Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 Lens [REVIEW] - Digital Photography School

Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 Lens [REVIEW]

Nikon’s Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 is something of a legend in the realm of ultrawide zooms and after playing with one while traveling to both Utah and Hawaii, The Big Island, I understand better why this lens is coveted. It made me a little jealous and considering moving to a full frame Nikon camera as my main landscape imaging platform. It’s that good.

I was lent my copy from BorrowLenses.com for the test and this was the piece of equipment that was hardest for me to send back, ever. Even harder than the much more expensive Pentax 645D or Canon 400mm f/2.8 (both of which are fine pieces of equipment in their own right).

Specifications

  • Mount Type
    Nikon F-Bayonet
  • Focal Length Range
    14-24mm
  • Zoom Ratio
    1.7x
  • Maximum Aperture
    f/2.8
  • Minimum Aperture
    f/22
  • Format
    FX/35mm
  • Maximum Angle of View (DX-format)
    90°
  • Minimum Angle of View (DX-format)
    61°
  • Maximum Angle of View (FX-format)
    114°
  • Minimum Angle of View (FX-format)
    84°
  • Maximum Reproduction Ratio
    0.15x
  • Lens Elements
    14
  • Lens Groups
    11
  • Compatible Format(s)
    FX
    DX
    FX in DX Crop Mode
    35mm Film
  • Diaphragm Blades
    9
  • Distance Information
    Yes
  • Nano Crystal Coat
    Yes
  • ED Glass Elements
    2
  • Aspherical Elements
    3
  • Super Integrated Coating
    Yes
  • Autofocus
    Yes
  • AF-S (Silent Wave Motor)
    Yes
  • Internal Focusing
    Yes
  • Minimum Focus Distance
    0.9 ft. (0.28m)
  • Focus Mode
    Auto
    Manual
    Manual/Auto
  • G-type
    Yes
  • Dimensions
    (Approx.) 3.8 x 5.2 in. (Diameter x Length)
    98 x 131.5mm (Diameter x Length)

In Real Life

[Click on an image for a 100% version. Warning: some can be quite big. All images Copyright Peter West Carey Photography and not to be reused without express consent.)

Functionally the lens is a snap in the field. Only two rings to turn for either zoom or focus. One switch on the side can turn on and off manual focus. That is it. For those not accustomed to wide angle lenses, the hood may look odd but it does help protect the extruding curve of the lens that is needed for a zoom of this nature.

The lens comes with a hood attached that can not be removed and the front element is convex, meaning it curves forward from the lens body. There is a cup of a lens cap that fits over the hood and it’s best not to lose this as replacements are not as easy to find as a standard 77mm lens cap. A special note here; finding filters for this lens is complicated by the shape of the lens and hood. There are solutions by the likes of Fotodiox that are large enough to fit the unit, but I was not able to procure a set to test with this lens.

On a full frame body, like the Nikon D800E I tested this lens on, the field of view is from 84° to 114°. For landscape photographers, this range is perfect for typical settings and locations. I have been shooting with Canon gear for over 10 years and loved the 16-35mm, but the 14-24mm Nikon has it beat with the sweat spot for wide angle. And that extra 2mm on the wide end is appreciated.

What this lens does well is not often noticed unless you have used a cheaper wide angle lens. It holds corners well and resists distortion, thanks to the curved front element. At 24mm there is virtually no noticeable distortion while it is noticeable at 14mm. Here are two examples. The macadamia nut farm is at 14mm (thanks to Paradise Helicopter Tours for the lift) and the sign in the corn maze is at 24mm. The original files will be shown in the Samples section.

This is a boon for architectural photographers who don't want their corners bowing out. Chromatic aberration is also less than I have seen with any other wide angle lens from Canon and it has me seriously thinking of jumping ship, at least for wide angle photography. I was able to push it and recognize some aberration, such as in the image below with 100% crop, but I really had to push it.

Here's another of Mesa Arch at sunrise. This is all easily cleaned in Lightroom.

Lens flare was annoying for sunset shots. There are some prime examples below. I found it beyond distracting, especially in the shot from the rim of Canyonlands with the dead tree. The angle was just wrong but it's the angle that I wanted. Sharpness was impressive, even closer to the edges. With the huge sensor of the D800E, the enlargements on wide shots was beyond my expectations while remaining sharp. For instance, take a look at the full sized version of Mesa Arch below. Look to the distant towers. This is a testament to the lens' overall sharpness, which has me drooling.

Samples

Below are samples from the Nikon 14-24mm and D800E combo. Some images have been cropped and most have been edited.

ISO 50, 24mm, f/3.2, 1/2500

ISO 100, 14mm, f/8, center shutter speed of 1/40

ISO 3200, 14mm, f/4, 30 seconds

ISO 3200, 15mm, f/4, 30 seconds

ISO 2000, 14mm, f/2.8, 30 seconds

ISO 50, 14mm, f/6.3, 30 seconds (pre-sunrise)

ISO 50, 14mm, f/7.1, 1/100

ISO 100, 14mm, f/4, 1/25

ISO 2000, 14mm, f/2.8, 5 seconds

ISO 50, 16mm, f/8, 1/20

ISO 50, 24mm, f/8, 1/20 - Zoom in on this one

ISO 50, 14mm, f/22, 1/8

ISO 500, 14mm, f/4, 1/000

ISO 500, 17mm, f/4, 1/400

ISO 500, 14mm, f/2.8, 1/400

ISO 500, f/2.8, 1/320

ISO 500, 14mm, f/2.8, 1/500

ISO 500, 14mm, f/2.5, 1/3200

ISO 1000, 24mm, f/2.8, 1/2500

Conclusion

The lens is a joy to use and the results, to me, are stunning. It has me seriously thinking of adopting a Nikon camera and this lens in the future. It was very useful both in Utah when I had to get a little closer, without getting physically closer, at Mesa Arch. It was also helpful when shooting from a helicopter over Hawaii, The Big Island as the blades and skids started to show as I could zoom in just a little and make it work.

