Nikon Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8 Review
Review Manufacturer: Nikon
Price when reviewed
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A 50mm lens is a popular choice for a wide range of photography and ‘everyday’ shooting. While the Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8 isn’t the fastest 50mm available, indeed it’s the slowest of the three 50mm lenses in Nikon’s Z-series range, its close-focusing capability enables 1:1 (life-size) reproduction, making it very versatile.
It’s also a compact and lightweight lens, translating to a 75mm lens on a Nikon APS-C format camera, which adds to its appeal for everyday use. Most importantly, it delivers superb results.
Compact and lightweight Excellent detail Versatile 50mm lens
Aperture range varies with the focus distance Basic focus distance scale Close working distance at 1:1 reproduction
Thanks to its low weight, 1:1 macro capability and excellent image quality, the Nikon Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8 is a great everyday lens for Nikon Z-series cameras.
What is the Nikon Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8?
The Nikon Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8 is a compact full-frame prime lens designed for use on Nikon’s Z-series mirrorless cameras such as the Nikon Z7 II, Nikon Z6 II and Nikon Z5. It can also be used on the APS-C (DX) format Nikon Z50 and Nikon Z fc where it has an effective focal length of 75mm.
Unlike most 50mm lenses, the Nikon Z MC 50mm f/2.8 is a macro lens and it can focus close enough to capture subjects at life-size (1:1) reproduction.
While the Nikkor Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S, launched at the same time, is aimed at professional and experienced enthusiast photographers, the Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8 is aimed at novice macro photographers.
Product type: Standard macro prime lens Mount: Nikon Z Format: Full-frame (FX) Focal length: 50mm Maximum aperture: f/2.8 Minimum aperture: f/32 Aperture range: Focused at infinity: f/2.8 to 22, at closest focusing point: f/5.6 to 32 Construction: 10 elements in 7 groups with 1 ED element and 1 aspherical element Coatings: Fluorine coating on the front element Focusing system: Front focusing system Minimum focus distance: 0.16m / 0.53ft Stabilisation: No Number of diaphragm blades: 9 Filter size: 46mm Weight: 260g / 9.2oz Diameter x length (extension from lens mount): 74.5 x 66mm / 3 x 2.6-inches
You can find the Nikon Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2,8 on Amazon UK
Nikon constructs the Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8 from 10 elements in 7 groups with 1 ED (extra-low dispersion) element and 1 aspherical element. Its front element has a fluorine coating to make it easier to keep clean, but there’s no weather-sealing.
Most recent Nikon lenses have internal focusing, but for the Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8, Nikon went a bit retro and the lens extends as the focus distance reduces. This means that the front element of the lens gets progressively closer to the subject and if you want 1:1 reproduction, it’s a good idea to set the focus manually to that position and then manoeuvre the lens accordingly.
Nikon has given the Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8 a simple focus distance scale with three reproduction ratio settings (1:1, 1:1.4 and 1:2) and the subject distance marked. This becomes visible as the lens extends.
It’s worth noting that the Nikon Z MC 50mm f/2.8 isn’t stabilised. To date, Nikon’s full-frame Z-series cameras all have in-body image stabilisation (IBIS), but the APS-C format Z50 and Z fc do not.
Nikon supplies a small lens hood with the Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8. Rather than the usual bayonet mount, this hood screws on to the 46mm filter thread and has a filter thread itself.
Build and handling
At just 290g or 9.2oz, the Nikon Z MC 50mm f/2.8 is lightweight and although the barrel appears to be largely made from plastic, it still feels well made and solid. Reassuringly, the lens mount is metal.
Adopting a simple design, the Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8 has just two switches and a focus ring. The uppermost switch, marked A M, is for swapping between manual and automatic focusing while the lower switch is a focus limiter.
A focus limiter is especially useful on a macro lens as it stops the camera from getting distracted by objects in the background. On the Nikon Z MC 50mm f/2.8 limiter can be set to ‘Full’ or unlimited, or 0.3-0.16m.
As usual with Nikon Z-series lenses, the focus ring on the Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8 can be customised the camera’s menu so that it can be used to adjust the exposure compensation, ISO or aperture. I often opt to control the exposure compensation via this type of ring but with a macro lens, it’s handy to be able to tweak the focus manually after autofocusing. Consequently, I set the ring to the M/A option.
Although the Nikon Z MC 50mm f/2.8 extends as the focusing distance decreases, the lens retracts automatic when the camera is turned off.
At its closest focusing distance, 16cm, the Z MC 50mm f/2.8 delivers 1:1 or life-size reproduction. However, the distance between the front element and the subject is only 5.6cm. This has pluses and minuses. On the plus size, many novice macro photographers instinctively move very close to their subject and this lens can cope with that. It also means that it’s easy to photograph subjects that you’re hand-holding – though ideally not at the closest focusing distance as it would be difficult to avoid subject and camera shake.
On the downside, the closer you get to the subject, the more likely you are to cast it in shadow. There’s also less room to squeeze in artificial lighting.
While the Nikon Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8 may be aimed at novice macro photographers, there’s nothing ‘novice’ about the results it produces. I shot with it on the 45.7Mp Nikon Z7 II and the level of detail and sharpness it captures at the centre of the frame is very good.
Inevitably, there is some fall-off in sharpness towards the far corners of the frame but it’s slight and unlikely to be a problem in real world shooting situations – especially when taking the limited depth of field with macro photography into account.
When focused at infinity, images shot at f/22 look a little softer than those captured at f/16 when sized to fill a 27-inch screen. However, closer to the minimum focus distance, the images are impressively sharp at smaller apertures.
The Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8 also focuses quickly and very quietly, but it’s handy to be able to adjust the focus via the lens ring without having to flick the A/F switch to full-time manual focusing.
Further good news is that chromatic aberration, flare and curvilinear distortion are controlled very well.
One point to note is that the aperture range changes with focusing distance. When the focus is at infinity, the range is f/2.8 to f/22 while at 16cmm, the closest focusing point, the range becomes f/5.6 to f/32. Given the shallow depth of field associated with 1:1 reproduction, shooting at f/5.6 isn’t problematic if you’re looking to isolate a small subject from its surroundings, but it’s important to bear it in mind when setting the exposure.
Out of focus areas to naturally blurred and small highlights are rounded without any obvious aberrations.
Nikon Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8 sample images
Follow the link to browse and download full-resolution images from the Nikon Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8 on the Nikon Z7 II.
Nikon Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8 image gallery
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You can find the Nikon Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2,8 on Amazon UK
Including the Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8, Nikon now offers three 50mm prime lenses. The Nikon Z 50mm f/1.2 S is the fastest and most luxurious while until now, the Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.8 S is the go-to option for most photographers. The new Nikon Z MC 50mm f/2.8 is 1.3EV slower than the Z 50mm f/1.8 S, which perhaps reduces its appeal for portraiture, but its macro capability is a significant bonus.
This means that Nikon photographers now have a tough decision on their hands deciding between the lenses. While the Z 50mm f/1.8 S is excellent, the closer focusing capability of the Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8 adds to its versatility as a lens for all occassions.