Nikon Z MC 50mm f/2.8 Hands-on Review: Is this compact macro lens as good as the 105mm f/2.8?


posted Thursday, September 2, 2021 at 10:25 AM EST

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Nikon Z MC 50mm f/2.8 Hands-on Review


This summer, Nikon added a pair of new macro lenses to its mirrorless Z system. We first went hands-on with the Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Nikkor lens. We've now published our hands-on review of the smaller, lighter and less expensive new Z macro lens, the Nikon Z MC 50mm f/2.8.

As expected, the 50mm f/2.8 lens is much smaller and lighter than its 105mm counterpart. While the build quality of the S-Line 105mm f/2.8 lens is particularly excellent, the 50mm f/2.8 impresses, too. The lens includes weather-sealing, and its lightweight design feels quite nice in use. The 50mm f/2.8 lens lacks the OLED information panel, dedicated control ring and vibration reduction of its Z MC sibling. Still, it offers 1:1 macro capability in a much more compact form factor, which is a significant advantage for some users.

The Nikon Z MC 50mm f/2.8 is much smaller and lighter than the Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S lens. The Z MC 50mm f/2.8 isn't internally focusing, unlike the 105mm lens, so as you can see here, when focusing closer, the 50mm's barrel extends. On the barrel are different magnification ratio markings, including for 1:1.

The Z MC 50mm f/2.8 may lack the ARNEO and Nano Crystal Coatings of the 105mm f/2.8 lens, but it nonetheless delivers very good image quality. The 50mm f/2.8 macro lens is very sharp, even when shooting wide-open, and exhibits impressive control over aberrations and distortion. Like the 105mm f/2.8 lens, which stops down to f/4.5 when shooting at 1:1 distances, the 50mm f/2.8 lens also stops down, although its maximum aperture gets smaller, reducing to f/5.6 at 1:1 distance.

Shot on Nikon Z7 II at f/7.1, 1/50s, ISO 1400. This image has been edited.

Speaking of shooting at 1:1, the Z MC 50mm f/2.8 has a very short working distance. This is one of its biggest downsides in the field. To get a 1:1 image, the front of the lens is only a few inches from the subject, running the risk of distracting shadows or accidentally bumping into your subject. On the plus side, autofocus performance is impressive overall. There's occasional hunting, but AF performance is good, by and large. Like the 105mm f/2.8 VR S lens, the 50mm f/2.8 lets you limit autofocus to a narrow range at the close-focusing end of the lens, improving autofocus speed when doing close-up work.

Shot on Nikon Z7 II at f/8, 1/640s, ISO 100.
100% crop

There's much more to say about the Nikon Z MC 50mm f/2.8. You can read more about the lens's features and performance in our Hands-on Review. You can view and download various images, including sharpness test shots of a far test scene and a 1:1 test scene in our Gallery.

Hands-on Review • Gallery