Nikon 24mm f/1.4G ED AF-S Nikkor
Lab Test Results
April 25, 2011
by Andrew Alexander
Released in February 2010, the 24mm ƒ/1.4G AF-S began a string of modern fast primes produced by Nikon, as it overhauled and improved its offering in this area. The 24mm lens is brand new to the lineup, the previously fastest, widest lens on offer from Nikon being the 28mm ƒ/1.4.
The lens was designed with the FX sensor or 35mm film in mind, and is also compatible with DX-sized sensors. On those cameras, the lens will produce a field of view of approximately 36mm.
The lens takes 77mm filters, ships with a petal-shaped lens hood, and is available now for approximately $2,200.
Mounted on the sub-frame D300s, the 24mm ƒ/1.4G produced slightly soft results wide open at ƒ/1.4. Slightly sharper performance was obtained by stopping down to ƒ/2, showing decent sharpness in the center and tapering off to light softness in the corners. It isn't until ƒ/2.8 that we start seeing very sharp results throughout the frame, with almost negligible softness in the corners; stopping down further provides only marginal improvements. The sharpest results are found at ƒ/5.6, but at that point we are seeing very slight differences between aperture. Diffraction limiting begins to appear on the D300s at ƒ/8, but it isn't until the lens is fully stopped-down at ƒ/16 that there's any practical impact on sharpness, where it still produces slightly sharper results than when used wide open at ƒ/1.4.
Results were slightly different when the lens was mounted on the full-frame D3x. At ƒ/1.4 the lens is still slightly soft in the central region of the frame, moving to pronounced corner softness. Stopping down to ƒ/2 provides a light improvement to corner softness, and a corresponding increase in central sharpness, but it isn't until ƒ/2.8 that we start seeing impressive corner-to-corner sharpness. Stopping down to ƒ/4 provides maximum sharpness, though the differences between ƒ/4 through to ƒ/8 are minimal; we note some diffraction limiting at ƒ/11, and again, at ƒ/16 we still note excellent performance, perhaps not as sharp in the center than at ƒ/1.4, but certainly sharper corners.
CA tolerance in the 24mm ƒ/1.4 is very good, particularly when stopped down slightly. At wide apertures, we do note the presence of longitudinal chromatic aberration, which seems to be somewhat common in very fast glass - you can see it in our sample photographs as pink fringing on the edges of high-contrast areas. Stopped down past ƒ/4 it is slightly less of an issue.
Corner shading isn't really a problem on the sub-frame D300s, with the only noteworthy results being extreme corners that are 1/3EV darker than the center, when set to ƒ/1.4. At any other setting, light falloff is insignificant.
On the full-frame D3x however, it's somewhat more significant: at ƒ/1.4 light falls off to make the extreme corners over a full stop darker than the center; at ƒ/2, this falloff lowers to around 2/3EV. At ƒ/2.8, this falloff hovers at just over 1/3EV; at ƒ/4 and smaller apertures, falloff results are a quarter-stop or less, which isn't really significant.
The 24mm ƒ/1.4G does fairly well to restrict distortion, showing a consistent +0.3% barrel distortion in the corners when mounted on the D300s. On the D3x, there's slightly more distortion, with a maximum result of +0.5%.
The 24mm ƒ/1.4G uses an AF-S focusing motor, making it compatible with all modern Nikon camera bodies. Autofocus is fast, about one second to slew through infinity to closest focus, and is near silent. Autofocus results can be overridden at any time by just turning the focus ring.
The 24mm ƒ/1.4G makes a poor macro lens, with just 0.18x magnification and a minimum close-focusing distance of 25cm (just under a foot).
Build Quality and Handling
The 24mm ƒ/1.4G is fairly large for a prime lens, at 620 grams (just under 22oz). The balance feels good on larger cameras, but on smaller bodies, the weight of the lens makes the combination a bit front-heavy. The lens mount is metal and the 77mm filter threads are plastic.
As the price point will attest, Nikon views this lens as fairly exotic, however it doesn't sport many premium features other than top-notch build quality. That said, it probably doesn't need things like a focus limiter or vibration control. Its only switch is an autofocus / manual focus selector; other features include a windowed distance scale, with a depth-of-field markings for ƒ/11 and ƒ/16. There is an infrared index, and the lens will focus past infinity. As you would expect, attached 77mm filters will not rotate on the front element.
The 3/4-inch wide focus ring is rubber, a series of ribs running parallel to the body of the lens. A slight increase in resistance lets you know you've reached the end of the focusing distance, but the ring will continue to turn. There is no lens extension during autofocusing. The lens uses nine rounded diaphragm blades to make up the aperture, which should produce pleasing out-of-focus elements.
