Nikon 24mm f/1.4 G ED Full Frame Prime Lens Review Roundup2013-03-03 01:57
3/2/2013: Add review by PhotoZone (DX).
4/25/2011: Add review by SLRgear.
9/21/2010: Add review by PhotoZone (FX).
On February 8 2010, Nikon has released two new full frame lenses, an AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR offering 4 stops of image stabilization, and an AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED lens that provides Nikon photographers with a very fast wide angle option. This wide-angle lens offers a picture angle of 84 degrees when mounted to an FX-format Nikon DSLR.
Nikon touts the new 24mm f/1.4 as a great candidate for handheld low-light shooting thanks to a fast maximum aperture. Using the lens with their DX-format cameras will produce a picture angle of 61 degrees. Here're the key features of the AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED lens:
- A fast, wide-angle 24mm fixed focal-length lens with a maximum aperture of f/1.4
- This lens is perfect for capturing scenes such as architecture, landscapes and narrow indoor spaces with incredible perspective at the wide-angle focal length of 24mm. As an wide-angle lens with a maximum aperture of f/1.4, it offers superior optical performance demonstrated not only with handheld shooting under dim indoor lighting, but with large blur characteristics that make the most of this fast lens in images that exhibit dynamic perspective.
- Constructed with two ED and two aspherical lens elements
- A new optical design achieves an excellent balance between high resolution and aberration.
- Nano Crystal Coat significantly reduces ghost and flare
- Equipped with a Silent Wave Motor (SWM) for extremely quiet autofocusing
- Offers two focus modes, M/A (autofocus with manual override) and M (manual)
The AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4 G ED lens is currently at around $2,129, via Amazon.com. Here's the review roundup of the lens:
PhotoZone, gave an optical quality rating of 3/5 (DX): "The Nikkor AF-S 24 f/1.4 is a nice ultra-fast wide-angle lens. At large apertures it produces very sharp images in the image center with somewhat soft corners wide open. The lens needs to be stopped down to achieve very good sharpness across the frame. CAs are a bit pronounced wide open. Bokeh fringing is present at larger apertures, but this is typical for such a fast prime. Since the lens is designed for a larger image circle, vignetting is only an issue at the larges aperture setting, but not when stopped down. The bokeh is very smooth and actually pretty much outstanding for such a wide angle lens. Flare is well under control. As you'd expect from a professional-grade lens, the build quality is on a very high level, including sealing against dust and moisture.
One feature not mentioned yet is the lens' ability to focus rather close (0.25m) which, combined with the wide angle of view and large aperture, can lead to very interesting perspectives and unique results. On DX, however, some of its appeal is lost due to the crop factor. On the other hand, those who shoot with both FX and DX camera get two lenses in one, a really wide and fast 24mm on FX, and a 35mm equivalent lens on DX. So in summary it's a very fine piece of glass that's fun to use. A somewhat specialized and certainly pricey tool though."... [Source]
SLRgear, gave an overall readers' rating of 10/10: "Mounted on the sub-frame D300s, the 35mm f/1.4G produced slightly soft results wide open at f/1.4. Slightly sharper performance was obtained by stopping down to f/2, showing decent sharpness in the center and tapering off to light softness in the corners. It isn't until f/2.8 that we start seeing very sharp results throughout the frame, with almost negligible softness in the corners; stopping down further provides only marginal improvements. The sharpest results are found at f/5.6, but at that point we are seeing very slight differences between aperture. Diffraction limiting begins to appear on the D300s at f/8, but it isn't until the lens is fully stopped-down at f/16 that there's any practical impact on sharpness, where it still produces slightly sharper results than when used wide open at f/1.4. Results were slightly different when the lens was mounted on the full-frame D3x. At f/1.4 the lens is still slightly soft in the central region of the frame, moving to pronounced corner softness. Stopping down to f/2 provides a light improvement to corner softness, and a corresponding increase in central sharpness, but it isn't until f/2.8 that we start seeing impressive corner-to-corner sharpness. Stopping down to f/4 provides maximum sharpness, though the differences between f/4 through to f/8 are minimal; we note some diffraction limiting at f/11, and again, at f/16 we still note excellent performance, perhaps not as sharp in the center than at f/1.4, but certainly sharper corners.
