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Lens review

Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30 mm f/4 S

1 February 2021
Maciej Lata││o

6. Distortion

When you attach the tested lens to the Nikon Z7, like in the case of the Nikkor Z 24-70 mm f/4 S, it deactivates an option that switches off distortion correction. Such a procedure might suggest that optics constructors gave up on correction of that aberration, allowing the camera software to deal with it. Let's find out whether our guesses are right.

First, let's deal with the smaller APS-C/DX sensor. Everything looks perfectly well as long as you stick to JPEG files. The results we got at 14, 16, 20, 24, and 30 mm are, respectively: +0.18%, +0.19%, +0.06%, +0.03%, andá+0.01%. All of them, within the margin of error, are practically zero so there are no problems whatsoever.

Nikon Z7, APS-C, JPEG, 14ámm
Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30 mm f/4 S - Distortion
Nikon Z7, APS-C, JPEG, 16ámm
Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30 mm f/4 S - Distortion
Nikon Z7, APS-C, JPEG, 20ámm
Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30 mm f/4 S - Distortion
Nikon Z7, APS-C, JPEG, 24ámm
Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30 mm f/4 S - Distortion
Nikon Z7, APS-C, JPEG, 30ámm
Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30 mm f/4 S - Distortion


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Still, the real situation can be revealed only by RAW files developed with neutral software such as dcraw and it's nothing we would like. It isn't perhaps very bad per se but it also constitutes a very bad prognosis for the performance on full frame.

At 14 mm you deal with barrel variant which is relatively easy to spot as its value amounts to −2.84%. At 16 mm it decreases to −1.13% and a moment later it turns zero and then changes the sign. At 20 mm you deal with a low level of pincushion distortion of +0.63%. With further lengthening of the focal length that 'pincushion' increases - at 24 mm it is already +1.34%, and at 30 mm it reaches +1.60%.

Nikon Z7, APS-C, RAW, 14ámm
Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30 mm f/4 S - Distortion
Nikon Z7, APS-C, RAW, 16ámm
Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30 mm f/4 S - Distortion
Nikon Z7, APS-C, RAW, 20ámm
Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30 mm f/4 S - Distortion
Nikon Z7, APS-C, RAW, 24ámm
Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30 mm f/4 S - Distortion
Nikon Z7, APS-C, RAW, 30ámm
Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30 mm f/4 S - Distortion


Now let's turn to the performance on full frame. JPEG files don't make us worry because, once again, you deal here with results very close to zero. At 14, 16, 20, 24, and 300 mm we got the following values: +0.22%, +0.23%, +0.01%, −0.01%, and −0.07% respectively.

Nikon Z7, FF, JPEG, 14ámm
Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30 mm f/4 S - Distortion
Nikon Z7, FF, JPEG, 16ámm
Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30 mm f/4 S - Distortion
Nikon Z7, FF, JPEG, 20ámm
Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30 mm f/4 S - Distortion
Nikon Z7, FF, JPEG, 24ámm
Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30 mm f/4 S - Distortion
Nikon Z7, FF, JPEG, 30ámm
Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30 mm f/4 S - Distortion


Now is the moment of truth – let's check the RAW files performance on full frame. At 14 mm you see huge barrel distortion of −7.04%. At 16 mm it decreases noticeably but still it remains perfectly visible, reaching −3.61%. Further increase of focal length makes it drop very quickly; then it becomes zero and turns into pincushion variation of that aberration. At 20 mm you deal with a value of +1.22%, at 24 mm its level increases to +3.00%, and at 30 mm it is +3.72%.

Pincushion distortion of such a high level, perfectly visible with angles of view amounting to 70-80 degrees, it is a really interesting experience.

Nikon Z7, FF, RAW, 14ámm
Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30 mm f/4 S - Distortion
Nikon Z7, FF, RAW, 16ámm
Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30 mm f/4 S - Distortion
Nikon Z7, FF, RAW, 20ámm
Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30 mm f/4 S - Distortion
Nikon Z7, FF, RAW, 24ámm
Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30 mm f/4 S - Distortion
Nikon Z7, FF, RAW, 30ámm
Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30 mm f/4 S - Distortion