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Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30mm f/4 S Review - Performance

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Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30mm f/4 S Performance

Central sharpness at 14mm is outstanding from f/4 to f/8, excellent at f/11 and f/16 and, as diffraction eventually wins, good at f/22. The edges are excellent from f/4 to f/8, very good at f/11, good at f/16 and fair at f/22.

The centre at 16mm is outstanding from f/4 to f/8, excellent at f/11, very good at f/16 and good at f/22. The edges are excellent from f/4 to f/8, very good at f/11, good at f/16 and fair at f/22.

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20mm central performance is outstanding at f/4 and f/5.6, excellent at f/8 and f/11, very good at f/16 and good at f/22. The edges are excellent from f/4 to f/11, good at f/16 and fair at f/22.

30mm sharpness is outstanding at f/4 and f/5.6, excellent at f/8 and f/11, very good at f/16 and good at f/22. The edges are good at f/4, very good at f/5.6, excellent at f/8 and f/11, very good at f/16 and fair at f/22.

In terms of sharpness, that is a remarkable set of results.

 

Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 MTF Charts

How to read our MTF charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution as LW/PH and is described in detail above. The taller the column, the better the lens performance.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon Z7 using Imatest.

 

CA (Chromatic Aberration) throughout the range is so low centrally as to be almost zero. Results are totally clean, without a hint of colour fringing. The edges are almost as good and although we can record values of, generally, less that one half of a pixel, the images show no sign of fringing. It is another excellent result, especially noteworthy in an ultra-wide zoom lens.

 

Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 Chromatic Aberration Charts

How to read our CA charts

Chromatic aberration (CA) is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon Z7 using Imatest.

 

In terms of distortion this is a very honest lens. When first used it displays a notice warning that the distortion of the lens will be corrected by the camera, regardless of whether or not that function is switched on or off by the user. Clearly part of the lens design is effectively worked out with the camera and when measured, although we can see some residual distortion, it is very slight. The measurements are -0.17% barrel distortion at 14mm, +0.01% pincushion at 16mm, -0.13% barrel at 20mm and -0.17% barrel at 30mm. The lens is as near to rectilinear as makes no difference. How it does it perhaps becomes irrelevant and we may see much more of this sort of design as time moves on.

Bokeh summarises the smoothness of the out of focus areas in an image, and lens designers have tended to include rounded diaphragm blades to help with this. To be fair, bokeh with ultra-wides tends not to be so obvious if small apertures are in use and everything is in focus, but where selective focus is achieved this lens is beautiful, rendering lovely, smooth out of focus effects.

Flare is also remarkably low, even when shooting straight into the light. This was tested to the extreme as the lenshood was not provided, but in the end it proved that there was virtually no flare at all in even quite demanding shots. It may still be a good idea to have and use the lenshood for the protective function it has, taking any impact to the front of the lens rather than the lens itself.

Vignetting is present and is relatively obvious at 14mm, with -2.5 stops at f/4. This settles to around -2 stops through the rest of the aperture range.

At 16mm, we have -2 stops at f/4, reducing slightly to around -1.8 stops for the rest of the aperture settings.

At 20mm the result is very similar to 16mm. There is just a whisker of an improvement at 30mm, with around -1.6 stops throughout the range. Further correction could be made in software, but some slight corner darkening can actually be beneficial for many images, concentrating our eyes on the centre of the frame and the main subject area.

In summary though, what a fantastic set of results, another superb Nikon Z optic.


Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 Sample Photos

 

Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 Aperture range

You can view additional images in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.


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Comments


27 May 2019 3:59PM
Message for John Riley,

Thanks very much for the reviews of the 24-40 f/2.8 S and 14-30 f/4 S. I'm very much looking forward to the reviews of the other lenses!

Regards, Dave R

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