The HB-51 lens hood around 1 5/8 inches in depth. The hood is a bayonet-mount that reverses onto the lens for easy storage, but denies access to the focus ring in this configuration. The lens is nicely resistant to obvious flare from bright light sources such as the sun, but the hood works well to reduce generalized veiling flare.
There aren't many alternatives in this category of lens.
Nikon 24mm ƒ/2.8D AF ~$350
It certainly isn't as fast as the 24mm ƒ/1.4, but if you don't need the speed, for a lot less money you can get the angle. The 24mm ƒ/1.4 is indeed sharper all the way up to ƒ/5.6, where the ƒ/2.8 version of the 24mm lens suffers a bit from corner softness early on. Distortion and corner shading results are about the same; the 24mm ƒ/2.8 offers slightly better CA tolerance.
Sigma 24mm ƒ/1.8 EX DG Aspherical Macro ~$550
We haven't yet reviewed this lens, but Sigma's offering comes fairly close in terms of the maximum aperture (only out by 2/3 of a stop). We've heard the lens suffers a bit from exceptional corner shading when used wide open, and autofocus is quite slow. Interestingly, the lens offers 0.37x magnification (hence the Macro designation).
Nikon 28mm ƒ/1.4D ~$?
We haven't reviewed this lens, but until the 24mm ƒ/1.4G came along this was the widest and fastest prime lens Nikon produced. It's been discontinued, and it still commands a high price in second-hand markets.
At $2,200, the expectations for this lens have to be high. The 24mm ƒ/1.4G almost reaches them. Certainly, stopped down, the lens produces exceptional results, but as the main feature of the lens is its extremely wide aperture - ƒ/1.4 - we imagine the lens will spend much of its time here, otherwise, it's much better on the pocketbook to get the ƒ/2.8 version of the 24mm lens. At ƒ/1.4, it's not tack-sharp, and corner softness is notable on FX lenses. But then, this isn't a lens you buy to shoot test charts, it's a lens you buy to get a unique perspective in your photographs, and you'll definitely want to try it before you buy it, if you can.
The VFA target should give you a good idea of sharpness in the center and corners, as well as some idea of the extent of barrel or pincushion distortion and chromatic aberration, while the Still Life subject may help in judging contrast and color. We shoot both images using the default JPEG settings and manual white balance of our test bodies, so the images should be quite consistent from lens to lens.
As appropriate, we shoot these with both full-frame and sub-frame bodies, at a range of focal lengths, and at both maximum aperture and ƒ/8. For the ''VFA'' target (the viewfinder accuracy target from Imaging Resource), we also provide sample crops from the center and upper-left corner of each shot, so you can quickly get a sense of relative sharpness, without having to download and inspect the full-res images. To avoid space limitations with the layout of our review pages, indexes to the test shots launch in separate windows.
Nikon 24mm f/1.4G ED AF-S Nikkor
Nikon 24mm f/1.4G ED AF-S Nikkor User Reviews
7 out of 10 points and recommended by azoele (5 reviews)Excellent rendition stopped down. Beautiful bokeh.Focus shift makes it a nightmare to focus. Really not sharp enough before f2.
Fell in love at first with this lens because I love wide angles, but such "love" meant not seeing the issues it has that eventually lead me to avoid using it.reviewed July 20th, 2013 (purchased for $2,000)
First, the lens is a nightmare to focus.
I thought at first it was my technique, or my uncalibrated cameras. But in time, tests and investigations lead to a simple truth: the lens suffers from a marked focus shift, which makes it impossible to calibrate it with fine tune. If you fine tune it at f1.4, it will be out of focus at f2, 2.8, and vice versa.
This shift originates from a mediocre correction of aberrations wide open, which unfortunately has also two other damning effects: it makes the lens misfocus relatively often, and even on pro bodies (D3s, D4), and it results in a lackluster performance until f2, where sharpness finally starts to pick up.
(unfortunately, such "unsure" focusing behaviour and low sharpness between f1.4/2.8 is common in the new "G" trio (24/35/85).)
Is it all bad then?
Not really: there's also *much* to be loved.
First of all, the lens is very sharp stopped down (it eats my 17-35 for breakfast), has good flare resistance, and imparts a sense of clarity to images from 2.8 onwards. In a word, it's the best 24 I have used.
Also, bokeh in the f1.4-2.8 range is very good, which makes for interesting creative possibilities.
I used to set it F2, focus in Live view to ensure proper focus, and enjoy wonderful wide portraits of people, with a gently blurred background and beautiful colour.
But the point is: as good as it is from f2 (or 2.8) onwards, it really is a lens to be careful with, as it can miss focus by a meter without one noticing in the viewfinder. This behaviour, and the softness until f2, 2.5, made me regret eventually the 2000$ spent for it.
