Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.8 S


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The Z-mount lens that scores straight As

This Z lens comes bot­tom of the al­pha­bet, but it gets straight As for per­for­mance

As far as head­line specs go, the Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.8 S seems like just an­other 50mm stan­dard prime, if a well-specced one. The 12-el­e­ment op­ti­cal stack in­cludes two ED glass el­e­ments, as well as two as­pher­i­cal el­e­ments to boost con­trast and vi­brancy. With a large max­i­mum aper­ture comes shal­low depth-of-field ef­fects, so nine rounded aper­ture blades shape pass­ing light as smoothly as pos­si­ble, for at­trac­tive bokeh in out-of-fo­cus ar­eas.

Ex­ter­nally, the Z 50mm is no­tice­ably big­ger and heav­ier than a good old F-mount AF-S 50mm f/1.8G; but, com­pared with some F-mount 50mm al­ter­na­tives from Sigma and Tok­ina, it’s still pleas­ingly por­ta­ble. The lens bar­rel fea­tures just a sin­gle AF/MF switch, with a no­table ab­sence of any VR con­trols – but the lens doesn’t need VR, as both the Nikon Z 6 and Z 7 boast five-axis in-body im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion (IBIS).


Nikon has short­ened the dis­tance be­tween the lens flange and the im­age sen­sor from the F-mount’s 46.5mm to just 16mm in a Z cam­era. Com­bine this with the larger 55mm in­ner di­am­e­ter of the Z mount it­self, and the re­sult is less dis­tance for light to travel from lens to sen­sor, and more room for a larger rear lens el­e­ment. It all adds up to po­ten­tially in­creased im­age qual­ity.

This isn’t just mar­ket­ing hype. The Z 50mm f/1.8 S is ter­rif­i­cally sharp – only frac­tion­ally down on the sig­nif­i­cantly pricier Z 35mm f/1.8 S, the sharpest lens we’ve ever tested. Aber­ra­tions are prac­ti­cally non-ex­is­tent at any aper­ture, and we couldn’t in­duce any sign of dis­tor­tion. Achiev­ing max­i­mum sharpness with such a tiny depth of field avail­able at f/1.8 re­quires su­per-ac­cu­rate aut­o­fo­cus, but in our test­ing with Nikon’s Z 7 and Z 6 bod­ies, the Z 50mm con­sis­tently de­liv­ered max­i­mum sharpness.

Full-frame com­pat­i­ble: Yes APS-C ef­fec­tive fo­cal length: 75mm Im­age sta­biliser: No Min­i­mum fo­cus dis­tance: 40cm Man­ual fo­cus over­ride: Yes Fo­cus limit switches: No In­ter­nal zoom: N/A In­ter­nal fo­cus: Yes Fil­ter size: 62mm Iris blades: 9 Weather seals: Yes Sup­plied ac­ces­sories: LC-62B 62mm lens cap, LF-N1 rear lens cap, HB-90 bay­o­net hood, CL-C1 lens case Di­men­sions (dia x length): 76 x 87mm Weight: 415g 1 Nikon’s Nano Crys­tal Coat is ap­plied to min­imise ghost­ing and flare when di­rectly shooting strong light sources. 2 This is an all-weather op­tic, with gas­kets seal­ing joints along the lens bar­rel. 3 The tac­tile and pre­cise man­ual fo­cus ring isn’t re­dun­dant if you’re us­ing aut­o­fo­cus: it can also be set in-cam­era to ad­just ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion or ISO sen­si­tiv­ity. 4 The Z 50mm fea­tures an elec­tro­mag­netic di­aphragm to keep ex­po­sures con­sis­tent dur­ing bursts.

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