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Nikon 14-30mm f/4 S - A Serious Lens for Landscapes?


Nikon 14-30mm f/4 S - A Serious Lens for Landscapes?

July 17, 2019  |  by Alex Schult
Many of you have expressed interest in moving to the Nikon Z6 or Nikon Z7. But many of you have also expressed reservations about doing so because of the limited native Z-mount glass currently available. Sure, you can slap the FTZ mount adapter on a Z6 or Z7 that allows you to use your F-mount glass, but who wants to deal with that? Heck, at the time of this writing, the Nikon Holy Trinity set of glass isn't even completely available. Well at least you have two-thirds available with the 14-30mm f/4 and then you have 24-70mm f/4 and another f/2.8 version available of the 24-70mm. I'll admit that I was a little worried about the f/4 aperture on my new 14-30mm f/4 S lens, and I assume many of you share the same concern. Well, this weekend I traveled up to the hottest place on this planet to test this lens out - Death Valley. For me, I was not sure about this lens, at least in the beginning. Let me explain why... nikon 14 30mm f4 s hands on image Since Nikon released the 14-24mm f/2.8 back in 2007, it's been the backbone of most Nikon landscape photographers' camera bags. It's big, heavy, and can be spotted from a mile away with that huge glass element bulging out of the lens. In its early days, there weren't any filter options for it, which sucked. Then, a number of big filter kits from companies like NiSi, Formatt-Hitech, and Lee came onto the market. I started shooting with this lens when I got my Nikon D700, then continued to use it with my D800, D810, and my late D850. It was seriously one of my favorite lenses to use. It was fast, sharp and was a joy to use. And those days I missed the gym? Not a concern! I would get a solid work out just from slinging that thing around. But that was OK because the image quality was remarkable. nikon 14 30mm f4 s review image So, what about my concerns with the new 14-30mm f/4 S? Honestly, as I mentioned earlier, my primary reservation was the f/4 aperture. Aside from that, this lens has tons of great features. Here are its full specs:
  • Lens Mount: Nikon Z
  • Focal Length: 14-30mm
  • Aperture Range: f/4-f/22
  • Minimum Focusing Distance: 11.02"
  • Filter Size: 82mm
  • Groups/Elements: 12/14
  • Length: 3.35"
  • Maximum Diameter: 3.50"
  • Lens Format: Full Frame
  • Angle of View: 114 degrees to 72 degrees
  • Weight: 1.07 lbs
For starters, it costs significantly less than the 14-24mm f/2.8 - the 14-24mm f/2.8 runs $1,896.95 while the 14-30mm f/4 is $1,296.95. It's also a fraction of the weight at just 1.07 pounds, as noted above. Plus, the 14-30mm f/4 takes an 82mm filter thread and is missing that huge glass bulb on the front of it. That's a huge advantage for landscape photographers that need to utilize an array of filters to perfect the shot. nikon 14 30mm f4s sample image Let me tell you, this is one of those don't-judge-a-book-by-its-cover moments... In my opinion, the 14-30mm gives the 14-24mm lens a serious run for its money. The extreme weight reduction was a dream come true. The last thing I wanted was to lug around a big, heavy lens in the oppressive heat of Death Valley. As you might expect, the internal focusing system was ultra-quiet with autofocusing that worked like a champ, even as dusk rolled around and there wasn't a ton of light. nikon 14 30mm f4s landscape lens image I saw little-to-no funny business that some wide-angle lenses tend to have. That's thanks to the construction of the lens, which includes four extra-low dispersion glass elements and four aspherical elements. Combined with Nikon's Nano Crystal coating, flare, ghosting, and aberrations are minimized. Like its S-series compatriots, this lens has rounded aperture blades that render gorgeous bokeh, and the lens is sealed against dust (which was a good thing for Death Valley) and moisture (which, funnily enough, I didn't need in Death Valley!). nikon 14 30mm image Aside from the technical aspects of this lens being impressive, I also enjoyed how the lens felt. There's a nice, big rubber zoom ring that you feel like you can really get a handle of, even when your palms are sweaty from shooting in the hottest place imaginable. The size and weight of the lens are ideal for landscapes, too. It feels well built, but without the bulk I noted earlier with the 14-24mm f/2.8. Of course, that wide-angle view this lens offers gives you the opportunity to get tons of foreground interest in your shots. As you can see in my sample photos throughout this article, you can get images with tons of dimension thanks to all that foreground detail. So, between the price, the size and weight, the focal length, and optical performance, this is truly a must-have landscape lens if you ask me. DxOMark agrees, for what that's worth. nikon 14 30mm 3 image Now let's talk about where I picked this lens up. There are camera stores and then there is Samys. I’ve known Samy for better part is decade. Matter of fact, I picked up my Nikon D800 from him when that camera first came out. Then when my son was born and the Nikon D810 would be too much to carry in a diaper bag, I picked up the Sony a6300 from them. What brings me back to Samy's is that the guy is the real deal - a bonified family man who loves the photography industry just as much. And his staff is the same way. Camera gear like this lens is sold everywhere, so you can very easily pick this up on Amazon for the same price. However, if you are tired of being treated like a number on an accounting spreadsheet and want to support a company who will treat you like an old friend, then give Samy's a shot. And if you get the chance to meet Samy himself, you'll see what I'm talking about!
July 17, 2019

About the Author

Alex Schult

Alex Schult

Alex Schult is the Founder and CEO of PhotographyTalk - a website that spreads the love of photography through bustling forums, world-class guides, in-depth video lessons you’ll love to use - and success interviews with the best photographers around.

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