Seeing what Sigma makes for half the price (I own their 35 1.4 HSM) I see no reason whatsoever for Nikon not to be as good, or better, at double the price...
I tried 3 (three) copies, all new, before selecting mine. My experience (and what can be found with some digging online) seems to confirm that this is not the special case of an unfortunate exemplar, rather the average behaviour of the 24 1.4...
10 out of 10 points and recommended by dhale001 (6 reviews)Sharp, very fast.None
I use this lens for low light and low light action on a Nikon D800E or D3200.reviewed August 3rd, 2012 (purchased for $2,100)
Perfect for "no flash" indoor parties and night time street photography.
The best 24mm ever made by anyone.
10 out of 10 points and recommended by mrcontinental (7 reviews)Nothing better for low lightPrice. You gotta pay to play
I waited a long time for a fast wide angle lens from Nikon. The marvelous 28 f1.4 was incredibly expensive and out of my reach and this was just what the doctor ordered. You can literally shoot in the dark with this on a D3s. Sharpness is ridiculous with respectable bokeh for a wide angle. Their is no finer f1.4 on the planet. Distortion is well controlled so as long as you keep the unit level you won't have your human subject looking like they are in a circus funhouse. If you are a f1.4 junkie get this!reviewed April 7th, 2012 (purchased for $2,100)
10 out of 10 points and recommended by 3systemuser (19 reviews)sharp center , almost flowless AF(at least my copy), quite decent bokeh.lo-CA at wide open, a bit prone to flare.
very sharp lens, the center sharpness is nothing short of amazing even at f1.4 , replaced my Zeiss 25f2.8ZF2 and Zeiss 21f2.8 at the same time and I am very happy.reviewed December 6th, 2010 (purchased for $1,700)
it costs a lot but replaced two Zeiss MF lenses so for me it was a very wise choice and very cost-effective lens.
I was nervous when I got it on line cheap because of the very often discussed AF issue in many forums ,though, this lens had just perfect AF even at f1.4 on my D3s, D700 and D7000.
I compare this to my Canon EF24f1.4LMK2 and found this lens a bit better in terms of optical quality , I mean the Canon is definitely a super lens too but it has a bit worse light fall off issue issue at all aperture.
Also the Canon has a bit more Lo-Ca at wide aperture but the Canon AF faster and less prone to flare and ghosting.
build quality of this lens is good but not as good as the old school Nikkors or Zeiss lenses , so I give it 8 for this score.
over all though, this lens is a super lens and there is almost nothing I cannot shoot with this lens on my D3s , if this combo cannot get it , nothing can get it.......
however , I may replace this with the new AFS35f1.4G , which also is a super prime and I loved it once I 've tried it at my studio (my buddy's one).
I am debating if I keep the 24 and go 241.4G , 50G +105f2DC or go with the 35 f1.4G + 85f1.4G+ Zeiss 85f1.4ZF2.
Note : the 85f1.4G is not as good as the 35G or the 24GED but it is a bit better lens than any other Nikon 85mm lenses or the Zeiss , so I think it worth it.
However , I may just use my Canon and Sony for 85-200 , when I need any faster lens than my 70-200f2.8GEDVRii.
I love the VR2 but it is not fast enough some times in night club or a dim street in SE Asia.
Any way, the 24f1.4G ED is an outstanding lens and I highly recommend one if 24mm is your thing.
So I think you wont regret going either the 24GED or 35f1.4GNono(both are superb lenses, indeed).
10 out of 10 points and recommended by marokero (7 reviews)sharp wide open, nice bokeh, close focuspricey, but worth it
I initially had focusing problems with the lens. Sent it to Nikon along with my D3 and the lens tested fine - the D3 got a new AF module and a new mirror. The lens still didn't focus right under wedding pressure. I fine tuned the AF in my body to +15 and now everything is perfect. The lens now focuses as well as my f/2.8 zooms and I couldn't be happier! :)reviewed October 4th, 2010 (purchased for $2,200)
I have put up a gallery with a few samples taken with this lens on two different bodies, and all at f/1.4:
The nano coating helps prevent loss of contrast when shooting against bright backgrounds, something I always had a problem with shooting with any of my zooms, and my 85/1.4. The lens can keep up with moderately fast moving subjects in AF-C, and in AF-S it's by far the quietest of my lenses - that will help should I ever decide to shoot video on DSLRs. Overall, after tuning the AF to my specific lens, I find the 24/1.4 is perfect for environmental portraits and other wide compositions.
10 out of 10 points and recommended by Gandalf (8 reviews)Fantastic bokeh, a very versatile lensNothing that matter
Never seen a so fantastic bokeh for a WA.reviewed August 11th, 2010 (purchased for $2,300)
CA: Saw some axial ("pink")at f. 1.4 in high contrast scenes - stopped down it disappeared, as axial CA does comparing to the lateral (blue), that does not disappear stopped down, but can be removed in software.
