Ever since Nikon debuted the 24mm f/1.4G ED lens five years ago, the lens has been a popular choice among professionals and serious amateurs, thanks to its excellent optical formula and coating technologies that yield crisp and pleasing images. However, its high price point and the relatively heavy weight made it a rather specialized tool, so a cheaper and lighter f/1.8 version of the lens was much needed to complement the 20mm f/1.8G and the 28mm f/1.8G lenses. Nikon filled this gap with the Nikkor 24mm f/1.8G ED in August of 2015, finally addressing the needs of many photographers like me, who had been wanting such a lens for a while now. When I finally received my copy of the lens, I wondered how it would compare optically not only to its older f/1.4G brother (which I used to own and love), but also to other popular 24mm primes such as the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art and the Samyang 24mm f/1.4. After getting a hold of all three, I hit the road with the purpose to find out which lens would serve as my dedicated 24mm prime in the future. In this review, I will not only discuss the Nikon 24mm f/1.8G lens in detail, but also compare it to the above-mentioned 24mm primes.
Personally, I find 24mm to be the most useful focal length among the three Nikon f/1.8 wide angle primes (20mm, 24mm and 28mm) – it is neither too wide, nor too narrow in my opinion, making it very useful for many different photography needs. Having owned the 24mm f/1.4G, 14-24mm f/2.8G and 24-70mm f/2.8G lenses for 5+ years, I have been naturally attracted to this focal length. The 24mm f/1.4G served me very well when photographing landscapes or people, so I already knew how to put such a lens to good use. The only thing I was worried about was quality – after being spoiled by the legendary 24mm f/1.4G, I was hoping not to be disappointed by the smaller, cheaper and lighter Nikon 24mm f/1.8G. As you will see further down in this review, the lens turned out to be a stellar performer, similar to what we have previously seen from the new line of modern f/1.8G primes.
1) Lens Specifications
- Fast f/1.8 aperture for beautifully blurred backgrounds and great low-light performance
- Draws peak performance from high-resolution DSLRs
- Great for landscapes, skyscrapers, environmental portraits, food, action, hobbies and much more
- Part of Nikon’s exceptional system of full-frame f/1.8 prime lenses
- Versatile wide-angle prime lens will widen your creativity
- Nano Crystal Coat effectively reduces ghost and flare.
- 2 Extra-low Dispersion (ED) elements offer superior sharpness and color correction by effectively minimizing chromatic aberration.
- 2 Aspherical Lens Elements virtually eliminate coma and other types of aberration.
- Rear Focus (RF) provides smooth and fast autofocus while eliminating front barrel rotation and lens length changes.
- Quiet focusing with built-in Silent Wave Motor (SWM).
- Mount Type: Nikon F-Bayonet
- Focal Length: 24mm
- Maximum Aperture: f/1.8
- Minimum Aperture: f/16
- Maximum Angle of View (DX-format): 61°
- Maximum Angle of View (FX-format): 84°
- Maximum Reproduction Ratio: 0.2x
- Lens (Elements): 12
- Lens (Groups): 9
- Compatible Format(s): FX, DX, FX in DX Crop Mode, 35mm Film
- Diaphragm Blades: 7
- Distance Information: Yes
- Nano Crystal Coat: Yes
- ED Glass Elements: 2
- Aspherical Elements: 2
- Autofocus: Yes
- AF-S (Silent Wave Motor): Yes
- Minimum Focus Distance: 0.75ft.(0.23m)
- Rear Focusing: Yes
- Filter Size: 72mm
- Accepts Filter Type: Screw-on
- Dimensions: 3.1 in. (77.5 mm) x 3.3 in. (83.0 mm)
- Weight: 12.6 oz. (355g)
2) Build Quality and Handling
The Nikon 24mm f/1.8G has a very similar build quality as other f/1.8G modern primes. Despite its all-plastic barrel, the lens feels quite sturdy and well-made. Judging by its weight of only 355 grams, the internal components do not seem to be reinforced with metal as they are on the 24mm f/1.4G (which is almost twice the weight) and the amount of glass present in the lens seems to differ as well. Interestingly, Nikon designed the 24mm f/1.8G to be somewhat similar to its bigger brother optically – both lenses feature a rear focus design comprising of 12 total elements, 2 of which are extra-low dispersion and 2 are aspherical. Both have Nano-coating and Super Integrated Coating technologies applied to lens elements for improving colors and reducing ghosting and flare. Both have the same Silent Wave Motor for fast and quiet autofocus operation. So aside from differences in maximum aperture, number of aperture blades (7 vs 9), differences price, weight and size, the two lenses seem to have a lot in common.
