Review: Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S

Hello, everybody! There has been a lot of excitement lately regarding Nikon and its announcement of the Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S and the phenomenal NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.2 S, the fastest autofocus Nikkor ever. I went to Nikon’s Shinjuku location to get some first impressions of the NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.2 S but I couldn’t since the only one available was on-display and it’s tied to a security device, I was told to visit again next week. However, I could get my hands on the Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S instead since there’s 2 of them in the building, one for display and preproduction model in case somebody wants to test it out for fun, I was more than happy to oblige.

Introduction:

The Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S is a worthy (Z-mount) equivalent to the much-beloved AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm F2.8G ED. The latter is a gold-standard lens, it’s considered to be one of the best ultrawide lenses ever made but the new Z-mount has yet to have its own version so Nikon answered our prayers and now we have this. Expectations were quite high, the new Z-mount promised a lot. Landscape photographers are some of the most-demanding people on the hobby, I should know because I used to be one. I was lucky to play with it despite not being able to take it out of Nikon’s Shinjuku office, it has a tag around it that would trigger an alarm if I took it out.

It’s surprisingly light, the AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm F2.8G ED feels more dense. This is because it has smaller elements, the front one is noticeably smaller. I was amazed at how they managed to make an ultrawide lens with all these features without making the front element bulbous. The smaller front glass alone is enough to make it a lot lighter. I was hoping that it would have the tripod foot somewhere but it does not look like it will need one. It would be nice to have it just-in-case, adding accessories to the front makes the setup even more front-heavy.

It has a 16-elements-in-11-groups optical formula which is housed inside a weather-sealed barrel. The front elements assembly moves in-or-out when you turn the zoom-ring but the barrel’s lengths stays the same. It also has a nice feature wherein you’re able to add circular filters, huge 112mm ones. I checked online and these will cost you $450.00 on average. The best option is to just wait for third-party manufacturers to create adapters for your old square-filter kits.

It has an impressive alphabet-soup-description that you could memorize in its official site. Nikon didn’t pull any punches on this and it better not, this is an expensive lens, you’ll be eating instant noodles for months to afford it.

Apart from the zoom and focusing rings it also has a programable function-ring. I’d prefer a tripod foot instead for added stability but this is what they gave us. It has that nice OLED window, too. You can program it to show you the depth-of-field scale, iris size and other things. Since this is a professional lens, it has several programmable buttons on the body, too.

The front is huge but not bulbous like the AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm F2.8G ED. This enables it to use screw-in circular filters. You could only do that if you attached the hood since the 112m filter ring is milled-into it. The hood is an exquisite product of modern injection-molding, it doesn’t feel cheap at all. It is one of the sturdiest I have seen. Not shown in this article is its unique cap that is one of the biggest I have ever seen on a moderately-sized lens.

Do not treat this article as a proper review. I’m just giving you a tour of the lens and sharing with you my “impressions”. Leave the actual reviews and measurements to the ones who actually specialize in it. What you are about to see were shot from f/2.8, f/4 and f/5.6 since these are the apertures where we’ll see the most changes in a lens’ performance, or so I thought.

(Click to enlarge)

Distortion can be quite high at the wide-end and is rather moderate when it is set to the longer-end. Vignetting can be seen wide-open, it’s not terrible at all and is quite even specially at the longer-end where it’s not as obvious. It looks a lot brighter by f/4 and you won’t see it from f/5.6. This is impressive, I have not seen anything this good from an ultrawide zoom lens.

The following photos were shot with “lens profile” set to on. I could not stop my Nikon Z6 from setting it, distortion and chromatic aberration were fixed or set to very-low levels in the photos that you are about to see. Despite that caveat, I can tell you that I could not tell much of a difference when I check these photos with the ones that I have in the camera through the LCD. This isn’t applied to the files as you view them through the LCD but the files will have them as you transfer and read them with Adobe’s software which is an inevitable annoyance.

(Click to enlarge)

I could not find any traces of chromatic aberration even wide-open which is quite impressive. I couldn’t even find it with the photos on the camera’s LCD even if I looked hard. This is an excellent lens.

(Click to enlarge)

Flare and ghosts are kept to a minimum, you’ll get a smallish blob at most. I couldn’t really find anything more than that. The sun-stars look nice but it’s not as well-defined as the ones that you would get from a vintage lens. This is due to the 9-bladed iris with rounded-blades. This is a matter of taste and some people prefer this look. This has some of the best-looking bokeh I have ever seen in an ultrawide lens. You don’t shoot with this for the character of its bokeh but it’s reassuring to know that you won’t get rough results with it.

You could focus really close with it, I was literally inches away from the cars and one of them hit the front of the lens, luckily the hood took the impact or I’ll be $2700.00 poorer, not good in this economy. I find this impressive, you are able to get really close to your subject.

The next sets of photos show the original, uncropped versions then the next ones were tightly-cropped so you could see the details better.

(Click to enlarge)

It looks amazing wide-open at the center, phenomenal. The far-corners are not as sharp as the center but the difference is not drastic. I have never seen any ultrawide angle lens do this. The resolution is quite high, too. You won’t see much difference at the center when you stop the iris down, it only gets a bit better by f/4 and it won’t improve much when you stop the iris down. It’s similar for the corners but they’re behind by around a stop. This is amazing and a dream-come-true for landscape photographers.

I shot these behind a thick glass window since I couldn’t take the lens out of the door or it will trigger an alarm. I tried to get as close to the glass so that I could at least try and mitigate any reflections. I’m pretty sure that the glass will affect the image quality somewhat but I didn’t have any choice. Do note that these photos have “lens profile” correction applied to them, something I couldn’t disable with Adobe’s software.

The first sets are the original, uncropped ones. The next is from the center, the last one is from the extreme-corner.

(Click to enlarge)

The center looks amazing wide-open, it’s able to resolve all the tiny details. I could see the well-defined shapes of the windows. The corners look nice but they are not at the same level as the center. Stopping it down to f/4 and f/5.6 will make the corners look a lot better, similar to the previous set where the focus was set to closer distances. The thick glass did affect overall sharpness and the haze also lowered the contrast but you could easily see how nice its performance. This will set another benchmark for others to follow.

These are some of the best results that I got from an ultrawide angle lens. It really is a game-changer just like the AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm F2.8G ED that’s regarded by many to be its spiritual predecessor. It is not cheap, you’ll have to pay around $2700.00 in 2020 American dollars to get one. Even if you got the money you will have to wait for months to get one. Is this worth it? Yes, but only if you could afford it. Pedestrians like us could only afford to rent it or just ogle and drool at sample photos on the internet.

Thank you very much for following my work. I thought that showing a lens “impressions” article would be a nice break from all the repair and reviews that you have been used to seeing. If you enjoyed this, share this with your friends. It site gets $0.30 a day from views alone so every view counts. You’ll be helping me a lot if you ought to support this site, doing so helps me offset the cost of maintenance and hosting, ensuring that this site will continue to educate and entertain a new generation of camera repair enthusiasts. We’re operating for years now, that’s all thanks to your help. Ric.

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Maintaining this blog requires money to operate. If you think that this site has helped you or you want to show your support by helping with the site’s upkeep, you can make a small donation to my paypal.com (richardHaw888@gmail.com). Money is not my prime motivation for this blog and I believe that I have enough to run this but you can help me make this site (and the companion facebook page) grow.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: The Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S lens is now shipping - Nikon Rumors
  2. Barmalini
    Nov 02, 2020 @ 06:50:13

    Hi Richard, I love your blog! Greetings from NR reader

    Reply

  3. naturaox2
    Nov 02, 2020 @ 14:47:58

    Thanks for the look at the new Z 14-24 f/2.8. I came upon you through me researching old Nikkor glass. Through your reviews/repairs of these lenses and I’ve purchased many non ai ,ai and ais glass. Mostly the non ai but my ais collection is increasing. My latest is the Nikkor 400mm f/3.5 and boy oh boy is this a nice lens . I shoot live music photography and videos mostly and with Nikon dslrs.
    I love glass it seems like an addiction of some sort. Now I’m intrigued by the new Z mount glass and should be buying into the Nikon mirrorless system within the next year.

    Reply

  4. Trackback: L'obiettivo Nikkor Z 14-24mm f / 2.8 S è ora in vendita - Fotografia Italia

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