The original F-mount 14-24mm f/2.8 was long-seen as the standard for ultra-wide zoom lenses, but a lot has happened in the past 16 years, and there have been many exceptional ultra-wides produced for modern mirrorless systems. Optically, the Nikon can keep up with, and perhaps even slightly exceed, the very best in this segment.
To keep this section short and sweet: the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 S can render images that are sharp corner to corner at all focal lengths in the zoom range, even from f/2.8. There is a small amount of field curvature at f/2.8. If you’re focusing closer up on flat field subjects and you focus using the center point, the edges will go slightly out of focus. If you focus in the mid-field, however, the depth of field even at f/2.8 covers this minor field curvature. Wide open at 24mm, the lens is a little softer in the corners than at the shorter focal lengths, but it’s still very good here. Stopped down everything is pin sharp from corner to corner.
This is a very impressive performance that puts to shame every other wide zoom I’ve used, with the lone exception of the Sigma 14-24mm, which is similar with regards to sharpness.
Wide-angle lenses aren’t known for producing significant background blur, but when focused close up, you can certainly isolate subjects. Overall, the Nikkor 14-24mm S does a fairly nice job at rendering the background, with predominantly smooth blur and mostly evenly illuminated specular highlights with a hint of a bright ring outline. No one will call it creamy, but it’s relatively good for an ultra-wide zoom. Due to the nature of being an ultra-wide lens, there is a lot of background included, but overall it looks nice.
Color, Contrast and Chromatic Aberration
In the additional realm of ‘it’s so good there’s not much to talk about’, we come to color and contrast. The Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S excels at both, producing images with strong, rich contrast at all focal lengths and apertures. Color is vibrant and saturated, while maintaining good accuracy without any obvious color casts.
The good news continues with regards to chromatic aberration, where the 14-24mm exhibits essentially none. There is zero field relevant longitudinal chromatic aberration or purple fringing, while lateral CA is likewise invisible.
Distortion, Flare, Vignetting and Coma
Like a lot of ultra-wide zoom lenses (and especially those that go to 14mm), the 14-24mm shows some reasonably strong barrel distortion at 14mm. This eases as you zoom in and becomes a mild pincushion distortion by 24mm. While you will definitely want to correct your images at the widest focal lengths, the lens actually performs a bit better than most 14mm ultra-wide zoom lenses in this department, with significantly less distortion than lenses such as the Z 14-30mm f/4 and the Canon RF 14-35mm f/4L.
The lens shows moderate vignetting, especially at the wider end of the zoom range. The lens eases to a mild vignette at f/5.6 and beyond, where it won’t pose many issues. Of course, this can be completely corrected via profile.
The 14-24mm performs admirably with regards to flare performance, with almost no loss of contrast and little to no ghosting. The only negative here is that the lens can induce some sensor reflections on the Z8, which can be seen in the image below.
As a fast wide angle lens, the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 S is a lens that many will want to use for astrophotography, and I found the lens to perform admirably for this task. The 14-24mm shows very low levels of coma, which makes this an excellent choice for shooting the stars. The shot below was taken at 16.5mm wide open – click here for a 100% crop of the upper left corner. While the light pollution from the nearby city limited the contrast of the stars in this shot, you can still see the excellent coma performance of the lens.
Overall, the Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S is simply a stellar optic. It’s incredibly sharp, shows essentially zero chromatic aberration, has outstanding color and contrast, low coma, outstanding flare resistance and even controls distortion reasonably well for such a lens.