So what explains such a drastic difference in weight and price between the f/1.4G and f/1.8G? The 24mm f/1.4G is built to pro standards, which already means that it differs significantly in its internal construction. The 24mm f/1.4G has a lot more metal inside in comparison to hold the heavier lens elements, but the biggest difference is the glass itself – Nikon uses higher-grade, hand-inspected glass elements in its professional line of lenses. Glass is usually what differentiates high-end f/1.4 and f/2.8 lenses from their f/1.8 and f/4 counterparts. In addition, professional-grade lenses are built to higher standards, going through many more phases of rigorous tests to make sure that each lens sample is as close to quality assurance standards as possible. Now this does not mean that the enthusiast-grade f/1.8 lenses are far worse in comparison. In fact, as we have seen from the past, many such lenses are excellent optically, often surpassing higher-end lenses in sharpness. If one does not need the extra bit of light and takes a good care of their gear, most enthusiast-grade prime lenses offer a lot of value, which is why they are so popular among photographers.
The Nikon 24mm f/1.8G is a pretty small and compact lens, making it an ideal candidate for traveling light. It is perfect when coupled with lightweight camera bodies like the Nikon D610 or the D750 – in fact, I attached the lens to my Nikon D750 and it pretty much stayed glued to it the entire time. Speaking of travel, I drove all over the southwest US with the 24mm f/1.8G, exposing it to pretty harsh winter weather conditions and the lens survived just fine! I used it in sub-zero temperatures in New Mexico and in very dusty conditions in Death Valley and I cannot see any traces of damage, or severe dust accumulation between lens elements. Just like all other modern Nikkor lenses, the 24mm f/1.8G has a rubber gasket on the all-metal mount to reduce the potential of dust making its way into the camera or the lens. During focusing, the rear element of the lens moves back and forth, but only slightly and it does not expose the inner barrel of the lens. This is good, because if you do happen to change lenses in dusty conditions, you don’t have to worry as much about dust getting into the inner parts of the lens. Still, I would personally recommend to focus the lens to infinity before dismounting it in dusty and windy environments – that’s when the rear element is at its maximum retracted position.
Thanks to the large rubber focusing ring, conveniently located on the front of the lens barrel, manual focus operation is a breeze. When shooting in live view mode, one can really nail focus with manual adjustments, which comes in handy when photographing landscapes and architecture on a tripod. The lens barrel does not rotate or extend during focusing either, making it an ideal candidate to be used with various filters. The lens comes with a plastic “HB-76” lens hood, which attaches easily and securely on the front of the lens. Overall, the Nikon 24mm f/1.8G handles wonderfully, especially on lightweight DSLR cameras as indicated above.
3) Autofocus Speed and Accuracy
For this review, I tested a total of two lens samples to note potential variances in autofocus accuracy and in optical performance. Both samples were tuned very well on my Nikon D750 and D810 camera bodies, showing no signs of autofocus issues. As a result, I did not have to manually calibrate lenses, which saved me quite a bit of time and potential frustration, especially when working in the field. Thanks to the Silent Wave Motor, autofocus operation is both fast and quiet. Although the lens can focus as close as 0.23 meters, it takes about a second for the motor to move from close to focus to infinity and back. This is noticeably quicker than what the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G can do. I tested the 24mm f/1.8G in both daylight and low-light situations on multiple full-frame cameras (Nikon D750 and D810) and autofocus was very accurate, even at the maximum aperture of f/1.8.
Let’s now take a look at the optical features of the lens.
4) Lens Sharpness and Contrast
Both samples of the Nikon 24mm f/1.8G produced stellar results when measuring the MTF performance of the lens using Imatest. One of the samples had a slight de-centering issue on the top left corner of the frame, but it was not bad and something to be expected from most lenses out there, including pro-grade lenses. Below is the MTF result from the better sample:
When I first saw some sample numbers from Imatest, I found the numbers a bit hard to believe, since such sharpness is usually not something I had previously seen on wide-angle prime lenses. As you can see, the lens is quite sharp wide open and it reaches phenomenal levels of sharpness already at f/2.8 and peaks out at f/4, where it truly shines. In fact, as you will see from the next section of this review, the 24mm f/1.8G outperforms the 24mm f/1.4G in center frame resolution and produces impressive results in the extreme corners as well, especially when stopped down. Color and contrast are both excellent as well.
