightness
  • More than 1,000 euros
  • After transport, you first have to turn the zoom ring before you can take a picture.
The Nikon Z 14-30 mm f/4 S surpasses the Nikon AF-S 14-24 mm f/2.8 G ED on all fronts, except brightness.

With the Nikon Z 14-30 mm f/4 S, Nikon clearly shows what the benefits of a mirrorless system can be. For the Z-system, we already had the high-performing 24-70 mm f/4 S, which is very compact for transport, thanks to a retractable design. For all wide-angle enthusiasts, the 14-30 mm f/4 S has now been added. This lens has a similar retractable design, making the dimensions in your bag very small: 85 mm long and 89 mm diameter. This is the smallest full-frame wide-angle zoom with such a big field of view. This design does mean that you have to extend the lens before use, so that the length is a few centimeters longer during shooting. Equally special is the low weight of 485 grams. That is almost an ounce less than the equally slim, but slightly longer Sony 12-24 mm f/4 G lens. The latter then has 2 mm extra wide-angle range, but 6 mm less range on the other side.


EASY FILTERING


What really sets the Nikon Z 14-30 mm f/4 S apart from all other super wide-angle zoom lenses is the flat front lens and the ability to use 82 mm screw filters. For other zooms with more than 16 mm wide angle, you're dependent on special (expensive) adapters with filter holders for immense 150 mm insert filters. Mind you, the choice has become bigger in recent years, and prices have fallen somewhat, but a set of 150 mm insert filters with a corresponding filter holder is a whole package to take with you. And that's not really ideal for travel and landscape photography, nor does it fit with the compactness of mirrorless camera systems.

 DSC0096

BUILD

Z14 30 Construction

The Nikon Z 14-30 mm f/ S is a lens in the S series. That is Nikon's designation for lenses for the Z cameras that must meet the highest requirements, both optically and mechanically. Despite its modest dimensions and low weight, the lens is equipped with gaskets to make it weather-resistant, including an additional gasket on the back to properly seal the connection to the mount. The fact that Nikon has opted for an extendable design does not mean that this is a cheap, plastic consumer lens. The suggested retail price of 1449.00 euros isn't either. That makes it still considerably cheaper than the 12-24 mm f/4 G from Sony. The retractability of the Nikon Z 14-30 mm f/4S makes it very compact in your bag. The disadvantage is that you first have to turn the zoom ring before you can take a picture. If you work a lot with this lens or with the 24-70 mm f/4 S, it quickly becomes automatic. The front lens has a fluoride coating to make it moisture and dirt resistant, and the diaphragm consists of 7 blades. The lens has no image stabilization, that is already in the cameras. You can, however, program the focus ring to stop down or correct the exposure if you only use the autofocus. There is 1 switch on this zoom lens: autofocus on/off. The focus ring is nice and wide. You will not be mistaken about the use of zoom and focus ring. The zoom ring is closer to the camera and is so narrow that it is reminiscent of an aperture ring on a lens from the analogue photography era. 

Specifications
Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 S
Price @ Amazon
Image Stabilization:-
lenses/ groups:14 / 12
length x diameter:85x89mm
filter size:82
Weight:485
Lens hood:+

Z7 14 30 4

Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 S autofocus SPEED AND ACCURACY

The Nikon Z14-30 mm f4S focuses quickly from infinity to 1.5 meters, in 0.2 seconds.

The AF stepper motor of the Nikon Z 14-30 mm is quiet (handy for video) and fast. Between 24 mm and 30 mm, the AF reproducibility is very good: less than 2%. That is better than with an SLR camera. At the lowest focal lengths, the AF reproducibility is 10%, comparable to wide-angle zooms on an SLR camera.

VIGNETTING AND DISTORTION

Distortion of the Nikon Z 14-30 mm f/4S ranges without lens correction from -8% barrel-shaped at 14 mm to 2% cushion-shaped at 21 mm or higher. After applying lens corrections, distortion is virtually absent at 21 mm or higher. With less than half a percent distortion after lens correction, even shots are made at 14 mm relatively distortion-free.

jpgdistort

You might be tempted to think that vignetting has become less important because it can easily be corrected by the camera or software. What you then overlook is that the signal-to-noise ratio in the corners becomes worse after correction for vignetting. On SLR camera lenses, 2 or more stops of vignetting at full aperture occurs frequently in uncorrected RAW files. After correction of vignetting, the signal-to-noise ratio in the corners of the shot deteriorates by more than 2 stops, thus eliminating an important advantage of a full-frame camera.

The Nikon Z 14-30 mm f/4S lens design is spectacularly good when it comes to vignetting: you can now also enjoy the high signal-to-noise ratio of the full-frame sensor in the corners. Not surprisingly, vignetting is highest at 14 mm and in particular at f/4, where vignetting can be visibly present in some shots. Above 21 mm, the vignetting without corrections at all apertures is half a stop or less. Unique!

jpgvignet

IMAGE QUALITY

 DSC0098

The center sharpness of jpg files is already maximal at full aperture. In the corners, the sharpness increases by stopping down, but even at f/4, the sharpness is already remarkably high. For most photographers, the sharpness of the Nikon Z 14-30 mm f/4 S is very good at all lens aperture/focal length combinations.

