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: Image Quality
To find out how well the lens performs; we coupled it up to Nikon’s 45.7-million-pixel Z 7. Like other camera manufacturers, Nikon has taken the direction of embedding its lens correction profiles for its Z lenses into the cameras raw files, which are applied automatically by the software you use at the processing stage.
Loading raw files into Adobe Camera Raw and opening the lens corrections tab reveals a message signalling the built-in lens profile for correcting distortion, chromatic aberration and vignetting has been used. There is a way of disabling this automated behaviour, albeit not in the software itself, but there’s no practical advantage of doing so unless you have a desire to compare results with and without the embedded profile applied.
Running a series of real-world tests against the Nikkor 24-70mm f/4 S before looking at these closely on our computer highlighted that the lens we’re looking at is optically superior, both in terms of the sharpness it resolves across the frame and the gorgeous blur it creates behind subjects at wide apertures. This doesn’t take the shine off the Nikkor 24-70mm f/4 S though, which remains a fantastic lens that has size, weight and cost advantages of its own.
The lens delivers its sharpest results at the wide end of the zoom, with centre sharpness figures at 24mm peaking above those taken at 50mm and 70mm lengths. Corner sharpness improves at all focal lengths by closing the aperture down to around f/5.6 and seriously impressive sharpness are obtained right across the zoom range at f/8. If you’d like to resolve the sharpest images possible and your shooting situation doesn’t insist that you shoot at f/2.8, it’s advisable stopping down to at least f/4 when shooting between 50mm and 70mm.
With the embedded lens correction profile taking care of curvilinear distortion, no work is required to fix barrel or pincushion distortion. It’s much the same story with regard to chromatic aberrations. These are well corrected for throughout, with no nasty surprises or obvious fringes of colour along high contrast edges.
Just as I discovered when I tested the Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 S earlier in the year, the embedded lens correction profile alleviates corner shading at wide apertures, but doesn’t remove it completely. Vignetting is most obvious when the lens is used at 24mm with an aperture of f/2.8. Taking manual control of the vignetting amount slider in Adobe Camera Raw and setting it to a value of +30 removed it effectively as illustrated in the above image.