In their first announcement of 2023, Nikon has revealed the development of two upcoming lenses: the Nikon Z 85mm f/1.2 S and the Nikon Z 26mm f/2.8. Neither of these lenses will surprise you if you’ve kept an eye on Nikon’s roadmap, and we still don’t know most of the lenses’ specs.
Even so, at least we got a photo of both lenses and now know for certain what their maximum aperture values will be. As expected, the mystery 85mm prime on the roadmap is an f/1.2 lens – joining the Nikon Z 50mm f/1.2 S in that regard – while the 26mm f/2.8 is a tiny pancake lens (but still covers full frame). Here’s what we know about both lenses.
Nikon Z 85mm f/1.2 S
When this lens starts to ship, Nikon will be one step closer to closing the gaps in their mirrorless lens lineup. Until now, high-end portrait photographers with the Z system have had to choose between the 50mm f/1.2 S, 85mm f/1.8 S, or something like the 70-200mm f/2.8 S. Those are all great lenses, but none of them mimic the classic F-mount portrait lenses of the 85mm f/1.4G and 105mm f/1.4E, which combine a long focal length and an extremely wide maximum aperture.
As expected of an f/1.2 lens, the 85mm f/1.2 S is going to be chunky. Just look at it:
All that glass is there to gather as much light as possible and throw your background into a sea of colorful, creamy goodness. The front filter thread is 82mm, same as the Z 50mm f/1.2 S, but this is definitely going to be a heftier lens. Here’s my best attempt at matching the two lenses to scale, based on keeping the lens mounts and filter thread sizes the same:
I’m a bit surprised by the lack of a OLED display on the 85mm f/1.2, not that it’s a super useful feature anyway. It also seems that prior rumors of a “defocus smoothing” feature on the 85mm f/1.2 were just pipe dreams rather than anything grounded in reality. Looks like the F-mount Nikon 105mm f/2 DC and 135mm f/2 DC (plus various lenses from other brands) are still the kings if you need manual control over your background blur.
That’s about all we know about the 85mm f/1.2 S. No pricing, shipping date, or other specs have been announced yet. However, a prototype of the lens will be on-hand at the CES show in Las Vegas for anyone who may be attending. Feel free to send us photos of the lens if you’re there!
Nikon Z 26mm f/2.8
The other new lens is the Nikon Z 26mm f/2.8. At first glance, it’s surprising that Nikon would release a lens like this, considering that there’s already a compact 28mm f/2.8 in their lineup. But there are a couple of noticeable differences between the 26mm and 28mm primes. In particular, the 26mm f/2.8 is the first “true” pancake lens in the Z lineup, while the 28mm f/2.8 is small but not as slim as a pancake.
Beyond that, the product photos released by Nikon show that the 26mm f/2.8 has a metal lens mount, rather than plastic like the 28mm f/2.8. It also seems to have no filter threads, so you’ll probably need to attach filters to the lens hood rather than directly to the lens itself.
There was some speculation that the 26mm would be an f/4 or f/5.6 lens in order to keep it as small as possible, but Nikon apparently found a way to keep the aperture at f/2.8 while still covering full-frame. Does this mean the lens will have some optical compromises? It’s impossible to say right now, but I’ll point out that Nikon’s existing 28mm f/2.8 “muffin” lens is hardly a perfect optic, and it’s about twice as big as this one. It wouldn’t surprise me if the 26mm f/2.8 has a few optical issues as a result.
Nikon still needs to announce the remaining specs of the 26mm f/2.8, especially its price. If the lens launches in the $150-200 range, it would at least stand out compared to the $300 28mm f/2.8. But if it ships at $300 or more, I don’t think Nikon should have bothered with this lens when there are bigger gaps in their lineup at the moment, like a lightweight telephoto zoom.
My Thoughts and Takeaways
On one hand, the development announcements today don’t tell us much; most of the specs for these two lenses are still a mystery. On the other hand, the announcements might tell us quite a bit about the state of Nikon at the moment. The company is definitely behind schedule.
Development announcements are iffy for PR in general, except in cases of major products like the Nikon Z9. To announce the development of two unsurprising lenses – lenses that have already been on Nikon’s roadmap for a while – seems pretty silly to me. My guess is that Nikon felt a strong pressure to announce something for the ongoing CES trade show, but they didn’t have anything in the immediate pipeline other than these lenses. And apparently even these lenses aren’t far enough along to fully announce.
It might be dangerous to read into things more than that, but I’ll do it anyway: This strikes me as a bad sign for new Nikon cameras in the near future. My concern is, wouldn’t Nikon have announced the development of a (hypothetical) Z8 or a Z90 for the CES show if they could have done that instead? Or even a Z6 III / Z7 III? Since they didn’t, I can’t help but wonder if those cameras are still a long way off – longer than most of the Nikon faithful had been anticipating.
In any case, I’m not knocking the two lenses whose announcement was announced today. The 85mm f/1.2 S is sure to be a stunning lens if Nikon’s previous S-line primes are any indication. And although the 26mm f/2.8 is a bit surprising considering the existing Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8, it’s nice to see a true pancake lens finally join the Nikon Z lineup. I’m curious to test it in the lab and see how it compares to the 28mm f/2.8.
Nikon is developing the NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.2 S, a fast mid-telephoto prime lens, and the NIKKOR Z 26mm f/2.8, a slim wide-angle prime lens for the Nikon Z mount system
January 5, 2023
TOKYO – Nikon Corporation (Nikon) is pleased to announce the development of the NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.2 S, a fast mid-telephoto prime lens, and the NIKKOR Z 26mm f/2.8, a slim wide-angle prime lens, for full-frame/FX-format mirrorless cameras for which the Nikon Z mount has been adopted.
The NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.2 S is part of the S-Line* NIKKOR Z lens series, and realizes both superior rendering performance and large, beautiful bokeh. It expands possibilities for users capturing portraits in areas such as weddings and fashion.
The NIKKOR Z 26mm f/2.8 achieves outstanding slimness and lightness, as well as high rendering performance, making it an ideal lens for advanced amateur photographers who take their camera everywhere so as not to miss a moment.
Nikon will continue to pursue a new dimension in optical performance while meeting users’ needs, contributing to the development of imaging culture, with the hope of expanding possibilities for imaging expression.
So, as most pancakes usually have vignetting or worse…I still see this as a perfect match (or kit) with a black Zfc 😏 (39mm being a great focal length)
A metal lens mount on the 26mm f/2.8 would seem this lens is probably built to a higher standard than the 28mm f/2.8 .
I’m wondering if it’ll be weather sealed and make stronger along with as good or better optical characteristics. It’s a pancake and that seems like “how could it be optically better . Who knows but if it is I may be in the market for it . I really was hoping for a 28mm f/1.4 that spanks on the past Nikkor 28f/1.4s . I like that 20-30mm focal length and especially the 27-28 fov. I have a bunch of 28s .
I was wanting this new 85 f/1.2 but after just buying the Z9 I was looking at the images taken with the 85 f/1.8 S on Flickr and really liked what I saw . It was on sale for $100 off and I had to pull the trigger.
Buying a Z9 , an extra battery, two 512g cards and a super fast 2tb card the 85mm f/1.2 is out of my price range.
Hi Spencer, Love your content. I have a qq on different topic – are you planning to conduct the Colorado Fall Colors workshop this year?
Thank you, Jigar! I’m undecided at the moment. Our usual location of over 10 years has been getting so crowded recently. It’s not a good spot for a big group any more. I have a few alternative locations for fall colors in mind, but starting in a new location will take a lot of prep. Either this year or next year, we’ll host one.
Spencer, thanks for the quick response. With large group of contributors, do you (as in Photography Life) plan to organize more workshops – domestic and international?
I guess the Nikkor Z 26mm f/2.8 is looking to turn the Nikon Z30 or an unreleased camera into a Ricoh GRIIIx competitor.
I think the 26mm f2.8 is very interesting as well.
If you want to go on a long trip and stay light and compact it will turn your Z Nikon camera into a Fujifilm X100-V similar device. Not sure about the technical specifications but please correct me if I am wrong in this thought.
The Nikkor 85mm f/1.2S looks great. But having a Nikkor 85mm f/1.8S, the F-mount Nikkor f/1.4G & f/1.8G, Nikkor 105mm f/1.4E, Zeiss 135mm f/2 and Nikkor 200mm f/2.0G, what I would really want and will wait for is a Nikkor 135mm f/1.8S.
That is what I wish was coming out now instead of the 85 f/1.2 .
I’m thinking of getting the Sigma Art 135 f/1.8 F mount . I had read so much on it focusing adapted as fast as S lenses
I am not a Nikon user, but if i was, this 26mm f/2.8 pancake lens would have been a guaranteed buy! It seems, though, a more suitable match for apsc cameras than FF. The 40mm equivalent it’s a proven focal length for street and documentary photography, given the popularity of the Ricoh GRIIIx. To the contrary, the 26mm is quite a strange focal for FF… Its too narrow for 24mm alternative or too wide for 28mm (prime shooters could understand my point here).
85 1.2 sounds amazing although I am more than happy with my 105 1.4 with ftz adapter for my portrait work. Actually I can’t imagine needing a better quality lens at all than the 105 1.4.
I would love an 85mm f/1.2. Looks like an amazing lens and I can’t wait to see the lab tests on that one!
Z7500 (24 MP) + 10-20 F4 DX Z + 16-80 F4 DX Z + 100-400 FX Z. Very few people will ever need anything beyind this combo.
* Z7500 (24 MP): does not exist; its closest equivalent is the Z50.
* 10-20 F/4 DX: does not exist, and especially not in the Z mount. Are you referring to the F-mount f/4.5-f/5.6?
* 16-80 F/4 DX: does not exist, especially not in the Z mount. Are you referring to the F-mount f/2.8-f/4?
What are you talking about? The only item that exists in your list is the Z 100-400, which costs a a lot at $2700 list. The 16-80mm f/2.8-f/4 DX isn’t covering the same purpose or market as an an FX 85mm f/1.2 so I question the relevance. It’s also not the same market as a 26mm pancake (the 10-20mm DX is at least in the right price range).