Welcome, photography enthusiasts, to our deep-dive comparison between two of Nikon’s versatile zoom lenses: the compact Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 and the formidable Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8. Whether you’re an aspiring shutterbug looking to invest in your first serious lens or a seasoned pro contemplating a kit update, this comprehensive analysis aims to shed light on the strengths and weaknesses of both lenses.
We’ve meticulously assessed each lens across a spectrum of photography genres, covering everything from street photography to landscape, and from portraiture to architectural shots. Our review reveals how these lenses can affect your photography, and we’ve peppered our insights with practical tips and tricks to help you maximize their potential.
Are you a travel photographer seeking a lightweight lens for on-the-go shoots? Or perhaps you’re a portrait aficionado chasing that elusive creamy bokeh? Maybe you’re an architectural photographer needing to manage distortion? Whatever your requirements, our comparison delves into the specificities of each lens, helping you make an informed decision.
By reading on, you’ll not only learn the technical differences between the 24-50mm and 24-70mm lenses but also gain a deeper understanding of how these differences can influence your images. So gear up and join us on this exciting journey through the lens – quite literally – as we help you sharpen your focus on the lens that’s right for you.
|Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-50mm F4-6.3||Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm F2.8 S|
|Focal Range (mm)||24-50||24-70|
|Mount Type||Nikon Z||Nikon Z|
|Max Format||35mm FF||35mm FF|
|Zoom Ratio (X)||2.1||2.9|
Both lenses mount onto Nikon Z cameras and are designed for a 35mm full-frame format, meaning they can deliver high-quality images across a large sensor area.
The Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 has a variable aperture ranging from f/4-6.3, which means that as you zoom in, the maximum aperture decreases, potentially reducing low light performance and depth of field control. The focal range of this lens is shorter, which might limit its versatility in certain situations. However, it may also be smaller, lighter, and more affordable because of these specifications.
On the other hand, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 has a fixed aperture of f/2.8, allowing consistent performance throughout its entire zoom range. This characteristic can be advantageous in low light conditions and for achieving a shallow depth of field. The extended focal range up to 70mm provides more versatility, suitable for a broader variety of shooting scenarios. However, these features often come with increased size, weight, and cost.
In terms of aperture, the wider aperture of the 24-70mm lens would generally provide better low light performance and shallower depth of field. The fixed aperture also ensures consistent light intake throughout the zoom range, which can be particularly beneficial when shooting in changing light conditions or when you need consistent exposure settings across different focal lengths.
However, the choice between these two lenses isn’t solely about aperture and focal length; it also depends on the specific needs and circumstances of the photographer. For instance, if you’re a travel or street photographer who values portability and affordability, the 24-50mm lens with its lighter weight and potentially lower cost might be a more fitting choice.
On the other hand, if you’re a professional or an enthusiast who often shoots in low light conditions or needs more versatility in focal lengths, the 24-70mm lens with its wider and constant aperture, along with a broader focal range, would likely be worth the extra investment.
To sum up, while the 24-70mm lens appears superior in terms of aperture and focal range versatility, it’s essential to align your lens choice with your specific photography needs and constraints. Therefore, neither lens can be universally declared as superior; it all boils down to what you, as a photographer, prioritize most.
Design and Ease of Use
|Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-50mm F4-6.3||Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm F2.8 S|
|Diameter x Length (mm)||⌀73.5×51mm||⌀89×126mm|
|Filter Thread (mm)||52||82|
|Zoom Method||Rotary (extending)||Rotary (extending)|
The Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3, with a diameter of 73.5mm and a length of 51mm, is significantly more compact and lighter (195 grams) than the 24-70mm lens. This compactness and reduced weight offer several advantages. First, it improves portability; you can easily carry it around for extended periods without fatigue.
This lens is also more balanced on the camera, which can enhance handling comfort, particularly during long shooting sessions. The smaller size could be beneficial for discreet shooting in street photography, as it draws less attention. In terms of storage, the 24-50mm lens would leave more space for other gear in your camera bag. Lastly, its lightness makes it easier to handle when swapping lenses in a fast-paced shooting environment.
In contrast, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 is significantly larger, with a diameter of 89mm and a length of 126mm, and heavier, weighing in at 805 grams. This larger size and weight could be a downside in terms of portability and handling, particularly for extended shoots.
