Gear Photography

Nikon Z takes you closer with new 105mm and 50mm f/2.8 macro lenses

The Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S and Z MC 50mm f/2.8 fill a big gap in Nikon's lineup

Nikon’s range of Z Series lenses has been looking a lot more healthy this past year or so, and it looks even better now with the release of two new macro options, the Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S and Z MC 50mm f/2.8. Up until now, there were a few Z mount macro lenses available, but only from third-party manufacturers, like Laowa. These new models make the first-party lineup feel a lot more complete.

The two new lenses, both designed for full-frame sensors in bodies like the recent Z 6II and Z 7II – but able to fit on the APS-C sized Z DX format Z 50, albeit with a crop – offer pretty traditional close up options for Nikon. There have been versions of a 105mm f/2.8 Micro lens in F mount for many decades, the most recent being the AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED, and the new Z MC 50mm f/2.8 isn’t far off the previous F Mount AF-S Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8G ED in framing. 

So, given that you could mount those older lenses on your new Nikon mirrorless body with an FTZ Converter, what do the new lenses offer above them? Well, these lenses are of course optimised for the new mount and should feature improved image quality and responsiveness. Like the previous lenses, both also give a ‘true’ macro effect, thanks to their 1:1 reproduction ratios. 

The ‘S’ badged, Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S is seen as the Z Series’ professional macro option, boasting fast, flawless focusing and superb sharpness from the closest 29cm focusing distance to infinity. The telephoto focal length also defines it as an option for when a little more distance is required between lens and subject, whether that’s down to your lighting requirements, or the behaviour of what you’re shooting. The in-lens 4.5-stop Vibration Reduction (VR) combines with in-camera VR for steady handheld shots even in low light. 

In terms of image quality, it has a construction of 16 elements in 11 groups including three ED glass elements and one aspherical lens element, and uses Nikon’s anti-reflective ARNEO and Nano Crystal coatings to combat ghosting and flare. The optical design should mean that colour fringing is dramatically reduced, while its rounded nine-blade aperture allows natural-looking bokeh. The lens also claims quiet AF, enhanced by a 29-50cm focus limiter. Focus breathing is said to be all but eliminated, so the view should not change much as focus is racked. It uses 62mm filters, has a customisable Fn button, control ring and LCD display, weighs 630 g, measures 85x140mm and is weather sealed. 

At 74.5x66mm and 260g, the Z MC 50mm f/2.8 is a smaller, lighter macro option, which focuses down to 16cm, where its 1:1 ratio is achieved. There’s a 16-30cm focus limiter switch and the barrel, which racks out as you focus, is marked to show the reproduction ratio from 1:2, to 1:1.4 and finally 1:1. While it has the usual Z lens customisable control ring, there’s no VR in this model, so your Nikon Z body will need IBIS if you want image stabilisation. 

The Z MC 50mm f/2.8 doesn’t claim full weather sealing, but there is a fluorine coating on the front element to allow easier cleaning. As you’d expect, image quality is said to be excellent and like its big brother it has a nine-bladed aperture design. The construction sees 10 elements in 7 groups, including one ED glass element and one aspherical lens element. Both lenses should be available in June 2021, priced £999 and £649 respectively. 

There’s also been a small update to the Nikon Z lens roadmap, as well as an official announcement of development of two compact and lightweight primes, the Z 28mm f/2.8 and Z 40mm f/2.8. Both are full-frame lenses and though there’s no specifics on their dimensions and weight, they look mighty portable, while if the specs are consistent they may offer some easy options for videographers working with Nikon Z bodies on gimbals. Here’s the Nikon Z lens roadmap.