Along with the Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S, Nikon also introduced its first modern professional-grade f/1.2 lens, the Nikon Z 50mm f/1.2 S. Nikon has not been able to make f/1.2 lenses with autofocus capability on the F-Mount due to a small throat size and long flange distance (see my article on lens mounts), so aside from lenses like the Nikon 50mm f/1.2 Ai-S and the classic Noct-Nikkor 58mm f/1.2, we have not seen an f/1.2 lens for many years. Thanks to the advantages of the Z-mount, we are now able to get much faster lenses.
While the previously-released Nikon Z 58mm f/0.95 S is a much faster lens, it was made to be a “showcase” lens rather than a practical lens in the field. It lacks autofocus capability, and at $8K, it is a very niche lens for those with very deep pockets.
In comparison, the new Nikon Z 50mm f/1.2 S is a workhorse, professional-grade lens that is made to be used in the field. And given all the advances in autofocus technology, including Eye AF, being able to use a fast and sharp f/1.2 without having to worry about focus issues is going to be essential for client portraiture work.
Some photographers have been waiting for a proper pro-grade 50mm autofocus lens from Nikon. The Nikon 50mm f/1.4G is optically weak and in dire need of replacement, while the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G is an enthusiast-grade lens, with a relatively slow maximum aperture. The new 50mm f/1.2 S might potentially be the lens that convinces DSLR shooters to switch to mirrorless. I know some people who have been waiting for such a lens, together with a pro-grade body with dual memory card slots. Once Nikon announces new full-frame Z-mount cameras in 2021, we might see a further shift by professionals from DSLR to mirrorless.
So what new innovations has Nikon delivered with the Z 50mm f/1.2 S? Being a pro-grade lens, it obviously has all the bells and whistles of modern Z lenses, including extra function ring, an L-Fn button, weather-sealed construction, as well as all the best coatings Nikon has to offer today (ARNEO, SIC, Nano Crystal Coat). Nikon says that the lens was designed to yield stunning bokeh, which is expected from such a lens.
On the downside, the lens is huge and heavy – with its 89.5x150mm dimensions and 1090g total weight, it is both larger and heavier than the excellent Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM. While Nikon has a completely different design with two extra elements and potentially better sharpness wide open (based on MTF charts), it is still a pretty hefty lens for lightweight mirrorless cameras like the Nikon Z6 – the combo might not be very practical for those who want to keep their gear light. The good news is, Nikon already has a superb lightweight choice in the form of the Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S, so one can pick between these two and decide which route to take…
Let’s take a look at the MTF numbers from the new Nikon Z 50mm f/1.2 S:
To be able to get such sharpness at f/1.2 is absolutely remarkable. Compare the above to the MTF chart of the Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S:
Basically, the new Nikon Z 50mm f/1.2 S is as sharp in the center, and even in the corners compared to its f/1.8 S counterpart. I don’t know how Nikon was able to achieve such results. Here are the MTF numbers that I was able to measure for the Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S using Imatest:
This lens was one of the sharpnest lenses I have tested to date, and at f/2.8 it simply reaches astonishing levels. Based on what I see so far, I expect the new Nikon Z 50mm f/1.2 S to beat these results.
The lens is expected to be available by the end of the year with an MSRP of $2099.95. Obviously, that’s a lot of money to pay for such a lens, but given the price of the Noct 58mm f/0.95 and what this lens is capable of, it will be wanted by many professional portrait photographers out there.
For more technical information on this lens, check out the Nikon Z 50mm f/1.2 S page of our lens database.
Official Press Release
Below is part of the official press release for the Nikon Z 50mm f/1.2 S lens:
NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.2 S: Immense Details. Exceptional Sharpness.
The new NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.2 S is Nikon’s fastest and most optically impressive AF prime lens yet, effortlessly balancing the combination of intense sharpness and dreamy bokeh. For pro-level creators that need powerful performance and versatility, the 50mm f/1.2 delivers a standard focal length with unrivaled sharpness, speed, and life-like clarity. With a bright f/1.2 aperture and premium S-Line engineering, the NIKKOR Z 50mm lens is the definitive and versatile prime for a range of photography styles including portraiture, street photography, landscapes, nightscapes and more.
The NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.2 S lens effortlessly achieves a soft and enchanting bokeh, with a circular background blur that is smooth and gradual when focusing for a natural “fall-off”. The bright f/1.2 aperture affords a dramatically shallow depth of field with beautiful subject isolation for stunning portraiture, while it also offers exceptional low-light performance. Maximizing the capabilities of Z series’ technology, the 50mm f/1.2 lens adopts stepping motors (STM) as well as a multi-focusing system4, enabling multiple lens elements to focus simultaneously for fast and precise autofocusing, even when shooting close-up or wide open. Furthermore, the lens’ ability to maintain stable exposure in changing lighting conditions, combined with its quiet operation and minimal focus breathing, establishes the lens as an appealing tool for video creators.
The NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.2 S lens tells a story of balance in design and functionality, seamlessly harmonizing intense resolution and velvety bokeh. The symmetrical optical design prevents light from being bent or distorted as it passes through the lens, meaning the purest, sharpest image reaches the camera sensor without any added distortion or aberration for true edge-to-edge sharpness. This innovative lens design also includes three aspherical elements to help virtually eliminate distortion, for superior resolution, point light reproduction and superb three-dimensional clarity. Designed for pro-level reliability, the NIKKOR Z 50mm is a superbly balanced lens constructed with robust weather sealing, a customizable control ring and shortcut button, as well as an EL Display panel to enhance workflow. Meanwhile, the lens is engineered with Nikon’s Nano Crystal and ARNEO Coating to minimize flare, ghosting and coma, allowing Z series users to confidently shoot in a variety of lighting scenarios, including harsh backlighting, to capture any scene with incredible sharpness and clarity.
Below are some sample images from the Nikon Z 50mm f/1.2 S lens. All images copyright Kyoko Munakata.
If you would like to support our efforts, please consider purchasing this lens from our trusted partner, B&H Photo Video using the link below:
It looks like a fantastic lens, but I was wondering why there is no 50 mm f/1.4 in the Nikons Z lens roadmap (at least I couldn’t find it). But may they didn’t bother as they already have the really good 50 mm f/1.8 – but it would be nice to have 2/3 of a stop more light than the f/1.8 and in a smaller/cheaper lens than the f/1.2.
no 1.4 because 1.2 replace ’em all, pros gets real advantage of the bigger ‘attachment’
What a boring discussion about MTF-Charts! Who needs extrem sharp corners at f/1.2? Nobody who takes portraits or landscapes, flowers or street scenes. The bokeh of the Nikon Z 50mm f / 1.2 S is much nicer than that of the Nikon Z 50mm f / 1.8 S. The onion-rings of the Nikon Z 50mm f / 1.2 S and the somewhat harsh filling when photographing points of light are only secondary. The technical data of the Nikon Z 50mm f / 1.2 S are great! Therefore, these are actually no longer important. What is more important is what you can photograph and how with this great lens. The color rendering, the absence of chromatic aberrations, the speed and accuracy of the autofocus are important. Is it a tool that is good to work with? Then everything looks like, if you know the smaller Nikon Z 50mm f / 1.8 S. The big 50 should be better in all respects, except for price and weight.
Amazing!!! As a Nikon loyal fan,I admire Canon’s F1.2 lens, but now we have a new choice. Actually, I can’t afford it……
If we look at Nasim’s analysis chart for the 50/1.8S we see a fairly normal lens in the mid and corner regions, and an extremely sharp lens in the centre for the open apertures, then much more even sharpness at middle apertures. I actually quite like that as a formulation, since I would use such a lens virtually only for portraits, where I’m not interested in objects at the edges being sharp wide-open, and on the occasion I shoot other genres I can stop down and get edge to edge sharpness.
I would hope that is also the case for the 50/1.2 and not much sharpness wide-open at the edges, the point being that this is a specialist lens for 99% of the time portraits only. The key question is to define more precisely how big the centre region is as it could be possible for lens makers to game the system and make a tiny section right in the middle super-sharp at the expense of the typical rule-of-thirds zones where you might have a face / eye you want sharp. I would like at least the rule of thirds zones and a bit outside to be counted as the ‘centre’, so approximately the central 1/4 of the frame to be super sharp, because I haven’t seen many nice portraits with the subject absolute dead-centre.
Wow just an amazing lens. Cant wait!
Hi Nasim, from my observation of the charts from about 7mm and radially outward, the 50mm f /1.8 contrast MTF numbers, especially the sagittal, are better than the 50mm f/1.2 at f/1.2.
