Nikon engineers discuss the Nikon Z mirrorless f/2.8 zoom lens trinity in new interview videos

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by
Jeremy Gray

posted Monday, May 10, 2021 at 12:00 PM EDT

As was the case with the Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 G Master interview we wrote about last week, today’s interview information comes directly from the manufacturer. In this case, Nikon is the manufacturer. The Japanese company published a trio of ‘engineer interview’ videos over the weekend, with each focusing on a different member of Nikon’s Z lens f/2.8 zoom trinity, the 14-24mm f/2.8 S, 24-70mm f/2.8 S and the 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S.

The same disclaimer I provided with the Sony article applies here. The interviews are designed to talk up the product and discuss its primary features. However, although the interviews are largely part of a marketing campaign, that doesn’t mean there aren’t interesting insights into the lens design process and how the Nikon Z mount reduces the challenges Nikon’s engineers face when designing lenses or change the features Nikon can offer its customers with its mirrorless lenses.

Starting the widest zoom in the ‘trinity,’ the Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S. We Field Tested this lens in late 2020, and it impressed. What makes it impressive, especially relative to the venerable Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G lens, a lens I have had in my kit since it was released in 2007, is how dramatically more compact and lighter is the new 14-24mm f/2.8 S mirrorless lens. While this is due in part to optical advancements in the last dozen years, the impacts of the wide Z mount and its short flange distance are felt acutely here. The lens is not just lighter and more compact. It also accepts a front filter, which is rare among ultra-wide lenses. Further, the lens is sharper and delivers better performance than its F mount predecessor.

Next is the Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S lens. We’ve Field Tested this one, too. The difference in size and weight between the Z mount version and the most recent F mount version of the classic 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom is not quite as dramatic as the 14-24mm lens. However, that’s not to say that there aren’t improvements. The new mirrorless version delivers outstanding performance across the board and offers fantastic sharpness wide open at 24mm, 70mm and everywhere in between. As Nikon Optical Engineer, Osamu Gomibuchi, says in the video below, ‘We’ve achieved a lens design with no weaknesses at any focal length or shooting distance…’ After spending a lot of time with the lens, it’s hard to disagree. ‘The Z mount’s large mount diameter and short flange focal distance have enhanced optical design flexibility for higher performance,’ Gomibuchi continues.

Much like the 24-70mm focal length, a full-frame camera system is incomplete without a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. The Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S lens — click here for the Field Test — is very similar to Nikon’s F-mount 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses. The Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S is unique among Nikkor Z lenses in that it includes built-in vibration reduction, something the in-body image stabilization of Nikon Z cameras has generally removed the need for. While the inclusion of VR means that the 70-200mm f/2.8 Z lens isn’t particularly compact or lightweight, it is an excellent performer. ‘We have carefully considered professionals’ extreme usage,’ says Yoichi Jotaki, a member of Nikon’s Optical Engineering Division, ‘AF, VR and zoom operation can all endure frequent use and retain high performance for extended periods of time. We paid meticulous attention to these points when designing this lens.’

To see more videos from Nikon, head to the Nikon USA YouTube channel. There, Nikon frequently uploads product highlight videos, Q&A segments, tutorial videos and much more. For the latest news on cameras and lenses from all manufacturers, stay tuned to Imaging Resource.