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.
The photos were captured by Nikon Ambassador Michelle Valberg in Chile and photographer Ted Hesser in Patagonia.
“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.