If I had a Nikon camera body, I would already own this lens and it will be the first Nikon lens I ever buy. It is an excellent lens.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category.

Peter West Carey is a world traveling photographer who now is spending a large amount of time going back through 6 years of travel photo and processing them like he should have to start with. He is also helping others learn about photography with the free series 31+ Days Of Photography Experiments which builds off of the 31+ Days To Better Photography series on his blog.

  • William Marshall

    Amazing set of pictures.

  • Yoan

    Very nice review and samples! Just a small suggestion though – next time use ISO 100 instead of 50 because the latter is not a native ISO setting.

  • http://barryjohnsonphotography.com Barry

    I would love to own this but as a Canon shooter and due to my bushwacking and commando style of landscape imagery I found I really need a filter to protect the element! The 16-35 is my choice and it is no where close to the sharpness in the corners of the N 14-24 but I love the overlap with my 24+ zooms and the color rendition, micro contrast and build are still A+ for me. I bet there’s just a bit less time spent in post with the Nikkor. UWA choices are tough!

  • syed akhter

    I would love to buy this lens. The only draw back i find is the difficulty to put on the Filters. Landscape photography without using filters is something which i do not fancy.
    I have to wait for Nikon to change the hood so that the filters can be put on easily. There is a special filters by Lee which is a bit fidly to put on but also add another 300 pounds to the cost.

  • Paul Plak

    I rented this lens for 3 days and used it on a city trip in Berlin. It’s the ideal gear for fast cityscape photography, as you can quickly adjust the frame with the zoom. The lens is not too heavy and still pretty compact given the angle of view you get. Distortion is well controlled, you can even use 14mm shots for panorama assembly, il you still need to enlarge the angle.

    In a busy city, you can take photos in the metro, and most people will not formalize because they don’t even think they are within view of the lens, so you get a natural behaviour from them. And beacuse of the angle of view, few people get prominent in the image, requiring thus a formal authorisation to publish the images.

    I’d love to add it permanently to my gear, but renting it now and then may be enough for the non-pro use I have. Yes you can get addicted to this lens.

  • http://skyfirex.net Kevin Etter

    This is the lens that Trey Ratcliff uses for landscapes.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/karansaraf/ Karan Saraf

    Whereabouts in Utah were those photos shot? I’d love to go there to get some dark sky photography done to visualise the Milky Way! We just don’t have that in England…

  • http://www.susheelchandradhas.com Susheel Chandradhas

    This is a lens I want to buy, but I’m on the Canon platform. Tough Luck, I guess…

  • Walter O. Koenig

    Frankly I am a little surprised that this lens was not used for architecture in your tests. I think that is where it really shines, especially with interiors.

Some older comments

  • Susheel Chandradhas

    April 11, 2013 07:03 pm

    This is a lens I want to buy, but I'm on the Canon platform. Tough Luck, I guess...

  • Karan Saraf

    January 29, 2013 09:35 pm

    Whereabouts in Utah were those photos shot? I'd love to go there to get some dark sky photography done to visualise the Milky Way! We just don't have that in England...

  • Kevin Etter

    January 28, 2013 05:45 pm

    This is the lens that Trey Ratcliff uses for landscapes.

  • Paul Plak

    January 26, 2013 11:55 pm

    I rented this lens for 3 days and used it on a city trip in Berlin. It's the ideal gear for fast cityscape photography, as you can quickly adjust the frame with the zoom. The lens is not too heavy and still pretty compact given the angle of view you get. Distortion is well controlled, you can even use 14mm shots for panorama assembly, il you still need to enlarge the angle.

    In a busy city, you can take photos in the metro, and most people will not formalize because they don't even think they are within view of the lens, so you get a natural behaviour from them. And beacuse of the angle of view, few people get prominent in the image, requiring thus a formal authorisation to publish the images.

    I'd love to add it permanently to my gear, but renting it now and then may be enough for the non-pro use I have. Yes you can get addicted to this lens.

  • syed akhter

    January 25, 2013 12:56 pm

    I would love to buy this lens. The only draw back i find is the difficulty to put on the Filters. Landscape photography without using filters is something which i do not fancy.
    I have to wait for Nikon to change the hood so that the filters can be put on easily. There is a special filters by Lee which is a bit fidly to put on but also add another 300 pounds to the cost.

  • Barry

    January 25, 2013 03:33 am

    I would love to own this but as a Canon shooter and due to my bushwacking and commando style of landscape imagery I found I really need a filter to protect the element! The 16-35 is my choice and it is no where close to the sharpness in the corners of the N 14-24 but I love the overlap with my 24+ zooms and the color rendition, micro contrast and build are still A+ for me. I bet there's just a bit less time spent in post with the Nikkor. UWA choices are tough!

  • Yoan

    January 25, 2013 02:27 am

    Very nice review and samples! Just a small suggestion though - next time use ISO 100 instead of 50 because the latter is not a native ISO setting.

  • William Marshall

    January 25, 2013 02:15 am

    Amazing set of pictures.

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