Wideangle optic with a wide f/1.4 aperture, but is it really worth almost £1900?
The most obvious reasons to buy this wideangle Nikon lens hinge on its ultra-fast f/1.4 maximum aperture, which offers unparalleled low-light capabilities and the ability to record a narrow
depth-of-field despite the sweeping angle-of-view that a 24mm lens provides. There is, though, more to this lens than first meets the eye.
In particular, Nikon’s ultra-fast prime delivers stunning MTF performances right across the aperture range, with just the slightest dip at maximum aperture but never falling below 0.25 cycles-per-pixel and holding above 0.3 cycles-per-pixel as soon as the aperture is reduced. The minimum aperture is just f/16 but even this is a fully usable setting, which is more than can be said for some other lenses.
This means Nikon’s 24mm f/1.4 can be employed to record any desired depth-of-field, in the knowledge that optical performance is not being compromised. In addition, AF operation was virtually silent when tested on both a full-frame D700 body and a DX-format D80.
Ergonomic design is equally impressive thanks to a broad manual-focusing ring that sits right underneath the user’s thumb and second finger, with an AF/MF slider just to the rear. Manual intervention can be used at any moment but the focusing ring always remains undisturbed in AF mode so there is no need to avoid touching it at other times.
A minor niggle is that the reversible petal-type lens hood must be removed and refitted in its effective position, as leaving it stowed makes the lens much harder to hold securely. That said, a lens as good as this deserves to be used properly at all times, with its lens hood in place to guarantee the very best results under tricky lighting conditions.
There really is nothing to dislike about this lens other than its high price. Many readers will probably opt for a more versatile and less expensive wideangle zoom but we should all be grateful to Nikon for raising the optical bar so high, as the efforts that have gone into this lens will doubtless echo within the Nikkor family.
A lens this good deserves a wider audience than it will probably get. One way to do that would be for Nikon to supply its 24mm f/1.4 in other mounts but that is very unlikely. More likely, and more beneficial to Nikon, is the fact that this lens is clearly part of a major Nikkor advantage in optical design that might tempt other users to look afresh at the Nikon system.
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Silent Wave Motor
2 aspherical elements, 2 ED elements
12 elements in 10 groups