Will Nikon Z Lenses Work on F-Mount DSLRs?

Using an FTZ adapter, you can put Nikon F-mount lenses on Z-mount mirrorless cameras. But what about the other way around? Is there an ZTF adapter?

Nikon FTZ II Lens Mount Adapter. Photo by David Coleman - havecamerawilltravel.com
Text & Photos By David Coleman
Last Revised & Updated:
Topics: Nikon

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When Nikon launched their Z series mirrorless cameras back in 2018, they also took the opportunity for a major overhaul of their lens mount system. Nikon has been famous for doggedly sticking with the F-mount bayonet system for decades (since 1959), a remarkable show of support for their lenses, and a great feature for their users who have invested in Nikon glass.

The Benefits of Z-Mount

But with mirrorless cameras, Nikon’s engineers saw the opportunity to take some big leaps. And they ultimately decided that the new benefits of mirrorless technology outweighed the benefits of sticking with F-mount.

Those benefits are led by a much-reduced flange focal distance (i.e., closer to the sensor, because there’s no mirror in the way) and a significantly larger throat diameter (55mm for Z, compared with 44mm for F).

Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f2.8 VR S Macro Lens. Photo by David Coleman - havecamerawilltravel.com
On the left left is the Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Macro Lens, with the larger throat diameter of 55mm for the Z-mount system. On the right is the Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED, with the 44mm throat diameter of F-mount. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel

Here’s a good explanation of the benefits of Z-mount over F-mount by a Nikon optical engineer.

YouTube video

However, they didn’t make a full break. Knowing that there are millions of still-excellent Nikon lenses out there and that most photographers would be reluctant to switch to mirrorless if it meant replacing all of their lenses, they also developed an adapter for many legacy F-mount lenses to work on Nikon Z-mount camera bodies. [1]

Nikon FTZ II Lens Mount Adapter. Photo by David Coleman - havecamerawilltravel.com
The Nikon FTZ adapter lets you use many F-mount lenses on Nikon Z-mount mirrorless camera bodies. This particular version is the FTZ II, which does not have the large tripod mount foot of the original FTZ. There is no glass in the FTZ. It is fundamentally a spacer to position the lens in the correct position for the flange focal distance. It also transmits electronic signals from camera to lens and vice versa. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel

It’s known as the FTZ mount adapter, a sort of acronym for F-mount To Z-mount. Even better, it has no impact on optical quality because there’s no glass. It’s basically a spacer that holds the lens out at the correct distance from the sensor as well as passing electronic signals for things like autofocus and Exif through.

ZTF Adapter?

But what if you want to go the other way? That is, putting a Z-mount lens on an F-mount camera body. After all, many photographers, me included, have both F-mount and Z-mount camera bodies.

That’s where we’re out of luck.

Nikon doesn’t make a ZTF adapter, and there aren’t any available from other manufacturers.

That’s not to say that there’ll never be a third-party option, but Nikon has been stingy with third-party licensing agreements to access to their proprietary Z-mount lens technology, so it’s unlikely to be something that appears anytime soon.

And there are different optical, electronic, and physical challenges to constructing such a beast. If it does appear, it’s likely to be something closer to a teleconverter—that is, with optical glass elements—because of the way that the lens will have to focus on the sensor at a greater distance. That, in turn, risks introducing optical flaws such as softness, vignetting, and distortion.

So no, unfortunately, there’s no way to put Z-mount lenses on F-mount camera bodies (at least, not yet!)

So, in practical terms, if you’re using a Nikon F DSLR or SLR, you’ll need to stick with Nikon F-mount lenses. But if you’re using a Nikon Z-mount body, you can use Z-mount lenses as well as many of the F-mount lenses (when used with an FTZ adapter).

  1. The FTZ is compatible with many F-mount lenses, but not all. And for some categories of F-mount lenses, there are performance limitations. The FTZ adapter facilitates autofocus for AF-S, AF-P, and AF-I lenses when used with Z-mount cameras. However, while the older screw-drive AF and AF-D lenses maintain their metering and Exif data capabilities with the FTZ adapter, they do not support autofocus functionality.[]
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David Coleman

I'm a professional photographer based in Washington, DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and many places in between. I've been shooting for 30+ years, and my photos and time-lapse videos have appeared in a bunch of different publications, from major newspapers to magazines and books, billboards, TV shows, professional sports stadiums, museums, and even massive architectural scrims covering world-famous buildings while they're being renovated. You can see some of my travel photography here and here.

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