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: Image Quality
To give this zoom the thorough test it deserves, it was paired with Nikon’s 45.7-million-pixel Z 7, which embeds lens correction profiles for Z lenses like the Nikkor Z 14-30mm f/4 S in its raw files. Software such as Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom applies these corrections automatically to keep optical flaws in check while helping to speed up our workflow.
The lens delivers its sharpest results at the wide end of the zoom, with centre sharpness figures at 14mm peaking above those taken at the mid-way point in the zoom range. Stopping the lens down from f/4 to f/5.6 and f/8 sees corner sharpness improve, with f/5.6 yielding pleasing results on close inspection.
Sharpness at 30mm isn’t terrible, but users can expect a perceptible drop in sharpness when it’s used wide open at the long end. If your shooting situation doesn’t demand that you shoot wide-open, it’s well worth stopping the lens down to f/5.6 to locate its sweet spot.
There’s always some concern about how well wideangle optics control curvilinear distortion. Converging verticals are inevitable with an ultra-wide lens, but with barrel and pincushion distortion being well corrected for by the embedded lens correction profile, users won’t notice any horrendous bowing at the edges.
Shooting towards the light also confirmed that chromatic aberrations are well controlled. Users needn’t fret too much about severe fringes of colour along high-contrast edges.
As for vignetting, the embedded correction profile might alleviate corner shading at wide apertures, but it doesn’t remove it completely. Use the lens at its widest zoom setting at f/4 and you’ll notice light fall-off in the corners. I found myself overcoming this by stopping down or taking manual control of the vignetting amount slider in Camera Raw.