Gear Reviews

Gear Review: Nikon 14-24 f/2.8 Lens

The Quick

When nikon released the 14-24mm f/2.8G AF-S it literally seemed to break the laws of physics. It’s by far the sharpest zoom lens I have (even wide open) across its entire zoom range. Shooting at 14mm will give your images such a unique and epic look that you’ll likely have to have someone assist you in prying your camera from your hands when it’s time to go home.

The Build

Totally awesome. It has a metal casing and everything about it is in keeping with nikon’s professional lenses. The front element is a bit intense though. You absolutely will not be able to use a protective lens filter, which might make some of you nervous. Fear not. I actually don’t use protective lens filters on any of my lens – ever. I’ve actually dropped this lens on the ground (camera strap wasn’t tight) and it’s continued performing like it’s new & out-of-the-box.

It balances a little front heavy on my Nikon D3s, but it’s not a problem. Looking at what this thing does through the viewfinder is enough of a distraction anyway.

(Click images to see them LARGER)

The Use

It handles very well. It’s smooth to zoom and if you need to quickly override with manual focusing (probably not often with such a wide lens) it’s smooth and precise.

This lens definitely has times when it’s perfect, and times when it’s not. Let me just say this now – it is NOT perfect for any type of classic group photo. At least, not the family portaitrs at a wedding, or any other classic photo where the people need to not look like gumby.The edges of this thing at 14mm stretch quite a bit. It doesn’t create a round bubbling effect like a fish eye might, but it stretchings whatever is in the edges.

That being said, when this lens works – it works. It’ll give you that satisfying grin every time you photograph the inside of a gorgeous church, or even the inside of a living room. It makes rooms look gigantic and impressive. I’ve also used it for interesting portraits and been very amused with the effect it gives…

but, the real place that this lens shines (imo) is for landscapes. I took it to New Zealand last year and couldn’t get enough. I’m not a professional landscape photographer, but I think I do alright. I know a lot of pros hate the fact that having such a large and awkward front lens element means specialty equipment to use ND filters, but I tended to fair alright by just holding large 4×6 ND grad filters in front of it by hand. Obviously, this probably isn’t consistent and accurate enough for many phtogs, but it worked for me.

I don’t have to go into the specifics of the 14-24′s sharpness, contrast, and focus speed because it’s literally at the top of the heap in all of these areas. It really is about as perfect as I could imagine a lens being, and if Nikon could find a way to make all their lenses perform like this one does they would rule planet earth. Obvously, the bokeh it creates isn’t very relevant because shooting from 14mm-24mm tends to not create very shallow depth of field, but if you get right up next to your subject it does render very pleasing bokeh, IMO.

(Click images to see them LARGER)

The Tips

I recommend always giving it a second thought before ever using this for group photos. There’s almost always way too much distortion. I know I have one group shot in my sample set above, but  it was a bit of a unique situation where I also wanted to emphasize the size of the room. When I first started photographing weddings I made the mistake of thinking that using wide lenses was appropriate for wide group shots, however I’ve found that using longer lenses (even the nikon 70-200mm f/2.8) is a much more flattering choice. Yeah, you’ll have to stand further back, but I promise you it’s worth it.

The Conclusion

This lens is a landmark in Nikon’s collection. I can’t see them improving on its design for literally 20 years – and even then I don’t know how they could. It doesn’t’ need VR (if you can’t handhold shooting that wide then you’ve just got poor technique), but it could use a smaller front element if that were at all possible.

I always enjoy taking this lens out for those awesome wedding room photos, and even for really fun reception photos. For landscape work it’s hard to find a more impressive lens. It’s as good as it gets performance wise and well worth the price. I’d probably pay up to $500 over MSRP if I had to. Yes. It’s that good.

Check out more of my gear reviews here!

 

 

Summary

Rating

If you’re looking for a way to make interiors impressive and landscapes have a WOW factor, buy this incredible lens.

  • Price
    1,996.95
  • Uses
    Landscape, Interiors, Some Portraits
  • In my bag?
    Yes
About Sam Hurd

Sam is a professional wedding and editorial photographer based in the Washington DC area. He photographs 40+ weddings a year, press events, commercial portraiture, and regularly hosts workshops in his Baltimore MD studio and around the world. His work has been published internationally including the Wall Street Journal, the NYTimes, and the Washington Post. He's available for commissions worldwide.

Blog Comments

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  1. Sam, I love your gear reviews! Thanks for this!

  2. I rented this lens once… I think it would take some serious getting used to. I wanted to use it for dancing but was a little put off by the weight of it by the end of the night. Guess I’m just too used to my 24mm being the wide end of the spectrum.

    - Josh

  3. Thanks for the great review Sam! I owned this lens and while I don’t regret selling it, I do miss having it. I sold it when I went to an all prime line up to shed a lot of bulk and weight. The 14-24 is a really large lens. I have basically replaced it with Nikon’s 20mm/2.8 which is just a little less brilliant than the 14-24. That said, some of my favorite environmental portraits were made with my 14-24/2.8. I will buy it again someday.

  4. this + d800 + 50mm 1.4 = nikon mini-kit of my dreams.

  5. If only I had read this sooner. RE: Gumby. Haha. But I’m glad I know for next time. Great post. Thank you very much.

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