CP+ 2019: Hands-on with Nikon Z 24-70mm F2.8 S
At the annual CP+ photography show in Yokohama, Japan, Nikon has been showing its new Z 24-70mm F2.8 S. The Z 24-70mm F2.8 S sits above the Z 24-70mm F4 in Nikon’s new mirrorless lineup, and offers a native mirrorless alternative to the company’s AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm F2.8 for its DSLRs. Promising to be smaller, lighter, and sharper than its forebears, the new lens has been keenly awaited by professional and enthusiast Nikon photographers.
Smaller and lighter than F-mount 24-70mm F2.8
Compared to the AF-S 24-70mm F2.8 for F-mount, the new lens is 25% smaller and 18% lighter. This size comparison shows the difference pretty clearly. Even without the FTZ adapter, it is obvious that the older 24-70mm (top) is a larger lens.
Among the many differences between the two lenses is the zoom ring of the newer zoom, which is much slimmer. in the hand, the weight difference is also obvious. The new lens is a noticeably lighter bit of kit than the older F-mount equivalent, which is a welcome change.
New optical formulation
The optical formula of the Z 24-70mm F2.8 S is totally new, and comprises 17 elements in 15 groups. Two of the elements are Extra Low Dispersion (ED) glass, and four are aspherical. As well as Nikon’s Nano Crystal coating, the 24-70mm introduces a new ‘Arneo’ coat, which is promised to further reduce flare and ghosting.
Fluorine coating on the front and rear elements is designed to help make it easier to clean oil and moisture from the outer surfaces of the lens. As you can (just) see in this image, like the older AF-S 24-70mm F2.8, the lens extends when zoomed – but unlike the AF-S model, the hood mounting ring goes with it.
A customizable ‘control ring’, closest to the lens mount joins focus and zoom rings to provide direct control over various functions. Some photographers might find it useful for direct control over aperture, or exposure compensation. There’s potential for the ring to be accidentally bumped, and if this is an issue, the ring can also be disabled.
Joining the control ring and customizable ‘L-Fn’ button is an OLED panel, which can display various information, including focal length…
And focus distance.
A new ‘Multi-Focus System’ has been included in the Z 24-70mm F2.8 S, which appears to be designed along the same lines as recent high-performance Sony GM lenses. In the Z 24-70mm F2.8 S, two autofocus actuators move two focus groups at once, enabling the lens – in Nikon’s words – to “achieve critical focus rapidly from nearly any distance, including close-up shooting”.
Our very limited use of a what judging by the very early serial number we assume is a pre-production sample at the Nikon booth indicates that focus is, indeed, quite fast and responsive in favorable light. More or less comparable, in fact, to the older AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm F2.8. In lower light, and with a bit less contrast to bite onto, autofocus response appears very similar to the Z 24-70mm F4 S when mounted on a Z7.
The new Z 24-70mm F2.8 S will be shipping soon, at an MSRP of $2299.