Nikon could be about to launch the ultimate travel lens: a full-frame 28-400mm

The Nikon Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 lens attached to a Nikon camera held up to person's eye with summer ocean backdrop
A potential 28-400mm lens could be in a similar mold to the Nikon Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 pictured above (Image credit: Nikon)

A new rumor about Nikon's next full-frame launch has certainly grabbed the attention, because if true we could soon see one of the most versatile and best Nikon Z lenses available that boasts a 15x optical zoom (approx). Details are sketchy at this point, but Nikon Rumors has shared a few details about what it believes will be a Nikkor Z 28-400mm f/4.0-8.0.

The first point to note is that unmatched zoom range for full-frame. It covers your standard perspective – roughly that of a camera phone at the wide end – but then can zoom in more than 14x up to 400mm. This kind of coverage would make the rumored 28-400mm an ideal travel lens, able to capture everything from wide vistas and close-up street photography to distant details you can't get close to.

This would be be a full-frame lens that effectively does the job of a bagful of lenses singlehandedly, yet it's still expected to be compact and lightweight, adding to its travel appeal, and making it an ideal pairing with one of Nikon's entry-level full-frame models like the Nikon Z5 or Z6 / Z6 II, or even the retro Zf

Its maximum aperture would likely be f/4 at 28mm and f/8 when fully zoomed in, but we don't know over what section of the zoom range the maximum aperture drops from f/4 to f/8. This lens won't offer the creamiest bokeh and shallow depth of field in a way that a prime lens can, but it is designed for full-frame mirrorless cameras with which you'll get cameraphone-beating snaps.

The last point to note at this stage is that Nikon Rumors says this will not be a 'S' lens – nomenclature for Nikon's professional lenses. Put simply, we can expect a compact 28-400mm lens such as this to offer versatility over outright image quality and low-light performance. 

We don't know the price of the lens yet, but it's tipped to be announced on March 26 or 27, so we might not have to wait long to find out more.

Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8 lens on gray surface

The Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8 prime lens is less versatile than a super-zoom but optically sharp (Image credit: Nikon)

Could this be the last lens you buy for Nikon?

When I first purchased a Nikon DSLR for APS-C it came with a versatile 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens that has an equivalent 27-300mm focal length. My lens lacked the optical quality of the prime lenses that I consequently picked up, but it sure was versatile. It really could be the only lens I needed to pack for a holiday, even if I occasionally wished for a second lens for portraits.

Nikon's Z-mount lenses usually perform better than similar DSLR lenses, especially when shooting at the maximum aperture, and so I'd expect this rumored new lens for Z-mount to be sharper than my old one for DSLR, even with its longer zoom and greater versatility. 

Optically, it won't be quite as sharp as a prime like the 35mm f/1.8 pictured above or a moderate-zoom lens, or be equipped for low-light photography on account of its smaller maximum aperture. However, with today's best AI image editors, which can work wonders to improve detail in our pictures by sharpening detail and reducing noise, outright quality is less of an issue – and the case for relying on a super-versatile lens like the 28-400mm is only stronger.

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Timothy Coleman
Cameras editor

Tim is the Cameras editor at TechRadar. He has enjoyed more than 15 years in the photo video industry with most of those in the world of tech journalism. During his time as Deputy Technical Editor with Amateur Photographer, as a freelancer and consequently editor at Tech Radar, Tim has developed a deeply technical knowledge and practical experience with cameras, educating others through news, reviews and features. He’s also worked in video production for Studio 44 with clients including Canon, and volunteers his spare time to consult a non-profit, diverse stories team based in Nairobi. Tim is curious, a keen creative, avid footballer and runner, and moderate flat white drinker who has lived in Kenya and believes we have much to enjoy and learn from each other.