Last week, I posted a survey asking what lens reviews you most wanted to see at Photography Life. The survey received many more responses than I expected: 657 before I closed it! I’ve tallied up the responses and now have a clear idea what lenses we’re going to review next.
The first question of the survey was: “What one lens are you most interested to see reviewed at Photography Life?”
Here are the responses:
As expected, Nikon – and specifically Nikon Z – was the obvious favorite. It goes to show what I said last week, that Photography Life is mainly known as a Nikon-centric site (even though for our personal work, Nasim actually shoots Fuji medium format and I mostly shoot large format film).
Of the lenses in the survey, the clear #1 was the Nikon Z 24-120mm f/4 S. No contest at all! More than 25% of people who responded to the survey picked it as their top choice for us to review. Consider yourself heard – the Z 24-120mm f/4 S will be the first lens review we publish in the coming weeks. Based on this feedback, I’ve already started testing the 24-120mm f/4 in the lab, and I’m encouraged by the results.
The next most popular lens was the Nikon Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S. To me, making the best possible review of the 100-400mm means testing the lens with both the 1.4x and 2x teleconverters and comparing it head-to-head against lenses like the Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S (also with teleconverters). So, I’ve bought three copies of both teleconverters, and I’ll store the sharpest copy of each one permanently in our lens testing lab. Then, for all future lens reviews, I’m going to test the lenses on the same copy of the teleconverters. That should make the playing field completely level.
However, testing all those copies of the teleconverters will take time, so I doubt I can publish the 100-400mm review immediately after the 24-120mm f/4 review. But it’s moved up in my priority list substantially.
The Nikon Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S and the Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR Macro were also popular requests. The 400mm f/4.5 is unavailable at the moment (although Libor found a copy in Europe), and anyway, I need to test it with both teleconverters as well. However, the Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR will be one of the first few lenses we review, thanks to the responses to this survey.
There was more interest than I expected for the 40mm f/2. So, I’ve already tested that lens in the lab and intend to publish that review right after the 24-120mm review. (I just need a few more good sample photos first.) The 800mm f/6.3 and Tamron 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3 also got a lot of votes. I’ll review both of those as soon as possible – which unfortunately may be a while in the 800mm’s case, since copies of that lens are so hard to find at the moment.
The least popular Nikon Z lens was the 50mm f/2.8 macro, with only four respondents saying it was their top priority for a review. That was bit of a surprise considering the 105mm macro’s popularity in the survey, but so it goes! Even though it won’t be one of my priorities to review, I wouldn’t count out this little lens as a cheap and flexible 50mm option if I were you.
I also asked the following question later in the survey:
“What non-Nikon lenses do you want us to prioritize? You can select more than one answer.”
It turns out that Nikon still reigned supreme:
- A whopping 70% of respondents said that we should prioritize third-party lenses that fit Nikon Z.
- The next most popular request was for Sony E lenses, which only 11% of people mentioned.
- Third-party Nikon F lenses took third place with 10% of people mentioning them.
- Next in line were:
- Fuji X with 8%
- Canon RF with 6%
- Fuji GF, Micro Four Thirds, and Leica M all tied with 4%
- Canon DSLR lenses, L-Mount lenses, Pentax lenses, and other lenses all got 1% or less
Yes, that adds up to a bit more than 100%, because respondents could select more than one option. But apparently most people didn’t. For many of you, it seems that third-party Nikon Z lenses are the furthest you want us to branch out. I’ll put it this way – I do want to test other lens brands like Sony and Canon in the future, but I’ll prioritize Nikon Z lenses (including third-party options) any time that it’s a decision of either/or.
The other two questions in the survey were open-ended, and they were very helpful in figuring out the direction of Photography Life’s lens reviews. The most popular request was to make sure that all our lens reviews have numbers that can be compared from review to review. Don’t worry, they do! And they’ll continue to have comparable numbers in the future.
For example, our Nikon F Imatest numbers can be compared head-to-head against our Nikon Z Imatest numbers. (We test Nikon F lenses on the D850 and Nikon Z lenses on the Z7, which as we’ve shown before, are interchangeable for Imatest numbers.) Only a small number of our oldest DSLR lens reviews – the ones that have very different looking sharpness graphs – are not comparable with the rest of our reviews, until we go back and re-test those lenses on a modern camera.
Thanks again to everyone who responded to the survey! I expected to get about 100-200 responses, and we ended up with about five times that, so I was very happy. I’m out gathering sample photos and testing lenses in the lab almost every day now, so our lens reviews will be back before the end of the month. If you sign up for our weekly email, I’ll send you a message the moment the Nikon Z 24-120mm f/4 S review goes live.
One thing about the Nikon Z lenses range. Z 14-30 f/4 & Z 24-70 f/4 are S line in the same category as the f/2,8 versions, but, for me, these lenses do not play in the same leagues. I have had the f/4 version, then the f/2,8 lenses and I can say that the colors, contrast, sharpness and performance are significantly above for the f/2,8 line. If both f/4 & f/2,8 are S line lenses, f/2,8 have the gold ring (old F category) in addition to the S mark.
Ps: the 24-120 f/4 is a “real” S line too.
