Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S Review
Announced in the summer of 2020, the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S joins two other Nikon f/2.8 S lenses to make up a 'trinity'; of professional-level optics that offers focal lengths running from 14mm all the way up to 200mm, all at a consistent f/2.8 aperture.
The lens has the honour of being the world's shortest and lightest lens its class, being just 124.5mm in length, and weighing 650g. It's designed to appeal to a fairly broad range of photographers, with landscapes, astrophotography and architecture being obvious subjects for a lens like this to handle.
Although this is both a very wide angle lens and one with a wide maximum aperture, the lens design means that the lens element is close to being flat. That means that it can be used in conjunction with filters (attached via the dedicated lens hood), in order to meet a variety of different needs.
Coatings for the lens include Nano Crystal, Fluorine and ARNEO coatings, which have been designed to combat ghosting and flare, even when shooting in backlit situations. The lens construction consists of 16 elements in 11 groups (including 4 ED elements and 3 aspherical elements).
The lens uses stepping motors for autofocus, which should mean that the lens focuses quickly, and quietly, making it an ideal lens to use for video, or in situations where as little noise as possible is preferable.
At the time of writing, the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S lens retails for £2,499 / $2,399, making it one of the more expensive lenses in Nikon's current line-up. It's round the same price as the Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 lens as part of the same 'trinity';.
We've already seen the 24-70mm f/2.8 S lens drop quite significantly in price, so it's likely that the 14-24mm f/2.8 lens will also drop over the coming year.
The other ultra wide-angle option available as a proprietary optic for the Nikon Z system is the 14-30mm f/4 lens, which will set you back less than half the price at around £949 / $1,099 at the time of writing.
Ease of Use
Due to the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S lens being both ultra wide angle and having a wide maximum aperture, this is one of the largest lenses in Nikon's S series line up, but it's still impressively small considering what it offers.
At its base - where it attaches to the camera - it starts off narrow, before expanding out as you reach the front element.
At 650g, it's light for a full-frame lens of this nature, but it may feel fairly heavy to those who are used to lighter Z series lenses.
That said, it balances fairly well with the full-frame models in Nikon's mirrorless line up, such as the Nikon Z6 II, but it would probably be quite difficult to use with the APS-C Z50 model.
At the base of the lens you'll see the lettering '14-24 / 2.8 S';. Just underneath this is a white dot, which you use to match the lens to the camera's body - just match the white dots on the lens and the body and twist to secure the lens into place.
The Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S lens has a metal mount which seems extremely sturdy and it should withstand repeated use well. Once you want to take the lens off the camera's body, you need to press a button just next to the lens mount and twist to release it.
As this is one Nikon's f/2.8 optics, it's more complex / advanced in operation than the f/4 zoom lenses. The outer lens design consists of three separate rings, plus a display unit and a function button.
The smallest ring, towards the base of the lens is a control ring which can be used for various settings. By default, it will control aperture when shooting in manual or aperture priority mode, so you can twist the lens to change the lens's aperture.
However, if you prefer, you can change the ring to control a different setting - either exposure compensation or ISO sensitivity. You can even set it so it controls nothing, if you prefer.
Just in front of the control ring, you'll see a small LCD screen. This is a common feature among Nikon's f/2.8 S lenses, and with it you can quickly see some key settings of the lens, which can come in very handy.
The display can show what focal length the lens is currently set to, which is useful for reaching the precise length you want, without any guesswork.
By pressing the display button, you can toggle through the other display options, which is aperture and focusing distance - the latter again is particularly useful for helping with precision focus. The screen will appear blank until you press the display button.
To the left of the display button is an 'L-Fn'; button, which you can use for a wide variety of different settings, depending on your preference. Again, this must be set via the main menu.
Once you've decided which setting to use, simply hold down the L-Fn button and shoot as normal.
So, for example, if you have it set to switch on spot metering, that metering mode will be in play for as long as you hold down the button, but as soon as you release it, it will go back to whatever metering mode you were using before.
Other settings, such as AF-On, you won't need to hold down the button once focus has been acquired.
In the middle part of the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S lens, there's the zoom ring. Which moves from 14 to 24mm, and is marked at 14, 15, 16, 18, 20 and 24mm intervals to help you quickly reach the required focal length. The ring is fairly smooth to use, having just enough give to allow for precise control.
Finally, at the front of the lens there is a manual focus ring. Again, this ring has a good amount of give to make for precise control, but there's no hard stops at either end to let you know when you've reached maximum / minimum focus.
A manual focus switch is found at the base of the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S lens, so you can set it to permanently either manual or autofocus, but you can also override autofocus with the manual focus ring, but you'll need to have the camera set to back-button focusing so it doesn't try to refocus when you hold down the shutter button.
In the box, there are not one, but two different lens hoods supplied. Either lens hood simply attaches to the front of the lens by matching up the hood using the white dots and twisting in to place. There's a smaller lens hood for everyday use, while a larger, specialised lens hood is ideal for use with filters - something which landscape photographers might be using.
As well as two lens hoods, there's also two lens caps included, one which fits directly onto the lens, and one which sits over the top of the larger lens hood. A lens cloth bag is also included in the box in order to store the lens, but it can also be used to clean the lens as needed.
As this lens is primarily designed for use with full-frame cameras, the focal length as written on the side of the lens (14-24mm) is what you get when using it with standard lenses. The angle of view is 114 - 84 degrees.
You could use it with the APS-C Nikon Z50, or on one of Nikon's full-frame models in crop mode, which would give you a focal length equivalent of 21 - 36mm, or an angle of view of 90 - 61 degrees.
Typically characterised as purple or blue fringing where high-contrast edges appear in a scene, chromatic aberration can be a problem with cheaper lenses, but it's not something we'd expect to see from a top-of-the-line S series lens.
Happily, it's very hard to find obvious examples of chromatic aberration, even when examining images taken at 100%.
Light Fall-off and Distortion
When shooting a white wall at the maximum aperture of f/2.8, it's possible to see some light drop off at 14mm, with vignetting in the corners.
This is not hugely apparent when shooting a normal subject, while the effect is significantly lessened when you stop down to f/4, before more or less disappearing completely at f/5.6.
The most vignetting can be seen at 14mm at f/2.8, but it's a fairly similar situation throughout the focal length range, with the most/worst vignetting displayed at the widest aperture, lessening at f/4 and again at f/5.6.
At 24mm at f/2.8, however, there's very little vignetting that can be seen, even when shooting a white wall.
As we'd expect from a very wide-angle lens, you can see natural distortion if shooting very close to a subject with the widest part of the lens. However, on the whole, distortion is very-well controlled.
The Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S lens is not designated as a macro lens, and with its wide-angle, it's not hugely well-suited to shooting typical macro-type subjects, unless for an unusual effect.
That said, with a close focusing distance of 0.28m (at all zoom positions), you can get reasonably close to your subject. The maximum reproduction ratio is 0.13x (at 24mm).
The word given to out of focus areas, bokeh is typically described in subjective terms, such as creamy, pleasing and so on.
With a maximum aperture of f/2.8, the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S produces lovely out of focus effects, with pleasing rounded bokeh which you can see in the pictures below.
Since judgements on bokeh are often subjective, you can also use the pictures below to help you decide for yourself how much you like the bokeh quality.
In order to show you how sharp the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.