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.
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.
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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.
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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.
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.