Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Nikkor 24mm f2.8D lens review

Nikkor 24mm f2.8D on the mighty Nikon D300!

As per my previous post, my beloved 24mm f2.8D is up for sale - and as of today, has actually sold! So before it goes to it's new owner :-(  I thought I'd better do a quick review of it!

This won't be a brick wall and newspaper type pixel-peeper review, but more of a practical user-experience review of my impressions of this little lens. And the first comment to make is that it is, indeed, a small lens. It doesn't make much of an impression on the semi-pro D300, and all but disappears when you put the vertical grip on the camera.

That said, because it is all metal and glass (made in Japan, not plastic from Thailand), it has good heft and weight, and is very useable on the heavier mid-range to pro Nikon bodies. On the DX format bodies such as the D300 it has a field-of-view equivalent to a 36mm lens in traditional 35mm film camera terms, while, of course, on the full frame FX bodies like the D700 or D3x, the 24mm is - a 24mm!

Although thought of traditionally as a wide angle 'landscape' lens, the 24mm on a DX body becomes more of a 'standard' photojournalist lens (many photographers were famous for using 35mm prime lenses in the film days) and can easily be used for portraits - even wide open.

This shot of my son Joshua (at home recovering from the flu), was shot at f2.8 - and is tack sharp on his eyes and face. As an 'environmental portrait' lens, the 24mm on a cropped sensor digital camera is superb.

At f5.6 to 8, optimal sharpness across the whole frame is achieved, and I couldn't imagine many other lenses would be sharper. The 24mm f2.8D is well known as a sharp optic, and I can see why. Colour, tone and contrast is also excellent, and flare is well handled due to the relatively simple construction of the lens elements.

I should also mention that though not quite silent, the screw-type autofocus isn't overly noisy - and is quick and accurate given the small distance it needs to turn to obtain focus. As with all earlier Nikkor AF lenses, the 24mm f2.8D has an actual aperture ring so f-stops can be selected manually if needed, and it also has a distance scale window with an infra-red focusing mark, and distance markings for f11, f16 and f22. the manual focusing ring at the front of the lens, although smallish, has a chunky rubber surface, and rotates smoothly. It only takes a quarter turn from closest focusing to infinity. And speaking of close focus, the 24mm focuses down to  30cm, as can be seen in the shot of the 'Viento' logo on the back of my car. This was also taken at f2.8 and as you can see, the background blurs out of focus smoothly - creating reasonably creamy bokeh (although admittedly this isn't probably what this lens was designed for).

The Nikkor 24mm f2.8D really is a beautiful lens that produces fantastic results. Stopped down to f5.6 or 8 it's sharp across the frame, producing true colours and great value in a very small package. If I was shooting landscapes with a D700 full frame camera, or was a photojournalist who took a lot of environmental portraits with my D300, then I wouldn't even consider selling this lens, it would be on the camera 90% of the time.

But as a landscape and wedding shooter, who isn't interested in street photography, the 24mm focal length is an 'odd' size for me - so it is no longer in my bag.

I will be sad to see it go, but I also hope that its next owner gets a lot of use out of it and takes some cracking images with it. It's capable of all that - and more.

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