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!