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We haven’t been blown away by a Nikon Z camera yet, but their Z lenses are a different story altogether. So far, Nikon has come up with some stunning lens options that are practical and affordable. While there’s already a wide-angle zoom on the platform in the Nikon Z 14-30mm f4, there was definitely space for a more pro-oriented wide-angle zoom. Nikon has now delivered it. We got to spend a few weeks with the new Nikon Z 14-24mm f2.8 S. However, is this lens worth the nearly $1,100 premium over the NIKKOR Z 14-30mm f4? Find out in our full review.
Pros and Cons
- Smaller and lighter than the Sigma 14-24mm f2.8 DG DN (just 1.4lbs)
- Incredibly sharp optics
- Excellent autofocus performance
- Great color rendition
- Nice bokeh at the long end of things
- Included adapter allows for 112mm filters to be used
- Flares and CA are very well controlled
- Weather sealing and a robust build
- Digital display panel
- Slight distortion when shooting at 14mm, but that’s to be expected
- An annoying lens cap
- At $2,396.95, it represents a huge investment
- Mount Type: Nikon Z Mount
- Focal Length Range: 14 – 24mm
- Zoom Ratio: 1.7x
- Maximum Aperture: f/ 2.8
- Minimum Aperture: f/ 22
- Format: FX
- 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: 0.13x
- Lens Elements: 16
- Lens Groups: 11
- Diaphragm Blades: 9 Rounded diaphragm opening
- ARNEO Coat: Yes
- Nano Crystal Coat: Yes
- ED Glass Elements: 4
- Aspherical Elements: 3
- Fluorine Coat: Yes
- Super Integrated Coating: Yes
- Autofocus: Yes
- AF Actuator: STM (stepping motor)
- Internal Focusing: Yes
- Minimum Focus Distance: 0.92 ft. (0.28m) from focal plane at all zoom positions
- Focus Mode: Autofocus, Manual
- Approx. Dimensions: (Diameter x Length)3.5 in. (88.5 mm) x 5.0 in. (124.5 mm)
- Approx. Weight: 23.0 oz. (650 g)
- Lens Type: Zoom
Nikon Z 14-24mm f2.8 S – Ergonomics
The Nikon Z 14-24mm f2.8 S has a tapered design. The element end of the lens is a lot wider than the rear of the lens to house the bulbous front element. Still, work your way down the lens body, and the lens becomes smaller and more narrow. You might think that this would impact how the lens feels in hand in a negative way, but the Z 14-24mm f2.8 S feels great.
The lens is lightweight at just 1.4lbs, and at just 3.5 x 5-inches, the lens balances on the Z7 perfectly. There are just a few controls on the lens itself. You can see the assignable lens function button, the auto and manual focus switches, and the display control button in the image above.
Looking down from the top, you can see three distinct and well-separated rings. The front ring is your manual focus ring. The middle ring is the zoom ring, and the ring closest to the camera body is the assignable control ring. A lot is going on here. However, the nice spacing between these three controls and their different sizes makes them easily identifiable. Here you can also see the LCD screen on the top of the lens.
The front element of the Nikon Z 14-24mm f2.8 S is a lot smaller than many other wide-angle zooms out there. Thankfully, there is a slight lip at the front of the lens that helps protect the element. Overall The Nikon Z 14-24mm f2.8 S is well-designed and feels really nice in hand. All of the controls fall nicely into place, and it’s a joy to use.
“Better still, along with the weather sealing, the front element has a Fluorine coating, which helps the rain just run right off.”Brett Day – Gear Editor
Nikon Z 14-24mm f2.8 S – Build Quality
Nikon really spared no expense when constructing this lens. The barrel’s mounting end is made from metal, while the rest of the body uses a very robust, lightly textured plastic. The zoom and manual focus rings are nicely dampened and provide just the right amount of resistance. They’re not so loose they spin freely, yet they’re not so tight that you can’t turn them easily with just your thumb.
Nikon did a great job when it comes to protecting the bulbous front element, too, as it never protrudes past the end of the lens body. It’s protected further when you use the lens hood. However, one minor gripe would be with the lens cap that only goes on one way. You have to fiddle around to align the cap before it clicks into place. Still, it’s just a minor annoyance, and it’s something you’ll get used to with extended use.
