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Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8 Lens: Pros, Cons, and Recommendations

The Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8 stands as a fantastic mid-range medium telephoto zoom lens. This optic caters to enthusiasts and budget-conscious individuals, providing a versatile tool for capturing diverse subjects. Regrettably, it lacks Optical Image Stabilization. This isn’t an issue for full-frame Z-series camera users, thanks to IBIS. However, APS-C users do miss out on this beneficial feature.

Advantages:

  • It maintains a constant f/2.8 aperture.
  • Utilizes internal focusing.
  • Compact and lightweight.

Drawbacks:

  • Absence of Optical Image Stabilization.
  • The barrel extends while zooming.
  • Limited control on the lens, confined to a zoom lock.
Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8 Lens: Pros, Cons, and Recommendations

QUICK REVIEW: Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8

Versatile Telephoto Zoom

The medium telephoto zoom, a go-to for various photography styles, is remarkably versatile, serving wildlife, weddings, sports, and more. The standard 70-200mm focal range is familiar, but the Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8 presents a compelling option in the Z-series lineup, offering a more budget-friendly alternative to the Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S.

Affordable and Compact

Priced at $1,250, £1,299, or AU $2,099, it significantly undercuts the 70-200mm f/2.8. Ideal for enthusiasts and budget-conscious users, it features a constant f/2.8 aperture and weighs a mere 1lb 12.1oz (795g). With dimensions of 3.3 x 6 inches (83.5 x 151mm), it’s a portable choice if wide-angle isn’t your priority.

QUICK REVIEW: Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8

Focal Range and Performance

Though the focal range slightly deviates from the norm, losing 20mm at the long end doesn’t impede real-world shooting. Image quality, while not on par with the 70-200mm f/2.8, remains impressive.

Part of a Z-Series Trio

This lens is part of Nikon’s Z-series trio, alongside the Nikkor Z 17-28mm f/2.8 and Nikkor Z 28-75mm f/2.8, all boasting a constant f/2.8 aperture and versatile full-frame focal lengths. They share a 67mm filter thread, perfect for photographers and videographers using screw-in filters.

Build and Handling

The lens, though well-built, doesn’t match the premium feel of the 70-200mm f/2.8. However, its smaller size and lighter weight make it comfortable for extended use.

Limited Controls

Control options are minimal; a zoom lock is the sole feature to prevent zoom creep at 70mm. Regrettably, it lacks Optical Vibration Reduction (VR)/Image Stabilization (IS), relying on full-frame bodies with In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS).

Optics and Focusing

Constructed with 19 elements, including ED and aspherical elements, it offers excellent bokeh. Internal focusing keeps the front element steady during focusing, but the lens barrel extends during zooming. The zoom and focus rings are user-friendly.

Impressive Minimum Focusing Distance

The lens excels in minimum focusing distance, particularly at 70mm, getting close to small subjects. It’s compatible with teleconverters and APS-C Z-series models.

Impressive Minimum Focusing Distance

Aperture Performance

Sharpness is best between f/5.6 and f/11, with f/2.8 and f/4 still sufficiently sharp. Diffraction is noticeable at f/16 and f/22. Edge sharpness improves when stopped down.

Minimal Distortion and Vignetting

Optical distortion is minimal for a medium-range lens, and vignetting diminishes by f/5.6.

Conclusion

The Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8 offers a cost-effective, medium telephoto zoom with a constant maximum aperture. Its lightweight, compact size and decent image quality make it a worthy choice for photographers, regardless of their subject matter.

Should You Invest in the Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8?

Should You Invest in the Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8?

Buy It If:

  1. Budget Telephoto Needs: Seeking an affordable f/2.8 medium telephoto lens with a constant aperture? This lens is an excellent choice.
  2. Teleconverter Compatibility: If you plan to use teleconverters, the 70-180mm provides a solid starting point with ample light and depth-of-field capability.
  3. Full-Frame Z-Series Camera: If you own a full-frame Z-series camera, don’t worry about the absence of Optical Image Stabilization, thanks to In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS).

Don’t Buy It If:

  1. APS-C Z Camera with VR: For APS-C Z-camera users in need of Image Stabilization (VR), this lens isn’t suitable, as it lacks VR, and APS-C models lack IBIS.
  2. Top-Notch Image Quality: If you prioritize image quality, opt for the superior Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S, despite its higher cost and slightly larger build.
  3. Longer Focal Range: When a longer telephoto zoom is a must, consider the Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 for extended reach.

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