Yes, but that’s closer to mid-frame, and keep in mind that we are looking at f/1.2 vs f/1.8. For a lens to be able to have this kind of performance at f/1.2 is pretty mind-boggling…
Stop the 1.2 down. It will be a different story.
To me this lens make no sense. May be the resolving power is near perfect, but the lens is just huge and in the image samples the onion rings are too obvious in the bokeh circles. To my eyes every pretty good 50/1.4 lens for mirrorless or DSLR have similar image quality, if not better. Photography is not only about resolution but also the beauty of rendering and the joy to use nice balanced equipment. I really don’t understand this crazy resolution war. Bulky lens with tiny camera is extremely front heavy combination and to me uncomfortable. I personally prefer something like 55-58/1.4 in compact form with beautiful rendering over this monster. Nikon already have very nice and little 50mm. f1.8 for Z-mount, wich is optical
gem. Nikkor 14-24/2.8 on other side is just spot on in my opinion.
Stefan, the onion ring bokeh is certainly not pleasing, all because of aspherical glass elements. I think Nikon went for sharpness-priority rather than pure aesthetics – it would be impossible to make a sharp lens at f/1.2 without using aspherical glass. And with aspherical glass elements having “ridges” on surface, it will always be replicated on foreground and background highlights, appearing as onion rings.
Personally, I am not planning to buy this lens, because I love the Z 50mm f/1.8 S and for portraiture, I prefer the 85mm f/1.8 S anyway. But some people like being able to shoot at f/1.2 and have very shallow DoF, and for those people the Nikon Z 50mm f/1.2 S is the preferred choice.
No, the aspherical glass elements cannot longer be the excuse for onion rings. Sony’s 24/1.4 and the 135/1.8 have them, too, but the surface is smoother and therefore no onion rings. A friend of mine has both lenses. On 61 MP you don’t see onion rings, plus the 135 is as good as any well made APO lens in terms of CA.
Joachim, that’s because Sony is using some proprietary molded aspherical glass elements with relatively smooth surface. I don’t think Nikon has this technology. In fact, it might be patented. It was first introduced by Panasonic in 2014, then Sony used it in 2018. Not sure who patented from who, could be a Sony invention on its own. Can’t expect all companies to match each other’s offerings, but I agree, they should do their best to eliminate such problems.
Sony’s extreme aspherical is not completely smooth though – it is better than typical aspherical glass, but not perfect either.
I must be blind, are we looking at the same photos? I guess it’s the one second from the top, lights against black background?
Comparatively the FE 135 has “very” pronounced onion rings (look at samples on phillipreeve.net/blog/…m-f1-8-gm/)
Definitely not the case of “no onion rings” at least.
“Basically, the new Nikon Z 50mm f/1.2 S is as sharp in the center, and even sharper in the corners than its f/1.8 S counterpart.”
Are we looking at the same MTF diagrams? MTF number decresaes around 7 mm from center radius and goes a long way down. I don’t see this Nikon as sharper than the Sigma 35/1,2 DG DN (www.lensrentals.com/blog/…-2-dg-art/) and would consider the Nikkor’s corners to be rather soft
…and if you really want to see impressive MTF (and the lens delivers a supercreamy bokeh, too), just dive into www.lensrentals.com/blog/…f-results/.
In terms of shallow DoF, the Sony easily gets a thinner depth. But let’s wait to see how it compares to Canon’s f/1.2 offerings (plural, as there’s no other f/1.2 on Nikon’s roadmap until 2021).
I’m sorry, I’m not as impressed, but maybe I will have sold all Z bodies and lenses until this lens comes to market.
Joachim, there are a ton of impressive MTFs out there, including MTFs for Nikon 500mm f/4 and 600mm f/4 lenses. Once again, why look at a completely different focal length?
The 35/1.2 is not that far away from the 50/1.2 (and I prefer 35 mm anyway), plus its’ a wide angle, plus it has a smaller mount diameter, is about the same weight and size range… And if I look at the bokeh cat eyes, I have no single reason to throw 2k$ for a not that outstanding performance. And honestly, Nasim, I didn’t point out to super-teles as examples – my reference glasses show much better MTF and are rather comparable. More so because I don’t see this kind of lenses, not even an 85/1.2 or 105/1.4 on th erather misty horizon of Nikon’s roadmap.
All mirrorless Nikkors are really good, but none of them is – given their massive price tags – an example of real innovation. Same same, just without a golden ring…
Joachim, a 35mm lens design is completely different than a 50mm one, so you cannot compare such focal lengths directly in terms of their sharpness / MTF charts, just like you cannot compare a 50mm to a 85mm or 135mm lens design.
