When Will Nikon Release Some Premium Z-Mount Glass and What Should It Be?

When Will Nikon Release Some Premium Z-Mount Glass and What Should It Be?

Back in October, we got a taste of Nikon’s plans for 2020 and 2021. The lens line-up for its Z-mount cameras has been slightly lackluster to date, but things might be about to change — coronavirus permitting.

After a wealth of f/4 zooms and f/1.8 primes — and temporarily ignoring the 58mm f/0.95 — Nikon should soon be ready to start releasing some more serious glass. The roadmap published six months ago promised two notable primes: a 50mm f/1.2 which could soon make an appearance, and a 20mm f/1.8 that was announced last month. In addition, a slew of zooms were mentioned including a 14-24mm f/2.8 and a 70-200mm f/2.8 which would round off the Nikon holy trinity. Five other zooms were slated but no aperture details were given away.

Nikon Rumors is reporting that the arrival of some professional-level glass is probably not too far off, but which lenses should be a priority? Nikon’s masterplan has been the reverse of Canon, preferring to roll out mid-range glass with slightly boring apertures to match its good-but-still-needs-work mirrorless cameras. With the prospect of a pro-grade Z camera arriving some time this year (again, not accounting for coronavirus), faster “S-Line” high-end glass may soon be essential.

From NikonUSA.com. Click for bigger.

The 50mm f/1.2 will be eagerly anticipated and for many Nikon users, it might have been better to give this priority over the slightly ludicrous though incredibly impressive NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct which is still unavailable from B&H Photo and might not reach shelves for a good while yet given the inevitable disruption presented by coronavirus. If the D6 is going to be pushed back, there will almost certainly be problems elsewhere in Nikon’s manufacturing processes, and all of these lenses might be subject to delays.

Nikon enthusiasts will be aware that Nikkor glass is manufactured by the Hikari factory in the small city of Yuzawa, Japan. However, the electronic components are most likely manufactured elsewhere and may be subject to the difficulties currently being experienced in China as a result of efforts to contain the coronavirus.

Assuming (and hoping) that this disruption will be temporary, what else should Nikon be releasing alongside or immediately following the 50mm f/1.2? With the f/2.8 trinity completed, 35mm and 85mm primes are probably the most obvious choices, but will Nikon plump for f/1.4 or will they opt for something a little faster? Certainly, Canon’s RF lens line-up has set the bar quite high with the RF 50mm f/1.2 drawing serious praise (and a price to match). Add to that, Canon has two top-end 85mm f/1.2 lenses, the more expensive DS option asking you to fork out an extra $300 for something slightly more bokeh-y.

The Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM. Slightly more practical than the Noct 58mm f/0.95.

Personally I’m intrigued to see whether Nikon will indulge us with an f/1.2 35mm or stick with the more conventional f/1.4. Given Nikon’s modest roll-out of lenses thus far, it may prefer to go with the safer f/1.4 rather than produce something that’s the size and weight of the Sigma 35mm f/1.2 for Sony.

Following the 35mm and 85mm, we can probably expect to see the rest of a prime range filled out, with perhaps the 24mm and 105mm as the immediate additions. It seems most likely that at least some of these lenses will have to be available to purchase before we finally see a truly “pro” Z-mount full-frame camera, but Nikon will playing “chicken and the egg” to a degree, regardless of their chosen path. Getting the glass out first makes the most sense, but timeframes may now be all over the place thanks to coronavirus.

What are your thoughts? What should Nikon prioritize for its mirrorless full-frame shooters? Leave a comment below.

Andy Day's picture

Andy Day is a British photographer and writer living in France. He began photographing parkour in 2003 and has been doing weird things in the city and elsewhere ever since. He's addicted to climbing and owns a fairly useless dog. He has an MA in Sociology & Photography which often makes him ponder what all of this really means.

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I think I have a different definition of premium because, to me, just about every lens they've come out with for the Z system has been premium. If premium for you is just wider aperture, then sure I guess.

It doesn't get more premium than the 85/1.8S, or 24-70/2.8S, or 50/1.8S. Those two primes are near Otus-quality lenses at a fraction of the size and cost and with autofocus.

Everyone just wants f/1.4 or faster lenses and thinks 1.8 lenses are amateur lenses. This used to be somewhat true in the film days, but not anymore. If you're worrying that much about how shallow your DOF is, you're probably not a good photographer.

It's the Jared Polin school of lens classification. I do think they need to finish the f/2.8 zoom trio ASAP though.

