Reviews |Nikon Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S

Nikon Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S Review

Nikon Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S review
Review

Price when reviewed

£1099

$1096
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Our Verdict

The Nikon Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 makes a great alternative to the Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 and Z 24-70mm f/2.8, giving extra flexibility with the framing and delivering high-quality images. It doesn’t quite match the superb Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S for image quality, but it’s also about half the price, lighter and smaller.

It is a little longer and heavier than the Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4, but I would be inclined to go for the Z 24-120mm f/4 for its extra 50mm on the focal length range, it’s handy for portraits or when you just want to zoom in that little further on a distant object.

For

  • Excellent image quality
  • Dedicated customisable control ring and L-fn button
  • Extra reach over the Z 24-70mm f/4 S

Against

  • Bigger and heavier than the Z 24-70mm f/4 S
  • More expensive than the Z 24-70mm f/4 S
  • Relies on in-camera stabilisation

What is the Nikon Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S

Nikon currently offers two 24-70mm lenses for its Z-series mirrorless cameras, the Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S and the smaller and more affordable Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S. The Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S is the more direct competitor to the 24-70mm f/4, offering the same maximum aperture but with an extra 50mm of telephoto range so it’s that bit more versatile. But of course, it’s also a bit more expensive, heavier and longer.

With a 5x zoom range starting at 24mm, the Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S an attractive choice for everyday, general photography. It has the width for landscapes and longer focal lengths for tighter framing of details and portraits.

Specification

  • Product type: Standard zoom lens
  • Mount: Nikon Z
  • Format: Full-frame (FX)
  • Focal length: 24-120mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/4
  • Minimum aperture: f/22
  • Construction: 16 elements in 13 groups including 3 ED elements, 1 aspherical elements
  • Coatings: Nano Crystal Coat, ARNEO coat and Fluorine coated front element
  • Focusing system: Internal autfocusing
  • Minimum focus distance: 0.35m / 1.15ft at all focal lengths
  • Maximum reproduction ratio: 0.39x
  • Stabilisation: No
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 9
  • Filter size: 77mm
  • Weight: 603g / 1lb 6.3oz
  • Diameter x length (extension from lens mount): 84 x 118mm / 3.4 x 4.7 inches

Features Nikon Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S

Nikon constructs the Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S from 16 elements arranged in 13 groups. Amongst those optics there are 3 ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements and one aspherical element. These special elements are designed to maintain image quality into the corners of the frame and suppress chromatic aberration.

The front element is fluorine-coated to make it easier to keep clean and shed raindrops, plus the barrel has weather-sealing to keep out water drops and dust. There are also elements with Nikon’s Nano Crystal coating and ARNEO coating to reduce flare and ghosting.

The autofocus system is internal, which means the lens doesn’t change length nor the front element rotate during focusing.  It also has two synchronised drive units that are designed to deliver fast focusing and reduced aberration through the zoom range.

Further good news is that the minimum focus distance is just 35cm (1.15feet) throughout the focal length range, which gives a maximum reproduction ratio of 0.39x.

Nikon supplies the Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S with a lens hood but unfortunately, I lost the one that came with our review sample while out shooting.

Nikon Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S review

Build and handling

At 118mm or 3.4-inches in length from the lens mount, the Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S looks fine on a full-frame camera like the Nikon Z7 II or Nikon Z6 II. Also, thanks to the deep grip on those cameras, the 603g (1lb 6.3oz) weight of the lens doesn’t seem out of place either.

As an S-line lens, the Nikon Z 24-120mm f/4 S is part of Nikon’s professional range and it has the looks and feel that you’d expect, plus a high-quality finish and a metal mount. The narrow focus ring sits towards the front element wit the broader zoom ring towards the centre of the barrel where your left hand naturally goes to support the optic. Closer towards the lens mount, there’s a dedicated control ring which doesn’t click when it’s rotated. This can be used to adjust aperture, ISO, exposure compensation or the focus when the camera is set to autofocus.

All three rings move smoothly and feel well-made.

In between the control ring and the zoom ring, there’s a customisable L-fn (lens-function) button that can be used to access one of 22 features.

Unlike the Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, the Z 24-120mm f/4 S doesn’t have a small display screen on its barrel. That’s something I’d chalk up as a bonus if its there but not a requirement.

Nikon Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S review

Performance

During my testing, I used the Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S on the Nikon Z6 II and Z7 II, but as the higher resolution model of the two cameras, the Z7 II gives it more of a test and it doesn’t disappoint. The sharpness levels are very good throughout the focal length range and across the frame, even when the aperture is wide open.

Vignetting, flare and chromatic aberration are all controlled well. I found a couple of limited examples of chromatic aberration towards the edges of the frame at the 24mm end of the lens when photographing high-contrast edges, but it wasn’t bad by any means. It’s also possible to remove the coloured fringing within a few seconds by using the Defringe tool in Adobe Camera Raw. You just need to click on the offending line and it’s gone.

The Nikon Z 24-120mm f/4 S also proves to be a snappy focuser and it fairs reasonably well when the subject is close to it nearest focusing point. Most of the time I was unable to hear the lens focusing and when the camera is switched to Full-time AF for video, it’s silent.

Videographers will also be pleased to learn that focus breathing isn’t a concern.

With a maximum aperture of f/4 there’s a limit to how quickly the focus can fall off, but out of focus areas generally look pleasant.

Nikon Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S review

Nikon Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S sample images

Follow the link to browse and download full-resolution images from the Nikon Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S.

Nikon Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S image gallery

Verdict

While 24-70mm lenses are popular, the extra telephoto range of the Nikon Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S is very appealing. Compared with the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2 S, that extra 50mm brings just over 100g (4.6oz) additional weight and a longer barrel. It makes the Z 24-120mm f/4 S a little less discrete and bag-friendly, but it doesn’t feel cumbersome on the camera in use. It’s also worth bearing in mind that it’s still shorter and lighter than the Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S.

You also need to factor that the Z 24-120mm f/4 S has a 77mm filter thread rather than the 72mm thread of the 24-70mm f/4, but the 24-70mm f/2.8 uses 82mm filters.

So which should you buy, the Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S, the Z 24-70mm f/4 S or the Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S? Well if you want the very best results and you don’t mind the extra cost, size and weight, the Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S is the one to go for. If you’re looking for something small and discrete, the Z 24-70mm f/4 S is the one you should pick, but if want a bit more flexibility with the framing then the Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S makes a great choice without sacrificing image quality.

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