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Reader Comment: Nikon FTZ Lens Adapter vs 3rd Party Lenses — Autofocus Might Not Work

Get Nikon Z at B&H Photo.

Reader Jon H writes:

Thank you for your insightful coverage of the new Nikon Z system.

I recently updated the firmware of my Nikon D800E from version 1.10 to 1.11. This resulted in complete loss of auto focus on two of my Sigma lenses; the AF 180 mm f/2,8 Macro DG OS HSM macro and the AF 85mm f/1.4 DG EX. Also, the AF indicator in the viewfinder went nuts, blinking irregularly. These lenses are from the pre “Sigma global vision” era, so there’s no way to update the firmware for these lenses.

The added functionality of the firmware update on my camera is not sufficiently important for me compared the loss of AF on two much used lenses, so I reinstalled firmware 1.10 and everything works fine. There was no loss of function of my newer Sigma 50 mm f/1.4 DG HSM ART either way.

Nikon FTZ lens adapter for Nikon Z7 and Nikon Z6

However, this highlights a question brought up by many: Will the new Nikon FTZ lens adapter allow Nikon owners to enjoy using their old third-party lenses on Nikon Z cameras? I guess will just have to wait and see. Sigma may find a way to allow their ART lenses to be updated, but what about the rest?

I have searched the net and found several descriptions of the problem described above, but I’m sure there are a lot of frustrated users out there who struggle to understand what has happened to their photographic equipment. Nikon ought to warn users that firmware updates may render third-party equipment useless, but I guess that’s just not their policy.

DIGLLOYD: being electronic, there is always a risk of issues. My expectation is that manual focus Zeiss DSLR lenses for Nikon and Canon like Zeiss Milvus and Zeiss Otus and Zeiss ZF.2 lenses will work.

When it come Sigma, Tamron, Tokina and other 3rd-party autofocus lenses, then it gets dicey as noted above. Even prior to Nikon mirrorless, there have been AF issues: y own Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art failed to autofocus properly even with the original Nikon D850 firmware. While this surely was rectifiable with a firmware update, even that was a nuisance as I did not have the updater or a PC to use it (does it run on a Mac?).

Sigma provides the Sigma USB Dock updater for Sigma DG HSM Art lenses.

Since new the Nikon NIKKOR Z lens designs are likely to be very high performance (optically and autofocus) and the awkward bulk of the adapter is never going to be a plus, some lenses are probably best abandoned entirely; for example the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG EX is not worth dealing with IMO.

Patrick B writes:

I had a brief hands on with a Nikon Z7 in the UK and tried my Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art with latest firmware and it worked fine. It was very brief and I cannot say if the adaptor degraded the AF performance or not but it definitely worked. Anecdotal I know but I thought it worth relating.

DIGLLOYD: I would expect the latest Sigma DG HSM Art lenses to work, at least with current firmware, so that’s sounding good.

However, I am not a fan of large and heavy lenses mounted on an adapter. In my view, it is not a great idea to use any larger or heavy lenses with the Nikon FTZ lens adapter without taking great care never to bump the lens—it could bend the lens mount.

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