The Nikon 50mm f/1.2 S Lens for Z Mount is a professional grade lens suited for portraits, events, weddings and other artistic photo and video endeavors.
(It is definitely not your typical, walkabout ‘nifty 50’ to bop around the city with!)
The large size of the lens and super-fast aperture call out for a specific use. Its little brother for Z mount, the Nikon 50mm F/1.8 lens is more suited for street photography or a day trek and won’t fill up or weigh down your bag like this speciality lens.
I recently jumped into the Nikon Z mount because of the smaller and lighter full-frame bodies and lenses this system offers, but I could not resist this behemoth of a lens for my professional wedding and portrait work.
I use it very specifically (which I will detail below) and with purpose and then I put it away.
If you own a Z-series Nikon mirrorless camera, should you add the 50mm f/1.2 S to your Nikon lens arsenal?
Let’s take a closer look in this review.
Table of Contents
Nikon 50mm f/1.2 S Lens Specs
- Stunning image quality
- Fast aperture
- Lens function buttons
- Superior build quality
- Weather sealed
- Large size
- Heavy weight
- Focal Length: 50mm
- Maximum Range: f/1.2 – f/16
- Lens Mount: Nikon Z
- Minimum Focus Distance: 1.5′ / 45 cm
- Optical Design: 17 Elements in 15 Groups
- Focus Type: Autofocus
- Image Stabilization: No
- Filter Size: 82 mm (Front)
- Dimensions: 3.5 x 5.9″ / 89.5 x 150 mm
- Weight: 2.4 lb / 1090 g
Build & Ergonomics
The Nikon 50mm f/1.2 S Lens for Z Mount is fully weather-sealed and has a very solid feel to it.
The autofocus and manual focus switch is confidently secured when you set it and the lens function buttons and display button also feel solid.
I use this lens on a Nikon Z6 II body with the Nikon MD-N11 battery grip so it balances nicely despite its size and heavy weight.
However, it would probably be front-heavy on a lighter Nikon mirrorless body such as the Nikon Z5.
The Nikon 50mm f/1.2 S lens is not quite the size of the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, but it’s pretty close!
The venerable and long time lens and camera maker has definitely set up this lens to compete with the current crop of large 50mm lenses that kicked off with the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art lens.
The display button can cycle through aperture, focal length and focus distance and is a nice modern design touch. However, I choose to just leave this off.
I find the lens function button much more useful and I have this mapped via the camera body to subject tracking, although you will have a myriad of choices including turning it off altogether.
My primary reason for purchasing this lens is for artistic portraits, especially in backlit situations.
The above image was taken at sunrise with backlight as well as a prism in front of the lens to create some interesting flare, and the focus was very quick.
The above portrait was a shot in a fairly low light scene. There was some window light, but with the bright f/1.2 aperture of this lens there was no need for me to grab my strobe.
The focus in this situation as well as dim reception halls has been very quick with no issues at all.
Why would one pay a premium price for this Nikon 50mm f/1.2 S Lens for Z mount over the smaller and cheaper f/1.8 version?
It’s the stunning rendering it provides in the out of focus areas along with the light-gathering capabilities of the f/1.2 aperture.
Oh, and it’s sharp wide open with no chromatic aberration that I can see.
Nikon 50mm f/1.2 S Lens Sample Images
Here are some sample images taken with the Nikon 50mm f/1.2 lens, using a Nikon Z6 II.
The most obvious alternative 50mm lens for the Z mount would be the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 S.
In Nikon’s DSLR range of lenses, the f/1.8 lens lineup was considered slightly inferior to their f/1.4 gold ring counterparts.
In the new mirrorless world, if a Nikon lens has the S moniker it’s considered professional grade.
Of course, the older F mount lenses such as the Nikon 58mm f/1.4 lens are no slouch and perform flawlessly on the Nikon FTZ Adapter. If you are looking for artistic rendering this F mount lens will get you there.
However, I always found the other Nikon 50mm F mount lenses quite lacking.
Value for Money
At around $2000, the Nikon 50mm f/1.2 S lens actually comes in slighter cheaper than the Canon 50mm f/1.2 RF lens and the Sony 50mm f/1.2 G Master as well as the Panasonic f/1.4 lens for L mount.
Despite its high price tag, for professional use, I feel it’s definitely worth the money.
For instances where you do not need the artistic rendering and fast aperture that this lens provides, definitely go with the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 S lens. It’s native for Z mount and will save your wallet and space in your bag.
If, however, you’re willing to invest in a lens that will produce truly one of a kind image rendering and the kind of subject separation that can help differentiate your work from the next wedding or portrait photographer, the 50mm f/1.2 S is second to none.
Nikon 50mm f/1.2 S Lens Review | Conclusion
The Nikon 50mm f/1.2 S lens is a winner for me and I will be using it at weddings as well as portrait sessions. I feel as though the rendering of this lens is special and will allow me to get images for my clients I otherwise could not.
If you are a street photographer who loves the 50mm focal length and wants to be incognito while capturing life around you, I’d get the smaller and lighter, but professional quality Nikon 50mm f/1.8 S lens instead.
For those of you looking for ultimate images quality for fine art night photography, this 1.2 version is the ultimate choice. For a fairly new mount, it’s great to have choices.
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