The Nikon NIKKOR 14-24mm f2.8 S is also weather sealed. In fact, there are more than 10 points of sealing on this lens. I took the lens out into the wild, the heavens opened, and the lens just kept on working like a charm. If you’re a landscape or cityscape photographer, there’s no need for you to worry if you get caught out in a storm. Better still, along with the weather sealing, the front element has a Fluorine coating, which helps the rain just run right off. This lens is meant for the great outdoors.
The Nikon Z 14-24mm f2.8 S is also incredibly small (3.5-inches x 5-inches), and it weighs just 1.4lbs! This means the lens is even smaller and lighter than the Sigma 14-24mm f2.8 DG DN. If you plan on purchasing this lens, you’re going to pay a pretty penny for it. Still, you’re getting a robust, tough lens that should stand the test of time well.
“In great lighting situations, the lens will obtain focus rapidly on both stationary and moving subjects.”Brett Day – Gear Editor
Nikon Z 14-24mm f2.8 S – Autofocus
The Nikon Z 14-24mm f2.8 S is a snappy performer when it comes to autofocus. In great lighting situations, the lens will obtain focus rapidly on both stationary and moving subjects. This is the case at both the wide and long end. The lens works well with Nikon’s human and animal eye-tracking too. As you can see above. When my dog caught his treat, the Z7 with the 14-24mm f2.8 S nailed focus on his eye.
The only downside to the autofocus performance is in lower light conditions. However, I feel that this is not a problem with the lens itself. Low light focusing issues stem from the AF system used in the first generation Z cameras. It will be interesting to see if this is rectified while using the Z6 and Z7 Mk II cameras. Focusing in low light is not terrible. The lens will acquire focus, but some hunting and stuttering issues persist. Still, this hunting was not present while using the lens in well-lit situations. Overall, the Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 S is fast and accurate. Nikon users will generally have nothing to worry about regarding autofocus performance.
“The larger lens hood is capable of holding 112mm screw-in circular filters. Thank you, Nikon. Thank you! It’s little touches like this that let me know that Nikon has their end-user in mind.”Brett Day – Gear Editor
Nikon Z 14-24mm f2.8 S – Ease Of Use
The Nikon Z 14-24mm f2.8 S is an easy lens to use overall. As mentioned above in the ergonomics section, there are just a few controls to worry about on the lens itself. The assignable function button is nice, and so is the control ring, which you can use to control aperture, exposure compensation, and more. The LCD panel on the lens is nice. However, I honestly never really used it. It’s a little gimmicky, but it’s there if you need it.
One feature I adore, and that I give massive props to Nikon for are the lens hoods. The standard lens hood (pictured above) is as you would expect. It’s a petal design that will help protect the bulbous front element and will reduce excessive flares. However, Nikon included another, much larger lens hood (pictured below). The larger lens hood is capable of holding 112mm screw-in circular filters. Thank you, Nikon. Thank you! It’s little touches like this that let me know Nikon has their end-user in mind.
Usually, wide-angle lenses with a bulbous front element have to use expensive and bulky square filter adapters. Having the option to use circular filters via the larger lens hood is brilliant. Still, 112mm filters will cost a fair bit. However, they are much cheaper than square filters. Nikon even included an oversized lens cap for when you have the larger lens hood attached. I love this!
Out in the wild, the lens is a pleasure to use. The zoom, control ring, and manual focus ring are easy to use. The other controls fall nicely into place, and you’ll find that the lens balances perfectly on your camera. If you have never used a wide-angle zoom like this before, the only difficulty you’ll have with it is learning how to compose interesting shots with objects that fill the frame. That’s not the fault of the lens, though. Some tutorials can help with this. Attach the Nikon Z 14-24mm f2.8 S to your camera, and after a few minutes of using it, you might not want to remove it ever again. It’s an enjoyable lens to use.
