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Summary

The Nikon Z 58mm f0.95 S Noct is the second standard prime lens for Nikon’s full-frame Z-series mirrorless cameras. A popular focal length for street photography and general-purpose use, it features a unique f0.95 focal ratio gathering almost 4 times the light of its smaller sibling the Z 50mm f1.8 S, hence earning the famed "Noct" moniker. This lens has been teased since the launch of the Z system and finally demonstrates what is possible with the large diameter Z-mount. Be aware though that it offers only manual focus which should limit its use with moving subjects. But if you can nail focus the results should deliver Bokeh beyond what was possible before on a full-frame camera. Nikon also claims very low sagittal coma flare rendering point-light sources like stars sharp across the sensor. This unique specification comes at a high cost though, with an eye-watering price tag of $7999. Ahead of my full review, see what we know so far and how it compares to rivals!

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Nikon Z 58mm f0.95 Noct review – preview
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The Nikon Z 58mm f0.95 S Noct is the second standard prime lens for Nikon’s full-frame Z-series mirrorless cameras. A popular focal length for street photography and general-purpose use, it features a unique f0.95 focal ratio gathering almost 4 times the light of its smaller sibling the Z 50mm f1.8 S, hence earning the famed “Noct” moniker. This lens has been teased since the launch of the Z system and finally demonstrates what is possible with the large diameter Z-mount. Be aware though that it offers only manual focus which should limit its use with moving subjects. But if you can nail focus the results should deliver Bokeh beyond what was possible before on a full-frame camera. Nikon also claims very low sagittal coma flare rendering point-light sources like stars sharp across the sensor. This unique specification comes at a high cost though, with an eye-watering price tag of $7999.

To find out whether the new Nikon Z 58mm f0.95 S Noct can justify the price, I will test its optical qualities on the 45MP Z7 body against Nikon’s own Z 50mm f1.8 S, the AF-S 58mm f1.4G lens, and the Zeiss Otus 55mm f1.4 which is my current reference standard lens. The latter two can be used on Nikon’s Z-bodies with the FTZ adapter. Ahead of my full review, here are the facts about the lens so far and where it fits-in against rivals.

 

 

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Facts from the catalog

As usual I’ll have a look at the technical data of the new Nikon Z 58mm f0.95 S Noct first. I’ve rated the features with a [+] (or [++]), when it’s better than average or even state of the art, a [0] if it’s standard or just average, and [-] if there’s a disadvantage. For this comparison I use the Nikon Z 50mm f1.8 S, the Nikon AF-S 58mm f1.4G and the Zeiss Otus 55mm f1.4 (“Otus” for short).

Size (diameter x length): The Noct is a huge lens at 102 x 153mm (4.0 x 6.0in.) and the lens hood further adds to its length (approx. 25mm). The Z 50mm f1.8 S is much smaller at 76 x 87mm + 40mm for the lend hood. The Nikon AF-S 58mm f1.4G is 85 x 70mm + lens hood and the Otus is 92 x 117mm + 32mm for the lens hood. For an apples-to-apples comparison one has to allow for the differences of flange distance between the Z-mount (16mm) and the F-mount (46.5mm). So these 30.5mm (1.2in.) have to be added when using theNikon AF-S 58mm f1.4G or the Otus via FTZ adapter on a Nikon Z camera. [-]

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Weight: 2 kg (710 oz.) including the non-detachable tripod mount. Add to that the weight of the lens hood. The Z 50mm f1.8 S is 412g + 27g for the lens hood. The Nikon AF-S 58mm f1.4G is 385g + lens hood, the Otus 948g + 64g for the metal lens hood. Both need the FTZ adapter adding another 133g (4.7 oz.) for use on a Nikon Z camera. [-]

Optics: 17 elements (including 4 special dispersion and 3 aspherical elements) in 10 groups which is the most complex standard lens-design I know of. The Z 50mm f1.8 S and the Otus have only 12 Elements and the Nikon AF-S 58mm f1.4G is a design with only 9 lenses in 6 groups. The new Nikon Z 58mm f0.95 S Noct employs fluorine coating on the front to repel water, dust, and dirt and should make for easier cleaning and uses Nikon’s new ARNEO coating (in addition to Nano coating) to reduce flare, glare and ghosting. [+]

