Capturing the perfect shot often comes down to the right combination of skill, creativity, and equipment. As a photographer, you are constantly faced with the challenge of selecting the ideal lens for your diverse photography needs.
If you’re in search of a versatile zoom lens that can handle a wide range of photography genres, the Nikon Z 24-120mm f/4 and Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 are two popular options that merit your attention. From capturing breathtaking landscapes to stunning portraits, these two lenses offer unique advantages that can help you elevate your photography game.
In this comprehensive comparison, we’ll delve into the nuances of each lens, examining their build quality, optical performance, and suitability for various types of photography.
By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear understanding of which lens best aligns with your creative vision and photographic goals.
So, get ready to embark on a journey of discovery that will not only improve your photography skills but also empower you to make informed decisions when it comes to your gear.
Let’s explore the world of possibilities these two lenses have to offer!
|Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-120mm F4 S
|Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm F4 S
|Focal Range (mm)
|Zoom Ratio (X)
The Nikon Z 24-120mm f/4 has a fixed maximum aperture of f/4 and offers a focal range of 24-120mm. This versatile lens covers wide-angle to telephoto focal lengths with a 5.0x zoom ratio. The fixed aperture ensures consistent performance throughout the zoom range, which is beneficial for low light situations and maintaining image quality. This lens is well-suited for various photography scenarios, including travel, portrait , events, or sports photography, where flexibility in composition and framing is essential.
On the other hand, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 also features a fixed maximum aperture of f/4 and a focal range of 24-70mm. With a 2.9x zoom ratio, this lens provides a more limited range compared to the 24-120mm lens. However, it still offers excellent performance for wide-angle to short telephoto photography. The fixed aperture ensures consistent low light performance and image quality throughout the zoom range.
Both lenses have a Nikon Z mount and are designed for 35mm full-frame format. They share the same maximum aperture, making them equally suitable for low light conditions and depth of field control. However, the 24-120mm lens has a broader focal range and a higher zoom ratio, making it more versatile in various photography situations.
In conclusion, the 24-120mm lens is superior in terms of versatility and zoom range, making it an excellent choice for photographers who need a single lens capable of handling a wide array of shooting scenarios. However, if you primarily focus on wide-angle to short telephoto photography and prefer a slightly more compact lens, the 24-70mm lens remains a reliable option.
Design and Ease of Use
|Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-120mm F4 S
|Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm F4 S
|Diameter x Length (mm)
|Filter Thread (mm)
The Nikon Z 24-120mm f/4 has a diameter of 84mm and a length of 118mm, with a total weight of 630 grams. This lens is larger and heavier than the 24-70mm lens, which could impact portability and balance when using it for extended periods. However, the increased size and weight might be a trade-off for the broader focal range it offers, making it suitable for various photography situations.
In contrast, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 is more compact and lightweight, with a diameter of 77.5mm, a length of 88.5mm, and a weight of 500 grams. Its smaller size and reduced weight make it easier to carry around, contributing to a better balance when mounted on a camera. This lens is ideal for photographers who prioritize portability and discreetness, especially in situations like street photography, where blending in and being unobtrusive are essential.
In conclusion, the choice between the 24-120mm and 24-70mm lenses largely depends on your specific needs and preferences. If you require a versatile lens with a broader focal range and are willing to accept the increased size and weight, the 24-120mm lens is the superior choice. However, if portability, balance, and discreetness are your top priorities, the 24-70mm lens will likely be the better fit for your photography needs.
Lens Mount and Barrel
The Nikon Z 24-120mm f/4 features an aluminum lens mount, a lightweight metal that offers a sturdy connection to the camera body. Its rubber gasket enhances weather sealing, providing protection against dust and moisture. The lens barrel consists of a blend of anodized aluminum and plastic components, with rubber-covered sections for improved grip. However, its dual telescoping barrel design may be more susceptible to damage in the long run compared to single extending barrels or internal zoom designs.
