The Nikon Z 24-70mm f2.8 S is a general-purpose zoom designed for Nikon’s full-frame Z-series mirrorless cameras and offers a one stop faster focal ratio than the Z 24-70mm f4.0 S ‘kit zoom’. The new lens is aimed at professional photographers and as such is the heir to Nikon’s professional 24-70mm f2.8E VR (which can also be used on a Z body via the FTZ adapter). It performed very well in all of my tests regarding contrast (even under adverse contra-light), resolution, focus speed and reliability, colour aberrations, and coma, producing very good image quality on a demanding 46MP Z7 body. It is equipped with a useful OLED display, a dedicated focus ring (in addition to the multi-function ring), and a customizable function button, plus the lens is weather-sealed including a fluorine coating against moisture and dust on the front element.
What’s not to like? Well, the price is on the high side but not outrageously so for a professional standard zoom. Only the basic lens pouch is a disappointment.
Let’s have a closer look at how the new lens compares to its larger F-mount sibling and its smaller Z-mount alternative.
Compared to Nikon 24-70mm f2.8E VR
My resume from the Nikon 24-70mm f2.8E VR review: “Having the most effective image stabilization and the best image quality across the FX-sensor in its class earns this lens a Highly Recommended. Be aware though that this performance comes at a price: literally and in an increase in size and weight. Good points: Good to very good quality across the full-frame area; weather sealing; quiet and fast AF operation; very good image stabilization.”
With their new Z 24-70mm f2.8 S Nikon managed to produce a lens that is superior to its F-mount counterpart in almost every aspect: The optical quality is mostly better in the DX image-circle, produces a much better contrast in contra-light situations, has a more usable close-up performance and a nicer Bokeh. The new lens alone is 300g lighter than the 24-70mm f2.8E VR and the combo of f2.8 S + Z7 is 500g lighter than the f2.8E VR + D850. The new lens also is shorter by about 30mm (depending on focal length) and offers a customizable function button and an additional control ring for aperture or exposure compensation. The absence of optical image stabilization should also make the new lens more robust than the f2.8E VR. Testing image stabilization of the Z7 (with the f4.0 S) indicates that sensor-based image stabilization is one stop more effective (at 70mm focal length) than the optical stabilization of the f2.8E VR. There are only three things where the new Z-Nikkor is not as good as the 24-70mm f2.8E VR: Price, lens pouch, and focus speed (0.5 sec vs. 0.35 sec). But that still wouldn’t stop me recommending the new Z 24-70mm f2.8 S over its F-mount sibling.
For more details see my Nikon 24-70mm f2.8E VR review.
Compared to Nikon Z 24-70mm f4.0 S
Nikon’s kit-zoom, the Z 24-70mm f4.0 S, came Highly Recommended in my review offering very good optical performance in a small and light package which is also great value when bought in a bundle with a Z body. Compared to the new Z 24-70mm f2.8 S Nikon’s f4.0 S is smaller (especially in its collapsed state) and 300g lighter making it an ideal travel companion. But you lose one stop of light gathering power and have to extend the lens from its retracted state before shooting. It also has a double barrel zooming mechanism which is more prone to mechanical force and more surfaces that need to be sealed against the elements. Optically the f4.0 S is almost up there with the new f2.8 S delivering very sharp images with high contrast even in contra-light situations, very little colour aberrations, and very usable close-up performance. Plus it focuses a little faster than the new f2.8 S too. So if you want small and light and can live with the focal ratio of f4.0 then get the Nikon Z 24-70mm f4.0 S, preferably in a kit with one of the new Z bodies for the best price.
But if you need (and can afford) the f2.8 focal ratio for more light gathering power and better Bokeh, the best optical performance, and some dedicated controls plus a nice OLED display for distance, depth-of-field, aperture or focal length, Nikon’s new Z 24-70mm f2.8 S becomes the lens of choice.
For more details see my Nikon Z 24-70mm f4.0 S review.
Nikon Z 24-70mm f2.8 S final verdict
The Nikon Z 24-70mm f2.8 S is an expensive lens, clearly bigger and 300g heavier than its smaller sibling, the Z 24-70mm f4.0 S. Is it worth spending the extra and accommodating the heft? And is the new lens the rightful successor to Nikon’s professional F-mount workhorse, the 24-70mm f2.8E VR? I’d say “Yes” on both accounts. Nikon’s newest general purpose zoom delivers the highest optical quality including the best Bokeh and very usable close-up performance in a package that is smaller and lighter than the f2.8E VR and has the decisive advantage of a one stop larger focal ratio over the f4.0 S. So if you want the best 24-70mm zoom for your Nikon Z bodies, get the new Z 24-70mm f2.8 S: it comes Highly Recommended!
- Relatively small and light.
- Very good resolution and contrast.
- Very little longitudinal colour aberrations.
- Very good resistance against flare, glare, and ghosting.
- Very usable close-up performance.
- Low vignetting and minimal distortions (through lens profile).
- Extensive weather sealing plus fluorine coating against moist and dust.
- Fast and reliable AF operation.
- OLED display and customizable function button.
- Multi-function ring for aperture or exposure compensation plus dedicated focus-ring.
- High price.
- Laughable lens pouch.
Check prices on the Nikon Z 24-70mm f2.8 S at B&H, Adorama and WEX!