A NEW NIKON GENERATION: NIKKOR Z 24-70MM F4 S
The Nikon Z 24-70 mm f/4S may not be the most spectacular zoom lens to release with a new system, but it is quite practical and usable. This lens is of the retractable type. That means that after use, you can twist it even tighter so that it takes up very little space during transport. That means that you do have to screw it off again before use, but is very quick, and you get used to it very quickly. You will not miss a shot in practice because of it. In its smallest form, the lens fits perfectly with the compact Nikon Z6 and Z7 cameras. This is an ideal lens for traveling, or just as a lens to walk around with. Compared to a Nikon SLR with 24-70 mm lens, you clearly have a much smaller and lighter set with you. The brightness is not spectacular at f/4, but that is also not uncommon for standard zooms, and the image quality is fine. Couple that with a favorable price, especially in combination with the purchase of one of the Z-cameras, and you have a lens that actually should not be missing in any Z-set.
The Nikkor Z 24-70 mm F4 S is a light and compact zoom lens. The weight is 500 grams, and it is 78mm in diameter and 89mm long. This compactness is achieved because you can rotate the zoom ring beyond the 24mm position. As a result, the lens collapses down a bit further. Before use, you must of course first turn it out a bit again. This makes the lens about 2 centimeters longer. It is largely made of a magnesium alloy. This is responsible for the low weight and also makes the lens sturdy. The optical design is fairly complex, with 14 elements in 11 groups, an aspherical ED lens element, an ED element and 3 “ordinary” aspherical elements. The lens has Nikon’s Nano Crystal coating and a fluorine coating on the front element so that dirt and moisture slide off the glass. The lens has a wide zoom ring on the front that you really can’t miss and a rather narrow ring for the autofocus closer to the body. A switch is provided to switch between autofocus and manual focus. It is weather-resistant and has the necessary gaskets to keep moisture and dirt out. The shortest setting distance is 30cm, and that results in a maximum magnification of 0.33x. It does not have image stabilization, but that is not necessary, because it is built into the Z-cameras. The filter size is 72mm.
The autofocus system of the Nikkor Z 24-70 mm F4 S is of the fly-by-wire type. This means that the stepper motor that handles the focus is controlled from the camera. If you want to focus manually, the focus ring sends a signal to the camera, and the camera ensures that the motor starts to run. Many modern lenses work this way today. The Nikon Z 24-70 mm f/4S focuses very quickly, and the autofocus is very accurate, as you can expect today from mirrorless systems with focusing on the sensor. Nikon has opted not to have the system work linearly. The faster you turn the focus ring, the shorter the stroke you need to focus. If you turn slowly, the set distance will also change in very small steps. This allows you to control the focus very accurately for photography. For video, this is less ideal, because you can’t actually make good focus pulls, unless you can turn the focus ring at exactly the same speed every time. It would be nice if a firmware update would also allow linear focus.
What makes the Nikkor Z 24-70 mm F4 S very suitable for video is the soundless operation of the autofocus motor and the fact that the lens is corrected for “focus breathing.” With lenses with focus breathing, the focal length seems to change when you change the focus. The field of view becomes wider or narrower when the focus shifts from near to far or back. It thus seems as if you are zooming at the same time, and that makes your recordings noisy. The Nikkor Z 24-70 mm F4 S has been designed to keep this phenomenon to a minimum. Furthermore, the lens also has a programmable ring. You can use this for stepless adjustment of the aperture, and that is of course very nice for controlling the lighting during filming.
VIGNETTING, FLARE AND DISTORTIONg
Vignetting and distortion are corrected these days in the camera almost as a standard in mirrorless cameras. You see the effect of the corrections directly in the viewfinder, so there is no reason not to do it. At full aperture, both in the RAWs and the jpegs on the Nikon 24-70 f/4 S, you can see some vignetting, up to almost 2 stops in the extreme zoom positions. It decreases at f/5.6, but you have to go to f/8 before it is almost no longer visible. You can also see some distortion in RAW, from 1.5% barrel-shaped in the wide-angle positions to 1.5% pincushion-shaped in the telephoto position. The distortion switches almost abruptly from one to the other and is not – as with many other lenses – limited to neutral in a somewhat wider zoom range. The corrections in the camera account very effectively for that, so that you do not see it in the jpegs. Correcting the distortion causes some loss of sharpness in the corners, because most of the pixels there have to be recalculated, and the correction of the vignetting causes a slightly lower dynamic range in the corners because they have to be cleared up. But if you have a lens with high sharpness and a sensor with a lot of dynamic range, as is the case with this 24-70 mm on the Z7, then you can put up with those little bits of loss, and you have virtually no problems from it in practice. What you get in exchange are beautiful shots without disturbing dark corners and curved lines.
The Nikon Z 24-70 mm f/4S can also be used reasonably well with backlighting. Although in the worst case you see some colored spots in the sun stars, but the contrast of the shot remains fine and you get no ugly glare anywhere. The coatings of the Nikon Z 24-70 mm f/4S do their job very well.
IMAGE QUALITY AND bokeh
The image quality of the Nikon Z 24-70 mm f/4S is generally very good. On full frame, you see at full aperture in the 24mm position that the corners are not yet optimal. Stopping down a bit, or, better still, zooming in a little, ensures that the sharpness is fairly even over the entire image. If you zoom out completely, the quality in the corners decreases a bit.
ConclusiON: Review NIKON Z 24-70mm f/4 S @ Nikon Z7
- Good image quality
- Compact build
- Handily collapsible
- Good price-to-quality ratio as a kit lens
- Weather resistant
- Not that bright
The Nikon Z 24-70 mm f/4S offers great value for the money. That is because the image quality is really good.
The phrase “kit lens” sometimes has a somewhat negative meaning, as in the sense of: cheap lens comes with it, but don’t expect too much. The latter certainly does not apply to the Nikon Z 24-70 mm f/4S. It might not be cheap, but it does offer a lot of value for the money. That is because the image quality is really good. Add to that the compact dimensions, the right shortest set distance, a reasonable weight and a very useful zoom range, and you have the ideal lens to always have on your camera for “you never know what you will see.” Thanks to the excellent image stabilization of the Z-cameras, you can still shoot in low light despite the low brightness with this lens. Heartily recommended for every Z-photographer.