“How sharp is the Nikon Z 14-24mm f2.8 S? I started carrying band-aids in my camera bag due to the cuts from how sharp this lens is.”Brett Day – Gear Editor
Nikon Z 14-24mm f2.8 S – Image Quality
You’re going to love the images you can produce with the Nikon Z 14-24mm f2.8 S. Image quality is simply fantastic. It’s one of the first Nikon Z lenses that has made me say wow. You’ll find that this lens is crazy sharp. It controls chromatic aberrations and flares very well. The colors the lens renders are natural, which will delight landscape photographers. You can even create some nice, and at times, incredibly interesting bokeh with the NIKKOR 14-24mm f2.8 S. Let’s break it down further below.
As we all know, wide-angle zooms like the Nikon Z 14-24mm f2.8 S are not made to be bokeh kings. Really any lens shorter than 35mm can struggle to create pretty bokeh. Still, in the right situations, you’ll find that this lens can create some pleasing, and sometimes unique, bokeh. The image above was captured at f2.8 and14mm. The distortion from the wide-angle almost feels like this leaf is about to jump to lightspeed. Still, the effect, I think, is pretty cool. The bokeh balls you’ll create are nice too. They are almost circular in shape. At the wider end, the lens can create smoother bokeh for sure but don’t be expecting the creamiest bokeh ever. Overall, the bokeh is very nice for a lens like this.
Chromatic Aberration, Flares and Distortion
You’ve got absolutely nothing to worry about here when it comes to flares and chromatic aberration. I shot multiple images in high contrast situations, and I have not seen a hint of CA or fringing. When it comes to distortion, yes, there is some at the wide end of things. This is to be expected, though. The image below was shot at 14mm, and no lens correction was applied to the image. You can see the middle of the image bowing over the tower.
The same image is below. Lens correction has been applied. You can see that the tower is not bowing near as much as the top image. Distortion is there; it’s to be expected. It’s easily fixed in post, and you should not worry about it. Just keep in mind that anything at 14mm at the extreme edge of your frame will suffer from distortion. Still, this is just a trait of wide-angle zooms and is not specific to this lens.
When shooting directly into the sun, the lens controls flares really well, too. You can also create nice sun stars with this lens. For a wide-angle lens to control flares as well as this is impressive.
I left the camera in auto white balance during testing, and overall, I have no complaints about the colors that this lens renders. You’re going to find that your images will have somewhat muted but pretty natural colors. However, this will please landscape photographers a great deal. Shoot and be happy knowing that what you see with your own peepers will be reflected in your final image.
How sharp is the Nikon Z 14-24mm f2.8 S? I started carrying band-aids in my camera bag due to the cuts from how sharp this lens is. Seriously, though. The lens will not disappoint when it comes to sharpness. The only slight negative is that in the extreme corners at 14mm, the image becomes a little smudgy, but again, this is expected. By the time you hit 18-20mm, you’ll have crazy levels of sharpness from corner to corner and edge to edge.
Nikon Z 14-24mm f2.8 S – Extra Image Samples
“The Nikon Z 14-24mm f2.8 S is a genuine contender for the top dog award in this lens category.”Brett Day – Gear Editor
Nikon Z 14-24mm f2.8 S – Conclusions
- It’s small size and low weight
- This lens is ridiculously sharp
- The included big lens hood that accepts filters is a nice touch
- Interesting bokeh and natural color rendering
- The lens cap is annoying, as it will only fit one way. This is just me being picky, though
- It’s not cheap at $2,396.95
The Nikon Z 14-24mm f2.8 S is a fantastic lens. It’s one of the first Nikon Z lenses that has truly made me say “wow.” The Nikon Z 14-24mm f2.8 S is a genuine contender for the top dog award in this lens category. It’s smaller and lighter than options on other full-frame platforms. It has stellar image quality. It controls distortions, flares, and CA very well, and it renders nice colors and interesting yet pleasing bokeh. This is an incredibly fun lens to use, and it’s hard to fault.
If you’ve adopted the Nikon Z platform and you like shooting landscapes, architecture, astrophotography, documentary photography, and more, and you need the extra stop of light over the Nikon Z 14-30mm f4, this is a must-have lens. It’s fully deserving of our Editors Choice Award and five stars. Nikon’s Z lenses continue to impress. Want one? Head on over to Amazon to see the latest prices.