On September 4, 2019 Nikon introduced the seventh lens for its new full-frame Nikon Z Cameras. It was the Nikon NIKKOR Z 24mm f/1.8 S and in this Nikkor Z 24mm f/1.8 S Review review, we will try to find all the disadvantages and advantages of this new lens.
This novelty lens has received the classic body design, characteristic of all Line S lenses, and accordingly the same materials of manufacture. The lens base is made of metal, which creates a secure attachment to the bayonet, and a rubber O-ring is provided around the bayonet mount for tightness.
The body of our hero is completely protected from dust and moisture, Nikon demonstrates this with the following illustration:
The electronic focusing ring, which functionality can be reassigned in the camera menu, is also made of metal. The ring is very wide, takes up most of the body, and is comfortable to use.
However, when working in frost without gloves it will be uncomfortable due to the fact that it is still metal. The rest of the body parts are made of plastic. The kit comes with a plastic petal hood, which is more designed to protect the front lens rather than from stray light.
The weight of this novelty lens is approximately 450 grams, the diameter is 78mm, and the length is 96.5mm. Compared to the analogue for the Nilkkor F mount AF-S NIKKOR 24MM F/1.8G ED, the lens for the new mount has become noticeably larger. The weight has increased by almost 100 grams and the length by 23mm. These are quite tangible changes, but this is due not only to the fact that the optical scheme has changed here, but also to the materials of manufacture – the body of the Nikkor F representative is made entirely of plastic, except for the bayonet mount itself.
Among the controls, in addition to the electronic focusing ring, there is a single switch responsible for the auto / manual focus mode. By the way, the ring works even with autofocus, so you can bring focus if the camera is wrong or it is necessary to achieve a certain creative effect.
NIKKOR Z 24mm F/1.8 S Specifications
Before moving on to testing the lens, let’s take a look at the specs of the NIKKOR Z 24mm f/1.8 S.
The minimum focusing distance of the lens is 25 cm, which is two centimeters longer than that of the AF-S NIKKOR 24MM F/1.8G ED, which is actually not so significant. Internal focusing – the front element does not move. Nikon separately notes that multi-focusing here, consisting of two stepping STM motors, the so-called multi-focus. The diameter of the threaded filter is 72mm.
The maximum aperture, as the name suggests, is f/1.8 and the minimum aperture is f/16. If there is too much light, the minimum aperture of f/16 may not be enough, so take care of ND filters in advance. The diaphragm consists of 9 blades. If we compare it with the Nikkor F representative, then the new product has a 2-blade larger aperture design, which should have a positive effect on the nature of the background blur – we will check this a little lower in the tests.
The optical design of the NIKKOR Z 24mm f/1.8 S consists of 12 elements in 10 groups, including 1 ED glass element and two aspherical elements. AF-S NIKKOR 24MM F/1.8G ED also had two aspherical elements, but one more low dispersion elements, and as you know, ED elements are mainly designed to reduce chromatic aberrations. Whether it has become worse in this direction, we will try to find out in the tests as well.
Some of the elements in the optical design have a Nano Crystal Coat, which is designed to increase the lens’s resistance to glare. The front element is also covered with a fluorine coating that protects the front element from dirt, water and grease.
NIKKOR Z 24mm F/1.8 S Ground Test
By tradition, let’s start with sharpness analysis. This time there were no surprises, as was the case with the Nikkor Z 14-30 / 4. Everything is classic – from the center to the edge of the frame, there is a decrease in sharpness. Let’s see the crops:
There is a slight lack of sharpness in the center of the frame at the maximum open aperture, which can be removed by closing the aperture to f/3.2-3.5. But the angle of the frame at the maximum aperture of f/1.8 is rather blurry. This pattern continues until about f/4-4.5. Further, on the periphery of the frame, you can observe the maximum possible sharpness of the lens. This is a pretty good result, considering that starting from f/4.5-5.0, almost the same sharpness is observed throughout the entire frame. At f/14-16, there is a softening of sharpness under the influence of diffraction. Thus, we can conclude that the NIKKOR Z 24mm f/1.8 S provides maximum sharpness over the entire field of the frame in the f/4.5-f/13 range.
Few people know that there are two types of chromatic aberrations – longitudinal and transverse. Although for those who read my lens reviews, I’m probably already rather fed up, explaining every time what it is and how it is different. So, bear with it.
So, Longitudinal aberrations appear at open apertures across the entire field of the frame and have the same border color on the subject. Lateral aberrations are a little more difficult, since they are not corrected by aperture and have a multi-colored border on a contrasting object, and are also more characteristic of the periphery of the frame.
Considering that our hero has only one low-dispersion element in the optical scheme, the results are surprising. Even at the widest aperture, longitudinal aberrations appear quite insignificantly, and after f/2.8 they completely disappear. Transverse chromatic aberrations are present at the frame periphery, but also in a minor form.