Looks like they are but this coronavirus is going to slow everything down. So pretty much anything from any manufacturer is going to be delayed at this point.

Could not agree more Mike. I don't get this "not professional lenses at 1.8" thing. I can't say enough about how great the 85mm 1.8 lens is. Those of us who shoot every day scratch our heads about this "not premium" thing. I don't know if it's because the new Z mount but I think differently with this lens. I don't need 1.4 now. And yes that's weird to say.

What the writer is talking about, the S line lens is more than premium already, they are by far amazing in all the possible ways. Having the 1.2 lenses will be amazing but not even close to being necessary, just a touch of luxury and a tad more flexibility. Depends on the price I would even buy one, but I wouldn't replace my S lenses since they are perfect and their size and quality are awesome. I just don't understand these pseudo-journalists that only talk from their opinions and don't really analyze how people are using their gear. I really think that as a photographer (a great one actually) the journalist should know that there are many kinds of photographers with different needs and the 1.2 lenses are minority products, cool products though, but minority ones and Nikon has put so much care and effort in making the S-line just amazing and flawless that is just plain ignorance to not acknowledge that.

Also asking NOW, when Nikon will do this and that, seems to be an out of any notion, out of any reality, out of any understanding of what the world is going through. Let's get real. I pre-ordered my 20mm Z and I will not bother on getting pissed because I will not get it on time, that's for granted now and not a point of complaint or even a viable comment now.

Every S line lens is superb. Go back to sleep, you're drunk.

Nikon has already released premium glass. Fast aperture alone does not make for premium glass. What, you don't deem the 24-70 2.8 or 70-200 2.8 to be premium? Apertures like 1.2 are nice and all but, they are super pricey and might not always make sense.

For all practical uses f/4 is where I mostly shoot f/1.2 lenses too. Unless you want to join the club of really sharp eyes and blurred noses / ears which just looks ridiculous.

f/1.2 just pushes f/4 more into the mid range creating slightly better results which after post are more or less invisible. But you get to pay a premium for the privilege.

What do you mostly shoot? That’s a really broad statement about aperture. I’m assuming you shoot portraits primarily given what your wrote.

I mostly shoot at f/11 to 16 you really want to know what I do. But the one f1.2 lens I do use is useful for portraits although I’m not sure if that’s what I shoot the most with it either. The example is illustrative.


It would be nice to see a Z 300f4 for a prime on the Z7 platform.

Yep. Because what I want is more enormous glass on a tiny camera body......

The best thing about Nikons approach is the high quality lenses in a smaller package.


Not necessarily. An f4 lens for a mirror less can be smaller than a DSLR lens because of the physics involved. Same for other prime lenses.

An article about a non existent issue.

Thanks for the great article, bro. Now I know that:
- only photos shot at f/1.2 are professional
- aperture is the only attribute that makes a lens 'premium'
- fstoppers will publish pretty much anything for the clicks

I can't wait for the 500mm f/1.2 lens. Now i just need to find some sort of motorized vehicle to transport it.

Im not a Nikon user but this article is full of so much rubbish.

Its either clickbait or delusional, certainly not fact.

Please guys, Andy has a good point. The S glasses are good, but not exeptional. I am half DSLR half mirrorles shooter and I am still waiting for something special. I prefer Sigma 35mm 1.4 on D780 rather than Nikkor 35mm 1.8S on Z6. What is the point of new big mount (btw locked for Sigma/Tamron) if its potential remains unused?

Actually they are exceptional. The Sigma 35 1.4 is a great lens. I had it on my D810, but the 35 1.8 S is better and lighter. Of course, you're giving up the 1.4 aperture, but then again sometimes the AF on the Sigma was less than reliable.

I agree. I have a couple of D750s and a Z6 since it came out and the Sigma 35 1.4 has been my most favourite lens ever - even with moderate the AF troubles on the D750. Also very satisfyingly better than all other 35/1.4's at that time. Of course, on the Z6 with its completely different AF system, the AF is now as reliable as any native lens (with FTZ adapter) so I was super happy. Until I saw the sample images from the 35/50 1.8 S lenses for the Z. That sharpness was just .... clinical. Wide open on the 35S was like F2.8 on the Sigma. And that Sigma was the reference for, say, the last 5 years. But I'm still waiting out on what Nikon does next. Maybe a F1.2 or maybe Tamron converts its excellent 35/1.4 to Z? But the Sigma is still very rewarding to use. We'll see.

Love the glass for my Z6, but if Sigma ever made the 35 1.4 for the Z system I would be tempted to jump on it. I love the look of the Sigma.

