Nikon’s first f/1.4 lens for Z-mount is the classic that street photographers have been waiting for, and it’s surprisingly affordable

Nikon’s first f/1.4 lens for Z-mount is the classic that street photographers have been waiting for, and it’s surprisingly affordable
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Nikon’s growing range of Z-mount lenses for its mirrorless cameras – which we rate among the best mirrorless cameras – has a new addition, and it’s a true classic for street, reportage and event photography; the Nikkor Z 35mm f/1.4.

As the 43rd Z-mount lens, it’s surprising to read that this is the first f/1.4 lens in the range, and the fast aperture prime is also more affordable than expected. 

Retailing for $599 / £649 and available from July, the street shooter isn’t afforded Nikon’s pro ‘S’ moniker, but it does feature the fast f/1.4 aperture for low-light work and a shallow depth of field that many pro photographers harness to help their subjects stand out.

It’s a simple lens with no external buttons; you get a focus ring and a customizable ‘clickless’ control ring that can be used to adjust one of aperture, ISO, exposure compensation and more.

There’s no official dust and drip resistant rating, which is what you’d get if this was a pricier pro lens. However, it is a compact lens, weighing just 14.6 oz / 415g, making it a good fit with Nikon’s mid-sized mirrorless cameras, such as the new Nikon Z6 III.

All in all, Nikon has taken a vastly different approach to Canon who also recently launched a 35mm f/1.4 lens. Canon’s RF-mount version is a pro ‘L’ lens that’s three times the price of Nikon’s new lens, and it’s a chunkier hybrid lens packed with controls for video creatives.

Mind you, Nikon stills bills its new 35mm lens as being equipped for today’s hybrid shooters: it suppresses focus breathing, while linear focusing enables accurate manual focus pulling. It also features Nikon’s multi-focusing system for quick, smooth and steady autofocus, while close focusing is up to 0.89ft / 0.27m.

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Nikon Z 35mm f/1.4 lens on white background

(Image credit: Nikon)

Is this the 35mm lens Nikon fans wanted?

There was a time in my professional photography days in East Africa, before becoming TechRadar’s Cameras Editor, that I almost solely used a 35mm f/1.4 lens. It’s a versatile type of lens especially for reportage photography, telling stories of people and places.

I often utilized the maximum f/1.4 aperture of my classic Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art lens to help subjects stand out in street photography and on-location portraiture, plus it comes in handy for low-light scenes such as indoor events – scenarios that pros often find themselves in.

Nikon’s new Nikkor Z 35mm f/1.4 is not the optically complex and rugged lens that some pros would hope for, for working in extreme outdoor environments. However, I still expect it to be one of the most popular Z-mount lenses available. 

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