At $2,200, the expectations for this lens have to be high. The 24mm f/1.4G almost reaches them. Certainly, stopped down, the lens produces exceptional results, but as the main feature of the lens is its extremely wide aperture - f/1.4 - we imagine the lens will spend much of its time here, otherwise, it's much better on the pocketbook to get the f/2.8 version of the 24mm lens. At f/1.4, it's not tack-sharp, and corner softness is notable on FX lenses. But then, this isn't a lens you buy to shoot test charts, it's a lens you buy to get a unique perspective in your photographs, and you'll definitely want to try it before you buy it, if you can."... [Source]
PhotoZone, gave an optical quality rating of 3.5/5 (FX): "The Nikkor AF-S 24 f/1.4 is an impressive lens. At large apertures it produces very sharp images in the image center with somewhat soft corners wide open and stopped down it's sharp enough even for landscape work, although it's certainly not meant to be the primary choice for this kind of application. CAs are moderate on a full format DSLR. LoCAs are present at larger apertures but this is typical for such a fast prime. Severe light falloff at wide open aperture is the primary weakness of this lens. The bokeh is very smooth and actually pretty much outstanding for a wide angle lens. Flare is well under control. The build quality is on a very high level including sealing against dust and moisture. One feature not mentioned yet is the lens' ability to focus rather close (0.25m) which, combined with the wide angle of view and large aperture, can lead to very interesting perspectives and unique results.So in summary it's a very fine piece of glass. A somewhat specialized and certainly pricey tool though. One final note: there have been user reports of AF issues with this lens. We had no such issues with the tested sample."... [Source]
ePhotoZine, gave a rating of 8/10: "During testing, this new wideangle optic from Nikon proved itself a very impressive performer, especially as far as resolution is concerned. At f/1.4 the lens already produces very good sharpness in the centre, and the quality towards the edges of the frame isn't too bad either. As it is stopped down the resolution increases across the frame, to superb levels, with peak sharpness across the frame being reached between f/5.6 and f/8. The levels of centre sharpness are so high between f/2.8 and f/5.6 that the lens out-resolves the sensor of the D700. D3X owners should take note! Diffraction doesn't seem to affect the performance of this optic as severely as with other wide angles I have tested, with results still being excellent down to the rather conservative minimum aperture of f/16.
Once again Nikon's revamp of their lens line-up has produced a new optic worthy of the professional gold-stripe designation. The build quality, focusing speed and optical quality are all superb. It is a bit pricey though, especially for a lens many photographers will struggle to use as often as a zoom in the same range but if you shoot often in low light conditions using available light having a lens such as this in your armoury may pay dividends. For others it may prove too expensive to justify."... [Source]
CNET, gave a rating of 8.7/10: "Our tests were conducted on the Nikon D3S, which provides a comfortable counter-balance to the weight of the 24mm. The 24mm f/1.4 is a very fun lens to use, thanks to its maximum aperture and overall construction. In low light and in conjunction with a camera that has good high ISO noise control, like the D3S, you can get some great images. Plus, sharpness at wide apertures is excellent. Barrel distortion, an issue that is prominent on wide-angle lenses, was pleasingly low on the 24mm, and any evidence of it could certainly be compensated for in post-processing. Light falloff, or vignetting, was only really visible at f/1.4 and stopping down the aperture considerably reduced it. At f/2.8 and smaller, the effect was hardly noticeable in real-world situations. Edge-to-edge sharpness, as with the 16-35mm lens, is fantastic. The 24mm is an excellent wide-angle lens for Nikon cameras, if you can stomach the price. It's fast, robust and delivers clean, crisp images at most apertures."... [Source]
User review by M.H.Mehta, gave a rating of 5/5: "I bought the 24 1.4 for the sole purpose of being able to shoot wide at 1.4. I dont think I have taken one picture with this lens that is not at 1.4. IMO, if one wanted to shoot at anything higher than 1.4, there are plenty of other alternatives that cost less than this lens and give more flexibility eg 24-70, 14-24, 16-35vr etc. On DX, the lens is equivalent to a FX 35mm 1.4. The performance of this lens at 1.4 is simply incredible. At 1.4 this lens is just as sharp as my 70-200 VRII. Not just in the center, but corner to corner. After a week of using the lens, my jaw still drops everytime I look at pictures taken with this lens and I cannot help but marvel at the clarity, contrast and sharpness of pictures using the 24 1.4. The bokeh is quite pleasing. It doesn't compare to the classics like the 85 1.4 or the 135DC, but it not bad by any means (see the sample picture I uploaded of a flower and shrubs to get a sense for the bokeh).
There is really only one shortcoming of the 24 1.4: chromatic aberration. You do see CA in in high contrast situations, but this is relatively easy to fix in post. In terms of weight and feel, the lens is about the same weight as a Tokina 11-16. It feels slightly front heavy on my D90 without a grip and feels great balanced on a D700. If you are using it with a film camera, note that there is no aperture ring on the lens. This doesn't affect me because I use an F100. The lens is not cheap, but my qualms about spending $2k+ are somewhat quashed after seeing the photos it can help me produce. Further, it's likely that a lens of this calibre will retain its value over the coming years so if you sell it after some time, you'll really only be out about 10-20% of the cost. Hence, the main issue potentially becomes one of cash flow.."... [Source]
Sample Photos from Flickr: