Nikon 12-24mm f/4G ED-IF DX AF-S Nikkor

Lens Reviews / Nikon Lenses i Lab tested

Lab Test Results

  • Blur
  • Chromatic Aberration
  • Vignetting
  • Geometric Distortion
12-24mm $1,147
average price
image of Nikon 12-24mm f/4G ED-IF DX AF-S Nikkor

(From Nikon lens literature) The 12-24mm ultra wide-angle zoom design enables a combination of wider angle of view with optical characteristics optimized for use with every Nikon digital SLR. Two ED glass elements minimize chromatic aberration while three aspherical lens elements control distortion and reduce the overall size of the lens.

Our own comments A slightly more practical approach to wide angle photography is to choose a zoom. More distortion is introduced with a zoom, but this lens has won awards for managing to avoid most of those problems to some degree. At over a grand, you'd expect some good quality. This belongs in the Intermediate to Advanced photographer's bag.

Test Notes

The Nikkor 12-24mm f/4G was one of the first "DX" (reduced image circle) lenses Nikon developed, to give shooters using cameras with APS-C size sensors a true wide angle capability.

When we first tested this lens, we were dismayed to see severe asymmetry in the blur results at the longer end of its focal length range. We suspected that this might be the result of damage due to rough handling of the lens before we received it, but went ahead and posted the results anyway. (We no longer do this - If we see anything that's at all suggestive of a defective unit, we withhold results until we can test another sample.)

We've now (October, 2006) obtained a second copy of the Nikkor 12-24mm DX, and are happy to report that it's a whole different animal. This sample shows very good blur characteristics, not quite prickly sharp, but relatively uniform across the frame wide open. The corners are slightly soft wide open at 12mm, and become progressively more so as you move to longer focal lengths. One stop down, focus is quite good across the frame up to about 20mm, the corners getting only slightly softer at 24mm. A good performance overall for such a wide-angle zoom.

Chromatic aberration is better than average across most of the focal length range, becoming high in the corners only at the 12mm extreme wide-angle setting. Vignetting is surprisingly low for a super wide angle, with a maximum of 0.75 EV falloff, dropping to 1/4 EV or less when stopped down by a stop or more at all but the widest-angle focal lengths. Distortion is relatively high at maximum wide angle, 1.08% barrel at 12mm, decreasing linearly until hitting a maximum of 0.28% barrel at 18mm, and then remaining at that level until 24mm.

All in all, the 12-24mm DX is an excellent lens, a very worthy option for Nikon shooters looking for a true wide angle zoom for their DSLRs.

Nikon 12-24mm f/4G ED-IF DX AF-S Nikkor User Reviews

8.1/10 average of 20 reviews Build Quality 8.0/10 Image Quality 7.9/10
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)
    Fisheye lens

    The 12-24mm ultra wide-angle zoom design enables a mix of wider angle of read with optical characteristics optimized for use with each Nikon digital SLR.The build and finishing are very excellent, the AF fast and silent, the image is crisp and the colour rendition very cool.The distortion is well controlled.Towards the edges of the frame the fixed focal length 16mm fisheye lens continues to be streets ahead with its ability to render edge detail

    reviewed February 4th, 2012 (purchased for $900)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)
    Light & fair build quality, pretty sharp
    distortion at wide setting produces a slightly wavy pattern

    All in all not a bad lens and available at a budget price (in the UK) if you shop around at £356( july 08) it compares very favourably with the Sigma 10-20, although not as wide it is sharper & at least it has not gone wrong as did my Sigma that was replaced with the Nikkor, all in all, good glass.

    reviewed April 15th, 2009 (purchased for $533)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (16 reviews)
    Flare control

    Flare control is the main reason to spend the extra for this lens over the other ultra-wides available. There are other reasons too of course but if you have ever had a shot spoiled by flare, then this will be enough for you. Flare defects are very difficult to remove in PP and they are quite a common problem with ultra-wide shots. Well done Nikon !

    reviewed December 6th, 2008 (purchased for $850)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (9 reviews)
    Handling, build quality, constant aperature, sharp
    Cost, 12mm performance

    I struggled to pull the trigger on this lens primarily due to the cost of this lens compared to some of the third-party alternatives available out there. Once I put the lens to use however, I have no regrets with my purchase decision.