And one more explanation why the crop in tests does not always have the correct white balance (and this applies not only to this test). Manufacturers began to sin by embedding various adjustments in the RAW file that cannot be turned off even in a RAW converter like Lightroom. Therefore, to analyze the image, I open the RAW file in RawDigger, which removes all adjustments and then export the file to TIFF, which leads to the loss of the correct white balance.
Well, where without this beloved bokeh! The lens has a 9-blade aperture and a maximum aperture of f/1.8, but the fairly wide focal length of 24mm prevents it from becoming a “bokeh master”. Below are shots taken with manual focusing at the minimum focusing distance.
The picture above demonstrates what you can get the most out of this lens. As you can see, at f / 1.8 the NIKKOR Z 24mm f / 1.8 S produces not too large light discs in the out-of-focus area, however, these discs have an ideal circle shape, and the shape is not very distorted closer to the periphery of the frame. The discs have a slight colored border, and in the filling, you can see the effect of onion rings. In any case, the bokeh is excellent for this focal length. At f / 2.2, the picture is not much different, although the disks are getting a little smaller:
But already at f/2.5, the shape of the nine-sided begins to appear slightly:
Coma and Astigmatism
The 24mm focal length and f / 1.8 aperture are great for photographing the stars or the city at night. Accordingly, the question of the presence of such aberrations as coma and astigmatism becomes relevant. These aberrations appear as distortion of light points. Astigmatism is characteristic throughout the entire field of the frame, except for the very center, and at all apertures. Comatic aberrations – at open apertures and closer to the periphery of the frame.
Astigmatism is completely absent, but coma appears up to f / 8. However, comic aberrations introduce minor distortions to the character of the points of light. Typically, these wide-angle lenses have more noticeable distortion.
There is very little barrel distortion, which is ideally corrected by the camera’s automation. Automatic geometry correction inevitably leads to a deterioration in maximum quality, so it is advisable to disable such corrections. Note that the distortion correction data is embedded in the RAW file and it is no longer possible to disable it in a post in Lightroom.
This aberration manifests itself as darkening corners of the frame and is typical for open apertures. Vignetting is well corrected intra-chamber. For visual analysis, I collected frames at all apertures into a small video:
I must say the NIKKOR Z 24mm f/1.8 S continues to amaze. At the maximum aperture, vignetting is present, but it is completely negligible. At f / 2.8, the presence of vignetting is difficult to notice, and starting at f / 4 it completely disappears.
Nikon NIKKOR Z 24mm F/1.8 S for Video
Our previous reviewer Nikkor Z 14-30 / 4 is a versatile lens for video shooting, thanks to its variable focal length and wide angle of view. However, its low aperture can be a significant limitation in certain shooting conditions. In this case, high-aperture fixes, such as our hero, come to the rescue. Below, let’s analyze the lens for the presence of focus breathing and see how quickly, accurately and silently it focuses.
In the video above, the Nikon Z7 used the default focus speed setting of 0. Focus is smooth, without jerking. The accuracy is not satisfactory. The noise of the motor does not appear on the sound track. Below is the same test, only with the focus speed setting +5.
The operation is the same, however, the pre-focusing speed is slightly faster.
Focus breathing manifests itself as a change in scale when reposing. The lack of this effect is greatly appreciated by filmmakers. Below, the first example was shot at the minimum focusing distance, the second at infinity.
When reposing from MDF to infinity, the NIKKOR Z 24mm f/1.8 S gives a slight downscaling of approximately 1.1%. Thus, changes in focusing distance when shooting video will be completely invisible.
You may also like to read - Nikkor Z 85mm F/1.8 S Lens Review.
If you started reading the review with a conclusion, you can accuse me of excessive praise for this lens, so read the review and do not read the conclusion.
The NIKKOR Z 24mm f/1.8 S is very successful. The only drawbacks that can be mentioned are the rather compact size and the minimum aperture of f/16. However, the longer lens barrel and the increased weight compared to the Nikkor F made the work more comfortable and balanced. The wide focusing ring, which can be installed thanks to the increased length of the lens, makes it possible to work even with gloves. And if you mount the camera with this lens on a gimbal, then such a wide ring creates room for maneuver when installing the folf focus system.
The lens has excellent sharpness and contrast. Chromatic aberration is surprisingly minimal. Coma and astigmatism do not significantly distort the picture, as well as minimal vignetting, which is completely absent from f / 4 aperture. The relatively small pincushion distortion allows the lens to be used even with the in-camera adjustment turned off, especially for video. Absolutely minimal focus breathing and fast silent autofocus make the NIKKOR Z 24mm f / 1.8 S a great choice for both stills and video.
This is the seventh full-frame NIKKOR Z lens I’ve tested. And, I must say, each of the lenses is unique in its own way and provides excellent image quality. The line is very interesting and promising, let’s see what happens next.