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Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED

Last updated 2010-05-10 - Send Feedback
Related: Nikon

The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED is Nikon’s answer (after many years) to Canon’s lock on f/1.4 at 24mm.

Like Canon’s EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM, the Nikon 24/1.4G ED goes to great pains to maximize image quality, with the excellent Nano Crystal Coat for reduced flare and better color rendition, ED lens elements for color aberration correction, and aspheric elements to correct other aberrations.

We can hope that the Nikon 24/1.4L is a harbinger of more fast AF-S Nikon primes follow, such as a 28mm f/1.4 and 35mm f/1.4.

A “G” lens with no aperture ring

My biggest disappointment with the new Nikon 24/1.4G is that it is a “G” lens, which means that it cannot be used on Canon with a mechanical lens adapter, thus reducing its versatility for those of us that shoot both Nikon and Canon. But most users won’t be concerned with this.

Specifications

Per Nikon.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED specifications
Focal length 24mm (probably more like 24.4mm)
Maximum aperture f/1.4
Minimum aperture f/16
Lens construction 12 elements in 10 groups (with two ED glass and two aspherical lens elements, and Nano Crystal Coat)
Angle of view 84° (61° with Nikon DX format)
Closest focusing distance 0.25 m/0.82 ft.
Maximum reproduction ratio 0.18x = 1:5.5
No. of diaphragm blades 9 (rounded)
Filter/attachment size 77mm
Diameter x length (from lens-mount flange) Approximately 83 x 88.5 mm
Weight Approximately 620 g/21.9 oz
Supplied accessories 77mm Snap-on Front Lens Cap LC-77, Rear Lens Cap LF-1, Bayonet Hood HB-51, Flexible Lens Pouch CL-1118

MTF chart (modulation transfer function

The MTF chart suggests a lens with high performance (relatively speaking) at f/1.4, which bodes well for performance when stopped down 1-3 stops.

The MTF curve also suggests that field curvature is well controlled, a topic which is analyzed in detail for the Canon 24/1.4L II in DAP.

Real world shooting shows very high optical performance.

MTF for Nikon 24mm f/1.4G

Conclusions

Click to buy at B&H Photo

A full of this lens may be found in DAP.

With the exception of the autofocus issues, I highly recommend the 24/1.4G. As of April 2010, it is the finest wide angle Nikon has yet produced.

Quality at f/1.4 (many examples in the full review) is simply astonishing. Unbelievably good actually.

The autofocus issues are almost certainly a “bad batch” defect problem. With that resolved, the Nikon 24/1.4G is clearly one of finest 24mm designs ever produced.

Where to buy and related gear

You can get the Nikon 24/1.4G at B&H Photo, thank you for using links on this site when you buy links.

See also my list of recommended Nikon gear and lenses, as well as the gear pages.

Autofocus accuracy—
May 2010 Survey results for Nikon AF-S 24mm f/1.4G ED

Please see the May blog entries on autofocus problems.

   
0.1 megapixels anyone?
Manual focus (left), autofocus (right) on Nikon D3s

Initial May 2010 survey results are captured below.

Please note that some “works fine” survey results do not specify whether wide open f/1.4 was used. Stopping down can mask issues. All results are self-selected, self-reporting from users worldwide. They are thus anecdotal and not standardized in any way.

More recent responses indicate that there are samples out there that are working correctly. It seems likely that there are good samples out there, but no pattern has emerged as to why one lens is good and another is not.

Up to 300 feet I haven’t seen any issues. I'm a professional photographer working for the Daiwa fishing tackle company in Australia. I shoot in alot of very challenging outdoor environments everyday so my gear really does get a battering. I recieved my 24mm 1.4 about a month ago and all I can do is sing praises for it! I have around 60 plus lenses inc all CZ, Leica R conversions, Voigtlanders plus Nikons best lenses inc 14-24, 24-70, 70-200 VRII, 200f2, 400 f2.8, all the PC's, 105/135 DC, 105 VR micro....the list goes on, and would happily put it up with the best of them.
So after reading a lot of problems with the 24mm, I went out and shot around 100 images using this lens at f1.4 in just about every concieveable situation, light, dark, back lighting etc and have only had two images that were not in focus and they were of a hight contrast red/white sign on a door. On the third shot it was in focus, tested this with the 24-70mm as well and had similiar results. All I can say is that I have got a good copy and I have shot it up against my 14-24mm and CZ 21mm 2.8 and am very pleased with the image quailty. Hope this helps in anyway. D3x, single shot mode, single focus point.— Bradley Sissins

I have tested the 24mm 1.4 on my the D700 and the D3x. I have had no troubles at all so far. I have tried to replicate your test by shooting down a brick wall at f/1.4 in single shot mode. I was around 24' away from the point of focus. I am having a hit rate of at least 90%. I manually defocus (alternating between near and infinity) after each successive shot. All seems to be ok so far. D3x, D700, medium range. — Al DaValle

Erratic — David Hopkins

Shooting on a D40X. At far and medium range distances, I seem to have inconsistent focusing, even on subjects that aren't moving. It's not that the lens won't focus at distant subjects; it just takes a bit of work to get accurate focus. I find it helps to "goose" the AF by tapping the shutter button 2-3 times before the focus gets where I'd like it to be. Not ideal, but I've heard wide primes are notoriously twitchy.