    The lens is a joy to handle and produces sharp images with well controlled distortion and CA. I find the lens quite sharp at f/4, and even more so at f/5.6 or f/8.

    As has been previously mentioned, the weakest focal length of the lens is at 12mm, where corners (at least in my sample) aren't quite as sharp as they could be, but this really isn't a problem unless you pixel peep. I've printed 11x14 prints that look great.

    Most of the samples contained within this gallery were shot with this lens:

    reviewed October 24th, 2008 (purchased for $914)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (3 reviews)
    Sharp, low CA, good build quality
    Expensive compared to competition, but worth it

    Sharp, contrasty and a solid performer. I just recently took mine to Yosemite and it yielded some wonderful images.

    reviewed January 18th, 2008 (purchased for $890)
  • 5 out of 10 points and not recommended by (20 reviews)
    No distorsions, vignetting
    price, built quality

    First one had soft spot in the right side at 12-18mm. Got another from service with soft corner ! Got money back and bought Sigma 10-20 with no problems. So bad quality for so big money... Test it very thoroughly !

    reviewed July 16th, 2007 (purchased for $1,100)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (21 reviews)
    Build quality, sharpness

    This is one of my favorite Nikon lenses of all time. I prefer it a lot more than the 35mm lens it "immitates", the 17-35mm f/2.8. I didn't like the 17-35 because I don't need the extra apeture so I felt like I was carrying around a hunk of glass that I didn't really need. But the 12-24 is delightfully small and light yet still strong.

    You may want to wait and see what else Nikon offers if you really enjoy an f/2.8 constant apeture, but if you're like me and you shoot nature and often find yourself needing to travel light, then get this lens and you'lll be very glad you did.


    reviewed December 29th, 2006
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (4 reviews)
    Very high image quality and construction, low vignetting, very good internal reflexes suppression
    expensive (but worth the price)

    This is truly a pleasant lens to use. The build and finishing are very pleasant, the AF fast and silent, the image is crisp and the color rendition very pleasant. Two points stand out in my opinion. First, the very low light falloff, hardly noticeable even at 12 mm. Second, the excellent containment of internal reflexes. Even with strongly contrasted images and bright light sources in the frame, ghosting and flare remain minimal ad the contrast is well preserved.

    It is clearly an expensive lens, but well worth the price (the high price I paid is typical on european markets, I bought it in Italy)


    reviewed December 22nd, 2006 (purchased for $1,585)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)
    Sharp images, lightweight, solid feeling

    This is an excellent lens producing very nice, sharp images. Based on the crop fields that I've photographed I have no complaints. The colors are vivid with no aberrations to speak of. I would definitely recommend this lens.

    reviewed December 6th, 2006 (purchased for $970)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (6 reviews)
    Solves the APS sensor ratio problem with wide angle lenses

    This lens is a must for anyone who needs wide angle with a Nikon Digital SLR. It is relatively free of defects of all kinds that one usually finds in wide angle zoom lenses. It is not too heavy; is built well, and most importantly deliver excellent images. I don't leave home without it. I particularly like to team it up with my 24-120 VR lens to get an effective and continuous focal length range between the two of 18mm through 180mm. It is an essential tool if you do scenics, architecture, travel, or other wide angle required photography.

    reviewed December 5th, 2006 (purchased for $880)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (8 reviews)
    nice super wide angle, soldidly built, internal zoom+focus

    I bought this lens when it first came out to get the wide angle back on digital after the 1.5x crop. I am glad I bought it because it is everything it should be--sharp, useful range and well enough built to take the day to day abuse I subject my equipment to.

    At the landscape critical apertures between f/7.1 and f/16 it is very sharp with decent color saturation. AF is fast and snappy for an f/4 lens, not that it really matters at these focal lengths. There is a bit of chromatic aberration present, but it is easy to fix in PP. Overall I would highly recommend this lens to anyone looking to get the wide angle back for landscapes, though not so much for architecture, as there is some nasty wave-form distortion that takes a tremendous amount of work to fully remove.

    reviewed November 23rd, 2006 (purchased for $800)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by (18 reviews)
    wide angle view, fast accurate focusing
    build quality for money, purple fringing & CA at wide angles

    Provides that extra view not available to the 17-35. Cant quite provide 17-35 quality in particular the 12-24 produces some purple fringing in high contrast areas.

