Is Nikon’s first professional zoom for the Z-series a success? Michael Topham pairs it with the Nikon Z 7 to find out
Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S review: Build & Handling
The lens is 25% lighter and 18% shorter than the Nikkor AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8 E ED VR in Nikon’s F-mount lens lineup. Whereas the slower Z 24-70mm f/4 S has a retractable design this lens doesn’t, meaning the zoom ring doesn’t need to be twisted to extend it to 24mm before it can be used.
One feature that has been well received on some of Nikon’s new Z-mount lenses is the addition of a control ring. On Nikon S-Line lenses like the Z 24-70mm f/4 S that features one, it’s possible to change the function of the control ring from its default setting of adjusting focus to control aperture or exposure compensation. The barrel on the lens we’re looking at is longer and features functionality unique to higher-class models in the Nikkor S-Line. In addition to a control ring, an independent focus ring is positioned ahead of the zoom ring. The beauty of this arrangement is that you can adjust the focus and control exposure compensation or the aperture without having to revert to the custom control assignment options in the camera’s menu to switch between them.
Between the control ring and the zoom ring there’s also a L-Fn button that allows a number of functions to be assigned to it, and a DISP button that’s used to toggle through focal length, aperture and focus distance on the display panel beside it. As illuminated panels on lenses go, it displays its information brightly and clearly. It’s useful for glancing down at and can be used as a way of precisely setting your focal length. It displays its information in 0.5mm increments between 24mm and 35mm and 1mm increments thereafter. The information panel is only active when the camera is powered and turns itself off after 10 seconds of no lens-based activity.
The build and finish is deserving of the serious enthusiast and professional photographers it’s designed for. Engraved focal length markings stand out clearly in white against the matte black barrel and the AF/MF focus switch is easy to find with your thumb from behind the camera without having to go looking for it. The control ring and manual focus ring both rotate silently with satisfying fluidness, while the rubberised zoom ring offers a lovely smooth motion through the zoom range. The zoom operates across a quarter turn of the zoom ring and there’s sufficient resistance to ensure that zoom creep isn’t an issue when it’s pointed down.