Nikon Full-Frame Mirrorless Part 2: Everything You Need to Know About NIKKOR Z Lenses & F Mount Adapter

In Part 1 of our Nikon Z mount system coverage, we dove into the just-announced 45.7-megapixel Z7 and 24.5-megapixel Z6 cameras. But the Nikon Z mount system isn't simply a new camera; it's an entire mirrorless ecosystem designed around the Z mount, Nikon's first new full-frame camera/lens mount since the F mount debuted in 1959.

Imagine the challenges of trying to innovate when you're tied to a specification designed before mankind walked on the Moon!

Enter the new Z Mount, the structural core of the new Z Series cameras and NIKKOR Z lenses. The Z mount measures 55mm across, making it 17% wider than the F-Mount. Plus, without mechanical mirror components taking up space, the Z mount system flange distance -- the distance between the end of a lens and the camera's image sensor -- is 65% slimmer than the F Mount, measuring only 16mm.

That sounds nice on paper, but what does this mean for you? The Z-mount lets in over 100% MORE light than F-mount systems. In Pursuit of Light, indeed.

NIKKOR Z S-Line Lenses: The New Benchmark

In addition to light-gathering capabilities, the new Z mount gives Nikon engineers the flexibility to rethink how they design lenses. Enter the S-Line, a "designated grade of NIKKOR Z lenses that adhere to a new benchmark in optical performance." These native Z mount system lenses are for still images and video alike, promising to be lighter, quieter, and more compact with less focus breathing, smoother exposure control, and edge-to-edge sharpness. And, unlike F mount lenses, Z mount lenses will achieve maximum sharpness at maximum aperture (rather than a stop or two down).

In short, Nikon is attempting to make the NIKKOR Z S-Line lenses the best Nikon lenses ever made, and more versatile in their application.

The First 3 NIKKOR Z Lenses

The Nikon Z mount system will debut with two new lenses and see three (total) released by the end of 2018. Nikon says they've compared these lenses to their competitors and found the NIKKOR Z lenses to be sharper than one of the most expensive lenses on the market.

The NIKKOR Z 35mm F1.8 S features 11 lens elements in 9 groups, including two ED glass elements, three aspherical lens elements, and Nano Crystal Coat adopted to suppress ghosting and flare. This maximum aperture F1.8 prime also features a 9-bladed aperture for creamy bokeh and a MOD (minium object distance) of 9.8" (and remember, that's from the sensor). Plus, there's a new multi-focusing system featuring two AF drive units for quiet, fast autofocusing, and the whole lens is weather-sealed. All in a lens Nikon promises will have no color fringing or aberration.

The NIKKOR Z 50mm F1.8 S is Nikon's new take on this iconic, go-to focal length, and is completely different from the F mount equivalent. No chromitic aberration, edge-to-edge sharpness, and beautiful bokeh are what we expect to see from this lens. Constructed from 12 elements in 9 groups, including two ED glass, two aspherical lens elements, and Nano Crystal Coat adopted to suppress ghosting and flare. Just as weather-sealed at the 35mm F1.8, the 50mm F1.8 S also features a 9-bladed aperture, a 15.7" MOD, and a "new, powerful stepping motor (STM) enables quiet and accurate AF control during both still-image capture and video recording."
The NIKKOR Z 24-70mm F4 S may be the Z mount kit lens, but Nikon promises "rendering performance that surpasses that of conventional f/4 standard zoom lenses." It too features the new STM (stepping motor) for smooth, silent AF, and weather sealing. This lens consists of 14 elements in 11 groups, including one ED glass element, one aspherical ED lens element, three aspherical lens elements, and Nano Crystal Coat adopted to suppress ghosting and flare. Thanks to its electromagnetic aperture control, you'll experience less wobbling and no breathing, and its manual focus ring can be set, via custom settings, to be a control ring (adjust focus, aperture, OR exposure compensation). And, the MOD is 11.8" (0.3m) across the entire focal range.

NIKKOR Z 58mm F0.95 S Noct.png
Return of The Noct

Naturally, Nikon isn't stopping with three lenses. We can expect at least 10 new NIKKOR Z S-Line lenses to trickle out over the next two years (more on this in a minute), but the first lens they've officially announced as in development is the Nikon's fastest lens ever!

