Lens review

Nikon Nikkor Z 50 mm f/1.2 S

1 June 2021
Maciej Latałło

3. Build quality

The following chart presents a comparison between basic parameters of the Nikkor, tested here, and other full frame 50 mm f/1.2 lenses designed for mirrorless cameras. The Nikkor is definitely the biggest, the heaviest, and optically the most complex lens in this group. It also has the widest filter thread. The Leica and the Voigtlander look like two midgets next to it and even the Sony model, presented and tested by us with very good results not so long ago, is distinctly smaller and physically lighter.

In the photo below the Nikkor Z 1.2/50 is positioned between two other reflex camera Nikkors, the 1.8/50 and the 1.8/85. I think this photo doesn't need any comment – it's clear you deal here with a very bulky lens.

Nikon Nikkor Z 50 mm f/1.2 S - Build quality

The tested lens starts with a metal mount surrounding contacts and a flat rear element, 37 mm in diameter. The area close to that element is properly blackened and matted, without any electronic parts peeking out at you so from this side everything looks perfect and we have no reservations whatsoever.

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Nikon Nikkor Z 50 mm f/1.2 S - Build quality

A black, metal ring is the first part of the proper barrel of the Nikkor; on the ring you can find a white dot, making an alignment with a camera easier, the producer's logo, the AF/MF switch that allows you to choose the focusing mechanism mode, a plate with the 'Nikkor S' mark, the serial number of the lens, the focusing mechanism working range (∞–0.45m/1.48ft), and also information that the lens was made in Thailand.

Further on, you see a ribbed control ring, 10 mm wide, that can be used to adjust aperture or exposure compensation. It turns quite smoothly and is properly damped.

Nikon Nikkor Z 50 mm f/1.2 S - Build quality

Then you see an immobile part of the barrel with an OLED display showing the most important information – it allows you to check quickly, right on the lens, the aperture, distance scale, and depth of field values. If you want to change display parameters you can do so by using a DISP button, positioned close by. Further on you can find the L-Fn function button which can be alloted one of 21 different options using the camera menu.

A rubberized and ribbed manual focus ring is the biggest part of the whole barrel and that rubber-covered ribs are worth paying closer attention to. Other f/1.8 primes, tested by us earlier, had metal ribbing which black paint was easy to peel off. As a result the wear-and-tear of the lens was obvious after a rather short period of time. We are pleased Nikon decided to improve on that.

Nikon Nikkor Z 50 mm f/1.2 S - Build quality

The manual focus ring, as wide as 60 mm, is a focus-by-wire construction. It moves smoothly and is properly damped; still you won't find any distance or DOF scale on it. Its focus throw depends on the speed of your turning – with a faster move it amounts to less than 90 degrees, with a slower turning you are able to reach even 120-130 degrees. Mind you, it isn't easy to measure – sometimes a very slow movement doesn't produce even the slightest change of the electronic distance scale on the display.

Next, you see an immobile ring made of plastics which is also partially covered by rubber ribbing; it ends with a hood mount and the hood you get in the box with the lens.

The front element doesn't move, is relatively flat and 62 mm in diameter. It is surrounded by a part of the barrel with the name and parameters of the lens along with a non-rotating fitler thread, 82 mm in diameter.

Nikon Nikkor Z 50 mm f/1.2 S - Build quality
The optical construction is quite impressive – you deal here with 17 elements positioned in 15 groups. Two elements are made of low dispersion ED glass and three other are aspherical. Inside you can also find a round aperture with nine blades that can be closed down to a value of f/16 at the maximum. Producers additionally boast of using ARNEO coatings and nanocrystal coatings.

Buyers get in the box with the lens: both caps, a petal-type hood and a soft pouch. It's a pity the producer doesn't add a case at this price point, because many of their direct rivals do so.

Nikon Nikkor Z 50 mm f/1.2 S - Build quality