Nikon’s newly announced NIKKOR Z 14-30mm f/4 S, the first ultra-wide-angle Z Series lens, hasn’t been covered by reviewers yet, but we’ve got our hands on a set of exclusive new sample photos showing what the lens can do in the real world.
“I recently took the new Nikkor 14-30mm super wide-angle zoom lens on a test drive through South America,” Valberg tells PetaPixel. “It exceeded all expectations. I loved the flexibility with the zoom for compositional changes and that extra little reach over the F-mount 14-24mm. The most notable impression I had was the extreme field of view with clean edge-to-edge sharpness. My captures had a 3D-looking perspective.”
“I wanted to experiment with capturing wildlife using this lens, and since we had up close and personal encounters with Magellanic penguins, I had the perfect opportunity,” the photographer says. “Penguins are adorable and full of personality; to showcase their character, I decided a low vantage point was best.”
“This new high-performance lens excelled in both landscape and wildlife situations,” Valberg says. “In Punta Arenas, Chile we were walking among the fairy-tale looking trees draped in what is called ‘old man’s beard.’
“These trees in Patagonia were a staggering height and the lichen provided tons of texture. I focused upwards and at 14mm, the dramatic wide-angle range made the trees look as though they were embracing us as they converged into the center of the image.”
“For me, the biggest strengths of this compact 14-30mm are: it’s lightweight, incredible sharpness, quick to respond, and has a flat front lens element allowing me to use 82mm screw-on filters,” Valberg says. “For me, that’s particularly important because I frequently use neutral density filters for landscapes and video production.”
“If I can only take one lens with me on a big mountain climb, the Nikkor Z 14-30 F/4 S is it,” Hesser tells PetaPixel. “As a rock climber and adventure photographer, I lean heavily on wide focal lengths where I can incorporate as much of the landscape as is possible to accentuate the size and scale of my subject matter.
“Having a rugged, small, lightweight and sharp f/4 zoom lens from 14 to 30mm is kind of a game changer for me. I used to shoot on a Nikon D850 with either a 16-35mm f/4 or a 20mm f/1.8 prime or a 14mm f/2.8. So right off the bat, this lens replaces three lenses in my kit.”
“With the Z7’s high ISO capacity, I find that I can still shoot handheld at f/4 in the pre-dawn or post-dusk hours, thereby eliminating the need for a faster prime lens in low-light,” Hesser says. “So this lens is all I need while in the mountains.”
“The ability to put a screw-filter on the front of the lens, and shoot at 14mm, continues the light-weight trend,” Hesser continues. “Instead of bringing heavy and awkward filters for a bulbous lens, as would be required for, say, the 14-24 f/2.8 lens, I can now bring lightweight and highly packable screw-filters out into the mountains.
“My go-to is a Tiffen UV filter to protect the front element and a Tiffen ND filter for long exposures. That’s it. It’s a very simple and lightweight kit.”
“In terms of vignetting or distortion, I find any unwanted effects at its widest focal length to be slight and easily correctable in post,” Hesser says.
“I’ve done the math across all similar full-frame mirrorless cameras, and Nikon’s system with the 14-30 f/4 is actually the lightest on the market,” Hesser says. “And is the lightest zoom on a mirrorless system to go to 14mm, versus 16mm. Given the exponential nature of focal lengths at wide angles, this makes a huge difference!”
“The bottom line is that this lens is the most versatile, and most practical lens I’ve ever owned. I started out climbing in the mountains with 2-3 lenses at a time, but now feel that I can just bring this lens with me and capture the content I need for my assignments as a professional photographer.”
The new NIKKOR Z 14-30mm f/4 S lens will be available in the spring of 2019 with a price tag of $1,300.