The increased weight may make the camera setup feel front-heavy, potentially leading to discomfort over time. Its larger size could also make you more conspicuous when shooting and take up more space in your camera bag. However, the heft of this lens could also be an indicator of a robust build quality and potentially superior optical performance.
In conclusion, while the 24-50mm lens wins in terms of portability and discretion due to its smaller size and lighter weight, the 24-70mm lens may offer better optical performance, reflected in its larger size and weight. If you prioritize easy handling and travel-friendly characteristics, the 24-50mm lens would be the superior choice. However, if you value potential optical quality and don’t mind the extra weight and size, the 24-70mm lens could be the superior option.
Lens Mount and Barrel
Starting with the Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3, the lens mount is predominantly made of polycarbonate, a form of plastic. This composition is a factor in the lens’s lightweight and budget-friendly nature. Although there’s no rubber gasket for additional protection, internal seals are present to provide some resistance against dust and moisture. However, it’s worth noting that despite these measures, a plastic mount may not exhibit the same durability and longevity as metal, particularly under rough conditions.
The lens barrel of the 24-50mm lens is also mainly polycarbonate. Its design is lightweight and portable, making it easy to handle. The lens barrel extends and retracts throughout the zoom range, achieving its most compact form at 35mm, which can be advantageous for storage and travel. However, a possible downside is that in dusty environments, grit may accumulate in the extending sections, potentially causing wear and tear over time.
In contrast, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 has a metal lens mount, which offers a robust and durable connection to the camera. The addition of a rubber gasket enhances its protection against dust and moisture. Thus, this metal mount can be expected to exhibit superior durability compared to its plastic counterpart, even though it may contribute to a heavier lens weight.
Similarly, the lens barrel of the 24-70mm lens is a blend of metal and plastic, making it sturdy and durable. The design includes a rubberized zoom ring for enhanced grip and comfort. The zoom mechanism is internal, which means the lens maintains a consistent size throughout its zoom range, presenting an advantage in terms of consistent handling.
In conclusion, if you prioritize lightweight construction, portability, and affordability, the 24-50mm lens, with its plastic mount and barrel, might be more suited to your needs. However, if you value durability, protective features, and a consistent form factor, the 24-70mm lens, with its metal mount and a combination barrel, could be the superior choice.
For the Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3, the weather sealing is not as comprehensive. There’s no visible gasket or rubber sealing around the lens mount, a feature commonly found in fully weather-sealed lenses. Still, the lens includes internal seals which are likely positioned around critical areas such as control rings and switches, providing a degree of protection against dust and moisture. The design of the lens, where the inner barrel moves during zooming, could potentially allow dust or grit to infiltrate over time, especially in dusty environments.
Furthermore, the absence of a fluorine coating on the front element means that you’ll have to clean the lens more often to maintain image quality, particularly in dusty conditions. Despite these protective features, it’s important to note that the lens is not guaranteed to be fully dustproof or waterproof under all conditions.
In contrast, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 offers robust weather sealing. The sealing is comprehensive, covering the lens mount, control rings, buttons, switches, and joints between components. The presence of a rubber gasket at the rear of the lens minimizes the risk of dust entering the camera.
Additionally, both the front and rear lens elements are coated with fluorine, resisting moisture, fingerprints, and smudges. Such extensive weather sealing makes this lens well-suited for use in challenging weather conditions, promoting reliable performance and longevity.
In conclusion, if you frequently shoot in harsh or unpredictable conditions, the 24-70mm lens with its robust weather sealing would be a superior choice, offering you greater protection and peace of mind. However, if your shooting conditions are less demanding or you’re primarily working indoors, the 24-50mm lens could still serve you well, bearing in mind that it may require more frequent cleaning and care.
The Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 features a streamlined design with two primary rings – the zoom ring and the control ring. The zoom ring, located at the front, is textured with rubberized ridges, providing a firm grip. It rotates a little less than a quarter turn from wide to tele, with an additional small rotation to reach the retracted point. This design allows for easy zooming with one finger and exhibits no zoom creep. However, it does require a bit more force to retract the barrel from 24mm.
The control ring, closer to the camera body, is narrower and unmarked. Despite its hard plastic finish, its ribbing provides ample grip. This ring, primarily used for manual focus, offers an instant override and can be programmed to control aperture, exposure compensation, or ISO. Its operation is smooth but is a fly-by-wire system, meaning it digitally encodes the focus without any mechanical linkage to the lens element movement. This could make fine adjustments slightly tricky. The lens lacks a windowed distance scale and a depth-of-field indicator. One noticeable design feature is that the lens extends during zooming, with the barrel protruding an inch forward at 24mm and 50mm, and slightly less at 35mm. For storage, the lens contracts to its base length with a simple turn of the zoom ring.
