7 Best Lenses For The Nikon Zf (…and 2 to avoid)

The Nikon Zf is a retro style camera with modern technology under the hood. That means that the best lenses for the Zf are going to have style and substance.

That is why my top pick is the Nikon Z 40mm f/2. It’s the perfect blend of style and excellent image quality at a focal length that can cover a lot of shooting situations.

Keep reading for my detailed breakdown and more options depending on the type of photography you plan on using your Zf for the most.

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Top Pick

1. Nikon Z 40mm f/2 (SE)

This 40mm prime has the retro look to match the Zf and optical performance to match the impressive 24.5MP sensor.

This might be a surprising pick for the top spot considering it’s a fixed focal length prime lens. But I chose it because it just pairs so well with the Zf that it’s almost like they were designed to get together.

Let’s face it, if you bought or are planning to buy a Nikon Zf then you appreciate the retro style of that camera. This 40mm f/2 lens matches that combination of style and performance.

But its more than just the look of the lens. The 40mm focal length is the perfect walk around lens to keep on your Zfc for everyday shooting (similar to how the 28mm f/2.8 lens works great on the Zfc).

It’s not so wide that you’ll introduce distortion, but on a full frame camera, it gives you enough field of view that you can take photos at close quarters like indoor parties.

Speaking of shooting indoors, the f/2 aperture is pretty impressive for such a compact, lightweight, and inexpensive lens. Combined with the exceptional low light performance of the Zfc, this combo is perfect for indoor and low light shooting.

Finally, in terms of optical quality, you’re getting a very sharp lens for a pretty low price here. You might see a tiny loss of sharpness around the edges when shooting wide open, but not much and certainly less than other primes at this price point.

This is the lens I would get for my Zf and leave it on the camera almost all the time unless I needed to shoot something specific that requires a different lens.

Runner Up

2. Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S

This lens is the Nikon Z mount version of the popular 24-70 f/2.8 lens. This is Nikon’s sharpest version to date and comes in lighter and smaller than its predecessors.

The 24-70mm f/2.8 S lens in the Z mount lineup is quite impressive. It packs a wide max aperture and a good mid-range focal length and delivers industry-leading image quality.

The two reasons it’s not my top pick are (1) it’s quite expensive and (2) a high end professional lens like this doesn’t exactly fit the aesthetics of the Zf.

But if you plan to use your Zf for a wide variety of shooting genres and want professional level performance, then this is a great option.

There’s a reason that the 24-70 f/2.8 lens can be found in almost any professional photographer’s bag. You can shoot anything from wide-angle landscapes to longer focal-length portraits with this lens. Plus the f/2.8 max aperture means you’ll have a lot of control over depth of field and have the ability to shoot in low light.

It is also one of the sharpest 24-70mm lenses that you’ll find in any camera system. This lens takes full advantage of the Nikon Z mount to create exceptional image quality.

The autofocus performance is top-notch as well. It uses two AF drive units synchronized to deliver extremely fast and accurate autofocus. This works well paired with the excellent autofocus system of the Zf.

On top of all that, this lens comes in lighter and smaller than the F-mount counterpart that was itself one of the best 24-70mm options out there.

Versatile All-Around

3. Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4

The f/4 version of the Nikon Z 24-70mm is very close in sharpness and color and if you don’t need the f/2.8 max aperture then you can save over $1000 with this lens.

I put this lens on the list because it’s a versatile all-around lens, similar to the 24-70mm above. It has a smaller max aperture at f/4 but still has excellent sharpness across the frame and optical performance in general. It’s also around about $1100 cheaper than the f/2.8 version that made the top slot.

This is a good option if you don’t see yourself needing the f/2.8 aperture very much and value affordability and portability over low-light performance.

For instance, if you plan on using this zoom lens for landscape photography, then you’ll get all the performance you need and may never miss the f/2.8 max aperture.

Budget Pick

4. Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE)

This compact 28mm lens has a nice wide f/2.8 max aperture and its size pairs nicely with the Zf as a great walk-around combo.

This might be my personal favorite lens to carry around with me on a regular basis.

It’s small and lightweight enough that pairing it with the Zf makes for a very small setup that is perfect for everyday shooting.

If I am taking a Nikon Zf to a party, a family get-together, or just out with friends, this is the second lens I would have with me along with the 40mm f/2.

