When a photographer thinks of the 50mm focal length, they are usually going to use it as a walkaround normal lens or an environmental portrait lens.
The Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens is just that but with the added bonus of macro.
I think this excellent Nikon prime lens is best suited for the photographer who has that mindset about it as opposed to one who is looking to shoot close-up photography exclusively.
Out at your local park and looking to capture the overall scene along with some close flower petals, this lens will allow you to do so without having to change lenses.
I used it on a full-frame Nikon camera body as well as an APS-C sensor-sized camera. Let’s have a look at what I found.
Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Specs
- Compact and lightweight
- Weather sealed
- Reasonably priced
- Compatible with the Nikon ES-2 Film Digitizing Adapter
- Produces sharp images.
- Doubles as a walkaround lens.
- Not in Nikon’s Superior line of optics.
- A shorter working distance for 1:1 macro work.
- No function buttons or proper lens ring for manual focus override and more.
Focal Length: 50mm
Maximum Aperture: f/2.8
Minimum Aperture: f/16
Lens Construction: 10 elements in 7 groups (including 1 ED element and 1 aspherical element)
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.16m (0.53 ft)
Maximum Reproduction Ratio: 1:1
Aperture Blades: 9 (rounded diaphragm opening)
Filter Size: 46mm
Dimensions: Approx. 76mm (diameter) x 66mm (length)
Weight: Approx. 260g (9.2 oz)
Build & Ergonomics
The Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens has a very good build quality, but not quite to the same level as the S line Nikon Nikkor Z MC 105mm f/2.8 Macro lens. It is fully weather sealed.
There is a lens barrel indicator for reproduction ratio and focus distance and a supplied “lens hood” that appears to be a conduit for attachments such as the Nikon ES-2 Film Digitizing Adapter.
The lens is very lightweight and balances well even on the diminutive Nikon Z fc camera body. However, it then becomes a 75mm equivalent lens.
The MC 50mm f/2.8 has a wide focus ring with a focus scale on the barrel of the lens. The front element does protrude along with the extending barrel.
The Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens is a simple lens without the features you will find in the Nikon Z S line lens lineup such as a digital display, lens function buttons, or control ring.
You will find a focus limiter switch and an autofocus / manual focus toggle.
I took the Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens mounted onto my Nikon Z fc camera to the darkened rooms of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. I found the lens struggled on occasion in very low-light scenarios
It is not uncommon for macro lenses to not be speed demons in the autofocus department and this was of no concern.
There was just slight hesitation at times which may have been resolved by using another body with a more sophisticated AF system, such as the Nikon Z9.
The autofocus accuracy was spot on. Image stabilization is not present in the lens (nor in the Z fc camera body), but the compactness of this lens helped as I took images handheld in the dark confines of the museum.
The Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens is as sharp as you’d expect a macro lens to be. It shows every bit of dust and scratches on the old film camera and lens shown above.
I did not come across any lateral chromatic aberration in shooting the lens and distortion is not an issue at all.
Focus breathing is subdued which is great for videographers looking to film from macro distances.
While the Nikon NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 Lens will get you more bokeh than this slower aperture macro lens, the close focusing will help to get you more out-of-focus backgrounds and foregrounds.
The natural colors rendered by the lens are typical Nikon, no matter which camera body I mount the lens to.
Nikon Z MC 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Sample Images
Here are some sample images taken with the Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens, using Z9 and Zf c camera bodies.
How I Tested the Nikon Z MC 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens
I tested the Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens in the two ways I think it’s most useful, as a walkaround lens and dedicated macro lens.
The Nikon Zf c was the choice of camera for shooting casually inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.
I found the 75mm equivalent of view a bit tight inside the crowded museum but it also gave me a unique perspective.
Also, handling the camera and lens was effortless as it was all very lightweight and fit easily into the Lowepro Slingshot SL 250 AW III sling bag.
To test the maximum sharpness and macro capabilities, I mounted it onto the Z9 and shot close-ups of a vintage camera body as well as some old coins. I found it to be plenty sharp. All images were shot handheld.
The obvious alternative is Nikon’s own NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Macro Lens which doubles the focal length and does not meet the walkaround criteria.
Although, it is the best quality macro lens I have ever used so look out for my review of it on Shotkit (tap the link above.)
If manual focus only is not a deal breaker, then the Voigtlander MACRO APO-LANTHAR 65mm f/2 Aspherical is closest in focal length and size. It will also let in a bit more light at an aperture of f/2.
If macro photography is your passion, you may want more than one macro lens for the different focus distances.
Value for Money
At about $650, the Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens is priced reasonably, and the ability to use it as a normal field of view walkaround lens is added value.
At an equivalent field of view of 75mm, this nifty fifty mounted on an APS-C camera such as the Nikon Z50 can become a decent portrait lens. It can also give you a little bit more space for macro work.
So if versatility is of value to you, then this is the macro lens you want for your Z mount camera. It certainly will not take up much space in your camera bag.
Can a ring flash be attached to this lens?
Yes, a ring flash can be attached if it has a 46mm adapter ring.
How does this compare to the Z 50mm 1.8 S prime lens?
If you do not need the macro capability, then the 50mm 1.8 is a better choice for the extra light and S designation.
Nikon Z MC 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Review | Conclusion
The Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens is the one you want if you value the ability to walk around with one lens and shoot general scenes in addition to macro.
Think of it as your nifty fifty general-purpose lens that happens to be excellent at close-up photography. It comes in a close second in sharpness to the flagship Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Macro Lens.
This is also the macro lens you want if you value portability. Its other superpower is digitizing film negatives as it’s perfectly mated with the Nikon ES-2 Film Digitizing Adapter.
While the focal length of this lens has its pluses, the downside is that a wider macro lens like this can be difficult to use when light is imperative, as getting in close can shadow your subject. This is not the one you want for insect photography, either.
Price-wise, this lens is a bargain and while not the best in class, the quality you can get from it is superb.