Hands-on Review: Nikon 24mm 1.4G Lens

To be honest, I've never been fond of wide angle lenses. In my view, since there's a lot of a scene that these lenses can capture, it sometimes becomes a challenge to emphasize your subject, especially if everything is in focus. It is for this reason that the Nikon 24mm 1.4G lens caught my attention when it came out. It essentially affords the wide angle perspective with a subject isolation of a mid-telephoto lens. Of course, this gem isn't cheap...at $2100, it's up there with the rest of Nikon's exotic glass. I've been wanting to test this lens out for a while, and finally decided to rent it this past weekend from Hawaii Photo Rental. BTW, if you are looking to rent photography equipment on Oahu, these are the guys to hit up. Very friendly staff, reasonable rates, and their inventory of stuff is huge :)

Anyways, just a bit of a heads up...this review is a bit different from my typical lens review, as I only shot with the lens for a few days, instead of a few months like my other reviews. 

Build Quality
Same build as Nikon's other updated primes...polycarbonate exterior and metal interior. Focus ring was nice and smooth, although curiously, you cannot turn it past the minimum focus distance or infinity like the other new primes. There's a M/A-M switch to override AF with manual focus. The body of the lens is nicely tapered, and balances well on my D700. Maybe it was my copy, but the lens hood, was nearly impossible to take off once on the lens. However, it is nice that the lens can stand up on the lens hood when it is attached. 

This lens is weather sealed, and has a gasket at the rear to protect from moisture and dust. The 24G doesn't change length when focusing, so as long as you have a filter attached on the front, the lens is sealed. 

Not a big fan of the plastic filter threads, but at least it takes 77mm filters, like all my other lenses. 

Image Quality
For my first set of images with this lens, I shot it on my D700. The perspective you get with this combination is quite interesting, because our eyes don't see a wide scene in a shallow depth of field. In general, images had nice contrast and color like Nikon's other top glass. This lens was designed be shot wide open. Through my tests, this lens is sharp across the frame, wide open. 

*Note: All images shot with D700 taken at f1.4

This lens is capable of decent bokeh if you can get close to your subject. The cool thing about this lens is it focuses down to a few inches, so if your subject doesn't mind, you 

AF Performance
Overall, AF speed was a disappointment to me. I think I've been spoiled with lenses like the 17-55 2.8G and the 70-200 2.8 VRII, so compared to these speed demons, the 24G was sluggish at best. AF was spot on in moderate and good light, but suffered in poor light (indoors). Because of the curvature of this lens, focus/recompose doesn't work very well...you have to move your focus points around and shoot. 

This lens close focuses down to a few inches, which is where the good bokeh really starts to show :)

Got the chance to use this lens on my e-session with Kelsey and Peter right before their wedding! This was my first time using a wide angle prime during a portrait session, so it was tricky to get used to the perspective...

Final Thoughts
This is a phenomenal lens, but ultimately, I won't be buying it. Why?
While this lens is amazing in both its perspective and image quality, I don't feel like I can trust the AF during the demanding conditions of weddings, as the lens is both slow to acquire focus, and inconsistent in low light. Also, in order to really get the bokeh and subject isolation that this lens can produce, I found you have to be quite close to your subject. I am very close to the subjects in this post (a few inches away in most cases), which results in good bokeh, but there's not always that opportunity during weddings.

As someone who favors telephoto, I found it quite difficult to pre-visualize and compose shots with a wide angle prime. Maybe in the future, this may change, but right now, I'll stick to my telephoto lenses :)

The price tag of this lens, at $2100, also makes it the most expensive of Nikon's current primes, and I don't think I'll use it enough to merit buying it.

It's not that this lens isn't great (it's freaking amazing), it's just not the best fit for my needs as a photographer.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to comment below if you have any questions :)


  1. Your Reviews .... like a friend arriving at night to the campfire, are always welcome!

    I've had the same great service from Hawaii Photo Rental also. Is the reason why AF (vs other lenses mentioned) was slow because you shot @ 1.4 vs. 2.8?


  2. Thanks Steve! Nah, if anything, a larger aperture would allow for more light to enter the camera, resulting in faster AF. I think it's just the AF-S motor in the 24G.

  3. Thanks for your post. I have been going back and for on the 24 1.4 or the 35 1.4. I am leaning towards the 35 more now.

  4. You're welcome! Glad I could help out. I've been using the 35mm 1.4G for several months now, and I gotta say...it's a phenomenal lens. Here's a review that I did on it...enjoy!




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