Nikon Z 26mm f/2.8 By Spencer Cox 40 CommentsLast Updated On April 8, 2023«1. Specifications and Construction2. Optical Features3. Sharpness Comparisons4. Verdict5. More Sample Images6. Reader Comments»
For me a very fine lens. Ericbowles summed it up very well.
Hardly bigger than the camera cap ;-)
I thought long and hard about buying a Fuji X100T or X100V.
With the 26mm on my Z7, the search was now over for me.
Hmmm… I see this as something not really touched on. A street/walk around lens on the zfc which I’d probably mostly shoot ppl with at 2.8. I used the 27 2.8 on Fuji with x-t1 way back and this is very similar, loved that set up. For landscape I have full frame and shoot stuff like the 20 1.8 s. So it doesn’t really bother me that it isn’t sharp in corners.
As always, terrific photos (is there an article about your post workflow? The color and contrast are perfect)
But outside of size, this lens makes no sense compared to the 28mm. Stopped down the 28 is better across the frame, is internal focusing, has two external housing options, better ergonomics, and is about half the price.
The 26 is definitely a solution looking for a problem, and I wonder if the upcoming DX 24mm will be a similar story if it too is at f/2.8.
If anything this review demonstrates though, is that Spencer can take a killer photo with anything.
Good review, Spencer. I have the 26mm f/2.8 and your observations accurately reflect my experience and observations.
I rate the lens a little higher in several areas:
Build quality is a relatively solid. The metal mount and compact size suggest something that is solid and well built – not cheap and light. That fits the need for a lens that will be stuffed in my pocket or jammed in an extra space in my bag. I keep the hood on the lens and occasionally use filters, so I found the hood design and the extending front element a non-issue.
This lens is small enough to be useful on DX cameras. I have the Z50 and this lens makes a good choice for street photography or travel with the Z50 instead of my Z7ii.
Sharpness is very good in the center and softer at the corners, but the midframe is pretty good compared to alternatives. It’s only the most extreme corners that are soft, so a 5×7 crop or DX crop eliminates the problem areas. I did not find corner softness was a significant issue in most compositions.
Distortion and vignetting are a minor issue since I’m doing most processing in Lightroom. Increasingly lenses are designed with the expectation that they are easily corrected, and that expectation allows design compromises favoring the overall image.
Handling is a real plus. This is such a tiny lens, I found it amazing they could even make such a lens. I was able to hold the camera with one hand in positions that would be difficult with most lenses. The reasonably fast aperture lets me use the lens for travel under a wide range of conditions – interiors, pre-dawn, blue hour, shallow DOF, etc.
One thing you did not mention is the unusual optical design. The front element is about the size of a dime – just 10mm or so. The lens elements diagram shows the extreme to which Nikon engineers went in building a lens for the much larger Z mount and 35mm sensor.
Overall, I liked the lens and see using it for travel, for a second camera or a remote camera, or for landscapes when my primary purpose is using a long lens for wildlife. Yes, there are some compromises, but it’s a good addition for those times when you need a very small and light kit.
Thank you, Eric! And I’m glad to hear your second opinion on these topics. It’s a great lens for DX or 5×7 crops – I like 5×7 more than 2×3 anyway a lot of times.
The lens design is really surprising, you’re right. The optical construction diagram looks completely backwards, with a large and bulbous element at the back! It’s not a lens that would have been possible on a smaller mount. It probably shows that Nikon was pushing against the physical limits of optical quality for such a tiny lens.
It seems that Nikon may have created a solution in search of a problem by building two lenses that are both compact, differing just 2mm in focal length. I have the 40mm and will probably look for a used 28mm instead of this lens. Thank you for the review!
You’re welcome, glad it was useful!
Maybe we need to look at this lens from an other perspective. Just imagine that Nikon had announced it as a DX lens, that can also be used – with a few compromises – on FX bodies. You would have tested it on a DX body and, while the handling issues would have remained, you would have praised the good center-to-corner sharpness and basically non-existent vignetting. Even for a DX lens, it would still be very compact, and the 40 mm FF-equivalent a nice all-purpose focal length.
That the lens could also be used as FX lens would have been an added bonus, and the increase in vignetting and decrease in corner sharpness an unavoidable compromise.
Of course, that’s not how the lens was marketed – but I still think this lens makes a lot more sense if you consider using it on both FX and DX bodies.
Nonetheless, I’m a bit disappointed – not because of the flaws of the lens, but by its price. At half the price, it would have been a no-brainer for me.
That’s a good way to think about it. And you’re right – if the price of this lens were equal to the price of the 28mm f/2.8, my recommendation would be more 50/50 between the two of them.
Thank you for providing us with some entertainment that will distract from the impending demise of DPReview. :)
It looks like the 26/2.8 will be mostly for people who need/want the smallest possible size, are not price sensitive, and shoot mostly wide open (bokeh is a pleasant surprise). Personally, I would like to like it, but I doubt it would be worth the price for me.
I think you nailed it – this is still a great travel lens, and the f/2.8 performance is surprisingly good. It’s not a perfect lens but still has appeal for the right photographer.
This would be an excellent street travel lens with the 40mm with a full frame camera.
The 40mm pairs really well with this lens, and with the Z 28mm f/2.8. On two trips last year, those were the only two lenses I took! And I was really happy with the results.
Great review. I already own the 28 for my Z5 but I can see the appeal of the 26.
The Z5 + 28 is still a bit too bulky to just throw in a bag, whereas if the 26 sits flush with the grip it would be slightly better.
Really, the 26 makes more sense with something like a Zfc or the rumoured FF Zf if that also has a flat grip.
Thanks Sam, absolutely – there’s a good chance this lens was designed with a different camera in mind, one we haven’t seen yet.
The 26mm f/2.8 does fit flush with the grip on my Z7ii. It takes no more space in my bag or pocket than the camera alone – even with the hood and lens cap in place.
Thank you for your review guys. It is great seeing you guys doing these tests again.
Sure thing, Jeff – I’m glad to be back at it!