The DSLR version of the Nikon 14-24mm F2.8 has been one of my favorite lenses ever. With performance leading sharpness, and a very useful super wide angle range, I have used this lens on countless assignments, night shoots and with extreme adventure sports. The performance was so good I knew multiple non Nikon shooters who used an adapter so they could shoot this lens on their brand of camera. But it did have a few things I hoped could be better. The rounded bulb front element didn’t allow for filter use (except with a huge adapter), and the weight/size of the lens was significant when packing for a trip. But I just couldn’t get past how sharp this lens was…
When I saw Nikon was producing a S line mirrorless version, I got really excited. Virtually every Nikon mirrorless lens has been as sharp, or noticeably sharper, than the DSLR equivalent. You just can’t get away from the Z mount engineering; the wider mount and closeness to the sensor, more than any other mirrorless system, is making Nikon engineers and photographers giddy. The edge sharpness and light transmission of these lenses is class leading (read some reviews of the 70-200mm and 24-70mm 2.8 S line lenses, it’s just not me being a Nikon shooter!).
So without waiting I bought the Z mount S line 14-24mm F2.8, and all I can say is there is a new sheriff in town. First, take a look at the comparison at the top of the post. On one side is the Z6II with the 14-24mm S line lens, and on the other side is the D850 with the F mount 14-24mm. As one would expect, the Z system is slightly more compact. But the weight difference is significant; the Z mount set up weighs almost 1 1/2 pounds lighter.
But the 14-24mm isn’t just smaller and lighter. What is just amazing is now you can use filters on the front of the lens, both screw 100mm and 100x150mm grad filters (using the NiSi filter holder). The lens comes with two hoods, one of which allows you to screw in filters to the front. This is so important in my photography; I regularly use ND, polarizer and grad filters in the field. Now I have a F2.8 14-24mm that can use filters.
Another main use I have for this lens is night photography. If you are using a DSLR lens, chances are you set your focus using the scale on top of the lens, and you know exactly where infinity focus is. On my DSLR 14-24mm F2.8 I set my infinity mark about a millimeter to the right of true infinity, and I get tack sharp star photos. And coma (saucer shaped stars) was minimal with this lens.
But then I tried the new mirrorless S line 14-24mm F2.8. One thing I really liked was the OLED panel on top of the lens showing me where my infinity focus point was…just like using my old DSLR lens. Only the top S line lenses like the 70-200mm and 24-70mm have this panel. But in the dark, I can just manually set the focus to infinity, and I don’t need a flashlight to see the display. And better yet, since mirrorless focuses on the sensor, I have found setting the focus to the exact infinity mark on the lens results is perfect focus.
Okay, but what about sharpness and coma. Relying on the brilliant Z mount design, the new 14-24mm is sharper across the board, especially in the corners, and coma is almost non-existent. Just incredible that this lens can be better than the F mount 14-24mm. Sharper, lighter, less coma and the ability to use filters…what’s not to like?
At $2400, this lens isn’t cheap. And honestly, if you don’t need class leading performance and night shooting ability, you might consider the 14-30mm F4 Z mount lens. We also use this lens. It is very sharp, light and more than a thousand dollars cheaper. And it has a flat front so you can use filters. The F4 version is also a great choice, and better for travel. But if you are a landscape, astral or architecture photographer, chances are you will invest in the S line 14-24mm F2.8. You won’t be disappointed, and will get decades of use from this brilliant lens. I’m still so attached to my DSLR version I don’t plan on selling it any time soon, but now I have a native Z mount lens that I’ll be bringing on all my shoots and travels in the future.