In 2007 Nikon released what they called their new staple ultra-wide to wide angle lens, the AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm F2.8G ED.
I have to agree, this 14-24mm f/2.8 zoom lens is one you should definitely consider adding to your landscape photography kit, if not making it your primary lens.
The image sharpness this lens produces is equal to – if not better than – primes, with an image sharpness from corner to corner and outstandingly bright and lively colours.
Distortion is kept to a minimum, and vignette or chromatic aberration are all taken care of by Nikon thanks to the innovative design.
The lens is designed with a full-frame camera in mind, but also performs well on cropped-sensor cameras with the focal lengths becoming equivalent to 21-36mm.
The only things stopping this lens from being the perfect wide-angle lens are its weight of almost 1kg, and very bulky front which makes the use of filters quite a struggle. It is quite expensive as well, which is to be expected from a lens of this quality.
When it comes to the build of this lens, Nikon has thought of almost everything you could wish for.
Starting on the outside, a very resistant weather sealing is in place, rejecting dust and preventing any moisture from entering the lens (but make sure to add a filter to complete protection in the front – more on that below).
The lens is made entirely of metal, save for the non-removable lens hood which is made of plastic.
This might be one of the reasons this lens is so insanely heavy (almost 1 kg), but it does make this lens one of the sturdier ones that is made to last you a very long time.
The attached lens-hood is mainly there to protect the glass in front, which is rather bulky and sticks out quite a bit.
This means the use of regular filters is completely out of the question, an issue that concerned many (landscape) photographers when this lens first came out.
Although not the cheapest, these filters from Lee are very good, and again will last you a very long time if you take good care of them. Watch the video below to get some more information on this filter system:
Taking a look at the inside of the lens, we continue to find handy designs and features implemented by Nikon to make this lens perform like no other.
They have paired extra-low dispersion glass with regular optical glass to achieve an optimum correction of chromatic aberration, which shows in the almost aberration free images this lens produces, even when used with a wide focal length and full-frame body.
Nikon’s famous Nano crystal coating is also present, doing a marvelous job as ever in eliminating any internal lens element reflections.
This coating is a great help in preventing ghosting caused by red light, as well as ghosting and flare caused by light directly hitting the lens.
One feature I quite like on this lens is the AF aspect that Nikon included, meaning the actual lens will not change in size while focusing, only the internal lens group will shift to achieve a focused image.
The Silent Wave Motor also gives a hand in this department, ensuring some very fast and accurate autofocus, even in low-light conditions.
As a landscape photographer you might not really care that much about the autofocus motor, but I find it is quite helpful if my autofocus can do a better job than me in low light conditions.
Sometimes it’s quite hard to see if you hit the right focus spot in the semi-darkness; in such a situation it’s nice if your camera and lens can do the job for you.
When changing the focal length the font element of the lens does move in and out, but the actual length of the lens stays constant, providing for a stable object-to-camera distance which will help you avoid unexpected image distortion.
Moving on to what we all care about: does this lens produce a sharp image? Let me just say, this lens is worth every penny.
The images it produces are superb, outperforming most other ultra-wide to wide angle zoom lenses I know of, and even outperforming a lot of primes.
The images are sharp from corner to corner, softening only ever so slightly in the full-frame wide-angle corners when using the maximum aperture of 2.8. As soon as you move up to f/4, all softening has vanished.
The colors are also phenomenal, making for some very bright and accurate imaging. Vignette is also kept to a minimum, and flare-/ghosting problems are basically absent.
Nikon has also managed to keep image distortion to an absolute minimum, and the lens performs exceptionally well in this department for an ultra-wide to wide angle lens.
At the widest focal length, some distortion is visible ever so slightly, but as you move up this quickly vanishes.
The images still have the character and specific feel of a wide angle, but do without the rounded lines and horizons. A win-win situation.
Here’s some sample images (using the (full-frame) Nikon D80 0E).
Sometimes it is quite useful to be able to zoom to 36mm. For example, if you find yourself on a cliff and can’t really take a step forward to eliminate that one disturbing element from your frame, being able to zoom a bit further will just give you that bit more freedom to achieve the perfect composition.
This lens from Canon also has some of the best image sharpness charts amongst the ultra-wide to wide angle lenses, and the image stabilization feature is a welcome help if you are unable to carry a tripod to your shoot.
However, if you shoot in low-light a lot, the f/4 maximum aperture might be less appealing. But if this not the case for you, losing a stop in aperture is a very handy way to save some cash.
If you are not up for carrying an extra kilogram around to get prime-like image quality when you could just carry the one prime you need, this 24mm f/1.4 lens is a great option.
The lower aperture option makes for even better performance in low-light, and the image sharpness is phenomenal frame around.
Looking for the ultimate budget option of an ultra-wide angle?
The Tamron 10-24mm might be the one for you. This lens is designed with the APS-C sensor in mind, and has a vibration-compensation technique to help you in hand shooting situations.
It also has a moisture-resistant construction, preventing any moisture from entering your lens when you’re out shooting in rough weather.
However, you do notice the price difference with the Nikon 14-24 in image quality – the Nikon is simply better in that department.
But, if the ultra-wide to wide angle zoom is not your main lens and you’re looking for an extra lens to experiment with, going for a budget option before you invest a lot of money can be a very wise choice.
All-in-all, this is one of the best wide angle lenses out there.
Even if you are not a Nikon user, definitely take this lens into consideration if you want some of the sharpest, most detailed and most brightly coloured images possible.
Its outstanding performance even outshines many prime lenses, which makes it a very good choice for landscape photography – image quality-wise, that is.
This lens does have some set-backs, one of which is the need to purchase an expensive filter system to be able to use filters, which is a necessity for any landscape photographer.
The lens is also very heavy, and this is something to consider if you’re planning on hiking for long hours or climbing up mountains.
But, if you’re willing to sacrifice some comfort for superior image quality and have the budget to purchase this, the you should seriously consider it.
Hi, I am Luca, founder and editor in chief at photographyambition.com. I am crazy about photography and I always have a camera with me. When I am not busy with my day job, enjoying my family or taking photos, I am on Photography Ambition to share what I have learnt so far.
Photo Sharing Websites: the 9 best reviewed
Camera Messenger Bag: The best Bags Reviewed
Best Camera Straps Reviews
Nikon D810 and D810a Review
Fujifilm GFX 50S Review
Best Landscape Lens for Sony A7 and A9
The Best Lenses for Landscape Photography
Sony FE 70-200mm f4 G OSS Review
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Review
Samyang 14mm f/2.8 IF Ed UMC (Rokinon/Bower) Review
Best lenses for night photography