Nikon Nikkor Z 12-24mm F2.8S top but showing a blacked out LCD.
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Nikon Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8 S lens review

The Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8 S is one of Nikon’s high-end S-line triumvirate of high-speed zooms (at the time of writing) and in effect replaces the renowned F-mount lens of the same focal length and ratio that redefined the ultra-wide-angle zoom in the SLR era. Kevin Carter takes a closer look.

As a ‘made for mirrorless’ lens, it’s much smaller and lighter than its esteemed forerunner (650g vs 970g), thanks largely to a far less wildly convex front element. Indeed, the two highly convex elements at the front of the F-mount lens have been replaced by a single double-sided aspheric front element in the new S-line. While the change in the front group greatly reduces the profile the Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8 S has a modified but not unrelated optical layout and neatly demonstrates all of Nikon’s prowess in lens design. The lens adopts 16 elements in 12 groups and includes four ED elements (up from two in the original F-mount lens) to reduce colour bleeding or fringing. The second and last elements also have aspherical surfaces, with Nikon claiming improved point spread function with suppressed sagittal coma flare.

The design includes IF or internal focusing so there are no extending barrels making the lens easier to seal and ultimately more durable. There’s also Nano Crystal and the newer Arneo antireflection coatings. Complementing each other, Arneo Coat for example is meant to cut down on on-axis reflections including those from the sensor’s surface, while Nano Crystal reduces off-axis reflections. A Fluorine coating makes it easier to wipe away dust and fingerprints. Still, Nikon’s variant is also said to contribute to the front coating’s durability and has some anti-reflective qualities as well, they claim.

Externally the lens adopts the same cosmetics, great build and layout as the earlier Nikkor Z 24-70mm F2.8 S complete with a small LED panel and a corresponding button to switch on the panel and between selected F-number, depth of field bar for selected aperture and distance, and less usefully, the set focal length. All of the above is dependent on using the milled metal aperture control ring near the lens mount (or the camera’s nominated Av control ring). More recent lenses such as the 85mm F1.2S and 135mm Plena have dropped the LCD panel, and it’s not clear if it might be resurrected. When used at waist-level I instinctively used it instead of the camera’s display, but I guess it wasn’t a sought-after enough feature. The aperture selection from the lens is click-less and smooth in operation but easily nudged and often ended up with a different setting than the intended one.

A function button (L-Fn) allows you to select one of several features, from the camera. I’ve spoken of this before when I reviewed the Nikkor Z 24-70mm F2.8 S, here. It’s perfectly positioned for me but this and the display button are quite high on the body.

This is the only lens I can recall (other than some of the super teles) that ships with two hoods and two front caps. And what’s more, somewhat weirdly, it’s perfectly feasible to keep both caps on simultaneously. The standard clip-on cap fits the body as you would expect, though even that has to be oriented carefully as it’s shaped to fit the built-in petal hood. If you’re in a hurry this can be tricky.

The built-in hood is especially shallow, as the objective lens moves in and out while zooming and a deeper hood would occlude the image. A small clip-on hood is provided, and it is a good idea to keep it handy, as the front element is somewhat exposed. And that, as a double-sided asphere, is likely 50% of the cost of the lens so it needs looking after. The only way to add a filter to the front for protection (or for effects) is to use a second bundled hood designed specifically for that purpose. However, it’s a much larger hood and makes the whole affair a lot bulkier. This hood also comes with a purpose-designed cap, which means any filter used can also be protected when not in use.

It’s a pretty slick solution though the filter diameter is an unconventional 112mm and therefore expensive. For example, a Nikon NC (Neutral Clear) sells for around £310 inc VAT. Nevertheless, while I didn’t have a filter to test, where conditions warrant it appears to be a viable option.

Nikon Z7 with the Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8S and second supplied hood for filter attachment.
Nikon Z7 with the Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8S and second supplied hood for filter attachment.

Manual focus has a slight feeling of disconnect – there’s some movement in the ring before the point of focus moves but, that may have been down to some wear on this particular test sample. The focus ring is a little narrow and also positioned very close to the front and I would argue a bit too forward for my liking. It’s not an issue on a tripod but I felt it was a bit of a stretch to use handheld making me adopt AF more than I would have typically. However, the action is smooth and it feels nicely weighted. Autofocus is very assured, similarly smooth, as well as being fast and practically silent. By contrast, the zoom collar is positioned perfectly for me and more or less under the centre of gravity with the Nikon Z7 II, which is closer to the camera than the F-mount.

How does it perform?

With multiple focal lengths, it should come as no surprise that zoom lenses are the most difficult to assess. That said, this zoom’s optical performance is excellent. Like many modern lenses though, there are the inevitable built-in digital corrections. It’s especially the case now with those made for mirrorless cameras as the corrections can be applied in real-time in the viewfinder/rear LCD. Even so, this lens is very well-corrected to start with and it’s pretty consistent through the zoom range. There’s some slight barrel distortion at the wider end which is digitally corrected with out-of-camera JPEGs and RAWs, but given the extreme angle of view at 14mm, it’s impressively low. At 24mm there’s some pincushion at the edges but again this is corrected digitally with a built-in profile. If you use RAW files as I do you’ll have some control over that, however.

Nikon Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8 S at 14mm depicting artwork
Nikon Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8 S at 14mm, 1/40sec at F6.3 at ISO 400. Notice the control of flare and the absence of ghosting from the spotlights. Exhibition artwork Ordered Form by Rana Begum.


