The Nikkor Z 58mm F0.95 S Noct is one Noct-orious lens in many aspects, apart from its humongous size and weight, the price is notoriously high too. We bring you the review and you can decide if this is a lens you will sell your kidney for.
When the Nikkor Noct was announced back in July this year, it raised many eyebrows in the industry and among photo enthusiast, not because of the doubt of its optical quality but for some other reasons, such as its sheer gigantic appearance and the premium price to own one. Many people didn’t realise that it was a MANUAL focus lens. We have got this lens for a couple of days to review so that we can give you an in-depth opinion from our side, all shot at its largest F0.95.
The Noct lens doesn’t come in a box but in a rugged army-style carrying case with a heavily padded interior. The large carrying case itself could possibly store a camera system with some essential lenses, and there it is, housing only the Noct lens with plenty of space to spare. Just like a small family of three living in a mansion.
The Nikkor Z 58mm F0.95 S Noct is one of the best-built lenses we have seen in recent years. The weight itself is about 2 kilogram! The exterior construction is very solid with well-polished metal. The large focusing ring dominates half of its length, it is smooth to turn and mind you, it takes more than three turns from MOD to infinity, that’s a handful of turns, but with this, you can have better focus accuracy, especially when you use it for still shots and film making.
There is a Function button on the side of the lens, for the user to customise their favourite camera setting on the lens for quicker access, and on top of the Function button, you can find a Display button. There is a small LCD display next to the Display button where it will show the focus distance and aperture when you toggle it. The digital distance meter has almost no lag when we turned the focusing ring. You can also spot the nice signature yellow NOCT engraving next to the LCD screen.
There is also a function ring near the mount. The users can assign their most-used setting to the focusing ring. Since this is a manual lens, setting the function ring to control the aperture is pretty convenient, just to suggest some usage. The interior construction of the glasses is very impressive. It was designed with the ARNEO Coat, an anti-reflective coating system that achieves ultra-low reflectance for vertical incidental light, ghost and flare effects are greatly reduced especially with the combination with Nano Crystal Coat.
The Nikkor Z 58mm F0.95 S Noct was designed natively for the Nikon Z mount, when we attached it with Nikon’s current biggest camera body, the Z 6/7 bodies, it just doesn’t have the perfect combination – front-2kg-heavier. It looks so much better to fit the DLSR D5 body, but..oh well. The time will come when Nikon launch a pro Z body to match this lens perfectly. This is also dust and moisture-proof lens but we doubt the owner of this premium lens will take it to that extent. The built-in lens collar tripod mount makes it easier to handle your shot with a tripod for a long period of shooting time. We tried using it handheld but gets strained easily for a long duration of use.
To mention again, this is NOT an Auto Focus lens, it is a manual lens. Some may ask, with such an expensive lens, how come it is not an AF lens? Well, most expensive lenses are all manual, such as the Leica M and Zeiss lenses. Thus, the focusing performance now lies on the focusing control and the camera’s function such as focus peaking or the resolution of the EVF to gauge the most accurate focus. We used the focus peaking and the judgement of our eyesight to hit the right spot. The focusing ring control is very precise, especially when the focus is almost in range, each turn will accurately pin-point to the area we wanted.
If you are using it handheld, its heavyweight will make your hand tremble a little when you are trying to get the focus, and with no in-built image stabiliser, chances to get your shot out of focus is pretty high, especially when you are using the wide-open F0.95 aperture. Thus, a monopod will help a lot.
This is an F0.95 Noct lens, so, all our shots here are all wide open and we to try to find flaws – if there are any. We tested this lens on objects and human interests and also a ruler (in Picture 1) to show you the minimum focus distance of 0.5 meters and the shallow depth of a mere 8mm at F0.95. The Picture shows very smooth blur to render the rest of the ruler unreadable.
In picture 2, we show you the flat lay of what we want to shoot, the middle purple stone. The rest of the items are very close to each other. Once the shot was done in picture 3 at F0.95, you could see a fine and smooth blur in the foreground and background, the middle stone is sharply in focus and render the others blur to the core.
The round and smooth bokeh also give the picture some creative touch, we shot the Picture 4, an emerald elephant against backlight at F0.95, you could see the shallow focus depth makes the eye in focus but the red dot on the head and the pattern in the body are out of focus range. There is no visible fringing or chromatic aberration. Overall Highlight to shadow transition is smooth.
Even when we points the focus to nearby building, which was like 40 metres away, the main focus was at the middle (refer to picture 5) with F0.95 and we can still see some background blur and there are still some turning space to make the focusing ring to get to full infinity. That was how precise this lens is.
Let’s take this lens out to do some real world shooting – portraits. The Nikkor Z 58mm F0.95 S Noct is guaranteed to make heads turn once it is let loose out from the bag. The outstanding size is almost confirm to take some shines away for a while from anything you wanted to point at. Using this lens takes a lot of patients, especially in an event where no one will wait long enough to hold the pose for you. So we need to be very fast and precise and focus peaking does help a lot. It took a few takes to make some useable pictures below, all F0.95 with various shutter speeds and ISO.
The two photos above are shot at a decent distance, about 6 to 8 feet at F0.95, and the background was as smooth as spreading butter on hot bread. The people behind the model are actually in a very close range to the model and the Noct just simply “erased” them unidentifiable.
We did a close up model portrait in picture 6, about 4 feet away, the background blur was smooth and beautiful, but the problem is the shallow depth of F0.95 will not make both eyes in focus if the model is slightly angled. Refer to picture 7 below at 100% cropped to see the shallow depth of focus.
The best distance to use this Nikkor Z 58mm F0.95 S Noct to shoot portrait at wide open is about 8 to 10 feet. In picture 8, the model just stood about a feet in front of the backdrop and we could already rendered the background blurred, but we could get good facial focus on both eyes (see 100% crop in picture 9).
Another example in picture 10 and 11 of shooting portrait at a distance of about 8 feet to get optimal background blur and sharp focus on both eyes using the F0.95 wide aperture. If you are not a gym-trained personnel, you should embrace the position of elbow-to-body as a human tripod to support the lens due to its weight for steadier shot. The F0.95 is a light-sucker. The event space was not too bright, but with using the widest F0.95 aperture, we could still manage to get good shots while maintaining the ISO of not more than ISO 400 in most of our shots and with high shutter speed of over 1/125. That’s when you appreciate the price you pay for it!
PRO & CONS
Beautiful and smooth bokeh
Digital display on lens
Best for low light photography
Size & weight
No image Stabiliser
Should you buy this lens?
If you are a hardcore collector of Nikkor lenses and have spare cash to burn, go for it. This is not a lens for you to rush your photography like the other S lenses but to have it to show your high-level photography skill, it is not an easy lens to use, seriously. If you get the hang of it, this lens produces great images. It is out of reach for most photographers due to its premium price and availability, but this is a lens to showcase the optical wonders from Nikon.
The Nikkor Z 58mm F0.95 S Noct is available now as made to order item for RM35,688. If you are interested, please visit Nikon Malaysia for more details.
|Model||Nikkor Z 58mm F0.95 S Noct|
|Angle of View||FX format: 40° 50′ DX format: 27° 20′|
|Optical Construction||17 elements in 10 groups|
|Minimum Object Distance||0.50m|
|Maximum Magnification Ratio||NA|
|Coating||Nano Crystal and ARNEO coats|
and a fluorine-coated front lens element
|Compatible Mounts||Nikon Z Mount|