Nikon Z MC 50mm f/2.8: Macro And Much More
The NIKKOR Z MC 50mm f/2.8 offers a field of view similar to a normal 50mm lens, and has a macro capability of 1:1 magnification. Shridhar Kunte put this lens under the scanner.
Around mid 2021, Nikon introduced two macro lenses for its Z system cameras. We, in fact, reviewed one of them, the Nikkor Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR, which is an excellent lens. These are the first native lenses made for Z system cameras. In the past, Nikon users were forced to use F-mount lenses with the FTZ adaptor. The new 50mm f/2.8 can be used for various genres of photography and not just a macro. It is also a more affordable option than the MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S, but not without sacrificing some pro features.
The lens is constructed of 10 elements in 7 groups, including 1 ED element to control chromatic aberration, 1 aspherical element and a fluorine coated front lens element. Fluorine coating reduces dirt, water and smudges from sticking to the surface of the lens. As this is a more affordable version, there are some sacrifices to be made in comparison to the 105mm. This includes lack of inbuilt VR as well as no special ARNEO coatings. The lens has 9 rounded diaphragm blades and a minimum focusing distance of 0.16m. At this focusing distance, it offers a life-size 1:1 maximum magnification. The magnification ratio at different focusing distances is clearly marked on the lens barrel, and it extends out during focusing. The lens uses STM motor for fast, precise, smooth, and quiet autofocus with reduced wobbling. This makes it ideal for shooting videos. Since there is no VR built in the lens, the in-body image stabilisation needs to be used while shooting. The lens can restrict the focusing distance from 0.3m to 0.16m, and when switched to full, can go from infinity to 0.16m. The lens also comes with a hood.
This is a compact lens. It weighs only 260gms and measures 66mm in length. When mounted onto the Nikon Z7 II, it feels compact in the hand and well balanced and suitable for one-handed and two-handed shooting. This lens will be an excellent match with the APS-C Z Mount cameras considering its form factor. The lens mount is constructed from metal and is well made. There are only two switches on the lens barrel and they are easy to reach. The large area on the lens barrel is occupied by a focusing ring. It is ridged to provide a good grip and offers just enough resistance to make precise focusing easy, while not requiring any additional effort. During focusing, the overall length of the lens increases; this is not a problem while shooting portraits, but when shooting macro, this might be an issue. Fly by wire system does the manual focusing job. While using AF, you can set the focusing ring to control other functions such as aperture, ISO and exposure compensation.
The focusing speed is not snappy when compared to other Nikon prime lenses, but this works as an advantage while shooting macro. The focus limiter switch can be adjusted judiciously to improve the focusing speed. It is advisable not to set it to full while shooting with higher magnification ratio or close to the minimum focusing distance. The lens hits its peak performance somewhere around f/4 onwards till f/11. The images show good contrast, excellent sharpness and colour balance. The light fall off is visible at f/2.8 and it disappears at/4, but this can be overcome by stopping down the lens or even in post process. The lens displays excellent control over chromatic aberration and fringing. When it comes to bokeh, it is dependent on the composition and background lighting. For all the macros that I shot, the images were mostly smooth and attractive.
This is a perfect lens if you are shooting portraits, street and landscape photography, as long as you don’t chase after fast moving objects. For those who want to buy the 50mm normal lens, this is an excellent option as it will work as a macro and 50mm prime lens. The lens is priced at Rs. 58,995, which is considerably higher when compared to normal 50mm lenses. But when you consider the utility or flexibility it offers for a variety of subjects, you can give it a second thought.