The Nikon Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S is the smaller and more affordable of Nikon’s two 24-70mm lenses for its Z-series mirrorless cameras. It’s often sold with the Z6 or Z7 as a kit lens, but it’s much more than the average kit lens. We think it makes an excellent choice as your first native lens for Nikon’s full-frame mirrorless cameras.
Many full-frame photographers regard a 24-70mm lens as essential. It has the width you want for landscapes, street and interior shots and the length for flattering portraits. Opting for an f/4 lens over a f/2.8 optic helps keep the price, weight and size down.
Also, given the improvements made with noise control over recent years, there’s a good argument for pushing up the sensitivity rather than blowing the budget on a lens with a wider maximum aperture.
Nikon has constructed the lens from 14 elements in 11 groups. This includes 1 ED (Extra-low Dispersion) element, 1 aspherical ED element and 3 aspherical elements. Nikon’s Nan Crystal Coating has also been used to reduce ghosting and flare. In addition, the front element has a fluorine-coating to help it shed dirt, fingerprints and water droplets.
The focusing is internal which means the lens doesn’t change length nor the front element rotate during focusing. That’s especially useful when you’re using a polarised or graduated filter.
- Type: Nikon Z mount
- Format: FX/35 mm
- Focal length: 24–70 mm
- Aperture range: f/4-f/22
- Angle of view: FX format: 84° to 34°20′, DX format: 61° to 22°50′
- Focusing system: Internal focusing system
- Minimum focus distance: 0.3 m (0.99 ft) at all focal lengths
- No. of diaphragm blades: 7 (rounded aperture)
- Filter size: 72 mm
- Dimensions: 77.5 mm maximum diameter x 88.5 mm (from the camera lens mount flange when the lens is retracted)
- Weight: 500 g (1 lb, 1.7 oz)
Build and Handling
The Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 S has a collapsible design. Consequently, you have to rotate the zoom ring from the white dot to a marked focal length to extend it before you can shoot. If you forget, the camera gives a reminder message on the screen.
There’s an oddly satisfying feeling of something snapping into position as the zoom ring is rotated and the lens extended. From the collapsed position, it only takes a quarter turn to rotate past the 24mm mark all the way to the 70mm end.
When it’s collapsed the lens measures 88.5mm from the lens mount flange. Extending the lens makes it around 23mm longer. Meanwhile, the maximum diameter is 77.5 mm and the filter diameter is 72mm.
The zoom ring is nice and wide, with a ridged, rubberised coating. Just behind it, closer to the camera body, is the narrow manual focus ring. Helpfully, this can also be used to adjust the aperture or exposure compensation setting in autofocus mode. I like to use it for adjusting exposure compensation. If you switch to manual focus mode, it reverts to its normal duty.
As it works electronically rather than mechanically, the focusing ring lacks any end stops. It also means that the movement is very smooth but without feedback.
I’ve shot with the Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S on the Nikon Z6 and Z7, but as the higher resolution of the two cameras, the Z7 gives it the tougher test. And it’s not found wanting.
There’s a high level of detail visible at the centre of the frame at every focal length, and although it drops off a bit towards the corners, it’s by no means bad. The opposite, in fact.
Although the results are good at f/4, closing down to f/5.6 makes images a fraction sharper and more detailed. By f/16 the effects of diffraction start to become apparent and if you’re pixel peeping, images have a little less detail than those at f/8 and f/5.6.
There’s some corner shading, but it’s very gradual so that images look natural and it’s not a problem with most subjects or shooting situations. Closing down from f/4 to f/5.6 has a noticeable impact, brightening the corners. There’s a smaller change closing to f/8, which is the optimal aperture for vignetting.
At 24mm, you can see slight barrel distortion in the Jpegs when the in-camera corrections are turned off. However, the correction is automatically applied to raw files and can’t be turned off. As a result, there’s less distortion visible in raw files than Jpegs, which may seem odd.
Chromatic aberration doesn’t appear to be a problem with the Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S.
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Nikon Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S Image Sample Gallery
The Nikon Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S is a great general purpose lens for the Z6 or Z7. If you want the maximum amount of detail, then yes, it is best to pair the Nikon Z7 with the Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, but I wouldn’t regard the Nikon Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S as the poor person’s alternative. As well as the cost-saving over the f/2.8 optic, the f/4 lens is a nicer size and weight on Nikon’s mirrorless cameras. And the results from it are very good indeed. It captures an impressive amount of detail, chromatic aberration is controlled extremely well and distortion isn’t a significant issue.
Mechanical collapsing mechanisms can seem a little clunky, but this lens’ feels good. And I’ll take it for the extra space saving in a bag.
If you’re thinking of buying a Nikon Z6 or Z7, then the Nikon Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S makes a great first lens.