And if you particularly value the aesthetic qualities of your videography, then it will certainly pay to avoid using any lenses that produce particularly messy and distracting out of focus areas. Naturally they cared about the quality of the lenses they used, but they didn’t spend too much time worrying about them beyond basic functionality and image sharpness.
However, if you start obsessing over minor details such as the way a lens renders blurred parts of the image, you’ve quickly filled another page with content. As a result of this there’s now a certain type of amateur photographer who produces images in which very little is going on except pretty both.
But when real working photographers, videographers, and DPs get together, they do not spend their time talking about lens both. Even filmmakers and photographers who have made their names precisely because of the beauty of their work are usually more concerned about actual content, craft, and technique than they are about gear.
So when considering which Nikon lenses for video you should choose, take a quick look at the quality of images they make, and move on. Fast, accurate, and better at locking on to subjects than a human can ever be, autofocus guarantees sharp footage with a minimum of fuss.
But any videographer whose interest in focus extends beyond merely capturing sharp and technically “correct” clips will likely want to forego autofocus entirely, instead opting for the greater creative freedom and narrative control provided by manual focus operation. Focus is not merely a basic technical requirement (in fact sometimes it’s not even that), but a powerful and important storytelling technique.
If that’s you, beyond AF speed and accuracy, consider whether you’ll be using external microphones for audio capture, or instead will always record via your camera’s onboard mic. A lens that focuses “by wire” won’t provide this level of control and is therefore unsuitable for serious filmmaking.
It goes without saying that filmmakers wouldn’t go through all the trouble with focusing described in the last section if they didn’t care about getting nicely sharp results. However, that’s not always the case, so don’t assume that you will necessarily need to go for the most costly option in order to be able to shoot beautifully sharp video.
It’s also worth remembering that it’s quite common for a lens to be supremely sharp in the center of the frame, but perform much less impressively towards the edges. Indeed, for more creative film making, or when nothing of great importance will be placed towards the edges of the frame, a little corner softness can even be desirable.
And that’s assuming an equally sharp zoom covering your desired focal range exists in the first place. In short, if you value sharpness and speed but only have a limited budget to play with, primes are likely going to prove the best solution.
Conversely, if you prefer the convenience of being able to cover several focal lengths with a single lens, and can live with a narrower maximum aperture and potentially inferior image quality, then a zoom may be the better option. But if you effectively want it all, be prepared to pay through the nose for an exceptionally sharp, fast, zoom lens.
As we’ve already seen, generally Nikon’s native Z -mount lenses will only be suitable for a certain kind of video work. To be sure, if you don’t object to using autofocus all the time, you’ll be very happy to stick with the native Nikon lenses for video work, as they function beautifully.
Part of Nikon's mission was to use the technical advantages of the new Z mount to produce a new wave of optically bold and brilliant lenses, and it seems to have worked. The net result is greater freedom in the design of high-performance lenses and, sure enough, every Nikki Z -mount lens that we’ve seen so far has been an absolute cracker.
For the most part, Nikon has followed suit with its Z -mount lenses, giving them modest aperture ratings of f/1.8 for the majority of primes (the specialist Nikki Z 58 mm f/0.95 S Not is a notable exception) and f/4 for zooms. They deliver spectacular image quality and all round performance, while keeping size and weight to easily manageable proportions.
Mount: Z FX | Autofocus: Pulse (stepping motor) | Stabilizer: No (in-body) | Min focus distance: 0.3 m | Max magnification ratio: 0.3x | Filter thread: 72 mm | Dimensions (AXL): 78×89mm | Weight: 500g As well as having a retractable design for compact stowage, the glass elements towards the front of the lens naturally have a smaller diameter, the trade-off being that the f/4 aperture rating transmits less light and doesn’t allow for such a tight depth of field.
The autofocus system is super-fast and unerringly accurate, while lens -shift VR delivers 5-stop effectiveness right out to the longest focal length. Throughout most of the zoom range, levels of sharpness are absolutely stunning, right across the entire image frame and into the extreme corners, even when shooting wide-open at f/2.8.
Mount: Z FX | Autofocus: Pulse (stepping motor) | Stabilizer: None | Min focus distance: 0.28 m | Max magnification: 0.16x | Filter thread: 82 mm | Dimensions (AXL): 89×85mm | Weight: 485g Ultra-wide lenses are epic for exaggerating the perspective between nearby objects and distant backgrounds, as well as for simply shoehorning more of a scene into the image frame.