On the other hand, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 offers three rings: a focus ring, a zoom ring, and a customizable control ring. The focus ring, located at the front, is electronically coupled to the lens’s focus motor, providing a speed-sensitive response for precise adjustments. The zoom ring, in the middle, is rubberized and requires some force to turn, preventing accidental movement. It covers the zoom range in a quarter-turn with consistent resistance across the focal lengths.
The customizable control ring near the rear operates smoothly without a ‘clicky’ option, enabling control over the lens’s aperture, ISO sensitivity, or exposure compensation. This lens also lacks a windowed distance scale or a depth-of-field indicator, but it does feature a small OLED display on the barrel that shows focal length, focus distance, and aperture. The manual focusing distance varies depending on the speed at which the focus ring is turned, ranging from a quarter-turn to a half-turn. The lens design ensures focus consistency across different distances and offers an extended zoom range from 24mm to 70mm.
In conclusion, both lenses offer distinctive ring designs that cater to different preferences. The 24-70mm lens, with its additional focus ring and digital display, offers a higher degree of control and precision, making it superior for professional and demanding environments. However, the 24-50mm lens, with its simple design and fewer rings, is easier to handle and more user-friendly, making it a great choice for beginners or for those who prefer simplicity and straightforward operation.
The Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 goes for a minimalist approach in its design, with an absence of any switches, buttons, or custom controls. This simplicity is aimed at creating a user-friendly experience with a focus on uncomplicated handling. However, this lack of physical controls might be less intuitive for photographers accustomed to tactile interaction, or for those who seek more immediate control over their lens settings. This design may necessitate frequent access to the camera’s menu system to adjust settings, potentially interrupting the flow of shooting.
Contrastingly, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 integrates a single AF/MF slide switch, allowing users to toggle effortlessly between autofocus and manual focus modes. Additionally, it is equipped with a programmable L-fn (Lens Function) button, which can be customized to various functions like autofocus lock, subject tracking, or image playback. The L-fn button is conveniently positioned next to the Display mode button, used to cycle through different OLED display modes such as focal length, aperture, or focus distance. The design of these switches and buttons is user-centric, making it straightforward for photographers to make quick adjustments without needing to delve into the camera’s menu system.
In the context of switches and buttons, the 24-70mm lens surpasses the 24-50mm lens. It provides a greater degree of control and convenience, offering photographers the ability to make quick adjustments without needing to navigate through the camera’s menu. This added functionality makes the 24-70mm lens a superior choice for those seeking more hands-on control over their lens settings.
The Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 features a 52mm front filter thread, a common size that avails a broad spectrum of high-quality, cost-effective filters from numerous manufacturers. Composed of plastic, the filter thread may not be as robust as its metal counterparts, but it suffices for regular usage. Notably, the front element and the filter thread do not rotate when adjusting focus, which is a significant advantage for those using polarizing or graduated neutral density filters that require precise positioning. The static nature of the filter thread during focusing facilitates the maintenance of the correct filter orientation, ensuring optimal results. Furthermore, the relatively standard 52mm size implies many photographers could already possess suitable filters, thereby reducing the need for additional investment.
On the other hand, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 sports an 82mm filter thread, a typical size for high-performance 24-70mm f/2.8 lenses. Similar to its counterpart, this lens’ front element and filter thread remain stationary during focus, enabling convenient filter use. The filter attachment and removal process is straightforward, though rotating polarizing filters can present a challenge when the lens hood is in place. The lens is equipped with a petal-shaped plastic hood with a locking mechanism that guards against accidental detachment, further simplifying filter usage.
Between the two, the best filter thread depends largely on the individual photographer’s needs and existing equipment. The 24-50mm lens, with its 52mm filter thread, offers a more affordable, versatile choice for photographers who already own filters of this size or who prioritize lighter, cost-effective equipment. Conversely, the 24-70mm lens, with its 82mm filter thread, provides a more professional choice for those seeking high-performance lenses and who are willing to invest in more expensive, larger filters.
The Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 doesn’t come with a lens hood included in its package, requiring users to acquire it separately. The specified model for the lens hood is the HB-98, which has a petal-type bayonet mount design. This type of mount is known for its ease of installation and secure attachment, reducing the risk of accidental detachment. Although Nikon provides this as an optional purchase, there are also third-party lens hoods on the market compatible with this lens that could potentially cost less.
On the contrary, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 comes with a lens hood included in the package. This accessory is constructed from plastic and boasts an interior with a black velvet-like coating, reducing internal reflections and thus minimizing flare. The hood’s ergonomic design facilitates easy attachment and detachment and can be reversed onto the lens for easier storage and transportation. However, it lacks a locking mechanism, which could potentially lead to accidental detachment, though it still mounts and rotates smoothly.
In comparing the two, the 24-70mm lens provides more value, as it includes a lens hood designed to reduce flare and protect the lens from potential damage. The ease of attachment and the ability to reverse the hood for storage are valuable features that streamline the user experience. However, the 24-50mm lens, while requiring an additional purchase for the hood, provides users with the flexibility to choose from a range of compatible hoods, potentially reducing costs. Nonetheless, for sheer convenience and immediate readiness for various shooting conditions, the 24-70mm lens takes the lead.
Focusing and Optical Stabilization
|Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-50mm F4-6.3||Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm F2.8 S|
|AF Motor||Stepper motor||Stepper motor|
|Rotating Front Element||Does not rotate on focusing||Does not rotate on focusing|
|Min Focus Distance||0.35m||0.38m|
|Max Magnification (X)||0.17||0.22|
|Full-Time Manual Focus||No||Yes|
The Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 boasts remarkable autofocus performance, which is particularly swift and instantly responsive, making it well-suited for a variety of photography styles. The lens operates with a slight buzz during focusing, which could potentially be picked up by the camera’s built-in microphone during video recording, but this noise is barely noticeable in photo mode. In terms of speed, this lens can focus from infinity to 0.58m at the 50mm focal length in about 0.3 seconds, comparable to the speed of the Nikon Z 24-70mm f4 S lens. This rapid focus acquisition allows you to capture fleeting moments effortlessly. The lens’s autofocus accuracy is also praiseworthy.
As for manual focus, the lens employs a focus-by-wire system, which can take some getting used to for some users as the focusing distance depends on both the amount and speed of ring rotation. However, it does offer immediate manual focus override if programmed accordingly in the camera settings. The lens’s design ensures internal focusing, thus maintaining a constant length irrespective of focus and zoom settings. The front element also remains stationary during focusing, making it compatible with polarizing filters. Finally, the lens exhibits minimal focus breathing, with the image becoming only slightly more magnified when adjusting focus, making it barely noticeable when shooting videos.
In comparison, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 shows superior autofocus performance with negligible noise during focusing. This lens takes approximately 0.5 seconds to focus from infinity to 0.77m at a 70mm focal length, which is slower than the 24-50mm lens. However, its low-light performance is commendable, with any focusing hesitation attributed more to the camera’s AF system than to the lens. The lens’s initial autofocus acquisition is swift and precise, ensuring accurate focusing on subjects.
The lens also features manual focus override for quick manual focus adjustments. The lens’s manual focus action is smooth, and like the 24-50mm lens, it incorporates an internally focusing design that keeps the length constant and prevents the front element from rotating during focusing. The lens also minimizes focus breathing, which is particularly beneficial when shooting video or focus stacking.
In conclusion, both lenses perform admirably in terms of focusing. The 24-50mm lens shines with its faster autofocus speed and nearly silent operation, which is important for situations where quick focus acquisition is essential. However, the 24-70mm lens stands out with its excellent low-light performance and smooth manual focus override. Despite the slightly slower focusing speed, the added benefits of low-light performance and smooth manual focus make the 24-70mm lens the superior choice when it comes to focusing performance.
The Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 doesn’t have built-in optical stabilization, and instead, it leans on the camera’s in-body image stabilization (IBIS), which is typically found in Nikon Z series cameras like the Z5, Z6, or Z7. The camera’s IBIS compensates for camera shake and provides approximately 3 stops of stabilization at the wide end and about 3.5 stops at the longer end of the lens. This level of stabilization allows for the use of slower shutter speeds without inducing significant blur due to camera shake. For example, with a Z5 camera, sharp images have been achieved with shutter speeds as slow as 1/8-second and consistently blur-free images at 1/15-second. The in-camera stabilization process does not generate any noise since it’s part of the camera’s internal mechanism.
