Too Expensive and Not Fast Enough? Nikon Announces the 14-30mm f/4 Lens for the Z6 and Z7

Too Expensive and Not Fast Enough? Nikon Announces the 14-30mm f/4 Lens for the Z6 and Z7

Nikon has just announced a new lens for the Z6 and Z7 cameras: the NIKKOR 14-30mm f/4S. This lightweight, ultra-wide zoom is in line with the lens roadmap released by Nikon last year and shows a stark contrast with Canon’s approach to new glass for mirrorless bodies.

This is certainly a small lens: at a mere 3.5-inches long when retracted, and weighing in at only 1.07 lbs (485 g), Nikon is clearly tapping into the idea that mirrorless users appreciate smaller, lighter lenses, even if that means making a few compromises along the way. If the success of the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 for Sony’s mirrorless cameras is anything to go by, the market is happy to forego some “pro” aspects if it means affordability, a small size, and less weight to carry. This might be where Nikon is making a  mistake: at just $879, the Tamron 28-75mm is a lot of lens for very little money; the NIKKOR 14-30mm is still going to cost you well over a thousand dollars. As Jared Polin points out, pro shooters expect f/2.8, and f/4 should mean that the price reflects this. At a shade under $1300, many might wait for the price to drop before investing, preferring to stick with their existing glass via an adapter.

As Ted Forbes of Art of Photography notes, the lens does seem to offer excellent edge to edge sharpness, and landscape photographers have plenty to be excited about. They don’t need such fast glass, will appreciate the light weight, and will love the fact that this new lens will accept a filter on the front. Many lenses of this focal range have a bulbous front element, making filters somewhat awkward, and Nikon has worked hard to resolve this.

While Canon and Sigma seem to be busy creating huge, expensive lenses, Nikon seems to be of the opinion that early adopters would prefer affordability. With the exception of the NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct, Nikon’s releases this year are much more conservative: their primes are all going to be f/1.8 and Z6 and Z7 shooters won’t be able to complete their holy trinity (wide zoom, standard zoom, telephoto zoom) of f/2.8 until 2020.

Is Nikon choosing the right path here? It doesn’t create as much drama but it might make the Nikon Z line more accessible to those switching to mirrorless, especially given the dramatic improvements when it comes to shooting video. Your thoughts in the comments, please!

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81 Comments

Previous comments

Sigma 17-50 preventing the D500 from going in standby in less than a full minute, with VR on during that time. Cheaper than the Nikkor, but that’s what you risk when going off-brand.
Sigma 10mm not focusing in live view on the D500, same for some firmware versions of the 10-20mm, same for the older 150mm macro on multiple bodies,...
Tamron 85mm not compatible with auto-fine tune.
Etc.
Etc.
Etc.

Cheaper, work well when everything is okay, but more chances that you run into incompatibilities. You pay more for quasi-certainty that it will keep on being compatible.
I’m not even talking about consistency in ergonomics that is better with one brand only. Sigma isn’t even very consistent between lenses when it comes to the way you zoom out or in. Not a huge deal, but you pay less, and what you get is more effort to adapt. Whether all that is worth the difference is up to each individual buyer.

Couple that with the simple fact that many will tend to not go off-brand just because of the image they think it projects... Nikon being more expensive makes sense. I hate it, but it makes sense.

Andy Day's picture

Er, no thanks. I've got better things to do. Sorry! 😂

Nikon is doing good. A couple of firmware updates and there cameras will focus much better, I sure hope they nail eye-af. Look forward to that. The stupid 0.95 is joke to me, but the rest seems to be a good start. Most pros will not dive into this system with new lenses anyway, the have adapter and lenses all ready.
I shoot with Sony but when the price on the Z6 is down I for sure will try it out.
The Tamron is fine but there is to much vignetting. Its compact. Hopefully so are the new lenses Nikon is making.

