Hands on: Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30mm f/4 S review

This ultra-wide lens is a great addition to the Z range line-up.

TODO alt text

Our Verdict

Not the fastest lens, sure, but it's lightweight, small and just the thing that may tempt new mirrorless users over to Nikon's side. Nikon's lens roadmap for the Z series just got interesting.

For

  • Great size
  • Lightweight
  • Super wide-angle coverage

Against

  • Expensive
  • Not the fastest

Nikon is taking an interesting path with its Nikon Z7 and Nikon Z6 series lens line-up. There's a clear push towards the camera giant releasing smaller lenses that don't weigh much, in a bid to compliment the svelte body of its full-frame mirrorless cameras. 

At CES 2019, it was the Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30mm f/4 S that was thrust into the spotlight in Las Vegas – and for good reason, this is chunk of glass that may be small but it means big business. 

UPDATE: We've since had a chance to get an even closer hands-on with the lens, and our latest impressions and side-by-side comparisons can be found below. 

The Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30mm f/4 S is an ultra-wide lens that measures just 3.5-inches (when not zoomed out), 89 x 85mm, and is lightweight, too, at 485g. 

Trying it out on the show floor, it was a joy to use. Its weight, or lack of it, meant the whole camera was comfortable in the hand and even when zoomed out completely, there was still a nice, measured balance there. 

There's some impressive craftsmanship under the bonnet here. The lens is made up  14 elements in 12 groups. Included in this are four ED elements and four aspherical elements. 

The lens has been given a coating of Nikon's Nano Crystal Coat technology, and the flat front element is fluorine coated, too. This means that things like fingerprint smudges and water drops will be easy to remove from the lens. 

If you are interested in adding a polariser of ND grand then you will be pleased to read that the front thread allows 82mm-sized filters – a first in this particular category of super-wideangle zooms.

When it comes to focus distance, it gets down to 0.28m. Another interesting tidbit about the lens is that it's 28.6% lighter and 32% shorter than the popular F-mount AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR. 

When it comes to the wide-apertured AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, it's a whopping 51.5% lighter and 35% shorter.

What impressed us was the front of the lens doesn't have the curve you would expect from an ultra-wide lens, so Nikon has been hard at work making this lens not, well, bulge out. 

We weren't as impressed with the speed of the thing. Many pros will want to wait for the faster 14-28mm f/2.8 S – which Nikon is promising to deliver in 2020, according to its Z lens roadmap. But this is a lens that's more fitting for landscape photographers, given the vistas it can take in, which means that maximum f-stop won't be an issue. 

Early verdict

Nikon has squished a whole lot of lens tech into something that's brilliantly small and light. But you do have to pay for this privilege. At $1,299.95 / £1,349, it's an expensive optic, especially compared to similar lenses from the like of Tamron and others on the market. 

It's lenses like this, however, that will make the Nikon Z series feel more accessible for photographers looking to make the mirrorless move. 

We will find out if Nikon's grand lens plan works, when the Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30mm f/4 S is released in April. 

UPDATE: A closer look at the 14-30mm f/4 S

We've managed to get an even closer look at the new Nikon 14-30mm f/4 S (albeit a pre-production sample) and it looks and feels excellent. It matches the existing S line-up for Nikon's mirrorless range in size and form factor. The focus ring is as smooth as silk, too, meaning it'll be great for filmmakers wanting to take a dive into Nikon's mirrorless system.

Image 1 of 2

Image 2 of 2

Taking a look at it stacked side-by-side with the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 and the Nikkor 16-35mm f/1.4 it's obviously dwarfed by their apparent size and weight difference. This means it'll take up less space in the bag and lighter on your back when heading out to shoot landscapes.

Image 1 of 3

Image 2 of 3

Image 3 of 3

Another big selling point for the 14-30mm f/4 S is the flat front element. It'll happily take 100mm filter systems which makes it easier for Nikon shooters that don't want to carry around two sets of filters like they currently have to with the 14-24mm f/2.8. Sure, you can opt for the 16-35mm f/1.4 which is faster in aperture, and also has a flat-ish front element (though not as flat as the 14-30mm) but again, it's bulkier and heavier, plus you'd have to use the FTZ adapter when used in conjunction with the Z 6 or Z 7.

Image 1 of 4

Image 2 of 4

Image 3 of 4

Image 4 of 4

Overall, it's shaping up to be a great, and vitally important inclusion for Nikon's mirrorless range and with the same form factor as the other mirrorless lenses there's no need to resize your camera bag compartments when swapping lenses.

We also hear rumours that the coating on this lens is so good that there's next to no flare even when shooting directly into the sun. We have yet to test this lens ourselves, but we're excited to see what results this new lens brings to the Nikon Z 6 and Z 7.