Owning a high-quality wide-angle lens is always a great addition to your kit bag. If you’re in the Nikon camp, there are a bunch of options, like the 20mm, 24mm, and 28mm, with the 24mm being a happy medium.
Neither too wide or too narrow, the 24mm lens can fit a range of scenarios from landscapes to street photography. Thus, we’ll be checking out the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.8G ED in this review.
This lens was produced to be a smaller, lighter, and more cost-effective version of the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G ED, but with the same quality of optics. Let’s dig into what the lens can provide and if it truly is a match for its older sibling.
With any high quality prime lens, the 24mm is wrapped around quality glass. Inside the lens are 12 elements arranged in nine groups, with a seven-blade diaphragm having a f/1.8-f/16 aperture range.
There are also two ED Glass and two Aspherical elements, along with Nano Crystal Coatings and Super Integrated Coatings to reduce ghosting and flaring. Autofocus duties are performed by an AF-S (Silent Wave Motor), with a minimum focus distance of 23cm. All of this coming in at a reasonably lightweight 355g.
The weight on the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.8G ED has been kept down with an all-plastic barrel, which doesn’t mean build quality has been skimped on. Rather, it was to put the lens in a more affordable price bracket.
More expensive lenses may have a full metal construction, but in reality, if you treat this lens well it will provide years of useful service. The lens does feature a rubber gasket on the lens mount for keeping out dust and moisture.
Being such a small and compact lens (77.5 x 83 mm), it’s easy to ‘set and forget’ for a full days’ worth of shooting. Thus, it’s a possible option for travel or street photography.
It’s also extremely straightforward to use, having a large rubberized focusing ring with a manual override whenever it is turned. The lens barrel itself doesn’t rotate when focusing, allowing different types of filters to be fitted to the 72mm thread. A petal shaped HB-76 lens hood is also supplied. Lastly, the lens has a de facto standard distance scale to round off the len’s features.
The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.8G ED In Use
The first stop is trying out the autofocus system, which in good levels of light snaps into focus extremely fast thanks to the Silent Wave Motor. The f/1.8 aperture helps enormously when it comes to low-light conditions, with the AF only focus hunting on the odd occasion.
The slowest focusing times was when the lens was at its closest focus distance, especially when the lens had to go from infinity to its shortest distance. In reality, this isn’t so much of a problem as small subjects are usually deliberated over longer, especially with live view.
When it comes to sharpness levels of the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.8G ED, the results were better than expected. The lens is relatively sharp in both the center and corners from f/1.8-f/2, hitting ultimate sharpness between f/2.8-f/4. Ironically, sharpness is far better at f/4 than f/8 across the frame.
This lens can pull a lot of detail from a scene and even at f/1.8, shows a lot of clarity from wide perspective shots. Stopping down past f/11 shows the most drop-off in sharpness. That’s very commendable for this price point of optics.
As expected from a wide-angle lens, vignetting is quite heavy up to f/2, but luckily drops off significantly after f/2.8. The lowest light drop-off comes in at f/5.6, staying more or less the same until reaching f/16.
Wide-angle lenses aren’t exactly known for their bokeh or background blur effects, but as the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.8G ED has an aperture of f/1.8, the effect is achievable. The lens needs to be near its minimum focus distance, but it’s entirely possible to achieve reasonably creamy backgrounds. The quality of bokeh is very good, but not to the extent of a high-end telephoto prime.
Ghosting and flaring are kept well in check, mainly thanks to the Nano Crystal and Super Integrated coatings. Having the sun directly in frame produces pure sun stars, rather than streaks of light. You have to work hard to get any lens flare or light streaks, which is very commendable for a wide-angle lens.
Barrel distortion is also minimal, being the most prominent at very close distances to the subject. However, this can be easily remedied in post-processing.
Lastly, chromatic aberration is extremely low, only exhibiting small signs at f/2 and being the very best at f/4. After this point, CA increases slightly as the aperture is stopped down.
This is a very beneficial point, as some wide-angle primes can exhibit high levels of CA when the aperture is wide open. The effect can be reduced in the likes of Lightroom when the effect is heavy, but there is only so much software can do to help out with heavy CA.
How Does It Compare?
One of the most obvious comparisons against the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.8G ED is the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G. A more expensive and older lens, which is in the high-quality optics bracket.
In reality, the 24mm f/1.8G ED has just slightly better center and edge sharpness at f/1.8, with both lenses being roughly equal at f/5.6. However, the Nikon 24mm f/1.8G ED still edges forward in corner sharpness.
If you want to go the third party route, the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens is a good alternative. It is extremely sharp at f/1.8 in the center, but the Nikon wins out in the corners. Art lenses are big and heavy across the range, but they are also extremely good value for money.
|Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.8G ED||Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED|
|Optics||12 elements / 9 groups||12 elements / 10 groups|
|Minimum Focus Distance||23cm||25cm|
|Diaphragm Blades||7 rounded||9 rounded|
Overall, the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.8G ED has superb optics and holds its own over the 24mm f/1.4G ED. Across the board it even bests the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art and as the NIKKOR 24mm f/1.8G ED is the cheapest of the lot, this is a great bonus for Nikon users. Lighter and less expensive, with arguably as good optics as the 24mm f/1.4G means the 24mm f/1.8G ED is a great buy.
However, the 24mm f/1.4G does have a wider aperture and has a far more solid build. This may appeal more to working professionals who need the extra level of robustness and weatherproofing. But, if you want the most value for money Nikon lens, you can’t go wrong with the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.8G ED.