Nobody cares about Nikon Z lenses? ;-)
Not even Nikon 😀 Weren’t they announced on April 1st?
They aren’t at all easy to use on an F‑mount camera, without the judicious application of a 4‑pound persuader:
The best tool I’ve used for subsequent lens removal is a chain wrench.
My concern : the new Z 105 f/2,8 MC or the AFS 105 f/1,4 for my Z7 ?
ps: I tried both.
I found the article very interesting, especially since 6 years ago I switched from Pentax to Nikon, F and Z. Within nature photography, I think there is a field with little technical exploration, macro nature photography. I see photos with many different lenses and many resources to take advantage of them (adapters, extensions, etc). It can be a good field for articles and reviews.
I love macro photography too. Good point regarding the various extension tubes and other tools – I’ll look into reviewing some of those in the future.
I own the three initial test lenses, the Z 24-120, the Z105 M and the new Tamron Z 70-300. I’m pleased so far with the Tamron Z 70-300 which I have used for telephoto fall landscapes. I’m not sure if you include a section in your reviews for “best uses” and “tips for users”. A review is useful as a buying guide but also for owners as they use the lens in the field. Thanks for taking on this task; I’m looking forward to your reviews.
That’s a good suggestion, thanks David!
It would be nice if the optical performance was not only evaluated at close range, but also at long range (landscape).
In any case, I’m looking forward to the review of the Nikon Z 24-120mm lens
It’s hard to put numbers to infinity focus performance, like you could do at test chart distances in a lab. But I do always try to mention if infinity sharpness has different characteristics compared to closer/hyperfocal type distances, based on what I notice. I’ll see about going a step further than that and doing more crops in the future.
That would be great and thanks for all your work.
Am I wrong if I say that many people here HAVE certain lenses, LOVE them, but still want a review… why? Confirmation of what they already know? Weird…
No, I think you’re exactly right! Maybe they want confirmation that what they like is “officially” good. But I say if you like it, who cares what the reviewers have to say (although we do sometimes have usability notes and recommendations to maximize the lens’s performance).
I am one of those. It can help with using a lens knowing the optical characteristics. What are issues a wide apertures, focal lengths or corners for example. When do they appear?
Also, it is like having a conversation with someone else who uses the lens. It is just “interesting”.
I agree on both counts. I certainly read reviews of gear that I own, for exactly those reasons.
John, That’s a good question.
If the review praises the lens then one possible result is:
gloating [adjective]: dwelling on one’s own success or another’s misfortune with smugness or malignant pleasure.
— Oxford Languages
smugness [noun]: excessive pride in oneself or one’s achievements.
— Oxford Languages
If the review disparages the lens then it may result in:
offence [noun]: annoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult to or disregard for oneself.
— Oxford Languages
Not really wierd at all. If I have both the 24-70 and the 24-120, I might want to know which excels at various focal lengths.
Allow me to help you while we wait for the reviews…
Compared to the 24‑70, the 24‑120 excels in the range 71‑120mm.
If YOU can’t easily see a performance difference over the range 24‑70mm then the reviews aren’t going to improve your photography; they’ll probably make it worse (e.g., by needlessly swapping the lenses during a shoot).
Knowing where the limitations are is helpful. I have the 24-70mm f/4, the 24-200mm, and the 100-400mm.
Knowing the 24-200mm is almost as sharp as the 24-70mm f/4 at the same aperture means I’m much more likely to bring the 24-200mm in cases where I need some reach and I’m not doing portrait work because it’s so dang sharp.
I use the Z 105mm over the F-mount one because it’s lighter and smaller, but is there something else I should be considering in the tradeoff?
Reviews are helpful for teasing apart the bits that are different when you have choices.
Putting the results of the best lens out of three cannot give a false impression that the lens is better than it actually is (on average).
The ideal would not be to disclose the results of the intermediate lens, or ideally of the three lenses tested?
We made the decision a while ago to display lab numbers from the best copy of a particular lens that we test, and then write about any sample variation if applicable. We just as well could have chosen to display the average numbers, but at this point, we need to be consistent. Hence why I’m going to keep the best of the three copies of the teleconverters for long-term use in the lab.
(That’s also certainly easier than keeping all three copies of the teleconverters and testing all three on each lens in the future, just to average the results. For every focal length whose Imatest numbers you see on Photography Life, about 2 hours of work went into the lab tests. Zooms are already time-consuming to test!)
I have the Z 24-120 f/4. It’s a great lense in every aspect except just one point : no VR. I have Ibis with my Z7, but it would be more convenient for the longest focal (100-120 or 180 with the cropped sensor of the Z7 or with my Z30). I liked my Afs 24-120, but this new one is far ahead. No regrets to have switched.
Yes, it’s a great lens and has very consistent performance all-around. VR would have made it more usable with the DX cameras so far, though.
Great that the Photography life team is taking the lens testing up again.
I always have liked the way you test lenses and the way the usability in the conclusion is given the same weight as the technical details.
Just switched to Nikon Z from Nikon SLR so look forward to the test results.
Thanks Henri – glad you’re looking forward to the reviews. I am too!