 JPGREZZ

As far as sharpness is concerned, the Nikon Z 14-30 mm f/4S and the Nikon AF-S 14-24 mm f/2.8 G ED are evenly matched. The Nikon Z 14-30 mm f/4S is sharper at full aperture, but that is not a fair comparison. If you compare the two lenses at f/4, the differences are already much smaller. At f/5.6, center and edge sharpness are the same in practice (the Z14-30 is measurably sharper, but the difference is too small to see), but in the corners, the Z 14-30 mm is still sharper.

 DSC0021

IMAGE STABILIZATION

The Nikon Z 14-30 mm f/4S has no built-in image stabilization. For stabilization, you are therefore dependent on the image stabilization of the Nikon Z7 or the Nikon Z6. The stabilization increases the usability of the zoom when there is little light. The Nikon Z 14-30 mm f/4S has a brightness of f/4, and that saves 1 stop compared to the 14-24 mm AF-S, which is f/2.8. On the other hand, with image stabilization on the Z-series cameras, you can get 4 to 5 stops' profit.  

Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4S SAMPLE SHOTS

Curious about the performance of the Nikon Z 14-30 mm f/4S in practice? Click on the button below and visit our renewed web gallery with sample images. The images can be downloaded in full resolution to be viewed at 100%.

Nikon 1430mm Viewfoto3840

ConclusiON: Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 S (op een Nikon Z7) REVIEW

Use the Lens Comparison or look in our list of reviewed lenses to compare this lens with other lenses.

WYSIWYG score: More and more often when designing a lens, distortion, color separation and vignetting are consciously not optimally corrected. As a result, fewer expensive lens elements or exotic glass types need to be used, which ultimately results in a more attractive selling price. The lens manufacturer relies on automatic correction of these characteristics in the camera or in photo editing software. The "jpg-score" gives you for a lens/test camera combination, "What you see is what you get" when all available lens corrections are applied in the camera. 


Focal Length
mm @ FF
Total score
Resolution
lat. C.A.
Vignetting
Distortion
AF accur.
AF speed

14
14
8.7
8.8
9.6
6.0
7.9
7
9
21
21
8.8
8.5
9.7
8.8
9.2
7
9
24
24
9.1
8.7
9.7
9.1
9.6
9
9
24
24
8.7
9.0
9.7
6.0
7.4
8
8
28
28
8.9
8.4
9.7
9.2
9.7
9
9
30
30
9.1
8.6
9.7
9.2
9.8
9
9
Overall
Overall
8.8
8.4
9.7
8.6
9.2
8
9

Pure RAW score: With more expensive lenses, a manufacturer often goes to great lengths in the lens design to prevent lens errors. Neither costs nor effort are spared, which can be recognized by the use of exotic types of glass and many lens elements. The "RAW score" approximates the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera, with CameraStuffReview attempting to bypass any automatic lens corrections of RAW files. If you use lens correction profiles in Photoshop or Lightroom to convert RAW files, the RAW scores for distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberration will be higher or equal to the corresponding jpg scores.


Focal Length
mm @ FF
Total score
Resolution
lat. C.A.
Vignetting
Distortion
AF accur.
AF speed

14
14
8.4
8.6
9.5
8.1
5.5
7
9
21
21
8.5
8.6
9.6
8.9
6.0
7
9
24
24
8.6
8.7
9.6
8.9
5.5
9
9
24
24
9.1
9.2
9.6
8.5
5.5
8
8
28
28
8.6
8.7
9.7
9.0
5.5
9
9
30
30
8.7
8.8
9.9
9.0
5.5
9
9
Overall
Overall
8.5
8.6
9.7
8.8
5.5
8
9
Price @ Amazon

Nikon Z 14-30 mm f/4 S: spectacular wide-angle zoom with which vignetting and less sharp corners have become a thing of the past.

The Nikon  AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED is a classic for Nikon F-mount cameras, and the Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 S offers everything needed to become that for the Z-mount cameras. With 1 stop less brightness - and an 800-euro-lower pricetag - the Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 S is a more compact, lighter wide-angle zoom with a bigger zoom range and even higher image quality. The vignetting and the corners are also better with the Z 14-30mm. That makes the Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 S the nearly ideal wide-angle zoom for the Nikon Z6 and Z7. The ability to use filters, the compact dimensions and the low weight make this Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 S a perfect zoom for travel and landscape photography. Actually, the only reason we can think of for waiting any longer on a wide-angle zoom for the Nikon Z6 or Z7 could be because you're holding out for higher brightness.

Jan Paul Mioulet
Author: Jan Paul MiouletWebsite: https://www.mioulet.nl/
Jan Paul Mioulet is zelfstandig fotograaf sinds 1994. Hij heeft zich beziggehouden met veel vormen van fotografie, van portret tot sport, van bruidsfotografie tot reclamewerk. Inmiddels is hij al bijna vijftien jaar gespecialiseerd in architectuurfotografie. Hij is een van de oprichters van DAPh, de Dutch Architectural Photographers, een collectief van een aantal van de beste Nederlandse architectuurfotografen. Van 2010 tot 2014 was hij hoofdredacteur van PF, Professionele Fotografie, het magazine voor de Nederlandse en Vlaamse vakfotograaf. Naast zijn fotografie schrijft hij voor PF en CameraStuffReview over techniek en allerlei bijzondere wetenswaardigheden rondom fotografie en camera’s.

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