A solid introduction to macro

the 50mm f / 2.8 Macro Prime Nikon lens is part of a pair announced in june. While the lens is designated macro, the 50mm focal length makes it an easier lens to get around with macro capabilities.

While Nikon’s legacy macro lenses would continue to work with the FTZ adapter in the Z system, the new lenses mark another step in Nikon’s promise to offer a broader range of lenses with native functionality in its mirrorless systems. Nikon designed this new lens to be a small, lightweight and compact everyday lens that can be used with Nikon Z full-frame or APS-C mirrorless systems.

Although it is a macro lens, the $ 650 Nikon 50mm f / 2.8 it offers a focal length that makes it a lens that can double-duty, both as a standard lens and as a close-up lens.

50mm is much wider than the standard 100mm or more normally seen in macro lenses and thus frees this lens from the niche of macro-only work. Therefore, the 50mm f / 2.8 is quite diverse in its functionality and is suitable for both portraits and street photography, for example. But on the other side of the coin, users will note that it lacks some key features compared to the 105mm sibling, most notably the lack of Vibration Reduction (VR) and no specialty. ARNEO coating.

The question is, does that matter?

Build quality and design

The Nikon Z 50mm f / 2.8 macro lens is the smallest and most affordable lens in the duo of macro optics released this summer. While the 50mm “wide” focal length gives users more flexibility as a walking lens, it also means that users will have to get much closer to their subjects to get the true macro shots. The advantage of the focal range is that it will be much easier to get handheld shots without having to worry about camera shake and blur, at least in well-lit situations.

The 50mm lens is about half the size and weighs less than half that of its 105mm sibling, making it really compact and travel-friendly. Something that keen eyes may immediately notice is that the 50mm lacks the S-line designation that the higher-end lenses of Nikon’s mirrorless lenses have. This lighter plastic body also makes the lens feel “less”.

Even though the lens is rated as dust and weather resistant, due to its very small size and mostly plastic exterior, it feels almost like a toy lens rather than something designed to capture incredibly sharp professional images and detailed. Perhaps this means that it becomes a better “everyday” lens, as it will be less likely to stand out during travel.

Like most newer Z-mount lenses, the focus ring can be programmed to control additional settings such as ISO and exposure compensation when using the AF mode.

The last feature worth noting here is that, unlike most modern macro lenses with internal focusing mechanisms, the Nikon Z 50mm f / 2.8 Macro uses a more traditional extendable internal barrel system. The upside to this design element is that it allows the lens to be smaller when the feature is not in use, making it more compact for storage and travel. The downside is, of course, that you have a physically stretching piece that can change your weight distribution.

Focus and openness

I found myself dealing with a shorter “working” distance than other macro lenses to get the true 1: 1 macro shots, and when shooting at the 1: 1 focus distance, the maximum aperture was f / 5.6 instead of f / 2.8. While the aperture was a bit surprising, the big point of frustration for me with this lens was the fact that I had to get incredibly close to the subjects for 1: 1 shots. So much so that it was very difficult to frame a photo without blocking. the light and casting a shadow or getting too close to the little insects he was trying to capture that would inadvertently scare him.

The autofocus works quite accurately, especially when shooting video. However, when shooting closely for 1: 1 shots, it is important to turn the switch on the focus limiter on the side of the lens, otherwise there will be a very noticeable lag and focus breath present while making adjustments. autofocus.

After many tests, I found that the maximum sharpness was between the range of f / 4 to f / 5.6 with my images. I was surprised to find that the lens was getting a little softer starting at f / 8.

Image quality

The Nikon Z MC 50mm f / 2.8 might not have the added nanocrystal or ARNEO coatings like its 105mm sister, but that doesn’t mean the images produced by it are bad by any stretch of the imagination.

Shooting at 1: 1, the depth of field is very skinny, which was something I personally had to get used to, but I have found it visually interesting and a lot of fun to play. That thin plane of focus aside, once in focus is in, virtually edge-to-edge it’s sharp.

The great thing about this lens is that it is also a very nice lens to wander around. I found that while photographing it as a “normal” lens it was quite easy to get incredibly sharp images at f / 2.8 with only small vignettes in the far corners. In that regard, I can see a lot of positives about using this lens as I would any 50mm lens and be happy with the results.

Below are some sample images captured with the Nikon Z 50mm f / 2.8 Macro:

Introduction to macro photography

For photographers who are interested in macro images but are not prepared to invest heavily in niche lenses, this is a great first step in the field. The Nikon Z MC 50mm f / 2.8 Macro lens is capable of being an everyday generalist lens for landscape, street and portrait work, as well as capturing fantastic macro images, which means it can adapt to a variety of situations if you find that the macro is not is not your favorite topic.

However, for the macroeconomic purist, there are probably better options for you and as long as the 50mm f / 2.8 it’s nice, it has limitations.

Are there alternatives?

There is a lot of Macro DSLR lenses available to choose from, including $ 419 Nikon Micro-NIKKOR 55mm f / 2.8 lens which is possibly a better macro lens. That said, there are only a handful of macro lenses designed specifically for the Nikon Z series currently available, including the 105mm f / 2.8 VR S lens some manual Venus optics (Laowa) Macro lenses and IRIX Cine 150mm T3.0 Macro Lens for $ 1,195 which jumps significantly in price.

Should you buy it?

Yes, if macro photography is new and an interesting path for your work, then the Nikkor Z MC 50mm F / 2.8 Macro It is definitely worth the investment to start taking macro images on Nikon’s mirrorless system and you will be very happy with the results you can capture.

However, if you’ve been shooting macro images for a while and you already have a variety of macro lenses available in your kit, I’d recommend skipping the 50mm f / 2.8 macro and jumping straight to the 105mm f / 2.8 VR S macro. instead.

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