Nikon has just announced its latest Z-mount lens:
The Nikkor Z 58mm S Noct lens, which includes a whopping f/0.95 maximum aperture. The lens is slated to hit the shelves on October 31st, and it will debut with considerable hype, having snagged the designation as the fastest Nikkor lens ever made.
For those of us who have been waiting for Nikon to make good on its claims that the Z-mount’s 55mm diameter allows for the production of better optics, this new lens should give us a hint of what’s to come. But while the f/0.95 maximum aperture is eye-catching, is it actually useful? And will photographers actually be interested in this lens?
Let’s take a closer look.
While lenses with ultra-wide apertures are rarely small, the Nikkor 58mm f/0.95 sits on the other extreme, with a weight of nearly 4.5 lbs (2 kg). This comes from its aperture, the 17 lens elements, and a magnesium alloy construction. Of course, there are real benefits to all these features, such as higher optical quality and increased ruggedness. But is it worth the cost? For many, a huge benefit of mirrorless setups is the decreased size and weight. Yet this lens won’t be at all convenient to carry around. Plus, all that glass takes up a lot of space, which is why it’s packed into a 6-inch (15.3 cm) body.
Note also that an f/0.95 aperture will provide a very small plane of focus. And given that this lens only focuses manually to begin with, you may struggle somewhat to lock onto your subjects with speed.
The lens is primarily designed for astrophotographers and other night shooters (hence the ‘Noct’ designation). And for astrophotographers, the shallow depth of field won’t be a problem, as they rarely need to think about depth of field anyway. But ambitious portrait photographers may find themselves frustrated by the combination of a shallow plane of focus at f/0.95 and a manual focus lens, and anyone who tries to lock on subjects other than the night sky may come away from shoots without much luck.
Now, don’t get me wrong:
The Nikon 58mm f/0.95 is most likely an incredible lens, optically speaking. Nikon is promising amazing sharpness, and I expect this will be borne out in tests. I’m also impressed by the wide aperture, which will allow for unprecedented shooting in low light and at night. Astrophotographers, in particular, will like this lens, regardless of its size.
But at the same time, it’s hard not to wonder whether many other photographers will be interested. Especially because Nikon’s MSRP for this new lens is an incredible $7999.95 USD.
So now I’d like to ask you:
What do you think? Would you be interested in this lens? Will anyone buy it? Is there anything you would’ve preferred Nikon scrap or modify?
Let me know in the comments!