Nikon Nikkor Z 14-24mm f2.8S F2.8 at 24mm
Nikon Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8 S. Same view at 24mm, 1/40sec at F6.3 at ISO 400. Distortion is corrected automatically by Capture One Pro (and would be in Lightroom). Notice the geometry of the exquisite steel wall installation on the far left edge which I placed deliberately on the edge and accounts for the slightly off-centre framing of this image. Exhibition artwork Ordered Form by Rana Begum.


Close-up of artwork for demonstration of distortion
Close-up (100% actual pixels) of the left-hand edge from the above image at 24mm and F6.3. Processed from RAW using Capture One Pro. Impressive correction, albeit using the built-in (manufacturer’s) profile. Exhibition artwork Ordered Form by Rana Begum.

Field curvature, an issue in the original F-mount version and common in wide-angle lenses like this, has been minimised. Presumably, that’s due in part to the redesigned front group. At 14mm, high sharpness levels extend out across the central two-thirds of the field and fall off fairly gracefully in the outer 10% of the field; the horizontal edges and corners. And it’s a similar story at 24mm albeit not quite as noticeable, the slight loss of contrast at the edges occurs in more or less the same area as most of the distortion correction.

Vignetting at and close to the maximum aperture is quite noticeable, especially at the wide end. Some vignetting and colour shading are still visible after profile correction. While this ‘partial’ vignetting correction is fine for most photos, critical work under well-lit conditions with light tones (such as the white-walled exhibition I photographed) requires some further manual correction. In those circumstances when left to the default (and out-of-camera JPEGs) the partial shading correction is somewhat unattractive but, this is subjective of course.

Panorama showing buildings at twilight
Nikon Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8 S, handheld at 14mm, 1/8 sec at F4, ISO 400. One issue with making photos of sprawling buildings using an ultra-wide is that you can end up with endless foregrounds and sky. Here, I’ve made a panorama (X-Pan format) from the full width of the file.


Same scene at 24mm. Nikon Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8 S, handheld at 24mm, 1/8 sec at F4, ISO 400.

Fringing is also at very low levels and barely noticeable even before the corrections. And astrophotographers will be pleased with the low sagittal coma flare. In terms of drawing style, the lens is fairly clinical but in low light, there’s wonderful rendering. I’ve seen this with other Z-series lenses making me think it’s more likely to be sensor/signal processing related. Either way, it’s very attractive and hugely compelling for the low-light architecture that I do.

Angels going to heaven, the day before my brother-in-law followed them. See you on the other side, Gary. Gone way too soon!!! This photo is dedicated to you.
Nikon Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8 S, handheld at 14mm, 1/50 sec at F4, ISO 400. Notice the low flare from the spotlights, top and bottom left.

In summary

It is interesting to note that rival Canon hasn’t attempted to follow Nikon’s lead in focal ratio, instead, they chose a more conservative F4 maximum aperture with a slightly wider focal length in the EF 11-24mm F4 and announced only recently for RF mount with a stabiliser in the RF 10-20mm F4L IS STM. Each to their own, I guess but the 10\11mm is incredibly wide and quite niche, that said, there were times when I felt 14mm wasn’t quite wide enough.

While I’m not currently a Nikon Z-camera owner, the well-rounded nature of this lens is hugely tempting. There’s no doubt that the Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8 S is an outstanding lens; not only is it beautifully made it’s great optically. While not super-sharp out to the extreme edges and corners at F2.8 it’s unlikely to disappoint even the most hard-nosed professional. Of course, it’s built for the daily rigours of professional use and priced accordingly; if you’re only going to use it occasionally you could always consider the Nikkor Z 14-30mm F4 S. At around £1350 inc VAT, it’s not quite in the same league but might be the better fit if you’re on a tight budget. I’m not keen on the extending barrels of that lens though and would rather the rock-solid build of the Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8 S. Admittedly, the price at around £2,400 inc VAT is close to double that of the F4 but it’s the one to go for if your finances will allow it.

Technical Data

Manufacturer Nikon
Model Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8 S
Elements/construction 16 elements in 11 groups
Angle of view 114° to 84° (diagonal)
Max aperture F2.8
Min aperture F22
Min focus distance 0.28 m (0.92 ft)
Mount Z mount
Filter size 112mm (with hood)
Length 124.5 mm (5 in.)
Diameter 88.5 mm (3.5 in.)
Weight 650 g (1 lb 7 oz)
Price £2379 inc VAT


Great optical quality, especially at the wide end
Low distortion, coma, flare and fringing
High build quality


Focus ring arguably too far forward
Pricey 112mm filter option

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The exhibition Ordered Form by Rana Begum can be seen at the St Albans Museum (in the old Town Hall) until 14 April, 2024. Form and light play a crucial role and up close the attention to detail of this artwork is striking; it’s exceptionally well-made and quite beautiful. The exhibition while small is well worth a visit. What’s more, not only is it free the artist welcomes photography. A second larger and equally immersive installation No. 670. Mesh is displayed on the top floor.

Photo of the installation N0. 670. Mesh by Rana Begum on the top floor a large room.
Nikon Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8 S, handheld at 14mm, 1/40 sec at F5.6, ISO 400. Photo of the installation N0. 670. Mesh by Rana Begum.


Nikon Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8 S, handheld at 14mm, 1/40 sec at F2.8, ISO 800
Nikon Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8 S, handheld at 14mm, 1/40 sec at F2.8, ISO 800.