Nikon Z 14-24mm F2.8 S field review

Introduction

Nikon’s Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8 S is a bright wide-angle zoom lens for the company’s Z-mount mirrorless cameras.

With a focal range of 14-24mm on full-frame bodies or 21-36mm on APS-C bodies, it’s a great walkaround lens for landscapes and cityscapes alike. It’s also an interesting option for astrophotographers, and performs equally well as a wide-angle video lens.

Available since November 2020, list pricing is set at $2399.95.

All images edited in Adobe Camera Raw 12.4 unless otherwise noted, with adjustments limited to white balance, exposure, highlights, shadows, white and black levels. Sharpening and noise reduction at defaults.



Key specifications:

  • Focal length: 14-24mm (21-36mm with APS-C crop)
  • Aperture range: F2.8 – F22
  • Stabilization: No
  • Filter thread: 112mm (with included HB-97 lens hood)
  • Close focus: 0.28m (11.0″)
  • Maximum magnification: 0.13x
  • Diaphragm blades: 9
  • Hood: HB-96 and HB-97 hoods included
  • Weight: 650g (1.43 lb)
  • Optical construction: 16 elements in 11 groups (3 aspherical, 4 ED)

Although it has no direct rivals on the Nikon Z-mount, the Z 14-24mm F2.8 is the spiritual successor to the wildly popular – but famously large and unwieldy – AF-S 14-24mm F2.8G ED, which made its debut for F-mount DSLRs in 2007.

Compared to that lens, it’s a much less hefty optic, albeit also one that’s priced $650 higher. Its only fractionally (7mm / 0.2″) shorter, which is perhaps a little surprising given it has a removable hood, where the DSLR lens’ hood was built-in.

ISO 64 | 1/60 sec | F5.6 | 24mm | Nikon Z7
Photo by Barney Britton

But it’s a worthwhile 10mm (0.3″) narrower, and at 650g (1.44lb), far less tiring to carry than the 1000g (2.21lb) DSLR lens. And that’s despite it actually having a more complex optical formula and added filter support.

Plus if one were to consider the AF-S 14-24mm F2.8G ED as an alternative to the Z-mount 14-24mm, you’d need to factor in the weight and size of the Mount Adapter FTZ. That would add another 31mm (1.2″) in length and 135g (4.8oz) in weight, giving the mirrorless lens a much more significant advantage over its DSLR sibling.

ISO 400 | 1/200 sec | F2.8 | 14mm | Nikon Z7
Photo by Dan Bracaglia

As for its mirrorless equivalents on other mounts, there’s no close alternative on Canon’s RF-mount, the nearest equivalent being the longer-ranging, less-wide RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM. The nearest match is the Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN Art, which is available on both Leica L and Sony E-mounts.

The Sigma is a much more affordable lens, costing a bit less than two-thirds as much as the Nikon Z 14-24mm F2.8. Its barrel diameter is just fractionally (4mm / 0.1″) lower, but it’s 7mm (0.3″) longer and almost a quarter heavier.

ISO 64 | 1/60 sec | F5.6 | 14mm | Nikon Z7
Photo by Barney Britton

For that, the Sigma gets you an even more complex optical formula and two extra aperture blades, for a total of 11. And while the Sigma doesn’t accept front-mounted filters (as can the Nikon courtesy of one of its included lens hoods), it will fit gel filters in a holder at the rear of the lens.

On E-mount, there’s also the Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM, but while it does cover the full range of the Nikon Z 14-24mm and adds even more coverage at the wide end of the range, it’s significantly ($600) more expensive and offers no built-in solution for front-mounted filters.

ISO 64 | 1/25 sec | F3.2 | 14mm | Nikon Z7
Photo by Barney Britton

It’s also even larger even than Nikon’s DSLR lens, and heavier than the Z-mount lens by 197g (6.9oz). It does have an extremely swift linear autofocus drive with a total of four motors, unlike the stepper motor drive of the Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8, however. (But as we’ll see, the Nikon is no slouch in the AF department either.)

Compared to…

Nikon Z 14-24mm F2.8 S Nikon AF-S 14-24mm F2.8G ED Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN Art Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM

Price (MSRP)

$2399.95 $1749.95 $1499 $3000
Format Mirrorless DSLR Mirrorless Mirrorless
Mount(s) Nikon Z Nikon F Leica L and Sony E Sony E
Optical construction 16 elements, 11 groups 14 elements, 9 groups 17 elements, 12 groups 17 elements, 14 groups
Aperture blades 9 9 11 9
Weather sealed Yes Yes Yes Yes
AF drive Stepper motor Ultrasonic motor Stepper motor Quad linear motors
Minimum focus distance / max magnification 0.28 m (11.0″) / 0.13x 0.28 m (11.0″) / 0.15x 0.28 m (11.0″) / 0.14x 0.28 m (11.0″) / 0.14x
Lens hood Two removable hoods bundled Built-in hood Built-in hood Built-in hood
Filter size 112mm or rear gel filters N/A Rear gel filters Rear gel filters
Diameter x Length
(no hood)

89mm x 125mm (3.5″ x 5.0″)

98mm x 132mm (3.8″ x 5.2″)

L-mount: 85mm x 131mm (3.3″ x 5.2″)

E-mount: 85mm x 133mm (3.3″ x 5.2″)

97.6mm x 137mm (3.8″ x 5.4″)
Weight

650g (23.0oz)

1000g (35.3oz)

795g (28.0oz) 847g (29.9oz)

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Handling

Although it’s very compact for what it is – and Nikon is certainly correct in calling it both the world’s shortest and lightest full-frame F2.8 zoom lens with a 14mm field of view – it’s still not a small lens by any means.

At around 124.5mm (5.0″) long with a barrel diameter of 88.5mm (3.5″) and a weight of 650g (23.0oz), it’s a fairly chunky lens, but that’s not surprising for a bright, wide-angle zoom. And it’s certainly very well-built, with a solid, quality feel despite a predominantly plastic external shell. It balances pretty well on Nikon’s latest full-frame bodies, with just a touch of ‘front-heavy’ feel that doesn’t really change as you zoom the lens.

Shown with its rather bulky HB-97 lens hood attached, the 14-24mm F2.8 has six controls in all.

As well as a focus ring at the front of the barrel and a zoom ring directly behind it, the 14-24mm F2.8 S also offers a customizable control ring near the rear of its barrel. This can be used to control the lens’ aperture, ISO sensitivity or exposure compensation (though it lacks detents, which some users find helpful when manipulating these types of settings). All three rings turn smoothly, with both the manual focus ring and control ring being nicely dampened.

In between the zoom and control rings you’ll find a small information display and two buttons. The L-Fn button on the left quadrant of the barrel is another configurable control which can be set through the camera’s menu system to options including autofocus lock, subject tracking, image playback and more.

Atop the 14-24mm F2.8 is a small but very handy monochrome OLED information display.

The Display button, which is closer to the OLED panel itself, cycles through three different display modes: focal length (to the nearest 0.5mm), aperture or focus distance. The aperture value is only shown in aperture-priority or manual modes, and in these modes the focus display also gains a depth-of-field indicator beneath the distance scale.

Finally, of the left side of the 14-24mm F2.8’s base is a focus mode switch. The lens is fully sealed against dust and moisture, with seals not only at the base, but also at its control rings, buttons and focus mode switch, as well as at joins between components.

The Nikkor 14-24mm F2.8 is weather-sealed throughout, not just at the lens mount.

There’s no optical image stabilization on this lens, but that’s par for the course in wide-angle lenses. Most Z-mount cameras offer in-body image stabilization anyway, and blur from camera shake is typically less of a concern for wide-angle photography in the first place.

The front lens element is fluorine-coated to resist fingerprints and smudges. It’s also flat, which is a major contrast to the large, bulging front elements of the earlier DSLR lens and most similar optics. While you can’t attach filters directly to the front of the lens, two removable hoods are included and one of these does feature filter threads.

The Z 14-24mm F2.8 looks a good bit more svelte without either of its optional hoods attached, though there are built-in mini-hood petals seen here that offer at least minimal protection.

The HB-96 lens hood is the smaller and lighter of the pair, and is compatible with the standard lens cap. The HB-97 lens hood is much bulkier, especially if you’re using its huge lens cap, but it does accept 112mm screw-on filters. It’s not a particularly standard size (and will prove to be a very expensive one), but both Nikon and B+W do make filters in this size.

If you don’t need quick access to the filter or the ability to rotate it, you can potentially save money by instead using trimmable drop-in gel filters that slip into the rear of the lens prior to mounting. Unlike some rivals, Nikon doesn’t include a filter template, but dimensions are shown in the product manual. (Basically, it’s a 38 x 30mm filter with a 5 x 5mm triangle cut off all four corners.)

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Autofocus and focus breathing

ISO 125 | 1/15 sec | F16 | 14mm | Nikon Z7
Photo by Barney Britton

Nikon has based the autofocus system for its Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8 S around a stepper motor. Typically, that’s a choice which translates to smooth, quiet but less-than-swift autofocus.

