Oz Lens Ambassador James Macree reviews the Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 lens
If you shoot Landscapes or know your Nikon gear, I think it’s safe to say that you’ve probably heard of the Nikon 14-24mm lens.
For those that haven’t- this lens carries a pretty big reputation with it. Known as one of the “Holy Trinity” of Nikon glass along with the 24-70mm f/2.8G ED and the 70-200mm f/2.8 ED VR and hopefully I will be able to tell you all about each of these in time.
The reputation of the 14-24mm lens is so great, that I’ve even heard stories of devout Canon shooters getting adapters to run this on their 5DIII’s. But could it ever live up to this hype?
When you pull it out of the box it certainly makes a solid impression, it’s very weighty and larger than the images of it would suggest. This lens is much the same size as many telephoto lenses, something I wasn’t expecting the first time I tried it, being used to wide angle lenses that were of a much shorter, stubbier profile.
The metal body and weighty focus and zoom rings though give a very good feeling and the whole affair feels very special and even a little professional, particularly with that big bubble of glass up front. Initially I was very worried about bashing this on things in the field, but the built in plastic lens hood seem to do a good job of protecting it and the weight of it seems to bring with it a degree of caution to your movements as you lug it about, this ain’t no 28mm pancake lens for you to sneak about with over your shoulder.
This lens backed up its reputation the moment I pulled it out of the bag and I’d be really nit picking to fault it at much.
The Nikon 14-24mm lens is easily the sharpest I’ve used. On my Nikon D700 and shot a small aperture, this lens produces details that are as sharp as my 12MP sensor is as capable of rendering. In other words- details go down to pixel level and surely on a higher megapixel body this is even better as the details will be sharp even when blown up on a massive scale.
The sharpness does not even degrade as you near the edge of the very wide field of view, as they would on say a cheaper lens (for instance my staple lens, the Nikon 16-35mm f/4) and nor is there any real distortion to speak of, something of a miracle on something this wide. My images displayed little to no aberrations and I didn’t end up using any sort of lens correction whatsoever on the images I produced.
The Nikon 14-24mm lens can open up to f/2.8 and this will open up a world of ultra-wide angle possibilities you probably didn’t know existed, you can shoot hand held in low light and get away with it. It’s still super sharp at this aperture too, something which I found quite disconcerting, I was often left wondering why I was bothering to wind up the aperture and sit it on a tripod- however, I was soon reminded why when I got home. Hand-held cheating at f/2.8 will still result on a shorter depth of field and I managed to leave a few foregrounds looking a little soft! So don’t go breaking the rules just because you can!
One minor gripe I have had with this lens each time I use it is that it’s large surface area is quite susceptible to attracting dust and other matter that I would have to clone out later, but hey even Superman has Kryptonite right?
The Nikon 14-24mm lens is going to be just about perfect for anything you would normally consider using an ultra wide-angle lens for…
Including landscapes, architecture, interiors and perhaps even to capture groups of people in cramped situations.
There are two things that might limit you in some circumstances;
1. The 14-24mm does not take standard screw-in filters and to my knowledge only Lee Filters produce an adapter for its filters to fit over this lens’s large bulbous from element. If this is not an option for you then this may rule out long exposure photography or even the use of a polariser.
2. The 14-24mm lens does lack VR which is going to mean it’s not a great high-speed lens for any sort of shooting whilst moving about, although its large aperture does go some way towards improving its speed- if you are looking for fast glass to shoot sport, on the street or portraits, there are probably better options.
I would not recommend this lens for travel as it is large, heavy and I imagine the glass bulb would be an expensive repair if damaged!
I know many photographers who count this lens as the favourite one in the bag.
lens performances incredibly well and its reputation is well deserved, it really is that good. However, it’s incredible performance doesn’t come cheap and nor is it a great all-rounder, but if you know what you want and the Nikon 14-24mm fits your budget, it is definitely going to give you that wow factor that you’re looking for.
About the Author
James Macree has been called everything from semi-professional photographer to weekend warrior, he’s been playing with cameras ever since he was a child and shoots a wide range of subjects from landscapes to motorsport. Whilst not a full time photographer, James spends most of his spare time with a DSLR in his hands. You can check out his work at LensFlarePhoto.com, where James regularly blogs and showcases his work.