I personally prefer a 50mm lens for everyday shooting than a 35mm lens, because that’s the focal length I used a lot when shooting professionally. And there is a huge difference in FoV between 35mm and 50mm – we are talking about 63° vs 46°. Big differences in DoF, perspective distortion and subject isolation at normal shooting distances, which makes the 35mm not particularly pleasant for portraiture work. The “nifty fifty” is a more practical lens from this standpoint. Not an ideal lens for portraiture (85mm or longer is better), but still a very good compromise. This is why 50mm lenses have always been extremely popular.
I am not here to convince you to buy a lens, I am simply stating that everyone’s preferences are different. This 50mm f/1.2 looks amazing to me, and many pros will find it to be a workhorse tool. If you have other preferences, that’s totally fine, but you cannot compare apples to oranges.
Please show me a 50mm f/1.2 prime with better MTF – I would love to see it.
I totally disagree with you on your last statement. So far, every Z-mount lens I have used is remarkable, much better than the Nikon F counterparts. Compare 50mm f/1.8 S to 50mm f/1.8G. Or 85mm f/1.8 S to 85mm f/1.8G. The same with every zoom. Don’t see how that’s not innovation…
“Innovation” means coming up with something entirely new. What Nikon is doing is evolution. That their current mirrorless lenses are better than designs of a decade and more ago, is no surprise. If they want to get market share, they need to step up not to their old line-up but to the ones of the other manufacturers.
So, if you prefer the 50 mm against 35 mm, it’s great – I’m the other way round. For environmental portraits the 35 mm serves me better and for portrait the 85, I usually leave the 50 (Sigma Art) at home and didn’t bother to get the S lens.
I don’t want to convince you about my perspective on Nikon either, there’s a lot of light and shadow. We don’t need to agree on that lens and we don’t need to agree on what I consider a rather dull selection of focal lengths. I also don’t want to spoil the celebration-and-expectation party, in other words the waiting queues for announced lenses. So, I’ll gonna stop here, but not because I’m angry. I just would repeat from now on.
Are you trolling? Nikon has consistently released some of the best optics out there over the last few years for Z. And what sort of innovation are you looking for? Besides sharp edge to edge with good rendering what else is there?
Plus a lot of people, including myself, don’t mind cat eyes, bokeh is after all not a stat but down to user preference.
This lens isn’t even out yet but you seem to have concluded a lot about it due to some mtfs. There are more things to a lens then an mtf chart and sharpness.
OMG I hear this term “innovation” a lot from other people on various photoblogs, but none can’t seem to define what they mean by it. So no offense but it’s ultimately a meaningless term. You can argue that both Sony and Canon have nicer features and greater “specs” than the Nikon Z bodies, BUT having used both the Sony A7RIV and Canon R5 I am not convinced at all their IMAGE QUALITY is any better. Too many folks on the internet get way too distracted over a camera’s specs, a prime example is the Canon R5’s ability to shoot in 8K, but over and over again I don’t see any them argue whether or not the image quality is any better than their competitors. Talk to any field photographer or professionals and you’ll notice that many of them still use DSLRs. If you ask why, the simple answer is familiarity and relability.
See the Wikipedia article Innovation:
You do realize that you are comparing a 135 to a 50 don’t you.
The DOF on two 50’s at the same aperture will be the same regardless of how they are made or who makes them.
Joachim, I slightly changed the wording to reflect the MTF charts. The Z 50mm f/1.2 S is as sharp in the center and the corners, and the only area where it is weaker is the mid-frame. The Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S stays pretty consistent in the center and the mid-frame, but there is a sharp drop-off at the edges. This is reflected in the actual MTF that I measured across different apertures, although Imatest shows much weaker mid-frame compared to Nikon’s relatively “flat” curve.
Either way, don’t forget that we are looking at f/1.2 vs f/1.8 – that’s a drastic difference in maximum aperture. To be able to yield such high resolution at f/1.2 is not easy, even Canon’s 50mm f/1.2L USM MTF doesn’t look this good.
As for the Sigma 35mm f/1.2 DG, why are you looking at a lens with completely different focal length? I looked at the Sigma 35mm f/1.2 DG MTF – it doesn’t look any better, and shows a ton of astigmatism in the corners. Both Nikons are more consistent in comparison, but once again, this is not an apples-to-apples comparison, since we are looking at 35mm vs 50mm lens designs.
