Nikon 24mm f/1.4
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4 G ED N Aspherical (77mm filters, 21.8 oz./618g, about $2,180). enlarge. I'd get it at Adorama or Amazon. It helps me keep adding this site when you get yours from these links, thanks! Ken.
Sharpness Comparison to all other 24mm lenses August 2010
Perfect for ultra-low-light hand-held shooting, especially with action where VR can't help. With digital, I can hand-hold this under nothing but moonlight at ISO 6,400, and on ISO 50 film, I can shoot it outdoors at night downtown.
f/1.4 is ideal for low-light with film, or ultra-low-light on digital.
f/1.4 is needed more for film than with digital. Film looks crummy at high ISOs, so we really need f/1.4 in dim light, but digital works great with slower lenses at high ISOs, if the subject holds still.
f/1.4 is unnecessarily fast for most low-light uses with digital, unless you're shooting action. For general use, especially in good light or with still subjects, I prefer the 16-35mm f/4 VR. At f/4 with VR, I can hand-hold for long exposures and get more in-focus at f/4 than at f/1.4 with this 24mm f/1.4.
24mm lenses have huge depth-of-field, so even at f/1.4, not much is out of focus. To isolate a subject, use a longer lens. Even the 50mm f/1.8 does a much better job of subject isolation for only $125 than any 24mm or 35mm f/1.4 lens.
This Nikon 24mm f/1.4 is the world's best wide f/1.4 lens. It is exceptionally well suited to low-light hand-held photography, both film and FX digital.
Because 24mm shows hand-shake only half as much as a 50mm lens, you can shoot at one-stop slower shutter speeds for the same sharpness you'd get from a 50mm f/1.4. Since a 24mm lens has four times the depth-of-field as a 50mm lens, you can get quite a lot in focus at f/1.4, while with a 50mm f/1.4, you barely get anything in focus at f/1.4. You can get a lot more sharp in your low-light hand-held images with a 24mm f/1.4 than even with a 50mm f/0.95.
I've used its predecessor, the Nikon 28mm f/1.4 AF-D since 1999 to let me shoot anything in any light, hand-held, even on ASA 50 film. With the crazy-high ISOs of FX digital, I can shoot hand-held in full moonlight, something I can't do with a 50mm lens.
This Nikon 24mm f/1.4 is a big and heavy lens. As you can compare at Nikon wide zooms, at 618g and taking 77mm-filters, this 24mm is as big and as heavy as a professional wide zoom. You don't just throw this 24mm in your bag as a spare; the sane photographer carries it instead of a wide zoom. For instance, just grab this 24mm and a tele zoom and you're good to go for anything. I'm serious: Galen Rowell did most of his best work all around the globe with just one fixed 24mm f/2.8 and a 75-150mm zoom.
It works great on DX, but for DX, I'd much rather use the 35mm f/1.8 DX. The 35/1.8 DX weighs less than one-third and costs less than one-tenth as much as this huge 24mm f/1.4, and on DX, pretty much does the same thing. (the 35mm DX won't cover the FX frame.)
The Nikon 24mm f/1.4 AF-S is a spectacular lens for FX, DX and 35mm film. It's bright, sharp and contrasty at every aperture from edge-to-edge, with a minimum of distortion and coma, and no ghosting of which to speak. This is as close to perfect as any Nikon f/1.4 lens has ever come. It's even slightly better than the landmark 28mm f/1.4 AF-D of 1993.
This 24mm f/1.4 is super-sharp, even wide-open in the corners of FX. You just can't make it unsharp, unless something's outside of its narrow plane-of-focus at f/1.4.
Sample FX image at f/1.4. camera-original JPG.
Sample FX image at f/1.4. camera-original JPG. 1/60 at ISO 560.
In these hand-held samples, be very wary of the limited depth-of-field at f/1.4. The darn thing is sharp edge-to-edge, within the limits of what little is in focus at f/1.4. For instance, in the second image, the beer cooler is about a foot closer than the focus plane, thus the center of the image is completely out-of-focus, while the sides are in focus.
There is a little bit of coma, but it's insignificant.