Unlike telephoto lenses, wide-angle lenses are not designed to yield beautiful bokeh. When shooting with the 24mm f/1.8G, you can get pretty decent results at large apertures, as long as your subject is near the minimum focus distance. Below are a couple of examples that show the subject separation and bokeh capabilities oft the lens:
As expected from most wide angle lenses, the Nikkor 24mm f/1.8G shows a pretty significant level of vignetting at maximum aperture. The good news is, vignetting is drastically decreased as you stop down. The bad news is that if you decide to use a standard width polarizing filter, you might end up with darker corners. Below is the summary of vignetting levels produced by the 24mm f/1.8G at both close focus and infinity:
And here is an extreme example of vignetting at f/1.8:
The vignetting issues can be quickly corrected in Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom, so it is not a big problem. Both ACR and Lightroom already have built-in lens profiles for the Nikkor 24mm f/1.8G.
7) Ghosting and Flare
As we have previously demonstrated in a number of articles and reviews, the use of Nano-coated glass helps a great deal in reducing ghosting and flare in images. Despite being an enthusiast-grade lens, the Nikon 24mm f/1.8G has Nano coating applied to its glass elements. As a result, and as can be seen from the sample images provided in this review, the lens does a superb job when shooting with the sun in the frame.
Here is what we can expect when the sun is placed on the side of the frame:
If you look at the bush on the right side of the frame, you will notice some traces of ghosting flare on it. This is very normal and something you will see on pretty much any other lens.
Here is another situation with the sun a bit closer to the center of the frame:
The lens handled this situation wonderfully. Although there were a couple of flares on the lower side of the frame, I was able to quickly take care of them in Lightroom using the spot healing tool.
And lastly, don’t forget that you can always utilize the “finger the sun technique” to completely get rid of any traces of ghosting and flare. The below image was shot using this particular technique:
Just like the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G, the 24mm f/1.8G exhibits some barrel distortion, which can get stronger or weaker depending on how close your subject is. Basically, the closer you focus, the more barrel distortion you will see. Imatest measured roughly 1.02% barrel distortion at a rough distance of 5 feet, which is pretty much identical to what the 24mm f/1.4G produces (approximately 1.05%). It is really nothing to worry about and the problem can be easily fixed in Photoshop using the Lens Correction Filter. Below is the comparison of distortion between the different 24mm lenses:
The lens that clearly sticks out from the group is the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art, which practically has zero distortion!
9) Chromatic Aberration
Let’s take a look at how the lens controls lateral chromatic aberration when compared to other 24mm primes:
As you can see, the Nikon 24mm f/1.8G shows very low levels of lateral chromatic aberration when compared to other primes. At less than a pixel, it outperforms and all other 24mm primes! Interestingly, the most expensive 24mm f/1.4G shows the highest levels of CA.
10) Infrared Performance
With a lens design that incorporates two aspherical lens elements, I wondered how the Nikon 24mm f/1.8G would perform on an infrared-converted camera. To my surprise, the lens did quite well, showing little signs of hot spots. Here is an extremely exaggerated example of an image that was converted to B&W, then adjusted to +100 Clarity and -33 Contrast in Lightroom:
The image was shot at infinity focus and with an aperture of f/8. As you can see, there is a little bit of a hot spot area in the center, but it probably won’t be seen in your images.
11) Coma / Astrophotography Performance
Since the lens has quite good wide sharpness performance at large apertures, one might wonder if it would be a good candidate for astrophotography. As can be seen from the below image shot at f/2, the lens sadly does not deal with coma very well, making the stars appear like butterflies towards the edges of the frame:
This is quite normal behavior for such a lens – very few lenses out there are able to handle coma well in the corners.
Let’s now move on lens comparisons.
12) Nikon 24mm f/1.8G vs Nikon 24mm f/1.4G
Here is how the Nikon 24mm f/1.8G compares to the professional-level Nikon 24mm f/1.4G:
As you can see, the 24mm f/1.8G starts out sharper than the 24mm f/1.4G at the same aperture of f/1.8, showing slightly better center and noticeably better mid-frame sharpness performance. Both lenses peak out at f/4, with the 24mm f/1.8G showing better overall sharpness in the center. Where the difference lies is in the consistency of sharpness across the frame – the 24mm f/1.4G is unbeatable in that regard, with amazing corner sharpness already at f/2.8 and improving further from there. Still, both lenses more or less even out at f/5.6, which is the sweet spot for the 24mm f/1.8G.
