Year in Review 2021: Nikon Lenses

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Going all-in on mirrorless, Nikon spent its 2021 rounding out the Z system with new cameras and lenses. Focusing on the lenses, Nikon split its attention between both specialized and longer glass, along with some new compact options for FX and DX formats. Along with the lens releases from the past couple of years, it’s interesting to see Nikon’s mirrorless system mature and to see all the staple lenses from the SLR days finally become available with new, updated designs specific to the new Z platform. Let’s look at Nikon’s lens releases from this past year.

NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Macro

Part one of Nikon’s macro duo, the NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Macro lens is the Z-mount rendition of the brand’s classic short-tele macro prime. Historically one of the most popular focal lengths for close-up shooting, Nikon made sure to make this new 105mm worthy of staple status with its close 1:1 life-size magnification and minimum focusing distance of about a foot. As an S-Line lens, too, it’s built with advanced optics to help cut distortion and various chromatic aberrations for clean, sharp, and accurate image quality. It’s also fit with a quick and quiet stepping AF motor and includes Vibration Reduction to compensate for up to 4.5 stops of camera shake for easier handheld use.

NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Macro

NIKKOR Z MC 50mm f/2.8 Macro

At the wider end of the macro pair is the NIKKOR Z MC 50mm f/2.8 Macro lens, which still offers the coveted 1:1 life-size reproduction ratio but with a closer minimum focusing distance of 6.3", a wider field of view, and a noticeably sleeker design. This lens isn’t an S-Line lens, meaning it won’t be quite as optically advanced as its 105mm partner, but the smaller design and normal-length field of view make it more of an everyday lens that doubles as a close-focusing specialist. Additionally, it’s also compatible with the ES-2 Film Digitizing Set accessory for easy copy shooting of your 35mm film slides and negatives.

NIKKOR Z MC 50mm f/2.8 Macro

NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE)

A classic wide-angle prime, the NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE) is one of those sleeper hits that will inevitably find its way into many Nikon Z shooters’ bags over time. It’s a go-to everyday wide-angle focal length that’s versatile enough to handle landscape subjects, street shoots, and even some full-length lifestyle portraiture and documentary subjects. Originally released as a Special Edition (SE) lens alongside the Z fc camera, this specific model also sports a unique exterior design that’s reminiscent of film-era primes with a classic knurled texture on the control ring.

NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE)

NIKKOR Z 40mm f/2

Similar in approach to the 28mm f/2.8, the NIKKOR Z 40mm f/2 is an ultralight wide-normal prime that’s perfect for walkaround shooting on either FX- or DX-format Z mirrorless bodies. The 40mm focal length straddles the wide-angle and normal-length fields of view and the f/2 maximum aperture also offers solid low-light performance and depth of field control while maintaining a sleek physical design. Like other Z lenses, it offers simple and elegant handling, with a configurable control ring and a stepping motor AF system for smooth, silent, and precise AF.

NIKKOR Z 40mm f/2

NIKKOR Z DX 18-140mm f/3.5-6.3 VR

Finally, specifically for the DX crowd, Nikon also released an all-in-one zoom with the NIKKOR Z DX 18-140mm f/3.5-6.3 VR. This 27-210mm-equivalent zoom covers all the focal lengths you’ll need daily, from ultra-wide to medium-tele, and does so with an impressively portable form factor that’s great for travel and hiking applications. Vibration Reduction also compensates for up to 5 stops of camera shake, meaning you can leave without the tripod for a lightweight, minimalist shooting setup.

NIKKOR Z DX 18-140mm f/3.5-6.3 VR

What are your impressions of Nikon’s lens releases from 2021? Are there any other lenses you’re looking forward to or did Nikon release your dream lens this year? Let us know your thoughts on the evolving Z system in the Comments section, below.

2 Comments

I want to love the 70-200 2.8 but it's not readily available!  I have the 24-70 2.8 and love it!  Please get the zoom in wider distribution!

I would love to see a long telephoto zoom similar to the 200-500 Nikon

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