Just grab the ring at any time for instant manual-focus override, although with a 24mm lens, there is always so much in focus that I can't see why I'd ever use it. Not much changes as you turn the focus ring, typical of 24mm lenses. For perfect focus at f/1.4, you need to use the AF system because the finder screens of AF and digital cameras don't show you what's going on at f/1.4. (honest: DSLR finder screens are optimized for f/2.8; use your depth-of-field preview, and you'll see that all you really see through the finder is what's happening at f/2.8, not f/1.4.)
This is Nikon's first 24mm f/1.4, and for many users, can replace the discontinued 28mm f/1.4 AF-D.
Previously, Nikon's fastest 24mm lens was the 24mm f/2 AI-s (1977-2007).
The incompatibilities for older or cheaper film cameras are that:
1.) It won't autofocus with the cheapest AF film cameras like the N55, but if you focus manually, everything else works great. Even if you lose autofocus, these cameras have in-finder focus confirmation dots to help you.
2.) Late 1980s ~ early 1990s AF cameras like the N90s, N70 and F4 autofocus great and you'll have Program and Shutter-priority modes. You won't have Manual or Aperture-priority modes because you have no way to set the aperture on the camera or on the lens.
3.) You're really pushing it with the oldest AF cameras like the N2020, N6006 and N8008. You'll have no AF and confused exposure modes. Manual focus is fine, along with electronic focus indications.
4.) Since it has no aperture ring, it's just about useless with manual focus film cameras.
See Nikon Lens Compatibility for details with your camera. Read down the "AF-S, AF-I" and "G" columns for this lens. You'll get the least of all the features displayed in all columns, since "G" (gelding) is a handicap which removes features.
Nikon 24mm f/1.4 AF-S. bigger.
Nikon 24mm f/1.4. enlarge.
Nikon calls this the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED N RF Aspherical.
AF-S and SWM: Silent Wave (autofocus) Motor.
G: Gelded for cost-reduction and removing compatibility with older cameras.
ED: Magic ED Glass.
RF: Rear-focusing. Nothing moves externally.
N: Magic Nano-crystal coating, meaning a coating which varies its index of refraction continuously to achieve even greater reflection reduction. It's probably only on one surface, and is used mostly for marketing purposes.
Aspherical: Specially-shaped glass for greater sharpness at f/1.4.
Diagram, Nikon 24/1.4. bigger.
12 elements in 10 groups.
Rear-focusing: nothing moves externally as focuses, just the rear element.
Two are of magic ED glass.
Two are aspherical.
Nano Crystal Coat is used on at least one surface.
Film, FX and DX.
Focal Length topActual focal length: 24mm.
Equivalent on DX: 36mm.
Angle of View top
84° diagonal on FX and RealRaw.
61° on small-format DX.
Nikon 24mm f/1.4. enlarge.
9 rounded blades.
Stops down to f/16.
Close Focus top
0.82 feet (0.25m), marked, from the back of the camera.
120º focus-ring rotation.
You can focus just a few inches away from the front of the lens.
Maximum Reproduction Ratio top
Hard Infinity Focus Stop? top
You have to let the AF system focus at infinity.
Focus Scale top
Depth-of-Field Scale top
It only has markings for f/11 and f/16.
Infra-Red Focus Index top
Yes, dot to left of focus index, inside depth-of-field scale.
Aperture Ring top
HB-51 hood. bigger.
The plastic HB-51 bayonet hood is made in China. (The lens is made in Japan.)
This hood is unique to this 24mm f/1.4.
Nikon 24/1.4 with HB-51 hood. bigger.
Nikon throws in an unpadded CL-1118 pouch.
The bottom is slightly padded, but the rest is a weird pseudo-felt material that will not protect the lens.
3.3" diameter x 3.5" extension from flange.
83 mm diameter x 88.5 mm extension from flange.
Filter Thread top
Does not move.
21.817 oz. (618.5g), measured.
Nikon specifies 21.9 oz. (620g).
Made in top
The lens and rear cap is made in Japan.
The instructions are printed in Japan.
The front cap is made in Thailand.
