Lens Announcements: Z-Mount 50mm and 105mm Macros, Up-Coming 40mm and 28mm Compact Lenses

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by robert_davies|2, Jun 2, 2021.

  1. I have had a metal mount crack (granted it was from impact of camera + lens on hard surface but from only a 20 cm fall) in the camera body. I think probably Nikon know a lot more about which materials work best for each situation than I do. ;-)

    Personally I like a lot that Nikon are emphasizing compact and reasonably compact (i.e. the S-line f/1.8 primes) but high-quality lenses in the Z lineup.
  2. Whilst undoubtably true, they also build down to a cost for the lower end scale of their lenses.

    Having said that, just how much money is saved by using a plastic mount rather than metal?
  3. Plastics are great when you design for plastics. As a drop-in substitute for metal, not so much. Lens mounts have traditionally been metal and were designed strong enough to do the job, plus a bit more. AFAICS, the designs have not changed a lot, even when plastics are substituted for metal. And no, given the same thin sections, plastics are not as strong as metal, unless we're talking impacts, and often not even then. A plastic lens mount would not be a showstopper for me, but it would certainly be a disappointment.
    bgelfand likes this.
  4. Not a great fan of plastic mounts, but considering the dimensions of both the lenses... probably won't be much of an issue (if at all).
  5. Plastic and metal have different thermal expansion coefficients so it could be that they chose a plastic mount because the inner barrel and supporting structures are also plastic, and it could be that the lens becomes more rugged by this choice of materials.

    When Nikon had problems with autofocus accuracy and vibrations on the D800, in the succeeding D810 they moved to a different structure to house the mirror, which consisted of plastic composite instead of metal. The idea was that the plastic would be less likely bent by impacts (thus throwing off alignment of focusing) than metal and also it can help reduce vibrations and make the camera quieter. However, the problem was then that if the camera was dropped with a heavy lens attached, and hit the ground first, the threads in the plastic could be stripped off, making the camera completely unusable. Nikon went back to a metal structure in the D850, but that camera is quite a lot louder than the D810. So there are legitimate tradeoffs in these material choices, and metal is not best for everything.
    mike_halliwell likes this.
  6. Correction: the 200/4 micro is screw-drive AF not AF-S. I suspect the low sales for this lens was due initially to its very high cost, and more recently to its old AF technology.
    However, I noticed that when old (special-purpose, expensive) lenses with low sales are replaced (also with high price), the new lens often sells very well. Consider the AF 105/2 DC, introduced around the same time as the AF 200/4 micro, and and sold in similar quantities. It was replaced by the AF-S 105/1.4 in 2016. In 6 years it has already sold nearly as many copies as the 105DC did in over 20 years. I think a modern 200/4 micro from Nikon would sell very well.
    Erik-Christensen likes this.
  7. I did once wonder whether with the arrival of the Pro Z9, Nikon might bring out an FTZii with screwdrive, but I think that ship has sailed.

    The fact no independent has bought one out is probably telling.
  8. Sony introduced a new adapter recently, the E-mount was introduced in 2010, and in September 2020 they brought out an adapter that supports A-mount screwdriver AF lenses and has no large protrusions.

    Sony announces new A-mount to E-mount lens adapter with built-in screw drive support

    They had an earlier adapter which also supported these lenses but it included a semitransparent mirror and a DSLR-like AF module within the adapter, and it was quite large, but somehow in the recent version they managed to make it compact and with no mirrors. I think Nikon could do the same. Of course, Nikon are mostly interested in selling new lenses but they have for decades advertised their compatibility with older lenses and taking it out does remove some of the attraction of the brand. Especially since the D780 seems perfectly capable of focusing screwdriver AF lenses even in live view. They can do it if they want to.

    Just recently I used my 200 Micro to photograph some frogs. It was just the right lens for the job, and autofocus was very helpful. Autofocus in live view would have been even more helpful as I would have been able to place the camera even closer to the ground with greater ease. Some other photographers stopped by at the location and they did some pretty quite disturbing things to get close-ups, in fact one of them was using a fisheye positioned only a few cm from the frog, and then he fell into the pond. Sometimes a long focal length is the right tool and the safest for the animals. This is with D6, 200 mm AF D Micro-Nikkor and a tabletop tripod flat on the ground with a ball head.


    If Nikon are unmotivated to make a complete lens line for Z the least they could do is put in some effort in a revised adapter. I know a lot of people might not agree, but I took their words about compatibility at face value. Sometimes I was disappointed, for example, at one point Nikon dropped Ai metering support from non-CPU lenses and then they went to drop the focus motor from the body in the least expensive models (which I do understand as reaching that body size and weight might have been difficult with the motor in place) but fortunately they continued to provide those features in mid and upper end camera bodies from the D200 onwards until the D7500 which again dropped the Ai metering. How is one to know which product combinations will be supported in the future if they keep changing the game? Don't get me wrong - I like Nikon, but they should do a better job in the interoperability of parts of their system.

    A friend of mine who uses Canon just got a second hand 180 mm Canon macro lens and is delighted with the results. The larger out-of-focus highlight discs can be very nice in images taken with a long macro lens.

    Nikon had another special lens in the 70-180 mm Micro-Nikkor which was discontinued earlier, it too has no built-in focus motor and would benefit from a revised adapter for Z. Of course, a lot of close-up work is done using manual focus but for certain subjects, autofocus can make the process a lot faster. Even if requiring a motor in the adapter or camera body.

    The F-mount is quite complex with its various different protocols controlling aperture and focus on lenses made in different periods. I am not surprised that third-party manufacturers might have difficulty making such adapters.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2021
    mike_halliwell likes this.
  9. F-mount in all its variations has been around for rather a long time. At some point, if serious progress is going to be made, you have to start with a clean slate design. It's great that you can adapt many lenses to the Z series, and I wouldn't have bought one if you couldn't, but it's just a bridge to get more people into the system with less short term pain. Long term, Nikon will expand the Z lens line and those will be the lenses of choice for most applications. IMO, the S-series Z lenses are probably the best lenses ever designed by anybody and the difference is visible. For those that take the Z path, F-mount lenses will be used less and less. Price of progress. I've little doubt that a good adapter could be made to support screw-focus, but because Nikon doesn't release electrical or mechanical interface data, it might be a tough project for a 3rd party.
  10. For me a lens purchase is made with the intention of using it for many years, preferably at least 1-2 decades. I don't agree that there is any manufacturer who makes "the best" lenses in all categories and image quality tests can easily show that no manufacturer has a monopoly of excellent lens design. But first, one would have to be able to define what is good image quality, and which characteristics of a lens to value the most. Z lenses are all modern lenses in how they render images, this may or may not match the photographer's intention for a particular use. A lot of people seem to go back to older lenses for specific rendering and mood, it's a bit like a painter choosing a different brush to work with. Modern lenses may be the most popular at a given time but one advantage of having a lens mount with a long history is the heritage and the many options available.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2021
    Erik-Christensen likes this.
  11. A perfectly valid point, but a non-starter for manufacturers. At some point you'll have to keep some old bodies around to support the old lenses (like I do.) I bought my first Nikkor back in high school around 1972, almost 50 years ago. I can still put that lens on my Z6 and it works just fine, but none of my old Nikkors seem to have the same character with a digital sensor that they have with film. Is it the lenses or the film or synergy? I vote for the latter.

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