Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S Lens Review

Nikon Z  24-70mm f/2.8 S Lens Review

Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S Lens Review

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Superior Optics

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I own and use the Legacy 24-70 f/2.8 (several years) and the new S 24-70 f/2.8.  My copy arrived in early May after waiting only a short while for the pre-order to be filled. Unlike my 500mm f/5.6 which is still on back-order since Aug of last year - sigh!

A green carpet of forest ferns
When Nikon released the first f mount 24-70 f/2.8 it was quickly lauded as one of the holy grail of lenses photographers should own. To this day the 24-70 continues to be a go-to lens for many photographers.  The big question everyone has on their mind is? Did Nikon improve their already excellent 24-70 f/2.8 f mount lens by engineering a new lens based on the larger Z mount and improve on almost every aspect of the lens lineage and if so, should you make the switch?

Here is the shortlist of improvements the new 24-70 f/2.8 S Lens has over it's older brothers: 

  • Smaller and lighter than the f mount version 1.5 lbs vs 2.4 lbs
  • Superior Optics - it is optically superior corner to corner
  • Improved sharpness and clarity and color rendition
  • Near Silent Focus Operation using newer stepper motor technology - great for video.
  • New improved ARNEO coatings
  • 5 axis vibration reduction using in-body stabilization of the Z camera
  • Customizable Control Ring
  • Customizable function button on the lens barrel
  • Lighted Lens Information Panel on the lens barrel

Here is the shortlist of what both lenses have in common:

  • Exceptional weather sealing from dust and moister
  • Fluorine, SIC, and Nano Coatings
  • Internal Focus (IF)
  • Electromagnetic diaphragm mechanism
  • Use of ED glass and Aspherical lenses 

Differences in build quality between legacy 24-70 and the new S Lens? In the hands, the new S mount 24-70 f/2.8 feels solid and well made but the older f mount 24-70 f/2.8 feels more robust. I really don't think it matters at the end of the day as both are well made. It appears Nikon is using a different plastic shell composite on the newer S lenses and I am ok with that. Both legacy 24-70 and newer S lenses are comprised of both plastic and metal and both are extremely well made.

A babbling brook running through the Forest

A babbling brook running through the Forest

My hands-on review of the new 24-70 f/2.8 S lens, not only does it live up to the Nikon legacy 24-70 but surpasses and excels beyond the excellent f mount lens in almost all aspects. I have high confidence every time I carried and used my legacy 24-70 lens but with the new 24-70 S lens, my confidence is greater knowing and seeing the exceptional image quality this new lens provides.

I am not able to express more clearly than to state the new 24-70 f/2.8 S lens is far superior to any other 24-70 I have ever used - period. Focus performance for those interested. The new S lens has great focus performance on the Nikon Z camera bodies (I have a Z7 and Z6). However, the D850 coupled with the legacy 24-70 is faster and more consistent. 

Questions People ask are

  • I already own the 24-70 f/4 S kit lens is it worth upgrading?  I can not directly answer that question for you, you will know when the time is right to make your move. I too own the kit lens but bought the faster pro 24-70 f/2.8 S when it became available.
  • I have the legacy 24-70 f/2.8 VR should I adapt it with the FTZ or sell the legacy lens and buy the newer S 24-70? To be truthful adapting legacy lenses is a great way to stretch the investment however I want to enjoy the improved optical performance and lighter Z lenses/mirrorless system. Thus as direct Z lens replacements are released I will sell off my older legacy f mount lens and move to the newer Z mount. 

I would certainly recommend the Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8 S lens to any Nikon Z shooter.  This lens will quickly be considered the holy grail lens for the Z mount, and I suspect there will be more superior lenses coming out of Nikon using the new improved Z mount.

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