Nikkor Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct

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Nov 3, 2018
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I read an article about this enormous Z lens -- of course I cannot afford to buy this monster to test it myself. I own only one Z lens 24-70mm f/4. The author of this article tested the Noct lens and the result was very interesting so I would like to share some finding with you. In this test, he compared 4 Nikon lenses: NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct、NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S、AF-S NIKKOR 58mm f/1.4G, and AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G. Since the introduction of Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 in 2014, there is an air of acceptance that a VERY GOOD lens is OK to be VERY HEAVY and HUGE. Even so, this Nikkor Noct astounded everybody with its weight being 2kg and huge. He used a small doll and lots of colored lights on the background. The Noct produced the largest background bokeh as expected. But what was amazing is the sharpness of the doll the lens was focused on. With a lens wide-open, the two F lenses produced a very soft focus while the Noct f/0.95 and Z Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 S produced a crystal clear focus. Historically there are a few f/0.95 lenses in the past and if you count just faster than f/1.4 there are a lot. But for all these fast lenses in the past (without exception), the wide-open depiction was traditionally very soft -- with a promise that the lens suddenly becomes sharp as you close down 1-2 stops. The test using f/2.8 for all four lenses still showed a very clear difference between the Z and F lenses in sharpness. In other tests, axial chromatic aberration (purple fringes) was very small for the two Z lenses compared with these F lenses (which are already considered superb among all Nikkors). In the night scene test, both Z lenses showed a very small sagittal comatic aberration (like a comet's tail) of the point-lights of the building while both F lenses exhibited strong flare. In the daytime test of high rises, undeniable sharpness extends to the entire frame for the Z lenses, not just the center of the frame. In fact, Z 50mm was sharper than the Noct. In this series of test, the difference between the F lenses and Z lenses became painfully clear. This sharpness of lens at wide-open is something which was achieved only after the introduction of full-frame mirrorless system - a larger mount diameter and shorter flange distance. The same observation is done for Canon's RF mirrorless lenses. What this author pointed out is unexpectedly superb quality of the Z 50mm f/1.8 lens, that costs only one tenth of the Noct. And I am sure the same thing can be said about all S-line fixed-focus lenses from Nikon compared with the F counterparts. The benefit of the new Z mount is undeniable.
 
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Aug 26, 2008
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Nikon Z 50mm 1.8S (at sale price $500 last month or even at its full price now) is a bargain from Nikon. Probably the best ratio performance/$. Z 85mm 1.8S is also supper.
 
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My drool is longer than the article!
But seriously, I am realizing how superior the Z mount S-line lenses are compared with the already well-recognized Nikkor F lenses....
 
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I'm beginning to get a bit drooly over the 50/1.8S.
I got the Z 50/1.8 because I wanted a relatively fast lens capable of some background blur. Although I'm not crazy about the 50mm focal length, I'm just blown away by it, not just the sharpness, but the way it renders.
EDIT: I moved the photos to the dedicated Z 50/1.8 thread.
 
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Nov 3, 2018
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Noct is a very special lens and cost you an arm and a leg, and heavy. But the order of this lens is exceeding Nikon's expectation.
But this Noct is just a manifestation of the quality of new Z lenses. All Z S-line exhibits an amazing sharpness and other optical quality that we never saw in the traditional F lenses.
 
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I am not a designer of lens optics, but it is easy to see that the traditional 50mm lenses follow a so-called double-gauss design. And the new Z 50mm also uses the same double-gauss design. What we see here is that in the Z 50mm illustration, additional lens elements are added at the end to correct some remaining aberrations. Important to note is that this space (close to the film) did not exist in the DSLR - because this is where the reflex mirror sits. Nikon engineers used this precious space to add this corrective element to remove aberrations. This space is created thanks solely to the mirrorless design (short flange distance). Also note that this rear-element added must be fairly large since it is very close to the film (else the light reaching the sensor corner is very much skewed). This is where the large Z-mount diameter comes in. (The corrective element could be placed in front of the double-gauss lens but that requires much larger glasses in order to cover the lens angle.) So, these are the design freedom afforded to Nikon engineers that came directly from the new Z mount, that in turn resulted in the amazing Z Nikkor quality that we never saw in the F lenses. Below I am showing the lens elements and MTF charts from Nikon site. For those who are not familiar with MTF, the red lines are indicative of lens contrast while the blue lines are indicative of lens resolution. Both contrast and resolution are equally important to get a sharp image. The actual tests done in the above article unequivocally corroborated the Nikon-supplied MTF.
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Looking at the Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S, this new Z lens is no smaller nor lighter than AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR and only slightly better in MTF chart - difference an eye may not be able to discern. But then, AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR is such a superb lens it is difficult to make it any better. New Z lenses are definitely better than the F counterparts, but I think the benefit of the large Z mount is more readily felt in the shorter focal length, say, less than 100mm. (I am guessing this because the space created by the short flange of the Z mount is not used in the Z 70-200mm f/2.8 lens design.) So Nikon is in no hurry to replace long 400, 500, 600mm lenses with the Z mount. Even if they do, the lens quality improvement (due to the Z mount) is not as drastic as we are seeing in the shorter-focal-length lenses.
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I am no expert on MTF charts but Z lens looks better than F counterpart - M/S10 (contrast) and M/S-30 lines (resolution) lines are flatter and extend further towards the edge of the frame.

Comparing physical size if you add FTZ adaptor to F lens the overall length is longer than Z.
If you want 200 mm FL lens than you need a lens tube which is similar length, physics cant be cheated unless it is trombone, i don't want Canon style trombone.

Other option for reducing size is Fresnel elements, but so far this only works with primes, like 300PF and 500PF
 
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