Which is the best 24mm from Nikon – Nikon 24mm f/1.4, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 and Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8

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Which one gets your vote as the best 24mm  – Nikon 24mm f/1.4, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 or Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8? What about the 17-35mm f/2.8 and 24-120mm f/4? I have excluded them here simply because I don’t have either of them. Optically, the 17-35mm is superseded by the famous 14-24mm f/2.8, but it is still popular to those who want to attach filters.

In terms of prices,  Nikon 24mm f/1.4 is the most expensive at $2029 (B&H) follow by the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 at $1979 (B&H) and Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 at $1869 (B&H). The Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8 is still not cheap at $1799 (B&H) where as the Nikon 24-120mm f/4 is much more generous at $1199 (B&H).

24mm on FX camera is consider as a wide angle, such focal length is useful for all types of photography, noticeably 24mm is a common focal length for landscape, wedding, street photography, etc…

There are a lot of lenses that cover this useful focal length, such as the above three lenses, so if you are choosing a 24mm, which one would you choose? Would you choose the one that is optically the best, sharpest lens? or one that weight less?

The three lenses presented here are considered Nikon’s top of the class lenses. While they all cover the 24mm focal length,  they serve very much different purposes. Their sizes are also different with the 14-24mm f/2.8 being the heaviest at 960g, closely follow by the 24-70mm f/2.8 at 900g and the lightest Nikon 24mm f/1.4 at 620g.

If you want to find out which lens to choose base on the different type of photography work, check out this post here.

The Nikon 24mm f/1.4 is really a special purpose lens, specially for low light condition and delicious bokeh created by shallow DoF even at wide angle.

The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 is also a special purpose lens, it suits mostly for architectural and interior work. At 14mm it is very wide, almost too wide for normal landscape shots. It can get quite challenging working with 14mm.

The Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 is known to be a work horse lens for all purposes. It is an important lens for wedding and travel photography. It has a very useful coverage from 24-70mm.

If you are choosing between the three top class lenses, you should probably focus on which one suits your photography style rather than their optical performance. From my experience, I can say they all produce excellent work and their build quality is top notch.  In most cases, you won’t even notice the difference. However, I do notice the AF on the 24mm f/1.4 does seem to be a bit slower in comparison to the 14-24mm and 24-70mm.

However, if you must know how they compare to each other. READ ON, but first I have to declare that these test shots are not scientific at all and they are taken in an uncontrolled environment.

The three lenses have a very much different optical design, therefore you can expect their optical performance such as chromatic aberration (CA), image sharpness, distortion, bokeh rendering to be different.

Here I took a test shot at 24mm with each of the Nikon 24mm f/1.4, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 or Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8. The settings were f/5.6, ISO800, 1/50s, you can watch the slides below to check out the test shots for the respective lens. Immediately, you will notice there are some differences with the amount of vignetting and lens distortion.

Instead of taking test shots of charts and check the corner to corner sharpness, I have decided to use real life photos to compare the image quality between the three lenses. Test shots with each of the Nikon 24mm f/1.4, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 or Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 were taken at different aperture f/2.8, f/4 and f/5.6. Parts of the image (indicated by the red area) are viewed at 100% crop for comparison. The focus is set to the yellow box.

Here are the side by side comparison of the 100% crops. Right click and open a new tab to view in full size.

Test Shots at f/2.8 – Nikon 24mm f/1.4, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 and Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8

Test Shots at f/4 – Nikon 24mm f/1.4, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 and Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8

Test Shots at f/5.6 – Nikon 24mm f/1.4, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 and Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8

Honestly, I couldn’t tell much difference between the three lenses even at 100% crop. However, the test results did show the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 has the best CA control as show below. Check out the slides below to view the test shots..


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About Kent Yu

Kent is a professional wedding and portrait photographer based in Wellington, New Zealand. He and his team specialise in modern and contemporary weddings. Kent has his work published in international magazines and is a regular author to a number of photographic publication. He is fascinated by photographic equipment and enjoys showcasing the gear used in creating his images. You can find him on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Google+
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Comments and Feedback? Fire away !

avatar Bonsai Mike says:

thanks for your test! I helped me buying the 24-70 and 14-24 😉
Greetings from Austria, Mike

avatar Kent Yu says:

That is great Mike, be sure to post some photos on our FB page. We love to see your work

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