The hood is made in China.
09 February 2010.
Shipping since top
Late March 2010, in very limited quantities.
This 24mm f/1.4 will never be easy to find in stock, so place your order and be patient.
Nikon Product Number top
5 years, USA.
The US model is identified by the "US" serial number prefix.
Price, USA top
$2,000, May 2013.
$2,180, Christmas, 2010.
$2,200 at introduction, March, 2010.
Packaging (USA Version) top
Micro-corrugated cardboard box, sort of goldish color (not foil).
Box, Nikon 24mm f/1.4 AF-S.
What's inside. bigger.
The lens is wrapped in a plastic bag and cradled in a polypropylene cage. The documents are slid in beside the cradle.
The pouch and hood are wrapped in plastic bags, jammed in the white single-wall cardboard inner box, and that box is put on top of the lens cradle.
Front and rear caps (LC-77 and LF-1).
HB-51 plastic bayonet hood.
14-language instruction book.
USA warranty paper, and NCR copy below it.
Yellow marketing survey disguised as a lottery entry form.
A second marketing survey disguised as a 4-year warranty extension in an envelope.
As expected, performance is just about perfect. My biggest whine is its size and weight; its optics are spectacular.
Autofocus is fast, and most importantly, dead-on accurate.
Every shot I made at f/1.4 is right on target, without which, you'd not be able to take advantage of the 24mm f/1.4's great sharpness wide-open.
Nothing moves externally; only the rear element moves.
AF is fast, but not instantaneous like Canon.
The AF system is a bit slower than you might expect in order to get the great accuracy required at f/1.4.
AF is usually perfect.
At f/1.4, it can miss just a little every now and then, but that's typical for AF systems. If you're used to using slow (f/2.8) zooms, you probably don't realize how much more accurate and repeatable an AF system needs to be to get perfect results at f/1.4. As explained below, even at f/1.4, your finder screen is still only showing you the view at f/2.8, so you don't see your results until you play back the image at f/1.4.
You need to be very careful how you use this lens, and pay attention to any potential misalignment between the actual sensitive locations of your AF sensors and the marks on your focus screen. They don't always match-up, and if they don't on your particular sample of camera, any f/1.4 lens will highlight this much more than any f/2.8 zoom.
With an f/1.4 lens, you'll see problems that could be with your camera that you won't see with an f/2.8 lens, and then you'll blame the lens where maybe it's your camera's fault.
I get much better results with this Nikon 24mm f/1.4 than I have gotten with the Canon 24mm f/1.4 L II on my 5D Mark II. Canon's AF system may be faster, but Canon too often misses accurate focus in exchange for faster focus. I rarely get in-focus shots on the 5D Mark II with Canon's 24/1.4 L II. I get much better results much more often on a D3 with this Nikon 24mm f/1.4.
I tried two samples, one was a Nikon demonstrator, and another is the sample I bought for my own use. Both are great. If you get a sample of camera and a sample of lens that have some offset, use the AF microadjustment menu in some cameras to correct it.
AF is not silent. It makes slight high-pitched noises as it operates, reminiscent of the early 1990s AF-I system. It's still much quieter than the camera-motor-propelled AF of the 28/1.4D.
This is not annoying; if anything, it suggests a very powerful professional AF drive system inside.
Just grab the ring at any time for instant manual-focus override.
120º takes you from infinity to the closest focus distance.
Manual focus isn't very useful on modern cameras with 24mm lenses; not much changes as you turn the ring. Use AF for the best accuracy at f/1.4.
If you focus manually, use a pro Nikon like the F6, F5, F4 or D3 series, all of which have three-section manual focus lights in their finders, which give the same precision as autofocus. Lesser Nikons with only one "OK" manual focus dot, like the D300s, lack the ability to display manual focus precisely enough to get good manual focus at f/1.4.
Forget super-precise manual focus at f/1.4 using the matte portion of any modern camera's (1980s and newer) focus screen. Modern bright laser-cut screens used in every camera since about 1982 only show the depth-of-field of the lens at f/2.8; they do not show what's going on at f/1.4. If you think I'm kidding, play with your depth-of-field preview and you'll see no change stopping down to any aperture down to about f/2.5!
