This all around lens might just be my favourite go-to lens for its quality optics and ideal travel size.
The Nikon Z 24-120mm f/4 S lens was released in January of 2022 and is in my opinion one of the most versatile lenses in the current Z lineup (as of April 2023). From landscapes to cityscapes, street photography, and more, it can handle just about anything you expose it to. I’ve been using it quite a bit over the years so here’s a quick rundown of the lens, including a slideshow of some of the photos that I’ve taken with it at the end.
Weighing in at just 630g and with a retracted size of about 118mm, it’s compact enough to fit in many smaller bags making it a perfect companion to take on your leisure photowalks or into the city.
I’ve used it on my Nikon Z 7ii and Nikon Z 9 and it feels well balanced on both cameras. It’s not front-heavy and sits well in your hands. The internal focusing of this lens means it doesn’t change the weight distribution of the lens when focusing, which is a big plus.
The S-line means its built tough with weather sealing and constructed with additional features like the function ring and lens function button. I personally don’t use the function ring as I find that I unknowingly turn it many times. The lens function button can be programmed to do many useful things like 100% view, or memory recall to change camera settings in a pinch.
The 77mm filter size means it will fit the same filters as my Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S lens and the Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 S lens, making it even more useful with my existing accessories.
Nikon now has several lenses with similar focal lengths so it might be difficult to choose which one is right for you. While I can’t tell you which one is right for your needs, I can tell you my thoughts for each one based on my needs.
Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S: This has always been one of my favourite lenses even from the F-mount days. The 200mm reach is fantastic, not to mention its ideal for low-light scenarios. It’s heavier and bulkier than the Z 24-120mm f/4, but I will accept these sacrifices at the expense of getting the extra reach at f/2.8 through the entire zoom range.
Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S: This is another quality lens from Nikon that I like. It is also bulkier and heavier than the Z 24-120mm f/4 S lens, has a more limiting focal length, but allows for low-light shooting at f/2.8. I will admit that during the first year or so of my using the Z 24-120mm f/4 lens, I didn’t have the need to get the Z 24-70mm f/2.8. However, now that I’m out more often in lower light scenarios (like indoor events), I find myself needing that extra stop of light. I will eventually have to get this lens even though the Z 24-120mm f/4 S lens has been good for me up until now.
Z 24-70mm f/4 S: While I don’t have experience with this lens, I have been told it is also a solid lens with sharp optics. The advantages of having a smaller (88.5mm long) and more lightweight (500g) lens will compete with having a limiting focal length of 70mm. There really is no reason for me to get this lens as I already have the Z 24-120mm f/4 S lens and don’t mind the added weight and size.
Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR: The reach on this lens is fantastic, although the f-stop quickly changes to about f/6 at around 70mm. It weighs 570g and is about 114mm long, making it roughly the same specs as the Z 24-120mm f/4 S lens. It’s not an S-line lens so the optics and build may not be as good as the Z 24-120mm f/4, so you’ll have to see if that’s enough of a reason for you to enjoy that extra reach at 200mm. I will stick with my Z 70-200mm f/2.8 lens despite its added weight and size.
Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3: This lens doesn’t have a lot of reach, isn’t quite as fast throughout the zoom range, but weighs a mere 195g and is only 51mm long. Is the compactness worth the limiting reach and speed of this lens? Not for me.
You’ll have to decide whether each of the pros and cons of the above lenses meet your needs and requirements. I know what I need and use most so I’m happy with my choices so far.
The Nikon Z 24-120mm f/4 S lens is one of the most versatile lenses in my kit. I use it for everything from events, landscape, nature, abstracts, and more. Its relatively lightweight and compact size means it’s easy to carry in any of my smaller bags, letting me carry it on casual photowalks and into the city.
I appreciate the rugged build quality and superior optics that only an S-line lens provides, and I can see this lens being a permanent addition to my kit for the longterm.
Check out my brief YouTube video on this topic!
Do you have the Nikon Z 24-120mm f/4 S lens? Let me know in the comments if you have one or want one!
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