Very low distortion - if you do not put the lens too close to the face you can shoot portraits and get this fantastic bokeh if you have a fine background.
Read at the net, that the distortion was not higher than the Nikon 24mm t/s.
Sharp at f. 1.4, but not in the corners (of course not), but the corners are sharp at f. 2.8 and the farthest corners also at f. 4.0.
Vignetting at some scenes at f. 1.4 and small at f. 2.0 - gone at f. 2.8.
This is a simply super lens for nightshooting, for concerts, for landscapes (did not see any diffraction at f. 11, and only minor at f. 13 and f. 16, so it can be stopped down with excellent results) for buildings, for portraits in the field using it with DX-camera (36 mm).
This is a f. 1.4 lens, so you can get misfocus at this f.stop sometimes, but only seldom, but if the subject in the city scapes at night is a bit enlightened and contrasty it is there every time.
Not totally free for ghosting if you shoot it against a strong midday- sun, and the sun is not in the middle, but nothing at all with a weaker sun or the city lights = super.
some writes that the AF is slow. I do not agree, it is OK fast, but of course not as fast as the AF from the 200mm f/2.0 or the 70-200, which both are for sports also, so do not expect that.
And you can use your filters !!
The lens is now glued to my D700.
I have seen some writings about the resolution should not be he highest, I do not think so, the resolution from this lens is high, as I see it. It does not have the special colors as the Zeiss-lenses, but that is another story
Look also here about the sharpness and resolution:
"Great review and i bought the lens:)It is even sharper than my Zeiss 21mm and now i am selling it."
You can see what they recommend for print size with the lens here:
And a French site about resolution:
At the same site you can find the curves/resolution for Zeiss:
Lloyd Chambers wrote abot Zeiss 21, f/2.8 Distagon vs. this Nikon 24mm:
"It appears that in terms of f/2.8 and overall crispness that the Zeiss 21/2.8 Distagon maintains a slim lead. But by f/4 - f/5.6 the gap is so close that the most minor focus difference will come into play."
10 out of 10 points and recommended by japhoto (1 reviews)f/1.4, sharp*, gorgeous bokeh, unusually thick lens hood, solid build, great feeling MF ring.*sharpness at f/1.4 is a little overhyped, AF sometimes is slightly inconsistent, CA regardless of aperture.
This lens is a little overhyped. I've used the Canon 24mm f/1.4L II, and the Nikon is really only slightly better in some aspects as seen in the post below. I wouldn't switch systems for this lens.reviewed August 1st, 2010 (purchased for $1,700)
The reason you buy this lens is for the f/1.4. I do alot of night photography so the wide aperture works wonders as far as seeing what you're doing at 2am outside the city.
When using the lens for portraits, the wide aperture, character of the bokeh, and pattern in the vignetting is really phenomenal, and dramatically changes the overall look of the image. this is going to be my environmental portrait lens no doubt.
As far as the AF problems, i haven't really run into any that i would say are objectionable. There have been a few times when the focus has been slightly off in situations where it shouldn't be, but f/1.4 lenses are much more difficult for AF systems to work with as opposed to f/4 or f/2.8 lenses, everyone knows this.
As far as overall sharpness, at anything tighter than f/2.8, the lens is generally perfect for most uses, except for the extreme extreme corners, which don't really matter anyway in real photography. Sharpness at f/1.4 is good for a fast wide angle prime (especially when compared to the sigma 20,24, and 28 1.8's), but it's noting to really write home to mom about. It's pretty similar to the Canon 24 f/1.4L II. It's good, but it's not perfect by any stretch, there is still lots of coma, lots of fringing and aberrations, and pretty much only resolves the D3(s)/D700 in the center of the frame when shot at f/1.4. wide open and at f/2 the sides and borders are OK. at f/2.8-16, it's awesome and leaves little to be desired. Typical wide aperture prime.
Color resembles the 50mm f/1.4G when shot wide open, could be a good or bad thing. It's a little warm in the center, cooler in the corners. Not alot, but on a brick wall you'll see it. otherwise it's a non issue.
There is CA in the peripheral of the frame at every aperture. It's generally trivial to remove.
Overall I think it's a great lens, worth it for $1700, $2200 is a little much.
For an example of what i'm talking about using this lens at night: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrmeeker/4698673239/
10 out of 10 points and recommended by genotypewriter (12 reviews)Far/infinity IQClose distance IQ (see my review link below), current price is a bit unfair when comparing to the Canon 24L II
Here is my detailed review of the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G compared to the Canon 24L f/1.4 II (both on a 5D MkII):reviewed June 14th, 2010