M/A - M Switch
Nikon goofed. This switch is supposed to be labeled "A - M."
The "M/A" position means autofocus. It's called "M/A" because you also can focus manually simply by grabbing the focus ring in this position.
Paint over the extra M if you're easily confused.
Bokeh, the quality of out-of-focus backgrounds as opposed to the degree of defocus, is wonderful wide-open in the center, but can get weird in the sides and corners.
Out-of-focus foregrounds are always a mistake, but if you make this mistake, they are beautiful: even softer than the backgrounds.
In most cases, the depth-of-field is so deep that bokeh isn't an issue.
Practical Bokeh (full-frame examples)
Bokeh is usually quite pleasant, making it easy to separate a subject from deleterious background clutter.
Bokeh in the corners isn't always so nice. This is about as bad as you can make it:
Here are crops from extremely enlarged prints of about 28 x 44" (75 x 115cm), or the equivalent of looking at 12MP FX images (D700, D3s, etc.) at 100% on-screen.
In these examples, the 24mm f/1.4 was focused at 1.5 meters (5 feet) and the synthetic reference vegetation, seen out of focus in the background, was at 15 meters (50 feet).
Everything looks swell in the center.
The three largest stops look about the same, since vignetting only allows about the same light to hit the sides from about f/1.4 though f/2.8.
The color rendition of this 24mm f/1.4 AF-S seems the same as all my other multicoated NIKKOR lenses.
If you really look for it, the 24mm f/1.4 has just a tiny hint of coma (saggital coma flare) in the sides at f/1.4 and f/2.
At worst, the smears are still sharp, and only several pixels wide, with a very sharp core.
Coma is weird smeared blobs that appear around bright points of light in the corners. They happen with fast and wide lenses at large apertures. Coma goes away as stopped down, and tends not to be seen in slower and tele lenses.
Coma is invisible in this 24mm f/1.4 unless you really go out of your way to excite it. It's gone by f/2.8, and about the same at f/1.4 and f/2 because mechanical vignetting doesn't increase light to the corners from f/2 to f/1.4.
The 24mm f/1.4 has some barrel distortion as expected. It's much less than zooms at their widest settings, and rarely will be noticed.
The sea's horizon at infinity. more infinite.
Distortion is negligible at 10 feet (3 meters) and beyond, but strong at 3 feet (1 meter) and closer.
Cabinets at 5 feet (1.5m).
The cabinets, the lighting and my hand-holding are more crooked than the lens's own distortion. This is oddly much better than the LEICA SUMMILUX 24mm f/1.4!
It can be eliminated by plugging these figures into Photoshop's lens distortion filter. These aren't facts or specifications, they are the results of my research that requires hours of photography and calculations on the resulting data.
© 2010 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.
Nikon 24mm f/1.4 AF-S. bigger.
Excepting the large size and heavy weight, ergonomics are perfect.
Handling and focus just work and never get in your way.
It focuses quickly and accurately, focuses more closely than any reasonable person needs, and manual focus is as simple as grabbing the ring at any time.
Nothing moves externally as it focuses; it's a very tough package. I doubt it will be hurt if you hit the outside or the filter ring.
The focus and depth-of-field scales are almost useless.
Falloff on FX is healthy at f/1.4, minimal at f/2, and gone by f/2.8.
I've exaggerated this by shooting a gray field and placing these on a gray background.
The 24/1.4G works GREAT on 35mm film. It's super-sharp, even wide-open at f/1.4.
Film is a more forgiving medium than 12MP-and-up FX digital when it comes to lens performance, thus this stellar-on-digital lens looks incredible on film at any setting.
There is no problem with vignetting, even with thick rotating filters.
With one standard filter and a thick rotating filter, there is just the tiniest hint of vignetting on FX.
The heavy plastic filter ring never moves. Focus is internal.
There's no shadowing at the bottom of the image with the SB-400 on a D3.
I see no coverage problems; the SB-400 covers 24mm just fine.
