Nikon FTZ Adapter
Even before Nikon announced its Z series cameras, most observers were predicting that the company would also announce an adapter alongside the mirrorless system, allowing photographers to use their F-mount glass as seamlessly as possible. That prediction came true in the FTZ adapter, which does let you use Nikon F-mount lenses on the Z6 – with varying degrees of compatibility.
We’ve already covered two issues with the FTZ adapter: its awkward height and its decreased autofocus reliability. The height issue – a mismatch compared to the bottom of the Z6 – means that you will need to switch tripod plates on and off the Z6 regularly if you use generic tripod plates. Once you buy a specialized bracket, there is no need to worry – but until then, don’t forget your hex key at home.
The autofocus issue is a bigger problem in the long run since it’s not something that will be fixed by a third-party product. Specifically, the FTZ adapter leads to noticeably slower autofocus than a comparable native lens, and the camera also gives up more easily before it has acquired focus. That’s not a fatal flaw since the accuracy of autofocus is excellent when it does lock on. But you’ll definitely wish you had a full set of native lenses in the end.
One other issue, surprising or not, is the weight. The FTZ adapter has no glass elements; it’s hollow, just like an ordinary extension tube. So, it weighs very little – just 135 grams. But that is enough to shrink the weight advantage of the Z6 compared to full-frame DSLRs. For example, the Nikon D750 is 750 grams without battery or cards. The Z6 under the same conditions is 585 grams. That’s a difference of 165 grams, very similar to what the FTZ adapter weighs. So, until you’re using all native lenses on the Z6, you’ll have to carry around an extra piece of equipment that negates much of the Z6’s weight advantage in the first place. Not ideal.
On the bright side, Nikon is right to state that there is no loss of sharpness when using the FTZ adapter versus natively using the F-mount lens on a DSLR. We tested several lenses on both the D850 and the Z7 with the FTZ adapter, and the results were consistent – both images were equally sharp each time.
Take a look at the below comparison that we performed on the Nikon D850 with the Nikon F 35mm f/1.8G ED lens, along with the Nikon Z7 and the same lens using the FTZ adapter:
As you can see, the Nikon D850 with the 35mm f/1.8G measured almost identical levels of optical performance as the Z7 with the FTZ adapter. The former is a tad sharper, but that 1.4% difference in the center frame is within the margin of error. The mid-frames and corners also yielded pretty much identical results. Although the lens we used was not as great of a sample compared to the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G ED from our detailed review (this one was Spencer’s copy that he has used heavily in the field), it still served well for this comparison. We performed the same test using a few other Nikkor and third-party lenses, including the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G and the Sigma 24-35mm f/1.8 Art, and the results were consistent.
This shows that you do not have to worry about any sharpness losses with the FTZ adapter. Nikon has done a good job of making sure that you get the best out of the Nikon F lenses on the Z-series cameras, which is great news.
F-Mount Lens Compatibility
The last important issue with the FTZ adapter is compatibility with Nikon F-mount lenses. Although Nikon advertises that the adapter works with practically all F-mount glass, the reality is that it’s meant for certain lenses more than others.
If you have a newer AF-S or AF-P type Nikkor, you’ll be fine; they work with autofocus and all other features on the Z6 with the FTZ adapter exactly as expected. Nikon is making a bet that most Z6 users will mainly (or only) have this newer glass. Most likely, that’s accurate; only a fraction of the people considering this camera will have a large set of classic glass. But if you’re one of those photographers, keep in mind that the Z6 might not be perfectly compatible with your lens.
Specifically, if you have an AF or AF-D lens, it will work on the FTZ adapter without a problem, except it won’t autofocus. You still get full EXIF data and access to all PASM modes, as well as newer features like IBIS and focus peaking. But you can’t take advantage of the autofocus feature that has been available on these lenses since they arrived on the market decades ago.
Manual focus lenses are a bit of a mixed bag. With AI-P lenses, you’ll get full compatibility, including all the PASM modes available, exactly as you’d like. With the more common AI, AI-S, and E Series lenses, you need to use aperture priority or manual mode in order to get metering, combined with entering non-CPU lens data correctly. You also will not get proper EXIF data with those lenses and the FTZ adapter, with the Z6 instead of reading out the lens’s largest aperture for each photo.
The good news is that focus peaking and IBIS work properly regardless of the lens you adapt, which helps revamp some of those old Nikon classics in a way that many photographers will appreciate. In particular, I think video shooters will be excited to pair the modern Z6 with older lenses for impressive results.
When it comes to third party lens compatibility, our team and our readers had a chance to test some Tamron and Sigma lenses on the Nikon Z6. While every Sigma lens reported working without any issues, some Tamron lenses are known to have incompatibility issues with the FTZ adapter. Specifically, some of the newest G2-series lenses such as the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 G2, Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 G2 and Tamron SP 150-600mm G2 cause the Nikon Z6 to display an error message and they do not work. Tamron has already released firmware updates to address this problem, but you need to send your lens in to be corrected.
Nikon Z Lenses
As part of our efforts to review both Nikon Z6 and Z7, we have been able to test a number of Nikon Z mount lenses, including the Z 24-70mm f/4 S kit lens. After testing four different samples, we came to the conclusion that the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 S has very little sample variance issues, which indicates that Nikon’s quality control has indeed increased dramatically for the S-series lenses. Having tested such lenses as the Nikon 24-120mm f/4G VR in the past, I know that sample variance can play a huge role in the overall performance of a lens. I used to own a superb copy of the 24-120mm, but I have previously seen some samples that had completely unacceptable sharpness and decentering issues. The same goes for other zoom lenses like the Nikon 16-35mm f/4G VR.
The Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 S demonstrated very little decentering issues across all four samples (yes, all lenses suffer from some decentering, which is normal). We also saw a minimal amount of lateral chromatic aberration and focus shift, although there was a moderate amount of field curvature (again, normal for a wide-angle lens).
So far, the only lens that we have seen issues with is the Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 S. Out of four samples of this lens we have been able to test, one of them showed pretty bad corner performance. It was an unusual case, but something that can happen to anyone, so we encourage that you test each lens sample individually in order to make sure that you don’t end up with a bad sample.
The prime lenses like the Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8 S and 50mm f/1.8 S have been superb so far, which we have also been able to test at least 3 samples of each. Below are links to our detailed reviews of all the Nikon Z lenses we have been able to test:
- Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 S
- Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S
- Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 S
- Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8 S
- Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S
The only “gotcha” with the new Nikkor Z lens designs, is that they get automatic distortion corrections both in-camera and Lightroom that cannot be turned off. The Nikon Z 24-70m f/4 S specifically has quite a bit of software correction built-in that hides the huge amounts of distortion it exhibits.
Nikon Z Mount Roadmap
The Nikon Z lens line-up so far is looking great, but Nikon has plans to add many more lenses in the future. We have a separate article that keeps track of the Nikon Z mount roadmap, so if you have interest in finding out what lenses Nikon might release in the next few years, you might want to check it out.
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