On the other hand, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 also doesn’t have optical image stabilization and relies on the Nikon Z body’s built-in sensor-shift stabilization. This system provides up to 5-axis stabilization, which in real-world terms, translates to an improvement of 3 to 4 stops. This means that you can take sharp, handheld shots at slower shutter speeds compared to what you could achieve without stabilization. The exact shutter speeds that result in sharp images will vary depending on the specific focal length, but overall, the performance is consistently excellent throughout the lens’s range.
|Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-50mm F4-6.3||Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm F2.8 S|
|Special Elements||2 ED + 3 aspherical elements, Super Integrated Coating||4 ED and 2 aspherical elements + Arneo and Nano Crystal coatings|
The Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 demonstrates proficient control over chromatic aberration, both lateral and longitudinal. Lateral chromatic aberrations, frequently manifested as blue or purple fringes along the boundaries of contrasting elements, are almost flawlessly eliminated by in-camera corrections or subsequent post-processing. Longitudinal chromatic aberrations, also known as axial color or bokeh CA, are minimal and can manifest as a magenta tinge in the foreground and greenish tones in the background. These aren’t easily rectifiable in post-processing but are barely noticeable under regular shooting conditions.
As for coma, the lens exhibits mild signs at 24mm, especially when capturing bright light points against a dark backdrop, causing these points to look stretched or distorted. However, this is significantly reduced at 50mm, and considering the lens’s price point, the presence of coma is quite minimal. Spherical aberration is also evident, especially at the wider end of the focal range, causing light points to blur or diffuse, often resulting in a soft halo effect. This, in combination with spherochromatism, can lead to colored fringes on out-of-focus highlights, typically seen as green fringes on backgrounds and magenta fringes on foregrounds.
However, such aberrations are common in fast lenses of moderate focal length when shooting high-contrast subjects at full aperture, and they tend to decrease as the lens is stopped down. Despite these aberrations, the lens performs admirably, given its price point, and for the most part, these aberrations are unlikely to noticeably impact everyday photography.
Meanwhile, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 demonstrates impressive control over chromatic aberration. Longitudinal chromatic aberration is minimal and manageable in post-processing. Lateral chromatic aberration is also effectively managed, rarely impacting image quality, and can be automatically rectified by software such as Lightroom. Coma is well-controlled, and spherical aberration, or spherochromatism, is almost non-existent, making the lens an excellent choice for producing smooth, out-of-focus backgrounds without unwanted color fringes. This superior control over various aberrations significantly contributes to the lens’s overall image quality.
In comparison, both lenses manage chromatic aberration well, but the 24-70mm lens has an edge due to its better control over coma and almost non-existent spherical aberration. Consequently, the 24-70mm lens provides superior aberration control, contributing to a higher overall image quality.
The Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 displays considerable sharpness across its focal range, with a few nuances. Center sharpness is commendable, particularly for a standard zoom lens of this nature. Its peak performance can be observed around the f/5.6 to f/8 range, offering a high level of detail in the image center. However, the lens’ performance experiences a noticeable drop at f/16, particularly in the center, due to diffraction effects.
The lens also shows surprisingly strong corner sharpness, outperforming the more expensive Z 24-70mm f/4 S, primarily due to the latter’s mediocre performance rather than exceptional sharpness of the 24-50mm lens. The sharpest corner sharpness is achieved at the f/8 aperture. Performance across different apertures at the 50mm focal length remains fairly consistent. Between f/6.3, f/8, and f/11 at 50mm, there’s not much difference in sharpness, indicating that the lens maintains its quality across these settings. However, beyond f/8, diffraction leads to image softening. The DX boundary of the image, regardless of the aperture used, remains fair to good, with a slight blur.
The lens’ performance also varies at different focal lengths. For instance, at 35mm, the sharpest center aperture is f/8, but the lens’s unique field curvature profile means that corner performance dips temporarily at that aperture. In contrast, at 50mm, the lens shows consistent performance across all apertures, with impressive center and corner sharpness. While the lens is sharp, achieving the best results also depends on appropriate technique and handling, as diffraction, focusing accuracy, and camera shake can all influence the perceived sharpness of an image.
The Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 displays notable sharpness throughout its aperture range. Center sharpness is particularly impressive. At wider apertures like f/2.8, the center sharpness is already quite high, but it hits peak performance at f/5.6 for most focal lengths. Corner sharpness, while generally softer when wide open, sees noticeable improvement when stopping down to f/5.6 or f/8. The sharpest apertures usually fall between f/5.6 and f/8, depending on the focal length, with f/11 still maintaining excellent performance. As the aperture is stopped down further to f/16 and f/22, there is a slight decrease in sharpness due to diffraction effects.
In comparison, both lenses display commendable sharpness across different apertures and focal lengths, but the 24-70mm lens edges ahead due to its consistent performance throughout the aperture range and better center sharpness. Consequently, the 24-70mm lens provides superior sharpness, contributing to a higher overall image quality.
The Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 displays an intricate relationship with bokeh quality. Under certain conditions, its bokeh – the out-of-focus areas – can indeed be smooth and aesthetically pleasing. However, achieving a true blur with this lens can be challenging in many normal circumstances. The bokeh effect often reveals asymmetry with point source blurs, and a cat’s eye effect becomes more pronounced as you zoom in. Onion skinning and a hint of color fringing are also observable.
When a substantial blur is achieved, the bokeh produced is generally acceptable, as the blurring tends to manifest as a slight focus miss rather than a smudging or smearing effect. This results in a more natural-looking blur that isn’t overly distracting. Nonetheless, it’s crucial to note that due to the lens’s slower aperture, it might not be the best choice if your primary objective is to capture images with a considerable amount of bokeh or defocused backgrounds. While you can attain reasonably smooth out-of-focus areas when you manage to get close enough to your subject, achieving a significant blur can be a bit of a hurdle.
In contrast, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 delivers a generally pleasing bokeh characterized by smooth, creamy, and blurred backgrounds, rendering it suitable for diverse subjects like portraiture and still life. Nevertheless, it may exhibit certain concerns, including busy bokeh in slightly defocused regions or transition zones, sporadic cat-eye patterns in busy backgrounds, and noticeable outlines within background highlights. While the bokeh is predominantly satisfactory, those specifically seeking a lens renowned for its creamy bokeh might explore alternative options like the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G, which is optimized to produce captivating out-of-focus highlights.
In comparison, while both lenses can create pleasing bokeh under the right conditions, the 24-70mm lens tends to deliver more consistently smooth and creamy bokeh. Despite its occasional issues, it surpasses the 24-50mm lens, which struggles to generate a significant blur and exhibits issues like asymmetry and color fringing. Therefore, in terms of bokeh quality, the 24-70mm lens outperforms its counterpart.
The Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 demonstrates commendable performance in managing flare and ghosting. Under controlled testing scenarios, such as shooting directly at a powerful light source without the aid of a lens hood, this lens effectively curbs these issues. While flare or ghosting might occasionally surface when the lens is aimed at the sun or another intense light source, these occurrences are relatively infrequent and generally not a major concern. Even with bright light just outside the frame—a situation often triggering ghosting and flaring—the lens impressively keeps these issues in check. A visible streak may stretch across the image with a strong light source outside the frame, but this occurrence is not typical.
An important point to note is the lens’s strong resistance to flaring and ghosting when zooming in or out, which is a significant factor when assessing its performance against bright lights. The lens’s construction has been praised for its efficacy in mitigating these issues, contributing to the overall image quality. Therefore, while there might be occasional instances of minor flare or ghosting, these cases are uncommon, and the lens generally offers superb control over these optical aberrations.
In contrast, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 displays outstanding performance in controlling flare and ghosting, thanks to Nikon’s ARNEO coat and Nano Crystal Coat. These coatings significantly minimize ghosting and flare, even when photographing bright light sources. Therefore, these issues seldom surface in your images, especially if you carefully position the light source within the frame.
The lens also shows minimal veiling glare and maintains deep blacks, outperforming the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E VR. Nevertheless, in certain scenarios, such as when the light source is positioned just outside the corner at focal lengths of 24mm or 70mm, some instances of flare and ghosting may become apparent, primarily at the corners. Despite this, the lens is highly praised for its resistance to flare, glare, and ghosting.
Comparatively, while both lenses are capable of effectively controlling flare and ghosting, the 24-70mm lens has an upper hand, thanks to its specialized coatings. These allow it to consistently reduce these aberrations, even in challenging lighting conditions. Although both lenses may occasionally show flare and ghosting, the 24-70mm lens’s superior handling of these issues, along with its ability to maintain deep blacks, gives it the edge in this comparison.