    All in all its the only Nikon solution below 17mm thats not an old and expensive prime.

    Image quality is good when stopped down to f8 or f11. Going to f22 degrades image quality.

    Build quality not up with the pro lenses and its expensive


    reviewed November 21st, 2006
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by (15 reviews)
    ultra-wide angle

    Since DSRLs were introduced at acceptable price point wildlife shooters were overjoyed due to x1.5 crop factor, but many lanscape shooters were felt the lack of wide ange options due to the same reason that benefitted the wildlifers.
    For a while Nikkor 17-35/2.8 was the widest one could use (I don't cound the fisheyes) and at equivalent of 28mm (as beautiful a lens it is) it wasn't nearly wide enough.
    With the introduction of Nikkor 12-24/4 the landscapers' prayers were answered.

    The lens gives 18mm equivalent on the DX cameras and gives very good color and contrast.
    The distortion is well controlled, but sharpness varies from 12mm to 24mm significantly, my sample being worse at 12mm.
    There's also an issue with CA and ghosting, but both are to be expected from such a wide lens - at least to some degree.
    As some previous reviewers noticed, the CA can be dealt with by converting NEFs via Nikon-supplied software (though I've never used one).
    The lens takes 77mm filters, but it's better not to use any as CA, flare and ghosting increases dramatically with any filter I tried, including a B+W UV one.

    All in all, a great lens for its focal range.
    You may consider Tokina 12-24 that's signiicantly cheaper and probably fares as well.

    reviewed November 18th, 2006
  • 0 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)

    There is a new review at Nikonians -

    Entitled Super wide angles shootout The 12-24mm Nikkor, 10-20mm Sigma, 11-18mm Tamron & 12-24mm Tokina

    Comes out well.

    There is another put up on February 18th (2006) at which must have a hundred pages of details comparing these four lenses. The level of detail is impressive. The Nikon comes out on top, followed by the Tokina (not avail. in Canada unfortunately)

    reviewed January 23rd, 2006
  • 7 out of 10 points and recommended by (7 reviews)
    It gives you an ultra wide angle of view on a 1.5x reduced frame sensor. AF-S works great
    Shot wide open (f/4) this lens is OK, but not great

    AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 12-24mm f/4G

    All of my lens test/comparisons were performed on a Nikon D2x (reduced frame, 1.5x 12.2MP CMOS sensor). The camera was set to mirror lock-up, mounted on a tripod and fired with the MC-30 cable release. The test exposures were captured as NEF raw files and compared with no image sharpening.

    The best results arrive with this lens set to around f/8. When set to f/8 this lens performs in the center as well as the AF Fisheye-Nikkor 16mm f/2.8D when it’s set to f/5.6.

    Chromatic aberrations are slightly more pronounced with the 12-24mm than those found with the 16mm fisheye lens. However, realistically either lens delivers acceptable levels of chromatic aberrations (especially if you convert your raw files using Nikon Capture with the 'Color Abberation Control' enabled).

    Towards the edges of the frame the fixed focal length 16mm fisheye lens is still streets ahead with its ability to render edge detail.

    However, for a general purpose and practical wide-angle zoom lens, I do find the 12-24mm DX lens to be suitable for most of my needs.

    I’ve previously owned the AF Nikkor 20-35mm f/2.8D lens and therefore know how hopeless wide angle auto focus can be without a built in Silent Wave auto focus motor. Just like the AF-S Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8D lens the 12-24mm DX lens has AF-S auto focus that is quiet and speedy.

    Note: these are subjective results that may not reflect your particular sample OR use of this lens.