The great news is that this isn’t true here. Despite the use of a stepper motor, we were surprised to find its AF to be not just very smooth and completely silent, but also very fast. We measured the full-rack autofocus time at roughly half a second.

ISO 64 | 1/640 sec | F4 | 24mm | Nikon Z7
Photo by Barney Britton

The 14-24mm isn’t a macro lens, but with a minimum focusing distance of 0.28m (11″), it will yield a similar magnification to equivalent lenses on other mounts, and will get you just as close. That maximum magnification of 0.13x (1:7.7), you won’t be focusing in on individual flowers, but it will certainly suffice for classic ‘wildflowers at sunset’ landscapes and the like.

ISO 1600 | 1/15 sec | F2.8 | 24mm | Nikon Z7 II
Photo by Jordan Drake, edited in Capture One 21

Videographers will be thrilled to hear that Nikon has done a great job of controlling focus breathing, just as it did in the other members of its Z-mount F2.8 zoom trinity, the Nikkor Z 24-70mm F2.8 S and Nikkor Z 70-200mm F2.8 VR S. For users of manual focus, you can choose your desired direction of rotation for the focus ring, and the ring’s dampening makes it easy to make smooth adjustments.

Unfortunately, though, the current crop of Nikon Z-mount bodies doesn’t allow you to switch from speed-sensitive response to linear response for the focus ring, meaning it’s going to be difficult to make repeated manual focus pulls with precision.

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Image quality

Given its price premium over the earlier DSLR-oriented design, you’ll likely expect great things from Nikon’s 14-24mm F2.8 for mirrorless, and in almost all respects it delivers. It can deliver tack-sharp images across its zoom range, and the only slight weak spot is a tendency towards overly-busy bokeh.

Sharpness

ISO 64 | 1/250 sec | F2.8 | 14mm | Nikon Z7
Photo by Dan Bracaglia

At the wide-angle end of the zoom range, center sharpness is already excellent even with the F2.8 maximum aperture, and there’s no noticeable improvement from stopping down to F5.6. Unfortunately, this sharpness drops off dramatically as you approach the edges, such that even areas of the image just a third of the way from the center to the edge are noticeably soft. The extreme edges and corners are noticeably soft wide-open, but focusing in the corners sharpens them right back up, indicating a degree of field curvature (visible in the grass, here). Fortunately, stopping down to F5.6 leads to a fairly flat field, with most of the frame sharpening up nicely.

Zooming in to 24mm, center sharpness is also excellent wide-open at F2.8, and there’s only an extremely slight improvement from stopping down to F5.6. The extreme corners are a little soft, albeit less so than they were wide-open at 14mm, but again, both focusing in the corners and stopping down to F5.6 help to yield quite crisp results.

Overall, the Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8 S turns in a great performance across its zoom range in terms of detail, provided you’re willing to stop down a bit. We’d happily shoot single subjects wide-open at F2.8 in a lot of situations, but when shooting landscapes, architecture, flat fields, or any scene where we desire most of the frame to be tack sharp, we’d suggest stopping down at least a stop or two. In a lens landscape recently filled with lenses that are tack sharp wide open and often across more of the frame, this is perhaps a bit disappointing.

Bokeh

ISO 400 | 1/15 sec | F2.8 | 24mm | Nikon Z7 II
Photo by Chris Niccolls, edited in Capture One 21

In most respects, bokeh is quite pleasing too, but if we had to pick a weak spot this would nevertheless be it. Specular highlights are very clean with no onion ring, only minimal cat’s eye effect in the extreme corners, and a nice, round shape even as you stop down somewhat. Unfortunately, they also have a noticeably brighter outline or soap bubble effect which can make the bokeh very busy-looking.

‘Nisen bokeh’ can result in what looks like motion blur where there is none, or double-edges to slightly out-of-focus subjects. It’s particularly an issue in transition zones, and tends to get better as you stop down.

And we also noticed that while the transition from out of focus to sharp and back again is quite pleasing, in areas that are only slightly out of focus the transition can give the appearance of a double image that almost looks like motion blur, as you’ll notice in the cobweb in this image. This is often referred to as ‘Nisen bokeh’, and while it does largely go away as you stop down a little, it’s something to watch out for regardless. We’ve seen it increasingly in fast, wide lenses, and it looks like this Nikon isn’t immune to it either.

Flare, ghosting and sunstars

ISO 64 | 5 sec | F11 | 24mm | Nikon Z7 II
Photo by Chris Niccolls, edited in Capture One 21

As we mentioned in the handling section, the 14-24mm F2.8 comes with not just one lens hood, but a choice of two. It also handles bright light sources that make it to the front lens element very well. Flare is controlled nicely, with no ghosting or reflections and not much loss of contrast either.