On the other hand, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 has a high-quality metal lens mount, ensuring a secure and smooth connection to the camera. Like the 24-120mm lens, it also features a rubber gasket for weather sealing. Its lens barrel is a combination of metal and polycarbonate materials, providing durability and a professional feel. The ergonomic design includes a large zoom ring and a slim, electronic manual focus ring. Although the lens uses a two-stage telescoping barrel, it remains well-balanced and protected during use.
In conclusion, if you value a lightweight design, the 24-120mm lens with its aluminum and plastic components may be more suitable. However, if you prioritize durability, a professional feel, and a well-balanced design, the 24-70mm lens, with its metal and polycarbonate construction, emerges as the superior option.
The Nikon Z 24-120mm f/4 offers weather sealing through a rubber gasket at the lens mount, internal seals at various locations, and a fluorine coating on the front element to resist dirt and smudges. While not completely dust and drip resistant, it provides good protection against dust and moisture, and has been tested in harsh conditions, performing well even in rainstorms. It is recommended to wipe the telescoping barrel before zooming back to 24mm when used in challenging environments.
In contrast, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 boasts an impressive level of weather sealing, featuring a rubber grommet at the lens mount and six separate rubber rings covering key components, such as the front element, rear mount, telescoping barrel, zoom ring, and focus ring. Additionally, a separate weather seal is present underneath the A/M switch. A fluorine coating on the front element helps repel water, dust, and dirt. This comprehensive weather sealing ensures protection in various environmental conditions, making it ideal for use in challenging weather.
In conclusion, when comparing the weather sealing of the two lenses, the 24-70mm lens stands out as the superior choice due to its extensive sealing and protection against various environmental conditions. This makes it a more reliable option for photographers who frequently shoot outdoors or in unpredictable weather, ensuring durability and performance in adverse conditions.
The Nikon Z 24-120mm f/4 features three rings: focus, zoom, and control. The manual focus control is located towards the front of the outer barrel, while the zoom ring, marked at various focal lengths, offers a stiff yet manageable rotation. The customizable control ring can be assigned to operate aperture, exposure compensation, or ISO sensitivity.
The focusing ring is rubberized and smoothly rotatable, with linear or nonlinear response configurable in the camera menu. The ridged, tactile rings contribute to the lens’s high-quality and sturdy feel, and the weight distribution is balanced. However, it lacks a windowed distance scale and depth-of-field indicator.
On the other hand, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 has two rings, a zoom ring and a focus ring that also functions as a control ring. The zoom ring is wide, offering a comfortable tactile experience, while the focus ring is narrow, unmarked, and located closer to the camera body.
Covered with rubber ridges, the focus ring provides a smooth, fly-by-wire operation and can be assigned to functions like aperture or exposure compensation on Nikon Z bodies. Both rings are easy to rotate and feature good ergonomic bevels. Like the 24-120mm lens, there is no windowed distance scale or depth-of-field indicator, but the zoom creep is minimal.
In conclusion, both lenses offer well-designed and customizable rings. However, the 24-70mm lens comes out on top in terms of ergonomics and smooth operation. The zoom ring is wide and comfortable, and the focus ring offers a pleasant fly-by-wire experience, making it an excellent choice for photographers seeking a superior user experience in ring design and functionality.
The Nikon Z 24-120mm f/4 is equipped with an AF/MF switch, located towards the rear of the lens, which enables quick and easy toggling between autofocus and manual focus. Additionally, it has a customizable L-Fn (Lens-function) button, which can be assigned to various tasks such as AF-ON, metering settings, and subject tracking. Both the switch and button are easily accessible, and the L-Fn button has a rubberized surface for comfortable operation.
In contrast, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 has a single A/M switch, which allows for a swift change between autofocus and manual focus operation. This switch is the only control present on the lens, simplifying its operation. However, it lacks additional switches or buttons, such as a focus limiter or IS switch.
In conclusion, the 24-120mm lens offers superior switch and button functionality due to the presence of both an AF/MF switch and a customizable L-Fn button. This additional button allows for greater versatility in lens control, making the 24-120mm lens a more appealing choice for photographers who value customizable and convenient lens operation.
The Nikon Z 24-120mm f/4 comes with a 77mm plastic filter thread, which does not rotate during focusing. This feature makes it easy to use filters like standard rotating polarizers or grad filters at 24mm without causing vignetting on full-frame cameras. However, the filter ring is also plastic, which means extra caution is needed when mounting screw-on filters to prevent damage.
On the other hand, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 boasts a 72mm filter thread, a common size that makes finding compatible filters simple. The material used for this thread is likely a durable metal or high-quality plastic, ensuring a secure fit for filters. As with the 24-120mm lens, the front element and filter thread do not rotate during focusing, allowing for convenient use with polarizing or graduated filters.
In conclusion, both lenses offer non-rotating filter threads, which is an advantage when using various filter types. However, the 24-70mm lens has a slight edge due to its conventional filter size. This makes it a better choice for photographers who prioritize ease of use and compatibility with a range of filters.
The Nikon Z 24-120mm f/4 comes with a petal-shaped lens hood made of plastic, which is included in the box. Its reversible design allows for easy storage. Despite the somewhat flimsy finish, the hood screws onto the lens smoothly.
In contrast, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 includes a bayonet-style HB-85 petal lens hood in the package. The hood’s petaling accommodates the wide 24mm position, and its mostly plastic material might feel rough to the touch. The hood bayonets cleanly into place without a locking catch and features an ergonomic bevel and smooth rotation for secure attachment and detachment. When reversed, it may require a strong twist to lock into position.
In summary, both lenses come with petal-shaped lens hoods that provide protection against flare and other elements.
Focusing and Optical Stabilization
|Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-120mm F4 S
|Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm F4 S
|Rotating Front Element
|Does not rotate on focusing
|Does not rotate on focusing
|Min Focus Distance
|Max Magnification (X)
|Full-Time Manual Focus
The Nikon Z 24-120mm f/4 boasts fast and accurate autofocus performance, with virtually silent operation suitable for both stills and video. It focuses quickly, taking around 0.35 seconds to focus from infinity to 1.28m at 120mm focal length, and performs well even in low-light situations.
The autofocus system provides a manual focus override, allowing for fine-tuning using the smooth, rubberized focus ring. This lens has an internally focusing design, ensuring a constant length and a non-rotating front element. Focus breathing is minimal, making it ideal for videography.
On the other hand, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 exhibits impressive autofocus performance with a virtually silent, fast focusing mechanism driven by a stepping motor. The focusing speed is rapid, taking about 0.35 seconds to focus from infinity to 0.8m at 70mm focal length.
The lens demonstrates high accuracy in various lighting conditions and has a swift initial autofocus acquisition speed. Manual focus override is also available, featuring a smooth and responsive electronically controlled focus ring. Like the 24-120mm lens, the 24-70mm lens has an internally focusing design with minimal focus breathing, making it suitable for videography.
In conclusion, both lenses offer impressive focusing performance, with fast and accurate autofocus, manual focus override, and minimal focus breathing. However, the 24-70mm lens has a slight edge due to its stepping motor, which ensures even faster initial autofocus acquisition. This makes it the superior choice for photographers who require quick and reliable focusing performance in various shooting situations.
The Nikon Z 24-120mm f/4 does not feature optical image stabilization but is compatible with in-camera stabilization on Nikon Z full-frame cameras, providing up to 4 stops of improvement. This stabilization works well in various situations, although it may be less critical for wide-angle lenses, which are less prone to camera shake.
Conversely, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 boasts impressive optical stabilization, offering up to 5 stops of improvement compared to the standard 1 / focal length handheld rule. This stabilization works silently, making it suitable for both photography and videography. The lens pairs well with the in-body image stabilization (IBIS) in Nikon Z cameras, using all 5 axes of stabilization: pitch, yaw, roll, X, and Y movements. With this lens, it’s possible to achieve sharp results at shutter speeds as slow as 1/5 sec or even 0.4 sec.
In conclusion, the 24-70mm lens has superior optical stabilization, providing up to 5 stops of improvement. This lens is the better choice for photographers who require additional stabilization for various shooting situations, including low-light conditions and handheld shooting.
|Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-120mm F4 S
|Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm F4 S
|3 ED elements, 3 aspherical elements, 1 aspherical extra-low dispersion
|1 aspherical ED + 1 ED + 3 aspherical elements, Nano Crystal and fluorine coatings
The Nikon Z 24-120mm f/4 demonstrates good control over chromatic aberration, with only mild lateral and longitudinal chromatic aberration visible under certain conditions. Spherochromatism or axial color is not noticeable, and the lens effectively suppresses false color, making it a reliable option for various types of photography.
On the other hand, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 exhibits excellent control over chromatic aberration, with both lateral and longitudinal chromatic aberrations being minimal to nonexistent and easily correctable in post-processing. Coma is also well-managed, particularly in the corners, making this lens a great choice for astrophotography or nighttime cityscapes. Spherical aberration is barely noticeable, with only the faintest traces of spherochromatism visible under certain conditions.
In conclusion, the 24-70mm lens outperforms the 24-120mm lens in aberration control, excelling in handling chromatic aberration, coma, and spherical aberration. This superior performance makes the 24-70mm lens an ideal choice for photographers seeking exceptional image quality, especially in challenging lighting conditions or when capturing detailed subjects.
The Nikon Z 24-120mm f/4 exhibits remarkable sharpness across its entire focal length range, with exceptional center sharpness. Corner sharpness is generally impressive but may not be as sharp as the center, with optimal results achieved between f/5.6 and f/16. Even when shot wide open at f/4, the lens delivers ultra-sharp corner-to-corner results that improve further when stopped down. The sharpest aperture is typically between f/4 and f/8, depending on the focal length, while diffraction starts to impact sharpness at smaller apertures like f/16 and f/22.
In contrast, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 showcases impressive sharpness throughout its focal range, with center sharpness being particularly strong. Corner sharpness is generally very good, although it can be slightly softer at wider apertures. At wide open aperture, sharpness remains excellent, and stopping down to f/5.6 or f/8 can enhance sharpness even further. The sharpest aperture tends to be between f/5.6 and f/8, depending on the specific focal length.
In conclusion, both lenses offer remarkable sharpness; however, the 24-120mm lens appears to have a slight advantage in terms of consistent sharpness across its entire focal length range. This makes the 24-120mm lens an excellent choice for photographers who require consistent sharpness in various shooting scenarios, such as landscape, architecture, and street photography.
The Nikon Z 24-120mm f/4 produces bokeh that varies in quality depending on the focal length and aperture settings. When shooting at wider apertures and longer focal lengths, the bokeh appears fairly smooth and pleasing, with good subject separation. However, the lens may exhibit some onion skin effects in specular highlights and soap bubble bokeh in certain situations. Additionally, the bokeh may appear less smooth or creamy when shooting at shorter focal lengths or smaller apertures.
On the other hand, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 can produce pleasing and attractive bokeh, although it may not be as creamy as some photographers prefer. The bokeh quality is generally smooth and lovely, with no major issues to report. While it may not be the first choice for out-of-focus backgrounds, zooming in at 70mm and using f/4 can achieve some nice results. It is important to note that the evaluation of bokeh can be subjective, and personal preferences play a significant role in determining what is considered beautiful or smooth.
In conclusion, both lenses are capable of producing pleasing bokeh, but the 24-70mm lens appears to deliver a more consistently smooth and attractive bokeh quality. This makes the 24-70mm lens a better choice for photographers who prioritize bokeh quality in their work, especially when capturing portraits or close-up shots where subject separation is desired.
The Nikon Z 24-120mm f/4 demonstrates good resistance against flare and ghosting, particularly on the short end of the focal range. Coatings applied to the front glass further enhance its ability to minimize these artifacts, making it an excellent choice for shooting in high dynamic range scenes or towards bright points of light.
In comparison, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 exhibits impressive flare and ghosting control, maintaining strong contrast even when shooting against bright light sources. Instances of flare and ghosting are minimal, especially when compared to other lenses in its class. This lens employs a nano crystal coating to further mitigate ghosting and flaring, ensuring optimal image quality in challenging lighting conditions.
In conclusion, both lenses perform well in controlling flare and ghosting, but the 24-70mm lens stands out for its impressive control and the use of a nano crystal coating, which makes it a superior choice for photographers who often shoot in challenging lighting situations or against bright light sources.
The Nikon Z 24-120mm f/4 experiences some vignetting, particularly at wider apertures like f/4. However, it is generally not very noticeable or objectionable in most everyday or busy scenes. Vignetting can be easily corrected with in-camera vignetting correction or post-processing software like Lightroom. At longer focal lengths, any vignetting subsides, making it a manageable issue that shouldn’t concern most photographers.
On the other hand, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 exhibits noticeable vignetting, especially at wider apertures and focal lengths such as 24mm and 70mm. This can result in over two stops of light falloff in the extreme corners when shooting wide open. Stopping down to f/5.6 or f/8 can help minimize vignetting, but it is not completely eliminated. Although lens profiles can further reduce the effect, some residual light falloff remains. Despite this, the lens maintains good overall performance, and any remaining vignetting can be corrected in post-processing if necessary.
In conclusion, while both lenses exhibit vignetting, the 24-120mm lens has a more manageable level of vignetting that is less noticeable in everyday scenarios. This makes the 24-120mm lens superior in terms of vignetting performance, especially considering that any remaining vignetting can be easily corrected using in-camera or post-processing tools.
The Nikon Z 24-120mm f/4 displays some distortion, particularly at the wide end of the zoom range, where barrel distortion is noticeable. Nevertheless, Nikon applies automatic distortion correction profiles to both JPEG and raw files to help minimize this issue. Additionally, post-processing software like Lightroom and Photoshop offer lens correction tools to further reduce distortion.
In contrast, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 exhibits significant distortion, with strong pincushion distortion at 70mm and noticeable barrel distortion at the wide end. The lens produces close to perfect linearity at around 28mm before transitioning into pincushion distortion. However, automatic lens profile corrections in post-processing software such as Lightroom and Nikon Capture NX can effectively eliminate these distortions for most users, making them less noticeable.
In conclusion, although both lenses display some distortion, the 24-120mm lens exhibits less distortion overall compared to the 24-70mm lens. Thanks to automatic distortion correction profiles and post-processing software, distortion can be managed effectively for both lenses. However, the 24-120mm lens comes out on top in terms of distortion performance.
The Nikon Z 24-120mm f/4 excels in versatility, zoom range, consistent sharpness, vignetting performance, and distortion control, making it an ideal choice for photographers who need a single lens for various shooting scenarios, such as architecture, event and street photography.
On the other hand, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 is superior in terms of portability, build quality, weather sealing, autofocus speed, optical stabilization, aberration control, bokeh quality, and flare/ghosting control. This lens is a better choice for photographers who prioritize durability, performance in challenging lighting conditions, and smooth bokeh for portraits or close-up shots.
Ultimately, the 24-120mm lens is well-suited for those who require an all-in-one lens solution for a wide array of photography genres, while the 24-70mm lens is better suited for photographers who value a more compact, well-built lens with superior optical performance in specific aspects.