Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 Wide Angle Lens Review

A high quality rectilinear wide angle lens option from Nikon for Z mount cameras
By Nirupam Nigam

Last year I had the pleasure of diving in the Revillagigedo Archipelago with the new Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 rectilinear wide lens for Nikon Z series cameras. This lens is a top choice for wide angle underwater photographers and Nikon shooters who need to photograph large pelagic subjects that tend to be a little skittish, like sharks and dolphins. It's also a great lens for Nauticam WACP-2 users that want the best quality and widest field of view in a rectilinear wide angle lens system possible. With Socorro being the perfect place to put it to the test, I came back quite happy with my photos - especially at those wider focal lengths. Is it worth the price tag? Yeah, I think so. 

Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 US MSRP: $1,299.99

The incredible 45.7MP full-frame sensor on the Nikon Z7II allowed us to capture a beautiful portrait of the triggerfish with an extreme crop. f/13, 1/160, ISO 500


The Benefits of the Nikon Z Mount

Before talking about the lens itself, it's important to discuss the new-ish Nikon Z mount. Unlike the legacy F mount, the Z mount is a very wide mount with a relatively short flange distance. This means the back of your lens is quite close to the sensor, reducing aberration in your images and producing sharper corners. Most underwater photographers have had lots of experience with soft corners - especially with rectilinear wide lenses. From my experience, the Nikon Z 14-30mm does have sharper corners, and therefor I didn't hesitate to put it behind a compact 8 inch dome rather than a full 8 inch dome that traditionally would have given me better image quality. So the days of big domes may start to be behind us as the quality of glass improves from the Nikon Z mount. 

Shark photographed with the Nikon 14-30mm f/4

Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30mm f/4 Corner Sharpness Test

To test corner sharpness, I photographed a wolf eel at an open aperture (f/5.6) and at a normal aperture for wide angle shooting (f/13). The lens was behind an Ikelite 8 inch compact dome.

f/5.6 Original

f/5.6 Center

f/5.6 Corner

f/13 Original

Excellent dynamic range (though it's hard to see with this web-resolution photo) captured with the Nikon Z 7II.  f/13, 1/30, ISO 640

f/13 Center

f/13 Corner



Autofocus Speed

One of the obvious benefits of shooting with native glass like the Nikon Z 14-30mm lens over a Nikon F mount lens and the FTZ adapter is autofocus speed. At least on paper. Is the autofocus quicker with the Z mount than the Fmount with an FTZ adapter? It's hard to say. I couldn't discern a noticeable difference in autofocus speed with Z mount glass. Overall, I think that no one should be scared to use an F mount lens with a Z mount camera for fear of slower autofocus. There's not much of a difference. The FTZ adapter does a great job. That being said, the Nikon Z 14-30mm is always going to provide a Nikon Z series camera with the optimal autofocus speed. 

Quick autofocus is essential for shooting manta rays

Image Quality and Distortion

The overall image quality from the Nikon 14-30mm is excellent - particularly at wider focal lengths. While the corners can be soft at 14mm, I was able to capture plenty of useable photos at this range, even with a compact dome port. The overall sharpness of each image was phenomenal and I was pleased to be shooting with the high resolution Nikon Z7 II which allows me to crop quite a bit. I actually prefer the image quality at wide focal lengths much more in the Z 14-30mm compared to it's popular competitor the Canon RF 14-35mm f/4. The latter introduces vingetting at 14mm. 

The incredible 45.7MP full-frame sensor on the Nikon Z7II allowed us to capture a beautiful portrait of the triggerfish with an extreme crop. f/13, 1/160, ISO 500


One curious note about the Nikon 14-30mm f/4 is that it actually has a fair amount of barrel distortion. Most underwater photographers would not notice it, but this is what prevents the lens from vignetting at 14mm. 


Lens Flare and Aberration

I noticed very little lens flare or aberration when shooting into the sun. It's clear the Nikon Z mount is doing it's job of protecting the sensor from mismatched light. 

Minimal flare or aberration when shooting into the sun

Build Quality

Overall, the build quality of the lens is very solid and it's quite a compact lens. The Nikon 14-30mm f/4 weighs in at 485 grams whereas the equivalent Nikon F mount 16-35mm f/4 is 680 grams. The lens is complete with a control ring and a single autofocus/manual focus switch.

A quintessential shark scene photographed with the Nikon 14-30mm f/4 Z mount lens



Overall I think the photos speak for themselves. The Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 is an awesome lens - particularly at wider focal lengths, which is unusual for a rectilinear wide lens. My only complaint is that I do wish it had a little more reach. If you like to shoot smaller reef fish, you may want to consider the original Nikon F mount 16-35mm f/4. But if you need a high quality, rectilinear wide lens for shooting large pelagic animals - you can't get better than the Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4.


Topside photo with the Nikon Z7II and Nikon Z mount 14-30mm rectilinear wide lens



Nirupam Nigam is the Editor-in-Chief of the Underwater Photography Guide and the President of Bluewater Photo - the world's top underwater photo & video retailer. While growing up in Los Angeles he fell in love with the ocean and pursued underwater photography in the local Channel Islands. After receiving degrees in Aquatic and Fisheries Science and General Biology, as well as a minor in Arctic Studies, Nirupam worked as a fisheries observer on vessels in the Bering Sea and North Pacific. Since then, Nirupam has been a full time underwater photographer and photo gear head. Check out more of his photography at!


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