Thank you for conducting this survey; I very much look forward to the results. If Nikon acknowledged this issue (yeah right!) I'd probably send my lens in for warranty service. During the week I could have returned or exchanged the lens at the dealer, I decided to keep it and not risk waiting another 6 months or more for another copy. I concluded that the AF issues I was having had more to do with my camera body and technique than the lens. After all, close up focus is dead accurate, even at f.1.4. D40x, single shot, various distances. — Tim Townsend

No errors on my copy Serial No US x01310. D3s, single shot, far. — Dom Paoli

Normally shoot in continuous focus with no problem. Tried in single focus today and slight focus errors close up on flowers hand held - due to camera movement between focus and firing I am sure! Close up on tripod - spot on at closest focusing distance on d3x. D3x, D700, close up, various focus modes — Jerry Y

No problems in terms of focusing on the correct point. Just occasionally hunting in awkward light, but equivalent to other lens I use. Because the aperture encourages low light shooting then I may have noticed this a little more. D700, single shot, far focus — Dominic L

I found no issues using single point AF but in auto-area often nothing would happen - AF seemed to be effectively disabled. I will take the lens to the Nikon Service Center in Tokyo and see what they have to say. D3x, far focus. — Campbell G

My problems occur in all ranges:
-extreme close up (medium contrast) 3 out 10 very bad, 2 OK (on tripod, all frames are slightly different: proof because of 'bleeding' due to different focal lengths?)
-Medium range: total misses and with continuing same shots/crops: focus 'runs' away (shifts gradually)
-Long range: joke, hardly ever in focus
In total: my copy is a very bad one — Ruben K

Fwiw, the lens does have trouble focusing when it needs to change from closest focus to medium/far. It will not find focus unless manually moved to past the 1.5 feet mark, else it will gravitates to a distance at about 1 ft. This happens when contrast is low and light is low. Now, that might be asking too much, but maybe this is an area this lens is made for. I do not have the problems David Hill showed, except focus is not that fast.
D3 Firmware 2.02, single-shot, close-up. — Jaap M

My first copy of this lens was inconsistent at all distances, from near to infinity, but it was particularly bad at 10 feet and beyond. I tested on two different D3s bodies to eliminate a particular body as source of the issue. I got a second copy of the lens, and it's the same. What's remarkably, and objectionable, about the inconsistencies is that some of them are very wide - wider than the effect of the strongest AF Fine Tune adjustment, and in some cases well beyond that. I expect small inconsistencies from all lenses, but I don't expect this grade of inconsistency from any AF Nikkor. They appear, frankly, as random glitches getting through the system. With the easiest and best types of targets, the best hit rates I have found are 75 to 90 percent. It gets much worse, about 50 percent, with mildly challenging targets that other Nikkors can nail on the same camera. I have not found anything that it can focus on 100 percent of the time. — David Hill

Lens works perfectly. D3x, D3s, D3, D700, distance medium range, single shot. — Greg Barra

AF appears to be right on the money — Joshua Strickland

I've found my D700 autofocus system to be unacceptable with the new 24mm. D700.

Just ran off 30 or so Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 test shots (at f/1.4)--Far, Medium-Range, and Close-Up. All were with the D700HR set ISO 200, 21 zone matrix AF, and "single shot". All "focus targets" were in bright sun, in our yard (and the neighboring golf course)Trees, bushes, and flowers. All "autofocused" photos were shot after the confirmation light came on and was steady. All were shot with a new-condition Hoya "HD" CP-filter (because the D700 doesn't have a 1/24,000 sec shutter).

The focusing results, forced into very loose bins, seem to generalize like this:
A) All photos which were autofocused on targets beyond about 20 feet had their actual sharpest plane AT about 20 feet. The ~20 feet rule held true even If I manually moved the focus ring to the infinity mechanical stop, steadied the center sensor on a distant target, then engaged the autofocus--It also held true if I moved the focus ring to the close-up mechanical stop, then engaged AF.
B) All photos autofocused on targets from 2-to-20 feet yielded a front-focus of roughly 2-to-6% of the target distance. At f/1.4 this left the targets beyond the far edge of "acceptable Depth Of Field"--Much softer than the plane of sharpest focus, and not quite tolerable, even for non-exacting work.
C) 'Near macro" images (0.8-1.6 foot-ish) were also front focused, but the targets were comfortably inside the far DOF edge and looked nicely sharp (if not quite tack-sharp).

