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Nikon Z 26mm f/2.8 Lens Review

While conducting a hands-on Nikon ZF review I was fortunate to have two mirrorless Nikon lenses to photograph with, including this Nikon Z 26mm f/2.8 Lens. Due to illness I was unable to head into the city for portrait and street photography, instead opting to capture scenes from a local ornamental gardens, which was fully enveloped in its winter coat.

Nikon Z 26mm f/2.8 Lens Review

Camera settings: Exposure 1/500 sec. f/2.8. ISO 250

The Nikon Z 26mm f/2.8 Lens review was somewhat overshadowed by the Nikon Z 85mm f/1.2 S Lens review due to the subjects at hand, however I managed to capture a variety of wide angle shots with this incredibly compact and lightweight prime lens.

Discover whether Nikon’s first ever 26mm full-frame pancake lens is ideal for your wide angle photography in our hands-on review, which includes sample images and a full rundown of which subjects it’s best suited for.

Sample image of ornate gardens in winter captured with Nikon Z 26mm f/2.8 lens

Camera settings: Exposure 1/500 sec. f/3.2. ISO 160

Sample images

In this review, I used a combination of RAW+JPG, and all sample images from the Nikon Z 26mm f/2.8 are unedited, straight from the camera. The colours produced by the Nikon mirrorless system are accurate and extremely appealing, so if you prefer a minimal editing workflow, this could be the ideal platform for your needs.

Ultra compact pancake lens shown on Zf camera body

How much is the Nikon Z 26mm f/2.8 Lens?

Following its February 2023 launch, the Nikon Z 26mm f/2.8 Lens costs £529.00, which is a compelling price given the compact nature of the prime. It’s worth noting this is roughly double the price of the larger Nikon Z 28mm lens, which offers a slightly narrower field of view.

Nikon Z 26mm f2 8 key features

  • Ultra slim ‘pancake’ lens
  • Weighs just 125g
  • Customisable control ring, which doubles as a manual focus ring
  • Bright maximum f/2.8 aperture, through to f/16
  • 7-bladed aperture
  • Optics include three aspherical elements
  • Ideal for stills and video recording
  • 20cm minimum focus distance
  • Accepts 52mm filters only when used with the included HB-111 hood
  • Weather sealed mount

Z 26mm lens sample image showing extremely detailed results

Camera settings: Exposure 1/125 sec. f/2.8. ISO 280

What is 26mm lens good for?

The 26mm full-frame lens excels in street photography, food, landscape, and travel photography, and is ideal for environmental portraits, reportage, and general day-to-day shooting. Thanks to its slim pancake design, you could mount this on your Nikon mirrorless camera and never really notice the additional weight.

When mounted on a crop sensor body (DX), the lens provides an equivalent 39mm focal width, which is arguably the perfect ‘normal’ or standard lens for everyday shooting.

Sample image showing extremely wide field of view which 26mm provides

Camera settings: Exposure 1/500 sec. f/3.2. ISO 720

Ergonomics and usability

As the smallest full-frame wide angle prime for the Z system it lacks controls, buttons, or customisation options other than the single focus/control ring. The absence of controls and vibration reduction made using the lens a highly enjoyable experience, and it complemented the compact size of the Nikon Zf camera body perfectly.

The manual override feature proved to be handy with this camera and lens combination, especially in situations where nudging the lens' focus past obstacles was necessary. It enabled the autofocus to re-engage with subjects once they were back in the plane of focus and helps to speed up subject acquisition where the subject isn’t prominent in the frame.

Sample image of a greenhouse with excellent resolution and detail

Camera settings: Exposure 1/500 sec. f/3.2. ISO 250

Image quality

There's some discussion about the image quality of this wide-angle Z lens. From my experience, the centre sharpness was impressively high, even when shooting at the widest aperture. The corners are a bit softer, but this is mostly evident when pixel peeping. Contrast and colours were particularly strong, making me confident in using this lens for professional work, especially with photo editing software available to refine the results.

Paired with the Zf camera's 24MP sensor, the lens adeptly resolved fine details, offering sufficient resolution to capture even the most tiny nuances throughout the frame.

Close-up lens performance of the Nikon Z 26mm pancake lens

Camera settings: Exposure 1/500 sec. f/3.2. ISO 450


Although not the quickest AF lens, the Nikon Z 26mm f/2.8 pancake had no hesitation in acquiring subjects during my time with it for this review. It locked onto subjects with confidence and was able to track moving subjects easily when paired with effective camera subject recognition.

For static subjects it performed similarly well, and I used touch focus on the LCD panel, or manual focus override to compensate for obstacles in the frame, or when switching between subjects as required.

Due to the depth of field provided by such a wide-angle lens, a significant portion of the frame always remains in focus, even when working with a wide aperture. This allows for techniques like pre-focusing, if needed for fast moving subjects which might enter the scene. Videographers should note there is some occasional audible motor noise, which may be picked up by your microphone.

Another detailed close-up with the Nikon Z 26mm lens showing excellent clarity

Camera settings: Exposure 1/250 sec. f/2.8. ISO 250

Where does the Z 26mm lens fit into the range?

Nikon has expanded the range of Z system lenses since launch and there are now over 40 native options to choose between. The Z 26mm f/2.8 is unique as the smallest full-frame wide angle lens, which is perfect for photographers who prize portability over the versatility of a zoom.

Alternatives like the Nikon Z 24-50mm F/4-6.3 Zoom Lens come with a penalty to the bright aperture found in the 26mm, whereas the Z 20mm F/1.8 S lens is considerably more expensive at £1,149.00, and offers a more specialist focal width.

Taking in the whole scene with a wide field of view

Camera settings: Exposure 1/250 sec. f/7.1. ISO 1100


When the included HB-111 hood is mounted you can utilise regular threaded 52mm lens filters such as a circular polariser, or a VND for video recording and long exposure photography. The Hoya 52mm Variable Density II Filter is amongst the best available right now, with an updated user-friendly design and neutral results for stills and video.

3 Legged Thing recently launched a new line of wraps, with the 3 Legged Thing Swirls Wrapz Small or 3 Legged Thing Retro Wrapz Pack of 3 ideal for this lens and other valuables in your bag.

Lastly it’s essential to clean your camera lens, and although small, the 26mm is no exception, requiring a clean front element to deliver the best results. This can be achieved with a combination of lens blower and micro fibre cleaning cloths, especially if maintained on a regular basis.

This wide angle 26mm lens from Nikon is remarkably compact, making it very enjoyable to use thanks to being so lightweight portable. Results are beautifully detailed with vivid, accurate colours straight out of camera, and it offers great light gathering capabilities for low light situations.

If you’re looking for a discrete lens for a full-frame or crop sensor DX body, which is straight forward to use, offers a wide field of view and high sharpness in the centre, the Z 26mm is the way to go.

Reserve your Nikon Z 26mm F/2.8 Z Mount Lens today and discover how it can enhance your wide angle photography. It’s also worth browsing current used Nikon lenses to see if one is available second-hand with a 6-month warranty at no extra cost.

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By Nick Dautlich on 12/02/2024

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