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Nikon AF-S 24mm f/1.4G ED review — more coming

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My review of the Nikon AF-S 24mm f/1.4G ED was published about 2 weeks ago, but it remains an active interest.

I continue to be impressed with the 24/1.4G, and I’m so glad we didn’t get the usual VR nonsense (a net loss in my view), and instead got a top-performing lens with an uncomfortable price, but quality doesn’t come cheap.

I just shot a painstaking comparison with the Zeiss 25mm f/2.8 Distagon and 21mm f/2.8 Distagon, to be published in my Guide to Zeiss ZF / ZE Lenses (other new items to go into my DAP review). I shot it twice on two days actually, to double-check my findings, with my usual multiple series approach for each lens. Preparation takes time, but it’s my top priority at present.

Of course, f/1.4 is not f/2.8, and 21mm is not 24mm is not 25.6mm, but it seems that 24mm is perceived as a perfectly good proxy for either 21mm or 25mm, and with both f/1.4 and autofocus, some Nikon users are going to be happy. I like lenses that solve problems for me. I’ll be buying the Nikon 24/1.4G (the loaner will not be going back!), and hoping that autofocus can be dealt with, because it has a nasty habit of front-focus at distance, which I noted in my review, and which a reader confirms is a problem with his sample also. Whether fine focus adjustment can “deal” remains to be seen, because close-up focus seems spot-on, so it could be ugly in terms of general behavior, though this is not at all unusual for autofocus with an f/1.4 lens.

Perhaps the most strikingly unusual feature of the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G is its unusually flat field, meaning that the zone of sharp focus falls nearly in a plane. While I have detected some field curvature, I have to say that it is remarkably well corrected, and head and shoulders above the Canon 24mm f/1.4L II in this regard. A flat field can be very helpful for planar subjects, which include buildings, but also groups of people in a row eg a group shot of a sports team or class, etc.

Taking everything into account, I repeat my previous assertion that the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G is Nikon’s finest-ever wide angle. Period. Trouble is they’re darn hard to find, even at about $2200 they’ve all apparently made it into the hands of eager buyers. Now if only the Nikon 300m f/2.8G VR II could have not been such a let down.

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