Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 vs Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 S
Arguably the closest competitor to the Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 is the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 S, the “original” kit lens that has been sold for years alongside cameras like the Nikon Z6, Z7, Z6 II, and Z7 II. The 24-70mm f/4 S is clearly the higher-end of the two lenses, both in specifications and in price (at $600 for the kit with a camera compared to $300). Nevertheless, plenty of first-time Nikon Z shooters may be on the fence between these two lenses and wondering if it’s worth paying more for the f/4 version.
To answer that question, let’s take a look at the sharpness numbers of both lenses throughout the zoom range. We’ll start at 24mm, with the Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 shown first and the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 S shown second:
The Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 S is the sharper of the two lenses at the widest apertures of f/4 and f/5.6, while performance gets more similar at f/8 and beyond. The highest overall sharpness numbers are set by the 24-70mm f/4 at f/5.6.
Now let’s look at 35mm:
The performance at 35mm is also in favor of the 24-70mm f/4 S. This is true throughout the frame but particularly in the corners, where the 24-50mm never comes close to the 24-70mm’s maximum numbers. Only at f/11 and f/16 do the performances start to equalize due to the effects of diffraction.
Finally, here’s the 50mm performance:
Once again, the performance differences clearly favor the 24-70mm f/4 S, especially if you are looking at the shared aperture range. This is true in the center, midframe, and corners, at least until f/11 and f/16 (where, again, diffraction causes the performances to even out).
Overall, the 24-70mm f/4 is certainly the sharper of the two lenses. However, if you’re the type of photographer who largely sticks to f/11 and f/16 (as with some landscape photographers), you may end up seeing only minor differences between them. The more you use the aperture range from f/4 to f/8, the more you’ll see the benefits of the 24-70mm f/4 S.
Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 vs Nikon Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3
Another zoom lens that is often sold as a kit with Nikon Z cameras is the 24-200mm f/4-6.3. While it’s a more expensive lens at $800 when bought as part of a camera kit, it’s also a superzoom – not a type of lens historically known for high performance. How does it compare to the 24-50mm f/4-6.3?
Let’s start with a comparison of the performance at 24mm. As before, the 24-50mm is shown first:
This is an interesting result. The Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 is sharper in the corners, particularly at f/4 but actually at every aperture value. On the other hand, the 24-200mm f/4-6.3 is sharper (by a similar amount) in the midframe and center. However, these differences are mainly relevant at f/4 and f/5.6, after which point the two lenses have basically the same overall performance.
As someone who prioritizes an even sharpness across the frame, I have a slight preference for the 24-50mm f/4-6.3 at this focal length. However, just as many photographers may prefer the opposite. It’s up to what you need for your photography.
Now let’s look at 35mm:
This is the sharpest focal length on the 24-200mm f/4-6.3, and it shows. It’s sharper in the corners at every aperture, and the maximum central/midframe numbers are far above anything the 24-50mm reaches. The performance differences at f/5.6 are especially striking. However, as expected, stopping down to f/11 or f/16 equalizes most of these differences.
Lastly, let’s take a look at 50mm:
At 50mm, we again see a clear difference in favor of the Nikon Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3, whether you’re looking in the center, midframe, or corners. Its numbers at f/8 are especially impressive compared to the 24-50mm, but the benefits are clear at all apertures other than f/16.
Overall, the Nikon Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 is a noticeably sharper lens than the 24-50mm, with especially clear differences at 35mm and 50mm. This is very good performance for a superzoom. However, the Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 is still within shouting distance of the 24-200mm and is far from unusable. Neither lens is quite as sharp as the 24-70mm f/4 S.
Next, I’ll sum everything up and give my final opinion on whether or not you should get the Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3. So, click below to go to the next page of this review, “Verdict”:
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