Starting with the Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3, it displays noticeable vignetting, especially at wider angles such as 24mm, where the corners of the frame are visibly darker. This darkening effect persists even when reducing the aperture size by one or two stops. Interestingly, as the focal length extends towards 50mm, the vignetting diminishes.
The lens exhibits a unique vignetting characteristic, making the bottom edge appear darker than the top—a design trait potentially incorporated by Nikon to manage sky corners in wide-angle shots. You can brighten the corners by adjusting your aperture to around f8. Moreover, vignetting can be further reduced with in-camera corrections or post-processing tools, such as Adobe Lightroom. Remember, though, that vignetting can sometimes create a desirable artistic effect, framing the subject naturally and drawing attention to the center of the image.
In contrast, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 demonstrates moderate vignetting, particularly at wider focal lengths. In this regard, it surpasses the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR, exhibiting less than two stops of vignetting at the wide end and slightly less than a stop at the telephoto end.
However, compared to the original Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G, which has virtually no noticeable light fall-off past f/4, this lens falls a bit short. Despite some light fall-off in the corners of the frame, the overall image quality remains impressive. Just like the 24-50mm lens, vignetting can be easily corrected in post-processing software such as Lightroom, if desired.
In conclusion, both lenses exhibit a certain degree of vignetting, particularly at wider focal lengths. However, the 24-70mm lens performs marginally better, with a lesser degree of light fall-off. Still, the level of vignetting in both lenses can be easily corrected in post-processing, and some photographers might appreciate the artistic effect it can introduce.
The Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 presents a varying degree of distortion across its focal range, with barrel and pincushion distortions observable at different focal lengths. At the shorter end, around 24mm, there is a significant amount of barrel distortion, which manifests as outward curving of straight lines near the image’s edges. This distortion lessens at 28mm and becomes negligible enough to often disregard.
However, as you move towards the longer focal lengths, the lens’s distortion transitions from barrel to pincushion, with this shift occurring somewhere between 28mm and 35mm. By the time you reach 50mm, there is a considerable amount of pincushion distortion, displayed by the inward bending of straight lines towards the frame’s edges.
Although Nikon’s in-camera distortion corrections reduce these distortions, they do not fully eliminate them, with slight barrel distortion at 24mm and minor pincushion distortion at 50mm remaining, even after corrections. The distortion effects are more noticeable in images with straight lines, such as architectural shots, but they may be less apparent in other photography types.
Contrastingly, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 showcases noticeable barrel distortion at 24mm, although this distortion is less prominent compared to the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G and 24-70mm f/2.8E VR lenses. As you zoom in towards 35mm, the lens displays slight pincushion distortion, which increases to about 3% at 70mm. Correction features both in-camera and in software like Adobe Lightroom can effectively alleviate these issues. Nevertheless, when shooting at wide angles close to a subject, distortion may still be observable.
In conclusion, while both lenses exhibit distortion at different focal lengths and types, the 24-70mm lens performs better overall in managing distortion, particularly when compared to other lenses within the same focal range. Remember, some degree of distortion can be corrected in post-processing, but it’s crucial to consider how the inherent distortion in a lens might affect your images.
Given the information and conclusions above, here’s a final verdict:
The Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3, with its lighter weight and smaller size, is more suitable for travel photography, street photography, and any situation where portability and discretion are prioritized. It’s also a solid choice for beginner photographers due to its straightforward operation and affordability.
On the other hand, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8, with its superior optical performance, durability, and control features, is a great all-around lens suitable for a variety of genres such as portraits, landscapes, events, and wedding photography. The lens is a better choice for intermediate and professional photographers due to its versatility, precision control, and better performance in challenging light conditions.
In terms of distortion control, the 24-70mm lens is superior, which makes it a better choice for architectural photography and other genres where straight lines are essential. The 24-70mm lens also exhibits better overall sharpness and more pleasing bokeh, which is beneficial for portrait photography and any genre where subject isolation is desirable.
In conclusion, both lenses serve different needs and are suited to different types of photographers. It’s essential to consider your skill level, photography genre preferences, and specific needs like portability or optical performance when choosing between these two lenses. While the 24-70mm lens generally offers better optical and build quality, the 24-50mm lens shines in its ease of use, lightweight design, and affordability, making it a great starter lens for those entering the world of photography.