We’re looking at an 50/1.8 for app. 600$, and a 50/1.2 for 2100$. One stop faster, costing 3 1/2× the price – not a double, a solid triple! For that money I want a usable f/1.2, not something that falls off so soon and doesn’t look that good at 30l/mm. In the corners it ends up at the same MTF value like the cheaper cousin – As for the focal lengths, there’s another Sigma 40/1.4. Half the price, higher resolution.
Also, look at Nikon’s MTF diagram and your own MTF table. If the 50/1.8 is showing a nearly straight line for more than ⅔ of and the field is going down from 3334 to a bit over 1000 at f/1.8, how does that correlate?
Joachim, you do realize we are looking at theoretical performance of a yet to be released lens? If you are looking at the above MTF for the 50mm f/1.2 S and you don’t find it to be “usable”, then I really don’t know what to say. You really expect a 50mm prime to have zero fall-off in sharpness at f/1.2? Which lens has ever been able to achieve that? Please share, as I would love to see it.
Without shoving a ton of corrective glass that reduces astigmatism and field curvature to nearly zero, which would essentially make it 3x the size and weight, it would be an impossible task. And you would be paying $10K+ for that one.
It shows that you have little to no experience shooting with f/1.2 lenses. Please find me a 50mm f/1.2 that is sharper than this one, and we can continue the discussion.
As I said, I’m out of this discussion.
Joachim, I just re-read my comment – the last paragraph sounds harsh. My apologies…I never want to add any emotion to my comments or accuse anyone of anything. I hope you didn’t take it personally.
As always, I appreciate your feedback and commentary. We may disagree on some things, but it is all part of a (hopefully) healthy discussion :)
Hopefully I don’t sound like a Nikon fanboy either. Truth be told, if I were to start over, I would probably be a Canon or Fuji shooter. I am used to Nikon and like the ergos, but as a system, it has a long way to go. And given the economic conditions, it might not survive along the way…that would be really sad.
Nasim, after stepping a bit back and looking at your reason to be excited and my reason to be not impressed, I just asked myself why I had to set counterpoints to all the “oh, wow, what a lens”.
The last time I was excited about a 50 mm was when the Sigma Art came to market. After the first “fantastic resolution” moments things cooled down. I just like the 35 and 85 range more. None of my 4 or 5 star pictures ever came out of a 50 mm, no matter which one.
So, part of my being unimpressed is also “how often are the 50 mm covered in the current line-up?” 3 primes and 2 zooms (not adding the 2 DX) should be enough. I think I would be as excited as you are if the f/1.2 had a 35 or 85 mm FL. But these lenses are not on the road map. I would not buy a 50/1.2 even if the MTF at 30 l/mm were straight and constantly at 0.8. Although, maybe I would as I sometimes also buy a lens because it shines. That one I just don’t count in.
I was not offended at all and don’t felt your comment harsh. You’re right, I don’t have experience with 50/1.2 lenses. I like AF and so far no Nikon 50/1.2 fit in. And the 56/1.2 from Fuji doesn’t count, I guess ;)
By the way, always assume that I have a smile on my face when you read my articles or comments. This world is full of hate and I don’t want to contribute more to it. Very few things can actually get me upset, especially over the Internet! Had I known you were from Switzerland, I would have tried to meet with you – always prefer face to face!
I appreciate that, your tremendous work and effort as well and would be happy to meet you in person one day. Pulling myself out of a discussion is something I do when I think
my contribution is not helping any further and different opinions are normal and nothing bad.
I think you need to learn how to read MTF charts. I see the opposite to what you are imaging. And that is assuming that you can even compare an MTF between two manufacturers, which you can’t except at the grossest level.
If you actually knew what you were talking about, you would know that except for maybe the Canon, this is sharper than any 50mm lens money can buy, including the Otus.
Or maybe you are just a troll trying to justify your Sony purchase?
Wait for Nasim to test the lens in Imatest.
The description you made is very compelling for my use cases. I just pre-ordered one. Thank you Nasim.
Fabrice, I am planning to review this lens as soon as it becomes available. Hoping it surpasses my expectations…
To me this lens makes far more sense than the Noct. Not sure why anyone would want to plunk down $8K for a manual focus lens.
I agree. The Noct was a showcase product to say “we can do f/0.95 now”. It is a statement, not a practical lens…