It also gives reasonably nice 18-pointed sunstars, thanks to its nine-bladed iris. They’re a bit less crisp than those of some rival lenses, but the spikes are fairly even in length even if they diffuse fairly quickly. Fans of the DSLR version of this lens will feel right at home with the similar rendering.

Longitudinal / lateral chromatic aberration (fringing)

ISO 64 | 1/2500 sec | F2.8 | 14mm | Nikon Z7 II
Photo by Chris Niccolls, edited in Capture One 21

Lateral chromatic aberration or LCA shows up as cyan/green and red/purple fringing around edges at the outer peripheries of the frame, particularly on the wider end of the zoom, but it’s easily corrected for in post-processing without much of a negative impact on your image. And as for longitudinal chromatic aberration (LoCA), which causes color fringing in the foreground and background and can be hard to correct post-capture, this lens handles it beautifully. Overall, a very impressive result in terms of aberrations!

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Conclusion

What we like What we don’t
  • Lightweight and compact for its class
  • Comprehensive weather-sealing
  • Very sharp and free of most optical aberrations
  • Very fast autofocus
  • Handy multi-function OLED display
  • A choice of front or rear filters
  • Works well for video too
  • Wide open sharpness drops off quickly as you move away from image center
  • Bokeh can be distracting due to soap bubble effect
  • Double-edged bokeh in transitions zones
  • More expensive than its DSLR equivalent
  • Front filters are huge, expensive and require a bulky hood/lens cap

The Nikon Z 14-24mm F2.8 S completes the company’s Z-mount trinity of bright, high-quality zooms. Alongside the Nikkor Z 24-70mm F2.8 S and Nikkor Z 70-200mm F2.8 VR S, Nikonians can now zoom from a 14mm wide-angle to a 200mm telephoto with no gaps in coverage and with a bright F2.8 maximum aperture throughout.

Like those earlier lenses, the 14-24mm F2.8 focuses quickly and delivers crisp, satisfying images in most respects. It represents a noticeable step beyond its DSLR-oriented predecessor in terms of sharpness and yet is far lighter and noticeably more compact. There are some flies in the ointment though.

While central and peak sharpness at your point of focus are both very good wide open, across the frame consistency is lacking. Stopping down to F5.6 improves things, but we’re increasingly spoiled by lenses performing near their best wide open, so this is a bit of a let-down. Furthermore, bokeh can at times appear busy due to double-edged bokeh in transition zones and bright edges on specular highlights (think out-of-focus holiday lights) that gives specular highlights a ‘soap bubble’ effect.

ISO 64 | 1/160 sec | F8 | 14mm | Nikon Z7
Photo by Barney Britton

It’s not just a stills lens, either. It’s equally well-suited to video capture, making it quite a versatile pick. And we appreciated its handy LCD info display, which makes it easy to confirm your precise focal length or focus distance, and even to judge depth of field.

It’s also very solidly built, comprehensively weather-sealed and gives you a choice of either screw-in front filters or gel filters at the rear. Admittedly, you’ll want to stick to the latter whenever possible as its 112mm screw-in filters will be both expensive and tricky to find, but rivals lack this option altogether.

ISO 64 | 1/2000 sec | F2.8 | 21.5mm | Nikon Z7 II
Photo by Chris Niccolls, edited in Capture One 21

And speaking of rivals, we love Canon’s lineup but with the arrival of this lens, we think Nikon’s Z-mount lineup is now just a little more consistent. And while it’s not a huge difference, there’s no denying that the Nikon 14-24mm is both shorter and lighter than its nearest rival on another platform, the Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN Art for Leica L and Sony E-mounts.

As for the Z-mount specifically, there’s realistically no alternative to this lens, short of using a DSLR lens with the FTZ mount adapter — and that won’t be remotely as satisfying an experience, with lesser image quality, its own complex field curvature issues, and much more bulk, even if you’ll save a little in terms of the cost.

ISO 110 | 1/20 sec | F2.8 | 14mm | Nikon Z7
Photo by Barney Britton

For a lens of this type, it’s relatively small and light, very practical, and really makes the most of the short flange-back distance of mirrorless cameras in general, and the Z-mount specifically! This is a relatively aberration free lens, and many will either easily work around, or forgive, its shortcomings around across-the-frame consistency and bokeh. And when you do, there’s a lot to like about the images it’s capable of.

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Scoring

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DPReview TV review

See what our team at DPReview TV has to say about the Nikon Nikkor Z 14-24mm F2.8 S.

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Sample galleries

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Nikon Z7

Nikon Z7 II

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