The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 S for Z mount is the best wide-angle lens I’ve ever used. There, I said it. I said it, because it’s true.
A little background on me. I photograph around 1,000 homes per year in my real estate photography business. I’ve been shooting real estate for about 10 years now and I’ve used a wide variety of ultra wide-angle lenses. If it’s available in the marketplace, there’s a really good chance I’ve at least tried it or owned it. The Nikon 14-24mm S tops them all. Allow me to explain why.
The first thing that strikes you about the new 14-24mm is how comparatively light it is. Especially next to its DSLR predecessor. I’m coming from a D750 with the 14-24mm G that’s been around since 2007 — it’s hard to believe, but that was 14 years ago.
The old lens weighs in at 2.2 pounds; the new 14-24mm S comes in at a paltry 1.4 pounds. That’s a dramatic difference, especially when you consider that it’s the same focal and aperture range as the original. That’s a lot of engineering to get the weight down that much!
To my hands, the focus and zoom rings are smooth and perfectly dampened and both are ribbed, tactile and offer the perfect amount of resistance. The lens is also weather sealed for those of you who like to shoot in the elements.
I like a lot of the things that Nikon has incorporated into this lens. First, there’s an assignable function button on the side of the lens. Personally I don’t use it, but I can see where it could come in handy.
There’s also an OLED display that takes the place of the focus distance meter. It’s a nice, yet imperfect touch. The reason why is because the lens is fly by wire, so the focus distance reacts to how quickly you rotate the focus ring rather than by how much. I think I prefer an old school analog distance meter, because the new one won’t work for videographers.
Something unique is two, count ’em, two different lens hoods. One just covers the front element, the other looks like one of those wonderpana adapters. This is kind of a big deal to me, because Nikon has included the ability to attach filters. That’s great news because usually we are unable to attach standard filters to the front of ultra wide-angle lenses because the front elements are so bulbous.
The not-so-great news is the hood allows 112mm filters, which can get very expensive. Additionally, there’s a slot at the mount which allows for the insertion of gels. Another nice touch that I personally don’t take advantage of.
Autofocus speed and accuracy
I’ve been shooting on the Nikon Z 5 for awhile now and one of its best attributes is the snappy and reliable AF performance. The on-sensor phase detect AF system is reliable and accurate with every lens I’ve tried it with. That includes adapted lenses.
I like to use single point AF. What I’ll usually do is put the focus point somewhere in the middle of the room and I’ll try to find a point of contrast, like where a window meets a wall. Much to my surprise, the lens will jackhammer around a bit before it lands on the intended target. This is not a huge deal for me because I’m shooting static subjects and fast AF won’t make or break the shot. Interestingly, when I switch to a wide AF area that covers much of the scene, I found that AF performance is much more reliable and decisive.
Face detect AF works perfectly. If there are people in the scene, it quickly identifies and focuses on them as expected.
Simply put? Stellar! There are some inherent design challenges with ultra wide-angle lenses. Specifically distortion, flare and edge performance. I’m pleased to say the 14-24mm S has very well controlled distortion. Not surprisingly, flare is still an issue, but it’s no worse than most other ultra wides.
Lastly is edge performance, which is simply excellent for a wide-angle lens like this. In the last two months I’ve had the pleasure of utilizing two of the best ultra wides in the business; the FUJIFILM 8-16mm and now the Nikon 14-24mm S. Both are truly amazing, but I’ll say it right now, the new Nikon 14-24mm S sets a new standard in wide-angle lens performance for full frame cameras. It’s that good.
There’s always a fly in the ointment, right? And so it goes with the 14-24mm S. It’s very expensive.
If you’re a working pro who shots Nikon and relies on wide-angle lenses then I think you can justify a lens like this. I know I have and I don’t regret it. I can’t speak for you, but for me and my business, it’s been worth every pretty penny.
In the end, if you can justify the price, ultra wide-angle lenses simply don’t get any better than this.
- Focal length: 14-24mm
- Aperture range: f/2.8–22
- Aperture blades: 9, rounded
- Elements/Groups: 16/11
- Dimensions: 3.5 x 4.9″ / 88.5 x 124.5 mm
- Weight: 1.4 lb / 650 g
- Angle of View: 114° to 84°
- Awesome, lightweight build quality
- Spectacular image quality — especially for a wide-angle lens
- Lens hoods included allow for filters
- Very expensive
- I like the OLED focus distance display on paper, don’t like it in practice
- Some “jackhammering around” with single point AF on the Nikon Z 5