Nikon Introduces a New "Travel" Lens (so does Tamron)

Nikon today announced the 28-400mm f/4-8 VR lens, a 14.2x superzoom, which they're promoting as a travel lens. At 1.6 pounds (725g) in weight and 5.6" (141mm) in length, it's a bit on the large side, though Nikon press release points out makes this new lens is the lightest 10x+ superzoom currently available for full frame (FX) sensors. 

The lens will be available in mid-April for US$1300.

Commentary: This lens is a bit big and ungainly on a Zf, and it's not exactly the spec level the serious Z7 II, Z8, or Z9 user is likely to be interested in. So that leaves you Z5 and Z6 II folk looking for an all-in-one solution. The problem with that is that it is not quite "all-in-one," as the 28mm wide side leaves you a little short for a lot of travel situations. 

While Nikon plays up the close-up ability (8", or 0.2m), they do so at 28mm, where they also note that you should beware the lens hood hitting the subject. In the initial material there's no real indication of how maximum magnification works at the longer focal distances, nor is there any data supplied that would allow us to calculate focal length breathing (the fact that the close focusing distance is 48" (1.2m) at both 300mm and 400mm suggests the lens focal length breaths, though. 

While it may sound like I'm being harsh here, I'm not trying to be; I'm just trying to set some expectations. I actually find it good news that Nikon is continuing to avoid clear lens duplication for the most part, and instead continue to broaden the range of choices as they add new lenses. I do have to wonder whether or not there was a body pairing Nikon had in mind for this lens, say a budget FX body with a hand grip, as I suspect that most readers of this site and a majority of the existing Z mount owners probably would be better served by other two lens solutions (I'm a little surprised Nikon didn't mention the 14-30mm f/4 in conjunction with this lens. That would be a natural two lens travel solution with a broad range. The fact that they didn't seems to indicate that they think this lens is the only lens that goes on some bodies. So the question then becomes, what bodies will you be able to get it in a kit with?)

Meanwhile, in a bit of a surprise, Tamron introduced their 28-75mm f/2.8 G2 lens for the Z-mount. The surprise here is that Nikon licensed the earlier model to create the Nikkor 28-75mm f/2.8, and now Tamron is bringing the newer model to market under their own name at a lower price than the Nikkor (US$999 for the G2 versus Nikon's US$1199 price for the original design.

There are differences between the two: Nikon opted to let their version focus a little closer at the long end and is using a stepper motor, while Tamron has a variable close focus distance and uses a voice coil focus motor. 

Commentary: This appears to answer a question that came up back when it became clear Nikon was talking to other companies about mount licensing, which is whether Nikon would allow third party lenses on the mount that competed with their own offerings. The answer is a clear yes (now waiting for you to get off the pot, Canon). Frankly, if this is where we were always headed, I'm not sure what the real benefit to Nikon was to license the three f/2.8 Tamrikon zooms in the first place. Are we now going to get Tamron's own versions of the trio?

It's also unclear to me why Tamron would pick the 28-75mm f/2.8 to be their next Z-mount lens. The 20-40mm f/2.8 seems like it would be a more unique offering to pick from the current Tamron lineup, and would slot in nicely for the Zf through Z6 II crowd who wants to stay compact and light. 

Meanwhile, where is Sigma? Tamron now has four Z-mount full frame lenses, while Sigma is still just fiddling with their original mirrorless APS-C trio when that's not the strong portion of Nikon's Z System camera lineup. 

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