Not exceptional? Every Z mount lens so far has beat the comparable F mount version in multiple dimensions - whether it's size, sharpness, chromatic aberration, or features. While they may not feature headline grabbing (and entirely unusable .95 apertures), I'd argue they deliver real value for professional photographers.

Agree, but I have same value on F mount lenses. I am not pixelpeeper, all I need is focus and sharpnes. As wedding photographer in bad light conditions is 1.4 lifesaver. I have 35mm and 24mm lenses borowed from Nikon right now and they are great, but boring opticaly. Gimme Canon lenses right now.

Sure, for weddings, the 1.4 lenses and a body like the D5 will be a better combo if you're shooting purely available light. For a broader range of photography, however, built in VR will give you many more stops over the 2/3 of aperture lost.

As for Canon, I'm not sure the loss of DR and high ISO performance is worth it for the lenses - trying to nail focus on an eye at f/1.2 in a dynamic situation isn't going to work.

Tomas, they are clearly exceptional.

Hoping to see some info about the 100-400 and the 200-600, and i really hope the 200-600 is with internal zoom like Sonys and not like the Nikon 200-500 f5.6.

I'm hoping they prioritize pancake lenses. I've already got some premium lenses in F-mount, and I can use them on Z-mount with the FTZ adapter if I need to. The biggest reason I'm looking at mirrorless is for a reduction in physical size. The Z6/Z7 are basically the same size as my D500, and the available Z-mount lenses aren't too much different from F-mount lens size either. I like the size of the Z50 with the 16-50 lens, but I'm looking for full frame.

I use Fujifilm and honestly the little 27 is one of the best lenses, not for image quality or anything like that, just because it turns your cameras into a pocket beast.

f/2.8 Zooms aren't "premium"?

Apparently f1.8 prime lenses are 'average' too, who would have thought hey.

The problem that has arisen is that currently, the Z mount is the widest flange with the closest end of lens to recording medium possible. SO, if any of the other lens manufacturers design for the Z, they can only modify and adapt to other mounts. I don't know if they have considered that? Premium to me means F1.2 or F1.4 as optically they have to be outstanding in comparison to an F1.8 lens or smaller aperture (or variable aperture).

I thought, hoped, believed that Nikon would be producing at very least F1.4 lenses. As everyone has said, the noct lens is a joke. Ridiculous to have shown off in that way when showing off with a 20, 35, 50 and 85 F1.2 lens would have had more impact overall (and probably cost the same!). What we need as a minimum from Nikon is for them to take the mount and the way forward seriously and to produce some fast high end glass and quickly. I would welcome the culmination of the holy trinity but equally, want a good fast 85mm and 35mm lens. 1.8 seems too pedestrian by comparison to what their competition already have out in the world available. I love my Z cameras but the lack of quality high end lenses is disconcerting.

I know little about the quality of the new Nikon lenses, but to argue that only f1.2 is good quality is definitely a fallacy. A larger mount could mean that you achieve the same quality with a f1.8 lens. It requires systematic testing not just glancing at an Aperture number.

That said maybe the lenses still are bad but it may have nothing to do with the Aperture.

The area you certainly have missed is that having a shorter flange distance is an advantage not disadvantage because it means Nikon users in theory could adapt any other lens To their camera if they wanted to. And 3rd party providers would design for Nikon and then adapt to the others because they would start with the shorter distance.

That may be the one thing that’s speaking for Nikon atm. But I reckon they won’t survive this pandemic as an independent company. It wouldn’t surprise me if they have to close down or if they merge or are up for sale.

"The area you certainly have missed is that having a shorter flange distance is an advantage not disadvantage because it means Nikon users in theory could adapt any other lens To their camera if they wanted to. And 3rd party providers would design for Nikon and then adapt to the others because they would start with the shorter distance."

It's a disadvantage in the sense that no third party that wants to release on multiple systems is going to be optimizing their lenses for the Z-mount. It's far easier to optimize for a longer flange focal distance and add extra metal to the barrel on the mount end of a lens than it is to take something optimized for a short flange focal distance and change it to work with a longer one. One is a metal work job and the other requires a change in optics.

Of course, the advantageous part to all of this is that you can attach any of those lenses for other systems to a Nikon, but only Nikon will likely be making Z-mount optimized lenses.

Sorry but this is counterintuitive... I’m not saying you’re wrong. But if it is easier to add metal then really wouldn’t you start at the shortest flange distance than at the longest flange distance?