In short, unless you need the whole frame to be sharp at f/2.8, the Nikon 24mm f/1.8G overall delivers better value when compared to its bigger brother, particularly when stopped down to f/5.6 and smaller apertures.
13) Nikon 24mm f/1.8G vs Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art
Let’s now take a look at how the Nikon 24mm f/1.8G compares to the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art:
If you score a good copy of the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art, boy, it is a sharpness monster. As can be seen above, the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art significantly outresolves the Nikon 24mm f/1.8G at maximum aperture in the center, delivering stunning sharpness. However, it does have a rather serious drawback – it has a very noticeable field curvature, which seriously impacts everything outside the focused area. As a result, the lens starts out with pretty weak corners at large apertures and requires the lens to be stopped down to around f/4 to start yielding sharp corners. By f/5.6, both lenses have very similar sharpness across the frame. Another disadvantage of the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art when compared to the Nikon 24mm f/1.8G is its larger size and heavier construction. At 665 grams, it is even heavier than the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G!
Note: It is important to point out that the two lens samples of the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art produced drastically different resolution numbers, which indicates of potential issues with consistency and QA. The second lens sample had a decentered element and scored much lower than the above numbers.
14) Nikon 24mm f/1.8G vs Samyang 24mm f/1.4
The Samyang 24mm f/1.4 is the only manual focus lens in the group. Made by a South Korean optical company, the Samyang 24mm f/1.4 is the cheapest option among fast aperture 24mm primes. Let’s take a look at how it compares to the Nikon 24mm f/1.8G:
The two copies of the Samyang 24mm f/1.4 that I tested behaved somewhat similarly, showing rather poor wide open performance. At f/1.8, the Nikon 24mm f/1.8G showed better overall performance in the center and the mid-frame, but the corners looked about the same as on the Samyang 24mm f/1.4. The Nikon 24mm f/1.8G showed better center-frame performance at all apertures, but once stopped down to f/5.6, both lenses were yielding pretty even sharpness all the way into the corners, which makes the Samyang 24mm f/1.4 another good value lens for architecture and landscape photography.
During the past few years, Nikon has been on the roll, releasing a number of excellent f/1.8 primes. With the Nikon 20mm f/1.8G, 24mm f/1.8G, 28mm f/1.8G, 35mm f/1.8G, 50mm f/1.8G and 85mm f/1.8G lenses already out, one can build a very strong lens collection that delivers outstanding image quality at a fraction of a cost and weight of the faster f/1.4 primes. Coupled with lightweight camera bodies like the Nikon D610 or the Nikon D750, these lenses can address most photography needs without straining one’s back, or their wallet. The 24mm f/1.8G is a great addition to the f/1.8 line of Nikkor primes, thanks to its superb optical characteristics. As you can see from the previous sections of this review, the lens delivers outstanding sharpness results when compared to the Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G, Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art and Samyang 24mm f/1.4 lenses, which puts it on the top my list in terms of overall value. Having owned the 24mm f/1.4G for years, I ended up selling the lens to move down to the f/1.8G version and I have no regrets! For the price of the 24mm f/1.4G, one could get three or more Nikon f/1.8 primes, which makes it hard to justify spending so much money on a single pro-grade lens.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to imply that the f/1.8 lenses are superior to their f/1.4 counterparts – even though that might be the case in terms of pure sharpness numbers for some of the lenses, there is far more to a lens than just resolution. Pro-grade f/1.4 primes have superior build quality, higher-grade / higher quality glass elements, better consistency in terms of sample variation and as a result, they typically last much longer than enthusiast-grade lenses when heavily (ab)used in the field. This is one of the main reasons why many pros choose f/1.4 lenses – they are extremely reliable in the long run. However, for someone like me who takes a good care of gear, suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome and wants to stay light when traveling, lighter lens choices make a bit more sense…
Overall, I am very pleased with the performance of the Nikon 24mm f/1.8G ED. Considering its reasonable price, low weight, solid build quality and excellent optical characteristics, this lens falls into the “no-brainer” category for me in terms of value. I will be buying one for myself in the near future.
16) Where to Buy
17) More image samples
All Images Copyright © Nasim Mansurov, All Rights Reserved. Copying or reproduction is not permitted without written permission from the author.
Nikon 24mm f/1.8G ED
- Optical Performance
- Bokeh Quality
- Build Quality
- Focus Speed and Accuracy
- Size and Weight
Photography Life Overall Rating