The 28mm focal length is wide enough that you don’t have to back up to get photos of the people around you and is also a great option for getting photos of the area around you. But 28mm isn’t so wide that photos of people will be distorted.

In addition, the f/2.8 max aperture makes it easier to get shots in low light, especially compared to the kit lenses often found bundled with cameras that have max apertures in the f/4-6.3 range.

Best For Landscapes

5. Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4

This lens has everything a landscape photographer needs, great sharpness and color, a compact but rugged build, and the ability to use standard 82mm filters.

You might be surprised that I chose this lens over the more expensive 14-24mm f/2.8 S lens. There are three reasons for that.

First, this lens is over $1000 cheaper than the f/2.8 version and still exceptionally sharp. Second, it is lighter and more compact, which you’ll appreciate if you end up hiking to any landscape location carrying your gear on your back.

Third, and arguably the most significant is that this is the rare zoom lens that lets you shoot as wide as 14mm and still use conventional 82mm filters. If you shoot landscapes for any length of time, you want to start using filters to help control glare and cut down on light for long exposures and it can be quite frustrating to need an entirely different set of filters just for one lens.

This lens makes it possible to have a single set of filters for all your lenses. The time and money you save on that alone make this lens worth it.

I wouldn’t worry too much about the f/4 max aperture either. It’s rare that you would ever use a wide aperture like that for shooting landscapes. If you shoot astrophotography and need a wide aperture then you would be better off with a prime lens like the Nikon Z 20mm f/1.8.

Telephoto Pick

6. Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8

Possibly the best telephoto zoom lens on the market today. This updated version of the classic 70-200mm f/2.8 lens is even better than the previous one.

This is simply an excellent lens with really no negatives I found. Second, there really aren’t many other telephoto options in this range in the Z-mount lineup. So your choices are to pay the $2,399.95 MSRP or use an FTZ Adapter with an older F-mount lens.

I think you get a lot more value for your money by investing in the Z mount version. You won’t need to use an adapter and the autofocus speed and image quality are second to none.

Best For Portraits

7. Nikon Z 85mm f/1.8 S

The Z version of the popular 85mm f/1.8 is a lens that should be in the bag of every photographer that likes to photograph people.

The Nikon Z 85mm f/1.8 has all of the same benefits as the 50mm version, but if you are shooting a lot of portrait photography, then the 85mm is a perfect focal length for portraits.

By using a longer focal length, you’ll be able to stand farther away from your subject while still filling the frame. This adds something called compression in photography, which helps to give a more flattering look to people.

Of course, the longer focal length also can be somewhat limiting for everyday use. So keep that in mind. This lens is great as a second or third option for the Zf while the ones at the top of this list are more versatile and good for everyday use.

Lenses To Avoid

The truth is that there really aren’t any bad Z-mount lenses. The mount itself is the largest and closest to the sensor out of the big manufacturers. This means it’s easier to make lenses sharper across the full frame of the camera.

You can also use the adapter to put F-mount lenses on this camera so be sure to check out my complete guide to the best Nikon lenses.

But there are a couple I wouldn’t recommend for the Zf…

Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S

This is an exceptional lens when it comes to image quality, sharpness, and contrast. But I’m not listing it here because it’s bad, I’m actually listing it here because it’s a little too good for a 24.5MP camera.

The reality is that you can get almost the same performance for half the price with the 14-30mm f/4 listed above.

The f/2.8 maximum aperture is less useful on a wide-angle lens like this than it is on mid-range and telephoto lenses. At a 14mm field of view, you aren’t going to get much bokeh even when shooting at f/2.8.

If you want a lens for shooting wide-angle portraiture or need the wide maximum aperture for astrophotography, you would probably be better off with either the Nikon Z 20mm f/1.8 which is a prime lens with an even wider max aperture and excellent image quality.

You will also need 112mm screw-in lens filters if you use them in your photography, compared to the 14-30mm f/4 that will take 82mm filters that you can use on all your lenses.

Overall, it is admittedly a great lens but wildly overkill for a 24.3-megapixel camera like the Zf.

Nikon Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR

I am not a fan of “super-zooms” like this that cover a huge focal length range.

Yes, you can get a “do everything” lens but you’re making sacrifices on the image quality and the aperture to get such a huge focal length range.

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