Here's what you get if you point it at the sun mid-day, with a Hoya Super HMC filter:
Nikon 24mm f/1.4 at f/11.
I see nothing different without the filter; good times.
I'd not bother with the dinky plastic hood.
I'd leave it in the box for resale time in 2025.
On a D3, none.
If you blow-out a highlight and have something out of focus, you might see a little bit, but that's the only time.
It's not a macro lens, but gets as close as you'd dare before you get in the way of your own lighting.
Close-focus at f/1.4 on FX.
Nikon 24mm f/1.4 AF-S. bigger.
It's as I expected, or maybe a bit weaker, with a plastic outer barrel and painted markings.
It's solid, but not as sturdy as the 28mm f/1.4 AF-D.
Metal; rubber covered.
Feel like they could be metal.
Yes, but limited.
Presumably plenty of metal.
Debossed metal, black and gold-colored.
Sticker glued into a channel on the bottom rear of the barrel, near the mount.
Ass-Gasket (dust seal at mount)
Noises When Shaken
Clunking from the focus optics moving around.
I can't see any; this is a tough lens.
Put a filter on it, and it should stay pretty clean on the inside.
As expected today, sharpness is outstanding. The only significant thing that improves as stopped down is depth-of-field; it's completely sharp at f/1.4.
Even at f/1.4, this Nikon 24mm f/1.4 is sharp and contrasty, clear out to the corners on FX.
This lens is better over most of its field at f/1.4 than most lenses ever get. There is only the slightest hint of coma in just the last couple of millimeters of the corners, which is incredible.
Here's Nikon's claimed MTF curves:
Claimed MTF , Nikon 24/1.4. bigger.
As shot on a 12MP FX D3:
Sharp and contrasty in the center and sides.
The corners are sharp, but with very slightly less contrast due to just the slightest hint of coma. They are far better than the corners of the 28mm f1.4 AF-D.
Even at f/1.4, everything looks great everywhere in FX, if you're in focus.
My descriptions below address only the corners, which are pretty good even at f/1.4.
Sharp everywhere, just like at f/1.4, and the corners are even slightly better.
Sharp everywhere, just like at f/1.4, and the corners are even slightly better.
Sharp everywhere, just like at f/1.4, and the corners are even slightly better.
f/5.6 ~ f/8 ~ f/11
The corners are optimum at f/8 under a microscope, but still sharp and contrasty even at f/1.4.
It's only a slight improvement to perfection at f/8, unlike other lenses like the 28mm f1.4 AF-D and 50mm f/1.4 AF-S which are much softer in the last few millimeter of the far corners (28/1.4) or most of the sides and corners (50/1.4).
Everything is a little less sharp due to diffraction.
Spherochromatism (color fringes on out-of-focus highlights) is minor to nonexistent.
If you can see it, it's magenta in the foreground and green in the background.
If you see it, that means you have something out-of-focus.
With its 9-bladed diaphragm, the 24/1.4 can make magnificent 18-pointed sunstars on bright points of light at smaller apertures.
The Nikon 24/1.4 is pretty tough. Put a shatterproof filter on it, whack it with a bat, and I doubt it will care.
There are no focus or zoom mechanisms that move anything external; the outer barrel works like a solid block to divert any trauma around the delicate insides.
This Nikon 24mm f/1.4 is the world's best wide f/1.4 lens.
Versus the Nikon 28mm f/1.4 AF-D top
Shot directly against the extraordinary 28mm f/1.4 AF-D at the test range, the optics of the 24/1.4 are a tiny bit better in the last couple of millimeters of the far corners on FX, but having to carry an extra four ounces (100g) isn't worth the tiny optical improvement. The 24/1.4 is a pig to carry around versus the smaller, lighter and more solid 28mm f/1.4 AF-D.
If you already have a 28mm f/1.4 AF-D, besides lower cost, the reason to get a 24/1.4 is that its internally-driven AF system offers instant manual-focus override without having to move the A/M switch of the 28/1.4D.
Likewise, the new 24/1.4G has an almost silent AF motor in the lens, as opposed to the 28/1.4G, which must be autofocused by a motor in the camera body.