This one comes with all the usual attractions of Z -mount S-line lenses, including a customizable control ring and a rapid yet virtually silent stepping motor autofocus system. Typical of Z -mount Nickers, the lens relies on the in-body stabilizers of Z5, Z6 and Z7 cameras as a steadying aid, as well as omitting a physical focus distance scale.
Getting back to the plus points, image quality and overall performance are easily up to usual S-line standards, with superb corner-to-corner sharpness, especially for such a wide-angle lens. And unlike many similar optics, this one has a removable hood that enables the easy fitment of filters via a 82 mm attachment thread.
Mount: Z FX | Autofocus: Pulse (stepping motor) | Stabilizer: 4.5-stops | Min focus distance: 0.5-0.7 m | Max magnification: 0.28x | Filter thread: 67 mm | Dimensions (AXL): 77×114mm | Weight: 570g Ideal for the long or short haul, this ‘super zoom’ lens gives you everything from great wide-angle coverage to powerful telephoto reach, at the flick of a wrist.
That’s pretty remarkable, considering it can replace separate dual 24-70 mm and 70-200 mm zoom lenses, albeit with a more restrictive aperture rating of f/6.3 at the longest setting. Completing the holy trinity of fast f/2.8 S-line zooms, it slots in neatly next to the Nikki Z 24-70 mm f/2.8 S and promises uncompromising wide-angle image quality.
Mount: Z FX | Autofocus: Pulse (stepping motor) | Stabilizer: No (in body) | Min focus distance: 0.2 m | Max magnification: 0.19x | Filter thread: 77 mm | Dimensions (AXL): 85×109mm | Weight: 505g When you want a wider viewing angle than your 24-70 mm zoom can deliver, this is the ideal prime lens for Z5, Z6 and Z7 cameras.
Image quality is up to the typically terrific standard of Z -mount Nikki S-line lenses, and you can enjoy similarly refined handling, virtually silent autofocus, and negligible focus breathing. The wide viewing angle and fast aperture combine to give great versatility for everything from cramped interiors to rolling landscapes and beyond, taking in heavenly skies at night.
Nikon’s brace of Z -mount 24-70 mm zoom lenses for its full-frame mirrorless cameras perform so well that you’d be forgiven for wondering why there’s a need for a 24 mm prime as well. Naturally, any prime lens is good if you like composing shots with your feet, and totting up your count of Fitbit steps, but the Z 24 mm is also faster than its zoom siblings, with an f/1.8 aperture rating.
Like the rest of the Nikon prime lenses, this one is optically excellent, which helps make up for the relatively modest f/1.8 maximum aperture, when many rival 35 mm lens are f/1.4s. This sounds like a lot of negatives, but optical performance of the Nikki Z 35 mm f/1.8 S, its smooth and silent operation and its lightweight make up for all of that.
85 mm f/1.4 lenses are often preferred for their tighter depth of field, which can blur the background a little more effectively and make the main subject really stand out. Based on our tests, however, the both (pictorial quality of refocused areas) produced by this lens is easily on a par with f/1.4 lenses, and better than some.
Mount: Nikon FX | Elements/groups: 17/15 | Diaphragm blades: 9 | Autofocus: Pulse (stepping motor) | Stabilizer: None | Minimum focus distance: 0.45 m | Maximum magnification: 0.15x | Filter thread: 82 mm | Dimensions (AXL): 89.5×150mm | Weight: 1090g The exterior is fully weather sealed and features a video -friendly silent control ring, along with a customizable FN button and OLED info panel that displays important data.
Mount: Z DX | Autofocus: Pulse (stepping motor) | Stabilizer: 4.5-stop | Min focus distance: 0.25-0.3 m | Max magnification: 0.2x | Filter thread: 46 mm | Dimensions (AXL): 70×32mm | Weight: 135g Tipping the scales at just 135g, this DX (APS-C) format standard zoom for the Z50 pretty much qualifies as a ‘pancake lens ’, measuring a mere 32 mm in length when retracted.
The flip-side is that, compared with weightier FX (full-frame format) Z -mount lenses, it feels a bit less solid and has a plastic rather than metal mounting plate. Like most similarly priced APS-C format cameras, the Z50 lacks IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization) but the lens comes to the rescue with 4.5-stop optical VR (Vibration Reduction).
Designed for Nikon’s DX-format Z50, this telephoto lens has an ‘effective’ zoom range of 75-375 mm in full-frame terms, edging into super-telephoto territory. Compared with the impressive autofocus speed, the aperture rating is less ‘fast’, shrinking to f/6.3 at the long end of the zoom range.
However, that particular issue is minimized by excellent sharpness and contrast even when shooting wide-open, along with a 5-stop optical VR system that lives up to its claims.