It’s no secret Nikon missed the full-frame mirrorless revolution party – and was a little late to the after-party – but when it did arrive it brought the best gift: the mighty Z mount. Launching an alternative to the now 62-year-old F mount was a bold move, and one that was always going to ruffle a few feathers.
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The Z mount’s open secret is its oversized diameter. Internally, it’s 17% bigger than the F mount and larger than any full-frame mount on the market. This is advantageous for a number of technical reasons, but the keys are increased light-gathering, better image quality and smaller lenses and bodies.
The proof is in the pudding; on test the best Nikon Z lenses (opens in new tab) have consistently bettered their F-mount equivalents. In fact, we actually had to amend the scale of our lab test graphs to accommodate the incredible hike in resolution of Z-mount lenses.
All that’s really stood in the Z mount’s way is a lack of available focal lengths, but with the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S (opens in new tab), Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S (opens in new tab) and Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S (opens in new tab) finally completing the S-Line ‘holy trinity’, plus the release of the incredible Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S (opens in new tab) to appease macro shooters, the core bases are now largely covered.
A quick gander at the latest Nikon Z lens roadmap (opens in new tab) is a reminder that we’ve got two super-telephoto primes and two super-telephoto zooms to look forward to – essentials for wildlife and sports photographers, who are also no doubt keenly awaiting the arrival of the upcoming mirrorless flagship, the Nikon Z9 (opens in new tab).
But the Z mount isn’t just about premium-quality S-line lenses. The Nikon Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 VR (opens in new tab) and Nikon Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR (opens in new tab) are great budget buys, while the Nikon Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR (opens in new tab) is a very tempting prospect for the full-frame enthusiast.
Many of us are still happily working with F-mount cameras and optics – and Nikon made it abundantly clear, with last year’s Nikon D6 (opens in new tab), that there’s life in the old dog yet. And when you consider the gargantuan width and breadth of the F-mount range, its undeniable affordability on the second-hand market, its unrivaled heritage and its rock-solid performance, it’s still an extremely attractive option.
No matter what mount you currently favor, it’s good to know the future of Nikon is in very capable hands. Happy birthday, Z mount – here’s to the next 59 years!