Nikon brings a classic workhorse lens to the Z series with new 24-70mm f/2.8 S

The 24-70mm f/2.8 is a workhorse lens favored by many photographers for its useful zoom range that combines both wide-angle and telephoto perspectives with a fast f/2.8 aperture — and now Nikon is bringing one to its mirrorless Z series cameras. Nikon unveiled the new Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S on February 13, updating a classic focal length with new optics and enhanced custom controls. The professional lens won’t come cheap, with an MSRP of $2,300, but that actually puts it about $100 less than Nikon’s DSLR version of the lens.

Thanks to characteristics inherent to the Z mount, Nikon says the Z 24-70 offers improved sharpness and is also a bit shorter than the comparable F mount lens. The 24-70mm is the largest aperture zoom for the young Z series, following two f/4 zooms, including another 24-70mm. Where the f/4 version offers a more compact solution, the larger f/2.8 model will perform better in low light and produce a shallower depth of field thanks to the wider aperture.

With this lens, Nikon is also introducing a new coating called ARNEO, which is used alongside Nikon’s more traditional Nano Crystal Coating to reduce flare and ghosting. ARNEO, Nikon says, works better on combatting flare from light coming into the lens at vertical angles, which is often caused my light sources within the image frame.

The lens is constructed with 17 elements in 15 groups, yet it is roughly 25-percent lighter and 18-percent shorter than its DSLR equivalent 24-70mm f/2.8 ED VR F-mount lens. The Z-mount lens can be built lighter thanks in part to not needing an optical stabilization system, as Z-mount cameras have sensor-shift stabilization built into the bodies. Autofocus is achieved with what Nikon calls a Multi-Focus System, in which the lens moves two element groups at once for faster performance focusing as well as better focus on close subjects. Nikon says the focus motor is also quiet and prevents focus breathing, allowing the lens to be used for video work as well.

Sample image from the new Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S lens. Ami Vitale / Nikon

The new lens also builds in several novel design features. While earlier S lenses introduced a focus ring that can be customized to different controls, the 24-70mm has a custom control ring that’s completely separate from the focus ring, similar to what Canon is doing with its EOS R lenses. Additionally, an information panel displays either aperture and focal length or focus distance and depth of field directly on the lens. There’s also lens function (L.Fn) button that gives photographers an additional shortcut to commonly used functions, with up to 20 different programmable options. The lens is slated for release this spring.

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