MISC. INFO:
1) My copy of the Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 lens has no discernible mechanical stickiness that would explain the "20-foot limit" on autofocus range.
2) My D700HR is capable of driving the focus ring to the infinity mechanical stop (and does whenever you point the camera at a blank sky and engage autofocus).
3) There is no discernible stickiness that keeps the focus ring from moving wherever the camera tells it to go.
Among today's test shots, there were exceptions that did not follow the above generalizations, but they always seemed to be associated with a very nebulous target. I'm fluffing off the exceptions by saying the AF system was teased into claiming it knew a valid target distance when it should just have admitted it didn't. — Bill Layman

First copy gave me about 50% out of focus shots. Focus at all distances a problem on the first copy. D2x didn't focus even once. Just replaced by nikon here in Saudi Arabia. Now testing the second one. Seems much better. D3, Distance 10 feet and closer, single shot, f/1.4 — Nick Hardcastle

Have not noticed any issues. Works perfectly from what I can tell so far. D3x, D700, continuous AF, distance unspecified, aperture unspecified — Michael Martin

I've had no unusual AF problems with my 24mm 1.4 to date. After reading your blog post, I ran an extended test of subjects at f/1.4 at all distances. I experienced no problems except for a shot made of an area with no detail. The latter would have happened with any lens. At least to date, mine is working extremely well. I'm not certain it should matter, but I use my cameras exclusively in AF-C mode with the AF-On button used to trigger autofocus. D3x, D700, distance unspecified, Continuous AF — Rick Walker

The AF is quite slow (well, slower than I expected for such a high-end lens) and occasionally fails to focus at all at close distances much more frequently than my AF-S 17-35mm f/2.8 lens does at the same settings.
BUT I have never experienced a false positive - if it cannot find good focus it tells me. I have tried the lens on my D200 with similar results . D700, single shot, distance 10 feet and closer — Stefan Elf

When I first tried the 24mm F1.4 before deciding to buy it had severe AF mis focusing, A quick try at another copy proved that it was a lemon indeed. Later on I purchased the lens and used it as part of my everyday lens for street photography and events mainly. Its been a hit and miss agenda most of the time, if you're focusing on a nice bright contrasty image, there would not be any issue, however shooting wide open at F1.4 would means sometimes not having the area in focus spot on. I have compared this against the performance on the Canon 24mm F1.4 at low light conditions mounted on a Canon EOS 5d and the 24mm F1.4 seems to bite better at certain times.
D3s, distance 10 feet or closer, continuous AF — Tang Yiming

My sample, bought in Japan, appears to be working fine for all distances. The AF behavior is quite consistent. For very far objects, the scale (in plastic window) indicates a distance somewhat beyond infinity but this happens for many other lenses and the pictures taken look OK. D700, single shot, aperture unspecified, distance unspecified — Kazunori Ueda
[Editor’s note: aperture not specified here, could be stopped down, masking errors]

I have so far not found problems with focusing. I will take more notice of it to see if I might have missed it. D700, focus mode and distance unspecified... Used the 24/1.4 heavily today again. Absolutely no problems, however I tend to come in fairly close with it since I use it mainly on people. Focusing distances is anywhere in between 1mtr to about 4mtrs. As far as I understand the problems are mostly experienced in greater distances, as in 10meters up to almost infinity? I also tend to stop it down just a little bit (1.8-2.0), kind of a habit I have grown into. I only open up completely when I absolutely have to. Anyway. The serial number on my copy is: x02661. Just in case these problems might be in a single batch (or the good ones in another batch). For the record. I have not yet used this lens often in the mid distance range. I might have this problem but indeed not yet encountered it. — Ray Stofberg
[Editor’s note: aperture not entirely clear]

I don't know if it counts, but I've tried the same 24/1.4 as Andrej. Actually one of D3s and the D90 he mentioned in his e-mail are mine. AF was all over, mostly front-focusing. Few years ago I had a D200 and I've tried three copies of Sigma 30/1.4 and went trough the similar experience - erratic AF. Then I was sure it has to do with Sigma reverse engineering, but now I am starting to believe it has to do with the Nikon AF system. Cameras various, distance 10-50 feet — Bostjan Pulko

I don't think there is a big focusing issue. The only problem I'm struggling is, that in bad lighting conditions the outer af points of the D700 don't seem to work anymore, whilst the center af point still works. But it's my first lens on the D700 so I don't know if this is a common problem with all lenses in bad lighting conditions. D700, distance unspecified, aperture unspecified — David Kaplan
[Editor’s note: aperture not specified here, could be stopped down, masking errors]

"AF fine tune" settings didn't help in any way. If I'd take five shots of the same subject, rarely two were focused at the same spot. Most of the focusing was done using the center AF sensor in AF-S mode.
The bottom line is, I got only about 20-30% keepers - It's AF performance was just totally off, never seen anything like it.

