Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED

Nikon AF-S 24mm f/1.4 G ED lens
Nikon's latest wide angle prime sports a bright maximum aperture of f/1.4, silent focusing and Nano-Crystal coatings.

Nikon have been hard at work revamping their line-up of lenses over the past couple of years. Ever since the release of their first FX format camera, the Nikon D3, several of their professional lenses designed to cover the full-frame format have received a makeover. This lens isn't a makeover as such, but a completely new prospect from Nikon. Their closest match from the old lens line-up would have been the 28mm f/1.4, which was incredibly expensive and quite rare. A quick look on ebay reveals that the old lens is still capable of fetching over £2000 used!

This new optic still isn't cheap though, retailing at around £1900. For this you get professional quality build, a silent wave focusing motor, internal focusing and Nikon's Nano Crystal Coatings to suppress ghosting and flare. To put things into perspective, Canon's 24mm f/1.4L MkII costs around £1320, so is almost £600 cheaper.

The only third party alternative is Sigma's 24mm f/1.8 EX DG lens, which is two-thirds of a stop slower and is focused via the camera's focusing motor, which moves the whole optical system back and forth to achieve focus. This lens will only set you back a mere £405 though, which is under a quarter of the price of the Nikon optic.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED: Handling and features
I expected this optic to be a lot larger and heavier than it actually is. It weighs only 620g, which is not that heavy for a lens of this aperture and build quality. While on the subject of the build, the lens feels very solidly put together. It is built to very fine tolerances and the exterior finish not only looks good, but feels reassuringly tough as well.

Focusing is performed internally by the Silent Wave Motor, or via the manual focus ring. Full time manual focus is possible, just in case you need to quickly grab the focus ring to adjust while in autofocus. In use I found the focus action to be lighting quick, although special care needs to be taken at maximum aperture as I found the lens would occasionally miss its target, At f/1.4 this really shows as the depth of field is really shallow at f/1.4, even on a 24mm lens.

I found the lens balanced well on the Nikon D700 used for testing, and even on a Nikon D300 I had handy, on which this lens provides the same angle of view as a 36mm lens.

Overall I really enjoyed using this lens. The handling is superb and the autofocus is very responsive.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED: Performance
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.

Resolution at 24mm How to read our graphs
The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon D700 using Imatest.

Colour aberrations are kept below acceptable levels probably due to the use of ED glass in this lens. At every aperture the level of fringing towards the edge of the frame approaches 0.5 pixel widths. This level of CA will rarely pose a problem, only showing slightly in areas of extreme contrast towards the edge of the frame.

Chromatic Aberrations at 24mm How to read out charts
Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon D700 using Imatest.

As is typical for wide aperture lenses such as this, falloff of illumination towards the corners is quite pronounced at f/1.4, with the corners being 2.77stops darker than the image centre. Illumination becomes more even as the lens is stopped down, but it doesn't appear even until f/4.

Barrel distortion is also present and is more pronounced at close distances. At distances of over a meter Imatest recorded 3.17% barrelling, which isn't an overly disturbing level, but may pose issues if straight lines are of absolute importance.

Click on the thumbnails for a high resolution image
In low light situations, this lens really comes into its own. The lens produces images with excellent sharpness and contrast.

Above: At smaller apertures the lens resolves an impressive amount of detail.

Left: By selecting a bright f/2 aperture I was able to creatively freeze the motion of the water.

Just as with Nikon's other lenses sporting the new Nano-Crystal coatings, the 24mm f/1.4 is very resistant to flare and ghosting. A petal shaped hood is supplied with the lens, which does a sterling job of keeping extraneous light off the front element. Strong point sources of light in the frame may cause a slight loss on contrast and a little flare, but only in fairly extreme circumstances.

DxOMark provides objective, independent, RAW-based image quality performance data for lenses and digital cameras to help you select the best equipment to meet your photographic needs.

Visit the DxOMark website for tests performed on the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED: Verdict
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.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED: Pros
Excellent optical quality
Fast focusing
Superb build quality

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED: Cons
Occasionally struggles to focus accurately enough for use at f/1.4
Slight barrel distortion


Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED: Lens specification
Price £1,900.00
Filter size 77mm
Format Full-frame
Construction 12 elements in 10 groups
Angle-of-view 84° (61° with Nikon DX format)
35mm equivalent focal length (on APS-C body) 36mm
Internal focusing Yes
Image stabilisation No
Minimum focus 25cm
Maximum aperture f/1.4
Minimum aperture f/16
Weight 620g
Size 83 × 88.5 mm
In the box 77mm Snap-on Front Lens Cap LC-77, Rear Lens Cap LF-1, Bayonet Hood HB-51, Flexible Lens Pouch CL-1118

The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED costs around £1900 and is available from Warehouse Express here:

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED

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