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Nikon Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8 S - Review 2021


The Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8 S ($2,399.95) is the second ultra-wide zoom lens for Nikon’s full-frame mirrorless system. Like others in the company’s premium S line, it’s built well, and sealed for use in rough weather. Opticals are sublime, and the lens is pretty small when you consider its angle of view and aperture. It’s a good choice if you’ll use it in low light, such as for architectural interiors and astrophotography, but many photographers will be perfectly happy with the Nikkor Z 14-30mm F4 S. It doesn’t gather as much light wide open, but it has a bit more zoom power and is priced a lot lower, around $1,300.

Lightweight for F2.8

The Z 14-24mm is made for Nikon’s full-frame mirrorless system. There’s not much difference between the rear optics and the sensor, so it’s a bit smaller all around than similar lenses for full-frame SLRs. It’s still not small, but at 4.9 by 3.5 inches (HD) and 1.4 pounds, you won’t have too much trouble finding a place for it in your camera bag.

Nikon Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8 S

The large hood supports 112mm threaded filters

Its front element has a slight curve, typical of a wide F2.8 zoom. To support front filters, Nikon includes a large hood with a 112mm thread size. It offers a clear glass protective filter for the lens ($419.95), as well as a circular polarizer ($679.95).

Third parties have jumped in with neutral density and polarizing filters at more reasonable prices; NiSi has several types, all priced around $200, marketed just for this lens. Rear gel filters are also supported. They’re a more economical way to add neutral density for video shots, but you’ll have to take the lens off the camera to swap the filter out.

Nikon Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8 S

Nikon includes a slip-on cap for the big hood

You’ll only want to use the big hood for filters. It’s bulky, especially if you use the slip-on lens cap to cover it. The lens includes a more reasonable hood and a pinch-style lens cap for everyday use. A soft carrying pouch is also in the box.

Still, using any filter at all is an upgrade over the older Nikkor AF-S 14-24mm F2.8G lens for SLRs—it doesn’t support any, and is close to a pound heavier. The Nikkor Z 14-30mm F4 is more sensible for traveling light—it’s smaller, and the 82mm filters it supports are more common and affordable.

Sample Image

Nikon Z 7 II, 14mm, f/8, 1/50-second, ISO 64

The lens is dust and splash protected, matching the all-weather capabilities of Z cameras. It’s a useful feature for a wide lens, always a popular choice for outdoor photography. The glass is protected with an anti-smudge fluorine coating, as well as Nikon’s best glare and reflection formulas, Arneo and Nano Crystal.

Construction is a mix of metal and polycarbonate, finished in matte black. There are three control rings—manual focus is at the front, zoom in the middle, and a control ring near the base. The ring turns with a bit of a resistance, and can set EV, f-stop, or ISO. It’s very sensitive, though—it takes a little concentration to turn it gently enough to make a third-stop adjustment. It’s easy enough to disable it via the menu if you prefer.

Sample Image

Nikon Z 7 II, 24mm, f/8, 1/50-second, ISO 64

On-lens controls also include an AF/MF toggle, a programmable L-Fn button, and a Display button, which changes what the OLED information panel shows, switching between focal length, set aperture, and the set focus distance.

This is an autofocus lens, but manual focus is available too. The response changes based on how fast you turn the ring—a quicker twist will move from close-up to infinity in a snap, while a slow turn makes minute, precise adjustments.

Nikon Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8 S

The manual focus experience is fine for photography, but videographers will miss the repeatable, linear response you get from mechanical focus systems. There are other upsides for video, though—autofocus is responsive and quiet and there’s only a little bit of change in angle when focusing.

Like most wide zooms, the 14-24mm focuses quite close. Its 11-inch minimum focus, measured from the sensor, allows you to put the front of the lens a few inches away from a subject and lock focus. The wide angle gives it a rather meager macro rating (1:7.7), but it’s still very useful for close-up work.

Sample Image

Nikon Z 6 II, 24mm, f/2.8, 1/800-second, ISO 100

The lens doesn’t include optical stabilization, but the feature is built into most Z cameras. With the Z 7 II, I was able to net blur-free results at 0.25-second consistently, and am able to stretch the exposure to a 0.5-second with some care.

In the Lab

I used the 14-24mm with both the Z 6 II and Z 7 II in the field, and with the 45MP Z 7 II and Imatest software in the lab.

It nets good results on the high-resolution Z 7 II sensor at 14mm f/2.8 (3,300 lines) and gets better as you stop down. At the narrower apertures you’ll use for landscape work, it’s as sharp as any lens you’ll pair with the Z 7 II, notching outstanding results at f/5.6 and f/8 (4,575 lines).

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When it’s zoomed in a bit the resolution is better. At 18mm f/2.8, it’s already near the top of the excellent range (4,400 lines), and it’s outstanding starting at f/4. There’s a modest drop in clarity at 24mm f/2.8 (3,800 lines), but results are excellent at narrower f-stops.

Nikon Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8 S

Diffraction, an optical effect that scatters light passing through a narrow aperture, reduces resolution at smaller f-stops. On the Z 7 II it’s noticeable starting around f/11, but is only a real detriment to imaging at the smallest f/22 setting. You may want to stop down that far for certain shots, though—the lens renders its best sunstars at f/22, with more sharply defined points than at f/16.

The lens does show some barrel and pincushion distortion, but only if you turn in-camera corrections on. When they’re enabled, the distortion isn’t visible. They’re available for Raw photography, too—if you process images in Adobe Lightroom or Nikon’s recently updated NX Studio, they’re applied automatically. Of course, this is still a wide lens, so you need to take care to keep the camera level and avoid skewed close-up shots.

Sample Image

Nikon Z 6 II, 14mm, f/2.8, 1/320-second, ISO 100

Likewise, the in-camera correction does a good job reducing the dimmed corners and edges—the lens doesn’t quite gather light evenly across the frame. Nikon cameras offer three levels of vignette correction—at the standard, middle setting you’ll notice that the edges of an image are a little bit darker when working at f/2.8.

A Compelling Wide Zoom for Challenging Light

The Nikon Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8 S is a type of lens that’s fairly standard among full-frame camera systems. The ultra-wide, f/2.8 zoom is a useful lens for pros covering events, astrophotography, architectural, and landscape work.

Nikon’s take on the concept ticks all the necessary boxes. Its optics are sublime, and it’s an overall smaller, lighter lens than the AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm F2.8G for Nikon SLRs. Quiet autofocus and reduced focus breathing are included for video. Filters are supported, too—they come in handy for video and long exposure imaging.

Nikon Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8 S

If there’s a complaint to be made, it’s that design ambitions don’t go as far as premium wide zooms for competing systems. The Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8 isn’t quite as wide, but zooms farther, includes optical stabilization, and works with affordable 82mm filters. Meanwhile, Sony goes significantly wider with its $3,000 FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM, but neither will do you much good if you’ve bought into the Nikon system.

The Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8 doesn’t go as far in concept, but it nets pro-grade results within its confines. It’s especially appealing for photographers who work in lower light levels, and will take advantage of its wide aperture. If you don’t mind an F4 zoom, though, you should save some money and go with the Nikkor Z 14-30mm F4 S.

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