As Nikon’s smallest, lightest, and cheapest standard zoom lens corrected for full frame sensors the Z 24-50mm f4-6.3 certainly garners quite some attention. And in my tests it turned out to be a good all-round performer: It has good to very good resolution and contrast at all focal lengths across the full frame, focus is very fast and reliable, plus colour aberrations, coma, and focus-breathing and distortions are very well controlled. Add to that very good resistance against flare, glare, and ghosting and you have a lens that lets you capture many scenes in very satisfying quality.
What’s not to like? Well, optically I have only some small gripes: Close-up performance is disappointing outside the center, vignetting at the short end is pretty high, and the lens is not perfectly parfocal – so it’s important to re-focus after changing focal length. Regarding features there are some more serious deficits: The lens has no weather sealing, the meagre focal ratio of f6.3 at the long end does not lend itself to good background isolation, the zoom range of 2.1x is pretty limited, and the lens hood should have been included.
Let’s put this into perspective and have a closer look at how the Nikon Z 24-50mm f4-6.3 compares to the Nikon Z 24-70mm f4 S.
Compared to Nikon Z 24-70mm f4 S
Nikon’s Z 24-70mm f4 S has some clear advantages over the Z 24-50mm f4-6.3: It has a constant focal ratio of f4.0 and it offers 40% more reach at the long end which makes it fit seamlessly to any telephoto zoom lens starting at 70mm focal length. The 24-70mm zoom also has the better build quality with a metal lens-mount, full weather sealing plus fluorine coating, and the lens hood is included. But it’s longer even in its collapsed state than the Z 24-50mm extended, 300g heavier, and costs twice as much. Optically both lenses perform pretty close with the shorter zoom even besting the S-line lens on occasion.
For more details see my Nikon Z 24-70mm f4S review where the lens came Highly Recommended.
Nikon Z 24-50mm f4-6.3 final verdict
If you’re looking for a compact kit zoom lens for your Nikon full-frame or DX mirrorless camera the Nikon Z 24-50mm f4-6.3 is a very interesting proposition: optically it is as good as the renowned Z 24-70mm f4 S but much smaller, lighter, and cheaper. It retains its high contrast even in challenging contra-light situations and focuses very fast and reliably. The multi function ring can control focus, aperture, exposure or ISO, and videographers will enjoy the very low focus breathing. Its major drawbacks are the limited 2.1x zoom range, its meagre focal ratio, and missing weather sealing. But that’s easily compensated for by the low price – and did I mention the small size and very low weight? So if you want to travel small and light without forfeiting the flexibility of a zoom, this lens clearly is a good fit: Recommended!
- Very compact and light weight.
- Low price especially when bought in a kit.
- Good to very good resolution and contrast at all focal lengths across the full frame.
- Very fast and reliable AF operation and very low focus breathing.
- Minimal distortions (through lens profile).
- Very good resistance against flare, glare, and ghosting.
- Very little field-curvature or colour aberrations.
- Multi function ring assignable to manual focus, aperture, exposure compensation, or ISO.
- Meagre focal ratio of f6.3 at the long end.
- Limited 2.1x zoom range.
- Close-up performance could be better.
- Plastic lens mount, no weather sealing, lens hood not included.