    Das Bosun

    reviewed November 23rd, 2005
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)
    Great weight and sharpness (see Cons)
    A bit soft wide open

    I think this lens simply continues the line of exceptional glass manufactured by Nikon. I've used only Nikon lenses on my Nikon bodies for (lots of) years and when I switched to digital it had to be a Nikon since I have more lenses and accessories than I can carry. I considered a Sigma or Tamron lens but I am glad I spent the extra $$$ and went with this. To me, there is no comparison. Just remember the 1.5x conversion factor which makes this effectively an 18-36mm lens.

    reviewed November 17th, 2005 (purchased for $1,100)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (10 reviews)
    The wide angle lens that make the DX format useable
    Not many...

    I've had this lens since it became available in 2003 and have taken tens of thousands of images with it so far using the D100, D2h & D2x. I've even used it on the F5 (18mm and longer).

    This lens has made the Nikon D series cameras finally useable.

    My workhorse lens for many years was the Nikon 17-35mm lens, not only relatively fast, but quite sharp. It was heavy and had some weird moustatsh distortion, but lovely ghosting when shot into the sun.

    Coupled with an F5, it was unbeatable for a wide angle combo.

    The 12-24 is the DX equivalent. Though it is a stop slower, that isn't a problem with the variable ISO we enjoy with digital. It is lighter that the 17-35 and even on film, does a great job at 18mm and longer.

    Coupled with the D2x, this is the wide angle combo equivalent of the F5+17-35, but lighter in weight and less distortion.

    Its only draw-back seems to be that it has a little red-cyan chromatic abberation wide open and at wide focal lengths. Not a real problem since you can correct this problem using ACR.

    Image quality is excellant, even wide open. I've made many 20x30 prints from this lens and am quite amazed. Even at this magnification, the quality is better than film with the 17-35mm and I feel I can probably go to even 40x60 inches before starting to push this lens. It is quite amazing!

    Next to the 70-200 VR, the 12-24 is probably one of the sharpest lenses I've used in 30 years of Nikon shooting.

    If you shoot wide angle, you need this lens!

    reviewed November 4th, 2005 (purchased for $1,100)
  • 6 out of 10 points and not recommended by (5 reviews)

    I'm very disappointed with this lens.
    At 24mm it is stunningly good.

    However, at 12mm it is really bad. Soft in the center, and serious chromatic aberration in the corners. I tested with tripod, AF, manual focus, and manual focus with viewfinder loupe. No use - always soft.

    According to all the tests it should be much better. Looks like I've got a bad copy.

    reviewed November 4th, 2005
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by (2 reviews)
    Brilliant landscape and interiors lens
    bit soft in the corners, not exactly value for money

    Bought this as I missed my 24/2.8 on Nikon F. Not regretted it, but it is not perfect, soft corners at some settings, noticeable distortion at 12mm, cheap plasticky feel, expensive. When I got it only other option was bulbous Sigma, however this thing is not exactly small either. I'd be interested to see how Tokina and Tamron, new Sigma do in comparison.
    By the way this site is a great idea.

    reviewed October 21st, 2005
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (36 reviews)
    High image quality across zoom range at all but widest aperture
    Apparent negative interactions with filters

    I bought this lens to replace a Sigma 12-24, which had taken nice pictures on a D70 but fell over badly on a D2x, with uneven sharpness, relatively low contrast, and serious problems at edges and corners, particularly at longer focal lengths (it probably had those problems to some extent on the D70, but they were not noticeable because of the lower density of pixels on the sensor, or at least that's my theory).

    The Nikkor has not disappointed. I almost never shoot wide open, and as mentioned in the test report, as long as you avoid that, this lens is very sharp and contrasty across the field at all focal lengths, delivering image color and contrast that match other Nikkors well. It does have some noticeable complex distortion at the 12mm end, but not enough to be a problem for anything but an architectural subject.

    I have had one interesting problem though; with a filter mounted, I do not get any evidence of light falloff, which would indicate vignetting, but I do get far more CA at edges and corners, and corner sharpness at the 12mm end deteriorates. This is a repeatable problem, encountered with two different Hoya HMC filters that do not have any obvious flaws. Since writing the above, I have found a Hoya UV filter that does not produce the problem. Maybe some interaction between the exact thickness or coating of the filter and the lens?

    Sample images:

    reviewed October 20th, 2005