Frederik van Lambalgen's picture

Yes, Nikon lenses always have been more expensive than thrid party lenses. A compact affordable lens helps to build the system. And for travelling photographer is it a big advantage. One can be sure that the image quality is outstanding. I shoot Nikon for the past 40 years, because of the lenses. 14 years ago I added a Leica Aspheric Summicron 35/2.0 with a M body to my gear because: the image quality and weight/size. This small lens produces outstanding images for sharpness and character. If the mirrorless system should be for weight/size, I don't see this yet, even a simple 35/2.0 is bigger and heavier than the Summicron. Without surpassnig the image quality. Can somebody explain that to me?

Whose 35/2 are you talking about?

I'd MUCH rather shoot with Nikon's 35/1.8S than the Summicron. Nikon has AF, a control ring, weather sealing, 9 aperture blades, almost 1/4 the cost, only 115g heavier and it also has aspherical elements. Plus you get 45MP and IBIS with a Z7 (which is far cheaper than any Leica M). You will get SHARPER results with a Nikon setup.

If that isn't enough, no doubt CaNikSon or a third party will eventually produce a good pancake lens.

BTW if I truly needed small, light and high quality, I'd shoot with an Olympus EM1ii and a 17mm.

Frederik van Lambalgen's picture

For the weight I agree with you, the size remains. Yes, I shoot the Nikkor 35/2.0 in combination with the Nikkor 85/1.8, beautifull results. The image quality and the character of the Summicron are a complete different story. Yes a M is expensive, but working with rangefinder gives access to possibilities no other system has. The refined construction makes camera almost disappear when you interact with your subject. I still use Nikon because for the qualities of the image. And for me the size of film or sensor matters, APS-C is bottom line. Even the high pixel count of small sensor is high, the larger the film/sensor, the better is the image quality (see Fuji GFX and Hasselblad X1D). Besides it is difficult with small sensors to control your depth of the field naturally. One has to use shorter lens to have have the same view. Have ever shot 6X9 cm slides?

David Pavlich's picture

Interesting lens philosophies when looking at Nikon and Canon. Canon has decided to take full advantage of the new mount and produce pro lenses right out of the gate. Nikon has chosen the smaller, lighter, less expensive middle of the road lenses.

My guess is that Canon is banking on the fact that their adapters are very good and allows existing glass to work seamlessly, so why not get right to it and produce top shelf lenses?

Nikon has a terrific adapter as well, but has chosen to build less expensive lenses to get their customers into native glass quickly.

Well, it's a thought! :-)

user-156929's picture

Nikon believes their "middle of the road lenses" are as good or better than faster alternatives. I don't know if they're right and never will.

David Pavlich's picture

And they may be better...right up until you need f2.8. Most of my shooting with that sort of lens is landscapes, so f2.8 isn't needed for me, but others would probably disagree.

user-156929's picture

And for them, the f/2.8 and faster lenses are coming. Priorities!

David Pavlich's picture

For sure! And there is still the 'fall back' that the existing line of Nikon's premium lenses work seamlessly with the Z series because Nikon did a good job on their adapter.

The initial cash outlay is less for Nikon. I think this was quite a conscious decision. Since there are more Canon users out there and the brand recognition seems to be better, Canon can risk operating in the higher tier. Nikon is balancing their modest lineup with the Noct.

In a decade, everyone will have pretty much the same mirrorless lens lineups.

Spy Black's picture

There's nothing "middle of the road" with optical performance if these lenses. The small apertures are obviously for size. The 50mm has already been compared to the OTUS, so not so bad for a "middle of the road" lens. ;-)

David Pavlich's picture

Nikon chose to make their new lenses 'slower' to keep costs down. Going from 1.8 to 1.4 seems small, but it costs a lot more to produce, not to mention 1.2. So 'middle of the road' is price and speed, not performance. My 'stay on my camera' lens is a Tamron 35 f1.8. My guess is Tamron decided to make it f1.8 to save on costs.

