There’s no getting around it, the Noct is a big and heavy bit of glass. It’s built like a tank, which is reassuring given the price.
That said, it’s not as difficult to use as I’d imagined.
Whilst noticeably weightier than the 105mm f/1.4, it’s smaller and lighter than the 200mm f/2, and I could support the weight and navigate the controls fairly comfortably.
The challenge is nailing focus manually at f/0.95, particularly on close-range portraits, where a few millimetres makes the difference between the eye-ball or eyebrow being sharp. Mirrorless features on the Z7 such as Focus Peaking, to highlight in-focus areas, and Zoom On/Off, to magnify the EVF image, are really helpful.
I assigned Zoom On/Off with a 50% magnification (100% was just too close with the Z7’s 46Mp resolution) to the lens’s function button (L-fn), so I could switch to a magnified view, adjust focus and zoom out again.
It worked well and I felt confident whilst shooting, but you only need to move a tiny as you zoom out and adjust the composition to throw focus a bit. A tripod is probably recommended for both sparing your arms and improving the focus hit rate, but it’s definitely useable handheld.
I set the control ring to Exposure Compensation, which I find really useful when shooting in Aperture Priority.
I found the Control Ring harder to use though due to its position close to the lens mount. I couldn’t reach it with my left hand that was supporting the lens, and whilst I could almost get a finger from my right hand that was holding the camera to it, it was a bit awkward.
It’s not really a deal breaker, but with these features easy to access via the camera, I’m not sure the Control Ring adds much.
The focus ring is a joy though. It’s smooth and well-weighted for precise focusing adjustments and rotates through the full 360-degrees as you move from the minimum 0.5m distance through to infinity.