The NIKKOR Z 58mm F0.95 S Noct will be a manual focus prime lens with an ultra-fast F0.95 maximum aperture. In the car world, car companies make sports cars like Shelby Mustangs and Corvettes as halo cars, high-performance machines that bring people to lots. The NIKKOR Z 58mm F0.95 S Noct will be the Z mount's flagship, halo lens.

For those who don't know the name Noct, it comes from the "the original AI Noct-NIKKOR 58mm f/1.2, a standard prime lens released in 1977, named for "Nocturne" (a musical composition inspired by or evocative of the night), and was popular for its ability to finely reproduce point light sources as point images. "
360 Reasons To Keep Your F Mount Lenses

Photographers, journalists, bloggers, and YouTubers have long lamented the lack of native Sony E mount glass. As the youngest full-frame camera manufacturer, Sony didn't have decades worth of lenses waiting in the wings like Nikon and Canon. Nikon hopes to avoid similar complaints with the optional Mount Adapter FTZ, which will allow you to mount 360 compatible NIKKOR F mount lenses, dating all the way back to 1959, to you Z7 or Z6 camera. Even better...?

Nikon claims 93 AF-P, AF-S, and AF-I F mount lenses with built-in motors will be fully functional on the Z mount cameras. (full list HERE.)

Autofocus, metering, white balance, vibration reduction... if you own one of those 90 NIKKOR lenses, it's going to be akin to shooting with a native NIKKOR Z lens and, in some cases, you'll get even more performance out of your F mount lenses thank to in-camera vibration compensation and the new Hybrid AF system. That said, NIKKOR F lenses were not built with video in mind, so they don't have features like stepping drive motors for ultra quiet focus adjustments, which is key during video recording.

Will this adaptor work as well as Nikon claims, and how will it affect third-party lenses from companies like Sigma and Tamron?

We'll find out shortly, but the early word from colleagues is very promising. Either way, if Nikon pulls this off, it's a brilliant way to launch a new camera system. If the adapter doesn't work or key features are missing or image quality declines, then the Z mount could well sink before it has a chance to built out its line of NIKKOR Z S-Line lenses.

[SIDE NOTE: It's worth noting that there are a ton of Sony adapter on the market that allow you to use third-party lenses on full-frame E mount cameras -- even Nikon or Canon lenses -- but, depending on the lens-adapter-body combo, the results range from very good to buggy, but it's rarely the same as having a native Sony lens or even the new Tamron or Sigma E mount lenses.]

NIKKOR Z S-Line Lens Roadmap

Outside of the NIKKOR Z 58mm F0.95 Noct, Nikon has yet to specify which lenses are coming next and/or when. But the company's press release offers a general roadmap of what the future of NIKKOR Z S-Line could look like.

NIKKOR Z S-Line Roadmap 2018.png

Six new primes could launch over the course of 2019, including the coveted 24-70mm F2.8 & 70-200mm F2.8 zooms, wide-angle 20mm F1.8 & 14-30mm F4 lenses, and the portrait-friendly 85mm F1.8. And, for 2020, Nikon is currently targeting three more lenses, two more primes, and a faster wide-angle zoom. This is all subject to change without notice, of course, but it's inspiring to see Nikon's plans for the whole ecosystem, assuming it finds a customer base.
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Pricing & Availability

On September 27, 2018, along with the Nikon Z7 launch, you'll be able to pick up the NIKKOR Z 24-70mm F4 S and NIKKOR Z 35mm F1.8 S lenses for $999.95 and $849.95, respectively. Click HERE to pre-order from B&H Photo Video!

The Mount Adapter FTZ will also be available then for around $250, but if you buy it before 12/31/2018 and at the same time as a Z7 (or Z6), Nikon will knock the price down to $150. Click HERE to pre-order from B&H Photo Video!

In late October 2018, the NIKKOR Z 50mm F1.8 S lens will be available for $599.95.

Lastly, the NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S will also be available as the Z7 or Z6 kit lens. The Z7 kit will be available on September 27, 2018 for $3999.95, while the Z6/24-70mm F4 kit will be available in late November for $2599.95. By purchasing the NIKKOR 24-70mm F4 S in kit form, you save about $400. Click HERE to pre-order from B&H Photo Video!

No pricing or availability is currently listed for the NIKKOR Z 58mm F0.95 Noct or any of the other lenses listed on the 2019-2020 roadmap.

For a full breakdown of the Nikon Z7 and Z6 camera systems, please...
Click HERE!