Gear Review – Nikon Z 24-70 2.8 S Lens

In Gear Review by Patrick

I have been on the fence for this lens since it came out.  One reason is because I already own the venerable F-mount version of the Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 and it has served me well becoming one of my most used lenses, still performing well even with the FTZ mounts on the mirrorless.  Secondly, the price.  It ain’t cheap!  Initially released in February of 2019, it has taken me two years to pull the trigger on the purchase of the Nikon Z series version. 

I did my research, watched countless video reviews from photographers and sites I respect who have shot with lens and finally rented the lens to try a hands on prior to buying. I highly recommend that tip if you can do it, rent before you buy to see if it is what you want and need for your style of photography.

Let me talk a bit about what swayed me to get the Nikon Z 24-70 f/2.8 S and replace my current version. I am not going to bore you with specs as you can find those all over the internet. First is the weight and small package. It is physically lighter than the older F-mount version and the balance on the Zed series cameras is far better along with not having to add weight using the FTZ or FTZ adapter.

Next was the three rings on the lens itself plus the programmable function button. Have the ability to see real time changes to aperture, focal distance and focus at the twist of finger is very appealing. Couple that with the EVF and that is a killer combination.

Most notably for me was the image result. This lens produces a gorgeous file with edge to edge sharpness at all focal lengths. I primarily use this lens for two reasons, aviation statics and landscapes. This lens has excelled at both.

USS Yorktown @Patriots Point SC

I also enjoy the constant f/2.8 maximum aperture offering consistent performance throughout the zoom range and also the benefits it provides working in difficult lighting conditions along with using selective focus techniques. Another surprise that swayed me was the multi-focus system which I’m told incorporates two separate AF drive units, which are synchronized, to deliver especially fast and accurate focusing throughout the zoom range. When switching between subject back and forth while composing I found this to be the case. Manual focus override is also possible.

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THE LENS

The handling: Despite its relatively big size (especially when compared to other compact Z-series lenses) the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 handles extremely well on the Z6 and Z7 cameras. It balances nicely on hands, even with the barrel fully extended, and does not become too front-heavy. When compared to the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E VR, the lens is 25% lighter, although is still quite hefty compared to ohter Nikkor Z lenses, and 18% smaller, which makes a huge difference handling the lens in the field.

The Focus Speed and Accuracy: This Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S has a brand new “multi-focus system” that consists of two synchronized AF drive units. This allows the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S to not only focus incredibly fast, but also deliver superb AF accuracy that we have never previously seen from Nikon before.

WHAT I DISLIKE ABOUT THE LENS

The Price: After tax this lens will set you back over $2400 USD depending on your tax rate and location. A majority of the advances in the Nikon Z system, cameras and lenses have come in prices lower than their F-mount counterparts except for this lens thus far. Granted it is a fast prime, but I was hopeful the lower price trend would continue.

In summary, as a workhorse lens aimed at professionals, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S is simply remarkable. It offers uncompromising performance at every focal length and aperture, something no other 24-70mm f/2.8 we have tested in the past has been able to achieve. Its consistent sharpness from the center of the frame all the way to the edges demonstrates the true advantage of Nikon’s new mirrorless system and this paired with any of the Z series cameras is a killer combination.

Ethics statement: I own the Z9, and purchased this lens. I was not asked to write anything about these products, nor was I provided any other compensation of any kind. Within the article, there are affiliate links. If you buy something after clicking one of these links, I will receive a small commission. To know more about our ethics, you can visit our ethic statement page.

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