Spy Black's picture

Yes but you're implying that these are not "pro" lenses, because they don't have a large aperture, whereas apparently Canon's are because they have larger apertures. In reality, both companies have manufactured pro lenses with pro performance, for different reasons.

David Pavlich's picture

It seems that I'm not the only one. I've listened to a couple of online reviewers that are a bit disappointed in Nikon's chosen lens path so far.

Look, I only pointed out that Nikon has chosen to make less expensive glass for their new mount than Canon did. I'm quite sure that the new Nikon lenses are just fine and will produce terrific, professional results. No need to get defensive. Heck, if I was starting over and knew what I know now, I'd be at Henry's ordering a D850, the best FF camera on the market.

In the end, we'll find out if Canon has made a mistake producing premium lenses for a fledgling mount. My guess is that Canon will do well with their choice and I'm sure Nikon will also do well. Different strokes.

Spy Black's picture

Well, you said:
"Canon has decided to take full advantage of the new mount and produce pro lenses right out of the gate. Nikon has chosen the smaller, lighter, less expensive middle of the road lenses."

To me that's implying the Canons are "pro" because thet are large aperture and the Nikons are not. Looks pretty cut and dry to me.

And who cares what online reviewers have to say about anything?

David Pavlich's picture

I surrender. I said that Nikon's lenses are slower, lighter, and cheaper than Canon's, those are all facts. Take from it what you wish. You don't care about online reviewers, but I certainly struck a nerve. That was not my intention. I just pointed out facts and formed an opinion.

You don't need a fast lens to do astrophotography, you need a star tracker. This lens is small, offers a nice focal range for landscape photograpers and can be equipped with circular filters, the downside is in its price... But I'm quite sure it will drop soon after its release on the market.

user-156929's picture

A star tracker won't help for astro landscape, which this focal range would excel at.

Why not? With a tracker you can take exposures as long as 3-4 minutes without noticeable star trailing. I think that such an exposure time is more than enough at f4.

user-156929's picture

Tracking the stars would cause blurring in any landscape elements (astro landscape). I wouldn't use a star tracker unless I was using a longer lens for deep space objects.

Ever heard about exposure blending? You take a picture of the stars (in which, as you said, the foreground will be blurred) and a picture of the foreground. In Photoshop you can blend seamlessly the sky from one picture and the foreground from the other and obtain a high quality final image.

user-156929's picture

:-) I believe I heard a rumor about that.
While I composite photos when necessary, it's not something I enjoy doing, preferring to "get it right in camera" and avoid additional time at the computer.

In any case, I believe this lens is Nikon's answer to the 16-35 f/4 and NOT the 14-24 f/2.8. A lot of photographers, me included, use the 16-35 for its ability to easily use filters but would sometimes like to go a tad wider. I would always pick a 14-30 focal range over 16-35 for landscape. Next year, or whenever, they'll release the 14-24 f/2.8 and 20 f/1.8 which will both be significantly better for astro landscapes.

You'll get far better Milky Way nebulosity with long exposures. Star tracked photos have superior colour accuracy too. There are a lot of BAD MW shots out there with ridiculous colors.

user-156929's picture

"Nebulosity"? :-)
I know what you mean but, as in all things photographic, you make compromises. I do, however, question the effect of long exposures on color accuracy.

I understand your approach, however, with such approach you will always be limited to the "600 rule". This basically means you are limited to ~ 30s exposures. Even if you shoot at f0.95 the amount of light captured will be not sufficient to give you a correct exposure and you'll be forced to Raise the iso value

Michael Jin's picture

I'm so glad I live in NYC where we don't have any stars so I don't have to worry about any of this stuff. It all sounds complicated. :P

user-156929's picture

Again, photography is always about compromises. I do what I prefer when I can and do what I have to, when I have to. :-)

Marius Pettersen's picture

Most new releases, especially from Nikon, Canon, and Sony, are too expensive.

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