Both lenses are extraordinary, with the 28/1.4's only weakness being an insignificant softening of the last millimeter or two of the farthest FX corners and kludgier autofocusing. This 24/1.4 is always sharp out to the last millimeter, while the 28/1.4D is sharp at f/1.4 everywhere, except the last millimeter where few people care.
The 28mm f/1.4 AF-D also has a little less falloff wide-open than this 24/1.4.
If you have the 28mm, there's no need to replace or add to it, except to make a little money in today's market, or to get handier autofocus.
It's not likely that people who own either of these lenses are using them on cheap DX digital cameras like the D5000 or D40, but if you do, the 28/1.4D will not autofocus on these cameras, while this new 24/1.4G will. DX cameras on which the older 28/1.4D will autofocus are the D70, and today's D90, D300 and better. (see Nikon Lens Compatibility for more. The 28/1.4D is AF, while the 24/1.4G is G and AF-S.)
Versus the Nikon 24mm f/2 AI-s top
The 24mm f/2 is much smaller and lighter, but optically inferior.
The 24/2 is soft and dreamy at f/2, while the 24/1.4 is already sharp at f/1.4.
Versus the Canon EF 24mm f/1.4 L II top
The Canon EF 24mm f/1.4 L II is better than Canon's autofocus system. My 5D Mark II rarely focuses accurately with the Canon 24/1.4, making most of my results much less sharp than they could be.
Canon trades speed for consistency. This is great most of the time, but means most of my test shots with the Canon 24/1.4 L II were not quite in focus, making them much softer than the Nikon 24/1.4.
Versus the LEICA SUMMILUX 24mm f/1.4 top
The LEICA SUMMILUX 24mm f/1.4 has a curved field, so landscapes shot at infinity are much, much softer at f/1.4 than this flat-field Nikon 24mm f/1.4G.
Shot indoors, that wouldn't matter very much.
Oddly, the LEICA SUMMILUX 24mm f/1.4 has more distortion than this NIKKOR!
If you have a Nikon, forget the LEICA lens. This Nikon lens is better, for one-third the price. If you don't have a Nikon, you can buy the Nikon 24/1.4 and a Nikon FX body or two for the same price as the SUMMILUX.
If you shoot FX or 35mm film on a modern camera in low light, get one of these 24mm f/1.4 super-stars today.
This f/1.4 lens will let you shoot hand-held in any light. In daylight, any lens will do.
While needed for film, this lens is not as exciting for digital. I use these f/1.4 lenses hand-held at night on ISO 50 Fuji Velvia, while I don't need f/1.4 on digital.
The best use of this lens on digital is for astronomy, or of course if you use 24mm often on any camera.
I'd not bother with this big, heavy 24mm f/1.4 on DX cameras. For DX, I prefer the much smaller, lighter and less expensive 35mm f/1.8 DX.
Upgrading from the 28mm f/1.4 AF-D top
Should one upgrade from the 28mm f/1.4 AF-D to this new 24mm f/1.4 AF-S?
YES, and you'll make money in the process. Only keep the 28/1.4 if you 're shooting it on manual-focus or 1980s AF film cameras on which the 24/1.4 won't work.
This new 24mm lens is even better than the spectacular 28mm f/1.4.
The upgrade is a no-brainer because the 28mm f/1.4 AF-D is as much a collectors' item as a tool for pros. Therefore, it sells for $3,500 used today.
The new 24mm f/1.4 AF-S sells new for only $2,200.
Unless you're shooting earlier film cameras, sell your 28mm f/1.4 AF-D, pocket $1,200, and buy a brand-new 24mm f/1.4, before everyone else gets their 24mm f/1.4s and erodes the used prices of the 28mm.
If I was working in nasty, dirty areas, I'd forget the cap, and use an uncoated 77mm Tiffen UV filter instead. Uncoated filters are much easier to clean, but more prone to ghosting.
For color slides like Velvia 50, I use a 77mm Nikon A2 or 77mm Hoya HMC 81A outdoors.
More Information top
Nikon, Japan's product information.
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