 

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Closest focus distance is 0.5m (20in.) with a magnification of probably 1:10. The Z 50mm f1.8 S goes down to 0.4m (15.7in.) with a magnification of 1:6.7. [0]

Filter-thread: The new Noct shares a 82mm filter-thread with the Nikon Z 14-30mm f4.0 S and the Nikon Z 24-70mm f2.8 S. The Z 50mm f1.8 S has 62mm, the Nikon AF-S 58mm f1.4G has 72mm, the Otus 77mm. [0]

Image stabilization: The lens offers no optical stabilization – like every Z-Nikkor so far. But the Nikon Z bodies provide built-in sensor-shift stabilization for Z-mount lenses over 5 axis – plus an optional electronic stabilization in video mode. F-mount lenses without optical image stabilization like the Nikon AF-S 58mm f1.4G and the Otus profit from the body-based image stabilization of a Nikon Z body when used via FTZ adapter, but only over 3 axis (roll, pitch, yaw). [0]

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Auto focus: No, the new Noct is manual focus only. There’s a large mechanically coupled dedicated focus ring which turns almost 340 degrees for very precise manual focus. The focus ring has a linear gearing which makes smooth focus pulling for videographers easy. The Nikon Z 58mm f0.95 S Noct also features an OLED display indicating focal length, aperture or focusing distance (in m or ft.) and depth-of-field just like the Nikon Z 24-70mm f2.8 S. The display is hard to read under sunny conditions in its default setting but it can be made as bright as the top display on the Nikon Z camera. You can switch through the different display types using the DISP-button. There is also a function button L-Fn on the lens that is set to AE/AF lock as default but can be assigned 21 different functions. Both the Z 50mm f1.8 S and the Nikon AF-S 58mm f1.4G offer autofocus but the Otus is manual focus too. [-]

Lens profile: The lens comes with a lens profile just like the Z 50mm f1.8 S which can be controlled from the camera. Vignette control offers the usual options of High, Normal, Low and Off. Diffraction compensation and Auto distortion control can be activated or deactivated. While Adobe’s RAW converter ignores these settings and treats them as if they are set to Normal/On Nikon’s Capture NX-D allows to change the settings when developing RAWs. The Nikon AF-S 58mm f1.4G and the Otus do not come with a lens profile but Lightroom and Photoshop provide one with vignette and distortion control. [+]

Covers full frame/FX or smaller. Same with the alternatives. [+]

Performance / MTF: The following image shows the Noct on the left (at f0.95, 10lp/mm and 30 lp/mm) and the Zeiss Otus 55mm f1.4 on the right (at f1.4, 10lp/mm, 20lp/mm, and 30 lp/mm). That looks pretty promising for the Noct. [+]

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Above: MTF Nikon Z 58mm f0.95 S Noct at f0.95, Zeiss Otus 55mm f1.4 at f1.4

Price: The lens has a list price of 9000 EUR (incl. 19% VAT) / 8000 USD / 8300 GBP. So it’s even more expensive than the Otus (3200 EUR / 4000 USD) but that is easily explained by the larger focal ratio. The Leica Noctilux-M 50mm 0.95 ASPH is even selling north of 10,000 EUR. The Nikon AF-S 58mm f1.4G sells for 1600 EUR / 1450 USD while the Z 50mm f1.8 S is clearly the cheapest at  400 EUR / 600 USD. [-]

Comes with a trunk case that protects the lens and has extra space for other accessories. Finally this is a case fitting for a lens costing 8000 USD unlike the flimsy pouch of the other Z lenses. The tripod collar and the screw-on lens hood is included, but it seems the lens hood is not of the bayonet type and not reversible for transport. [+]

