How to Customize the Control Ring on the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 S Zoom Lens

A guide to customizing the behavior of the control ring on the Nikon Z 24-70mm ƒ/4 S zoom lens.

When you look at the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 S lens, you’ll notice two rotating rings. The broad one is for the zoom. THere’s also a narrow one closer to the camera. You might think it’s the focus ring, and you’d be right . . . sort of.

Nikon calls it the Control Ring. And the reason for that is that you can customize what it does to some extent.

By default, it’s set up to be the manual focus ring. But you can change that; it can also be set to some other settings. The available options are:

  • Focus (M/A) (NB: This is the default)
  • Aperture
  • Exposure Compensation
  • ISO Sensitivity
  • None (This disables it)

It’s worth mentioning an exception. That is when you’re shooting in manual focus mode (i.e., you’ve flipped the switch on the side of the lens to A to M). In manual-focus mode, the Control Ring will only work as a focus ring.

How to Customize the Behavior of the Lens Control Ring

If you go looking for how to set that in the lens’s manual, you won’t find it—and that’s not just because you need a magnifying glass to be able to read the manual’s tiny text. The reason is that it’s controlled in the camera’s settings, not with a switch on the lens itself.

For these examples, I’m using the Nikon Z7. It’s the same for the Z6.

You find the setting in two places in the camera’s menu. One assigns the behavior when shooting photos. The other is for shooting video. That means you can set them to different settings for photo and video modes.

Customizing the Lens’s Control Ring for Shooting Photos

You can find the option under:

MENU > Controls > Custom Settings Menu (the pencil icon) > f2 > Custom Control Assignment > Lens Control Ring

After doing that, the section at left will give you a visual representation of what button or control you’re changing. The section at the right of the menu screen is a kind of menu system, with an icon for the button or ring and its currently assigned function next to it.

Using the controls on the back of the camera, navigate down to the bottom right icon that has what looks like a ring with a two-headed arrow showing rotation. If this is the first time you’re doing this, it will have M/A for manual/autofocus.

Click OK to open the choices, and then select the one you want to apply.

Once you’re done, press the MENU button on the back of the camera.

Customizing the Lens’s Control Ring for Shooting Video

It’s basically the same for setting it for video shooting, but it’s a separate menu item. You find it under:

MENU > Movie > Custom Settings Menu (the pencil icon) > g2 > Custom Control Assignment > Lens Control Ring

Once again, the section at left will give you a visual representation of what button or control you’re changing. The section at the right of the menu screen is a kind of menu system, with an icon for the button or ring and it’s currently assigned function next to it.

Choose from the available options. One minor difference you might notice is that here it’s called Power Aperture rather than just Aperture in the photo mode.

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