“You’re going to love that lens!” Was a common refrain when I told people of my plans to borrow a wide angle zoom of the Nikon variety and explore Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in Utah.
By habit I use Canon equipment but I have no particular allegiance. Put a camera in my hand and I’ll use it. I want something that will produce quality images and not require a Ph.D. to learn. My hopes were high as I opened a box containing the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 ED and Nikon D800E, courtesy of BorrowLenses.com.
- 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, Auto/Manual
- G-type Yes
- Dimensions (Approx.) 3.8×5.2 in. (Diameter x Length) 98×131.5mm (Diameter x Length)
- Weight (Approx.) 34.2 oz. (969g)
- Supplied Accessories
- CL-M3 semi-soft case
- Lens cover
- Rear lens cap
An important aspect of the 14-24mm is to realize the hood does not remove. This helps not only block light but also to protect the lens. As the front element bows out, it can be subject to more scratching than an average lens and the hood helps in that regard.
Otherwise, the lens is straight forward. There is a focus ring, zoom ring and an Automatic/Manual focus switch. The rings are close together to make adjustments easy. Standard controls, nice and easy.
I had the advantage of using this lens on a Nikon D800E which, by most accounts, has quick autofocus output. The lens reacts to this input as expected. It’s a wide angle, after all, it does not have that wide of a range of focus. The full range of focus is only 1/8th of a turn of the focus control ring and when in automatic mode, this length of travel is fast and accurate.
In The Real World
Using the Nikon 14-24mm takes geek degree. It has a ring for zoom and it has a ring for focus. There is a standard switch on the side to switch between manual and automatic focus. Simple. The lens does need some thought toward protection. With a field of view of 114°, the front element of the lens bows outward. This is semi-protected by the tulip shaped lens hood, but only slightly. The lens cap is not the average snap-in model, but is instead a small cup to fit over the lens hood.
The Nikon D800E, on which I was using this lens, is a full frame camera and I was testing the 14-24mm alongside a Canon 7D (crop sensor) and Canon 10-22mm EF lens. That put these lenses on comparable ground as far as field of view. This, however, was not a fair comparison. For one thing, the Nikon retails for $2000 while the Canon is $729. I also noticed very little chromatic aberration in the Nikon, although I could get some fringing if the angle was right. For instance, here is a shot of Mesa Arch in Canyonlands at sunrise and then a full sized crop. Click on each image for a larger version. The image is unedited.
I also noticed a fair amount of flaring when pointed near a light source, like the sun. This happened less in the Canon.
What about details? The 14-24mm and D800E seem to be a formidable duo. One of my first chances to use the lens was on my flight from Orange County, California over to Salt Lake City, Utah. Shooting out an airplane window is less than ideal which made me amazed at the detail in this shot even more. Take a look at the full image:
Now for the zoom of the solar planet:
A Few More Samples
The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 is as dreamy as everyone made it out to be. I love the range as being able to crop in camera works better than in post-production. I also love the sharpness. The only problem will be running filters with this lens, but that’s a different story for another time.
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