Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.8 S
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.