Nikon 24mm 1.8G Review / by Jake Horn

Any serious landscape photographer will undoubtedly have a 24mm lens in their bag of tricks. I feel that the 24mm is the perfect compromise between wide angle and extreme wide angle. The 20mm has long been a staple in landscape photography, but the 20's field of view can be too wide in certain situations where you want to lead the eyes of the viewer. It is also easy to create photos with an unrealistic perspective if care is not taken (i.e. distortion & converging lines). The 28mm, on the other hand, is best as a wide street photography lens. For landscapes however, the 28mm focal length requires you to work a scene harder to get a perspective that does not feel cramped.

Most of my landscape photography is done with a backpack and requires some type of destination hike. In interest of space and weight, the 24mm paired with a medium telephoto will give you enough coverage to tackle any situation. Much of my photography has been inspired by Galen Rowell. So much so, that I have adopted his two lens philosophy. But instead of a wide prime and a telephoto zoom, I have substituted the telephoto zoom for a prime in the 85-135mm range (often bringing a 24mm and 85mm). 

  Next to its predecessor...the 24mm 2.8D

Next to its predecessor...the 24mm 2.8D

PROS:

The lens has a distinct plastic feel, but in a very nice way. It has a solid heft to it without being heavy. When mounted to the Nikon F6, everything feels extremely well balanced. The mount is equipped with a rubber ring to provide a level of protection against water and moisture. There is an odd tightness when securing the lens to a body because of the seal. Being my first modern G lens from Nikon, this feature was a huge buying consideration. If you have a top of the line weather sealed body, you should have matching performance in the mounted lens. 

 Nikon F6 | f/10 | 4 sec | Ektar 100 | Tripod Mounted

Nikon F6 | f/10 | 4 sec | Ektar 100 | Tripod Mounted

So far, this lens has performed flawlessly. Negatives turn out with brilliant color and detail. The color pallet delivers exactly what I've come to expect from Kodak Ektar. Nice warm browns and reds with light blue skies. I typically use polarizers with Ektar to help darken the sky, but with a 24mm you'll start to get uneven color.

  A 100% crop from the image above (top left corner). Scanned with Epson V850

A 100% crop from the image above (top left corner). Scanned with Epson V850

The 1.8G utilizes Nikon's latest technology including Nano Crystal Coating, Extra Low Dispersion, and Aspherical elements. At f/10 on a tripod, corner sharpness blew me away. It is a huge improvement over the older Nikon 24mm 2.8D. For this type of scene, where the entire frame is filled with information that needs to be in focus, the 1.8G delivers effortlessly. (NOTE: While the crop above illustrates corner performance from a scan, my evaluation stems from examining the negatives with a 17.5x magnifying loupe)

 Nikon F6 | f/5.6 | 1/100 sec | Ektar 100 | Handheld

Nikon F6 | f/5.6 | 1/100 sec | Ektar 100 | Handheld

Some reviews have touted the pleasing bokeh at 1.8, but shooting isolated scenes where bokeh is pronounced on a 24mm comes from a specialized style of shooting. The majority of people picking up this lens will probably be shooting landscapes or interiors where out of focus backgrounds are not typical.

CONS:

To properly capture landscapes in a wide variety of weather conditions, you should utilize polarizing and graduated neutral density filters. Most of us have acquired a collection of filters and adapters to use across different platforms. I did not like the idea of having the odd 72mm filter size on this prime. Polarizers are a must for reducing glare on streams and waterfalls. Using a step up ring is quite annoying though, and all but impossible with the lens hood mounted. I did have to get a 72mm wide adapter for my Lee filter system to use graduated filters. While combing through Nikon's lens line up, I quickly found that no other lenses (that I'm interested in) use this same filter diameter besides the 58mm 1.4G. 

 Nikon F6 | f/5.6 | 1/200 sec | Ektar 100 | Handheld

Nikon F6 | f/5.6 | 1/200 sec | Ektar 100 | Handheld

One feature that can be a flaw for some, and is for me, is the lack of backwards compatibility with manual cameras. Because of this, I must still hold onto my 24mm 2.8 AI-s (shoot out coming soon!). I have shot my Nikon F5 with the F3 as a backup. While this is a perfectly fine strategy for D lenses, this will no longer work with the G series. 

  In the field mounted on the Nikon F6

In the field mounted on the Nikon F6

BOTTOM LINE:

This has been a fantastic wide angle lens for landscapes. It has very different characteristics when compared to the majority of my other F-mount lenses. While it is slightly larger than past 24mm offerings from Nikon, it is much more compact than the 24mm 1.4G. Plus, it is optically superior to my 2.8D at wide apertures, which will have me rethinking my strategy in low light.

Overall, another outstanding prime lens from Nikon to use on the Nikon F100, F5, F6, or digital (if you're into that sort of thing).