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