Together with the D750, Nikon has also announced a brand new full-frame lens, the Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED. This lens announcement is really exciting, because it is Nikon’s first 20mm f/1.8 ultra wide-angle lens with impressive specifications and optical design. Not only does the lens feature aspherical elements and Nano coating for reduced aberrations, ghosting and flare, but it also comes with two ED (Extra Dispersion) glass elements that are typically used in expensive, professional lenses for extra clarity and superior sharpness. With a gold ring and a price tag of $799, this lens seems to be of superb value for low-light wide-angle photography. Looking at its wide-open sharpness (more on that below), it seems like the lens could be a great candidate for astrophotography. Let’s take a look at the lens in more detail.
During the past few years, Nikon has been working hard on releasing great primes for both professionals and enthusiasts, with both f/1.4 and f/1.8 versions provided at different price points. For those that prefer shooting with fast professional primes, Nikon has a great selection of lenses such as Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G, 35mm f/1.4G, 50/58mm f/1.4G and 85mm f/1.4G. For those with smaller budgets, there f/1.8 lens is a little bit different: Nikkor 28mm f/1.8G, 35mm f/1.8G, 50mm f/1.8G and 85mm f/1.8G. As you can see, the shortest focal length for a “budget” wide angle is 28mm. With the addition of the 20mm f/1.8G, both lines have now been expanded to cover a wider range. If you have used a wide-angle lens before, you probably know that even 2mm represents visible change in perspective, so 20mm with a 94° angle of view would look dramatically different compared to a 24mm, let alone a 28mm lens. This opens up more opportunities for creative photography, where a wider perspective can be used to emphasize subjects even more, especially at closer distances. With the added benefit of a fast aperture of f/1.8, the lens will be a great choice for photographing in low-light environments, or when subject isolation is needed.
Take a look at the lens construction of the Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED:
Now that’s impressive! Two aspherical lens elements and two ED elements with a total of 13 elements in 11 groups. In comparison, the Nikkor 28mm f/1.8G only has two aspherical elements and its optical design is simpler with 11 elements in 9 groups.
It means that the new 20mm f/1.8G should be superior optically, so let’s take a look at the Nikon-provided MTF and see if that’s the case.
Sharpness and MTF
Let’s take a look at the MTF curve of the Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G and compare it to the MTF curve of the Nikkor 28mm f/1.8G:
The chart on the left represents the 20mm f/1.8G, while the chart on the right represents the 28mm f/1.8G. As you can see, the new 20mm f/1.8G lens is significantly sharper wide open both in the center and in the corners and its contrast levels are very impressive. In addition, it suffers from less field curvature. Unfortunately, Nikon does not provide MTF charts for stopped down performance, but considering how good the sharpness is wide open, I expect the lens to perform very well in my lab tests.
Nikon Product Information
Here is the official product information from Nikon:
Nikon’s fastest ultra-wide-angle lens yet.
With the ultra-wide view of a 20mm lens, you’re free to capture expansive landscapes and architecture, wedding parties, an entire band on stage, crowd shots and much more. Add low-light capabilities to that view, and the shooting possibilities are nearly endless. Introducing the AF-S NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED, a compact, lightweight FX-format lens that combines the ultra-wide perspective of a 20mm focal length, the low-light capabilities and shallow depth of field of an f/1.8 maximum aperture and the superb optical characteristics of an advanced NIKKOR prime lens. Whether you shoot stills, HD video, time lapse sequences or star trail images on an FX- or DX-format D-SLR, the AF-S NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED will widen your creative potential.
Capture epic views
Dramatic ultra-wide-angle perspective
The AF-S NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED delivers a 20mm, 94° angle of view (30mm, 70° equivalent on DX-format cameras) that’s ideal for stills or motion capture. With its 7.8-inch close focus capability, you can work in tight spaces or get close to your subject to accentuate your focal point. From a distance, the AF-S NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED lets you get wide, expansive vistas into the frame. Videographers will love using their Nikon D-SLR and this compact, lightweight lens for establishing shots, first-person point-of-view sequences and B-Roll footage.
Increase your shooting options
Brilliant low-light performance and beautifully blurred backgrounds
At its maximum aperture setting of f/1.8, the AF-S NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED produces beautifully blurred backgrounds in your photos and HD videos and lets you shoot at lower ISO settings to retain high image quality. In low light situations, opening the aperture to f/1.8 will also increase shutter speed to prevent camera shake and motion blur.
Expand your creativity
Versatile, exceptional performance
The AF-S NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED is designed to draw peak performance from high-resolution Nikon D-SLRs in both still and HD video applications. Aspherical (AS) lens elements and Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass elements with Nano Crystal Coat (N) combat sagittal flare and chromatic aberration for superb, sharp rendering across the entire frame. Nikon’s innovative Silent Wave Motor (SWM) uses ultrasonic waves for fast, accurate near quiet autofocusing as close as 7.8-inches (0.2 meters) from your subject.
A superb prime lens system
The wide-angle addition to Nikon’s f/1.8 FX-format prime lens collection
Nikon’s family of fast FX-format prime lenses now covers just about any shooting situation or creative need. The AF-S NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED joins the 28mm, 35mm, 50mm and 85mm versions, giving photographers and videographers a versatile collection of focal lengths with remarkably consistent optical performance and exposure control. Switch between lenses without missing a beat.
- AF-S NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED
- LC-77 Snap-On Front Lens Cap 77mm
- LF-4 Rear Lens Cap
- HB-72 Bayonet Hood
- CL-1015 Soft Lens Case
Nikon 52mm Close-Up Lens
Along with the 20mm f/1.8G, Nikon has also announced the 52mm Close-Up Lens for macro photography: