How does Nikon's widest Z-mount lens perform? Michael Topham paired it up the high-resolution Nikon Z 7 to find out
Nikkor Z 14-30mm f/4 S review: Build & Handling
I was awestruck by the size of the lens when I picked it up out of the box. Nikon F-mount lenses such as the AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR tower over it and when you compare their weight and dimensions, the 14-30mm f/4 works out 29% lighter and 32% shorter when it’s retracted.
The retractable design is similar to that on the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 S. It doesn’t require a button to be depressed, it’s simply a case of a short twist of the rubberised zoom ring and you’re ready to shoot. The action of extending and retracting the lens is very positive and if you turn the camera on before extending the lens a message pops up on screen prompting you to do so.
The idea of the retractable design is to keep the lens as compact as possible when transporting or storing it, with the barrel extending by approximately 30mm in length from its retracted position to its widest 14mm setting. The zoom ring requires a little extra force to be applied when you’d like to retract the lens, but this means there’s never any risk of retracting it by accident.
The lens conforms to the styling of Nikon’s other Z-mount lenses, with engraved focal length markings standing out in white against a matte black barrel. A thin, but super-smooth and silent control ring provides precise control for fine focusing adjustments.
Being such a small lens you don’t get luxuries like a focus distance window or any function buttons, however these might appear on the Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S that’s due in 2020.
The throw of the zoom ring is quite short, requiring less than a quarter of a turn to get from 14mm to 30mm and vice versa. It operates fluidly with just the right level of resistance and allowed me to zoom across the range using just my thumb from its resting position in the palm of my hand. The AF/MF switch is modest in size, however I had no difficulty locating it with my thumb from behind the Z 7.
The lens balances extremely well on Z-series cameras. The combined weight of lens (485g) and the Nikon Z 7 comes to just 1,160g, which presents a considerable weight saving when you compare it to a combination like the Nikon D850 with the Nikon AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR that weighs 500g more.
At the front of the lens you’ll find a white dot, which when aligned with the white circle on the hood offers visual confirmation that it’s correctly attached. The petal-shaped plastic lens hood secures with a reassuring click, but unlike some hoods doesn’t feature its own release button.