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Aperture ring: the multi-function control ring at the back of the Z 58mm f0.95 S Noct can be assigned to operate the aperture (this is the default) or exposure compensation. The aperture is actuated electromagnetically which makes it the equivalent of an E-type Nikon lens. The multi-function control ring on the Z 50mm f1.8 S can control aperture, exposure compensation or focusing. The Nikon AF-S 58mm f1.4G and most other F-mount alternatives don’t have an aperture control ring. The Zeiss Otus offers one (Nikon ZF.2 version only) but that is of no use as the Nikon Z cameras (unlike the D850) do not allow to control the aperture from there. [+]

Sealing: yes, a rubber grommet at the lens-mount plus further special weather-sealing throughout the construction just like the Z 50mm f1.8 S. The Nikon AF-S 58mm f1.4G only has the sealing at the lens-mount, the Otus not even that. [+]

Adding another [++] for the unique focal ratio of f0.95 the score in the “features-department” of the new Noct is 4[-]/4[0]/9[+]. The downsides to this lens: It’s extra large and extremely heavy, has no autofocus and is even more expensive than any Zeiss Otus. So Nikon’s new lens which showcases the possibilities of their Z mount better deliver on the promise of a unique photographic experience.

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Alternatives

The market for standard prime lenses is pretty crowded and some manufacturer even offer (or announced) 50mm f0.95 full-frame lenses namely Leica (for M-mount, around 10,000 EUR), Meyer Optik (for E-mount, 1500 EUR) and Mitakon (E-, RF- and Z-mount) – all of which are manual focus only. Let’s have a closer look at the Mitakon:

  • The Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster 50mm 0.95 III was announced in June 2019 and seems to be available now for Z-mount too. It measures 73 x 84mm and weighs 720g (without lens hood). The optical design is 10 elements in 7 groups and the minimum focus distance is 0.5m with a maximum magnification of 1:10. Its price is listed as 1100 EUR / 800 USD. The lens does not have any electric contacts so the aperture has to be closed manually to the desired value and there are no EXIF-data nor lens-profiles being transmitted to the camera.

For shooters of Nikon Z cameras the alternatives also include F-mount lenses which can be used mounted on Nikon’s FTZ adapter – adding another 31mm in length and 133g in weight:

  • Nikon offers the only f1.2 lens of the alternatives, the Nikon 50mm f1.2 from 2004. This lens is not to be confused with the famed Noct-Nikkor 58mm f1.2 which is no longer in production. The 50mm f1.2 is manual focus only and goes for 700 EUR / 600 USD.
  • Nikon also offers two autofocus alternatives with a focal ratio of f1.4: the AF-S 50mm f1.4G from 2008 (410 EUR/USD) and the AF-S 58mm f1.4G from 2013 (1600 EUR / 1450 USD)..
  • Sigma offers the AF 50mm f1.4 DG HSM Art from 2014 for 700 EUR / 950 USD. See my Sigma 50mm f1.4 Art review where it came Highly Recommended. The Sigma Art is also a big and heavy lens although not as extreme as the new Noct. Still: mounting it on the FTZ adapter the Sigma Art has a diameter of 85mm, a length of 130mm and a weight of 950g (w/o lens hood).
  • The Zeiss Otus 55mm f1.4 from 2015 is my current reference standard prime lens. But it costs 3200 EUR / 4000 USD – and it’s manual focus only, juts like the new Noct. But its build quality is as yet unsurpassed and the optical performance is top notch. It earned a Highly Recommended in my Zeiss Otus 55mm f1.4 review.
  • There is also the Planar 50mm f1.4 and the Milvus 50mm f1.4 from Zeiss. Both are manual focus only costing around 650 EUR / 1100 EUR respectively.
  • Samyang has the manual focus 50mm f1.4 AS UMC from 2015 which costs 430 EUR / 400 USD.

 

Check back soon for my full review!

PS – if you’re interested in the other Z lenses in Nikon’s line-up check out our in-depth reviews: Nikon Z 14-30mm f4.0 S review / Nikon Z 24-70mm f2.8 S review / Nikon Z 24-70mm f4 S review / Nikon Z 35mm f1.8 S review / Nikon Z 50mm f1.8 S review / Nikon Z 85mm f1.8 S review.

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