So I decided to try it on another D3 body. Guess what - same story! And on the third D3, then on the 4th ... and one D300 and one D90 which one of the colleagues brought with his D3 - same story. It's performance was not equally bad on all bodies, but it was unacceptable on all of them.

A day before I returned it I tried it on the remaining 3 of the Current Nikon's FX line; D700, D3x and D3s. What I found out, is very interesting. While I got about 70-80% (or at least twice as much as with D3) keepers with D700 and D3x, the lens focused practically 100% dead-on with the D3s - it was a dream-like experience, very impressive. In short - the younger the camera, the better this Nikkor behaved in AF terms. D3x, D3s, D3s, D700, medium range. — Andrej Korenc

I've shot both modes a lot in the last two weeks. In low light focus can take an agonizing amount of time to lock and then it appears the camera gave up because the focus plane is nowhere near critical position relative to the subject.

I suspect (complete wild speculation) that the extra wide aperture combined with extra wide field of view causes the phase sensor to sense detail information from the background that "melds" with the subject in foreground. The result is an undecidability of focus. This proposed theory explains most of my problems with the lens. D700, single shot, aperture unspecified. — Olivier Giroux

Focusing has not been a huge issue, but noticeably not as good as any other nikon lens I own. D3s, medium range, single shot. — Sam Hurd
[Editor’s note: aperture not specified here, could be stopped down, masking errors]

Does not seem to be problematic for me (using D700 body). Medium range. — David Tsang
[Editor’s note: aperture not specified here, could be stopped down, masking errors]

For the most part I do not get focusing issues with this lens. But I have noticed it will mis-focus in very dimly lit or in low contrast situations at about 25% of the time. This seems to not happen as much if I use my SB-600 as a fill flash. I suspect this is a mixture of the AF system's limitation and the inherent fact that this is a f/1.4 wide angle lens (thin DOF.) So when it misjudges the focus distance the error does look that much more dramatic. Especially at f/1.4. I recall getting similar results using my Micro-Nikkor 105mm AF-S VR lens.

At shots past 5 feet I don't think I've gotten one bad shot aside from me causing the camera to shake. Or trying to get a shot in a poorly lit area.

If there really is an issue with this lens I hope Nikon admits it and offers a repair! But right now I know its limitations and like with any lens they won't perform well in little to no light. Even if it is a $2200 lens! Single shot, D90, close up 10 feet or closer. — Jason Hardman
[Editor’s note: aperture not specified here, could be stopped down, masking errors]

So far no focus issues at any distance, it's very accurate. D700, continuous AF. — Thorsten Kril
[Editor’s note: continuous AF is inherently a non-choice in terms of accuracy]

You said that you were happy the 24mm didn't have VR, I agree we can do without such modern gizmos, elements moving around inside my lens do not inspire confidence (other than focus movements).
Personally I could have done without the AF as well, most of my other lenses are MF. As a result, when I used AF in the field and the landscape would not come into focus using single shot single focus point I thought I must be getting too old school and I should spend some time learning AF techniques before blaming the AF.
When using a dynamic pattern at close range, things improved and the results were spectacular. But not at further distances, I thought this may have been the result of foggy conditions outside in combination with low contrast at 1.4. My eyes were also foggy, due to a tripod at low height forcing me to look through the viewfinder at an uncomfortable angle, creating tears in my eyes thanks to the icy wind.
I should point out that the next question (distance) should have been checkboxes in my case. At infinity and medium range I had trouble auto focusing, but then again, it could have been the fog.
My first few outings with this lens were at night (prior to this AF use), I used MF with outstanding results. D700, single shot, medium range. — Sander

No focus issues to date (more then 700 images shot at various distance settings). Used for street (and NYC subway) and landscape. Very sharp, correct color and minor distortion. D700, single shot, medium range. — Joe Josephs
[Editor: shooting aperture not specified, could be stopped down].

I took 26 shots of a tree at about 15 ft. Of those 26 shots 9 were less than critically sharp. I defocused manually between each of the shots. I also shot a brick wall at about 6 ft and all of these were sharp. D700, Medium range (10-50 feet) — Geoff Byers

I find AF accuracy difficult to achieve at 8 feet and beyond. I have to pick high contrast objects with sharp angles/lines to lock on.
D700, medium range (10-50 feet), continuous AF — Alan Young

So far I have NOT experienced any focus problem. I have used this lens mainly at short distance and medium long distance. Everything seems fine so far - haven't however done any scientific testing — Thomas Streng
[Editor’s note: aperture unspecified, could be masking issues]

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