Thoughts on the 14-24S?

Joined
Jan 13, 2011
Messages
1,745
Location
Australia
I have been part of the thread over at FM forums discussing the issues that Jay has been having with his 14-24 f2.8S. I think the problem is that the 14-24 f2.8S has quite a flat field and it should be focused more towards the front of a scene rather than deeper into it like some other extreme wide angle lenses may require, as they may have a more pronounced field curvature. The test charts that have been shown from say Photogarphy Life show superb sharpness in the centre and excellent to the edges and corners. These test charts are flat and thus would give you the impression that the lens would be sharp across the frame, which it is, but only if you focus correctly on the scene.

As I pointed out over on FM, if we consider DOF - at 14mm and f5.6 and focusing at 2mts (6ft), DOF runs from 740mm (3ft) to infinity! At 24mm f5.6 and focusing at 3.5mts, DOF runs from 1.73mts to infinity. In other words, if you are standing to take an image, pretty much everything will be in focus from your feet to infinity at f5.6. Use f8 and it will be even better. So, why would you focus further away than the the distances I have shown here? Looking at say the photo of the brick wall and the flower pot on page one of this thread, where the bushes in the foreground are soft, if Jay focused on the wall, I would be very surprised that the bushes in the front would be sharp even at f11! I would be focusing on the small wall just behind the bushes in the foreground (2.5mts?) and then everything from the bushes to the wall would be sharp even at the lowly f4.5 aperture used. In fact in this image, you could probably focus on the bushes and everything from them to the wall would be in focus as there in nothing needed to be in focus past the wall which looks to be only about 5-6mts away!

When I use my 14-24 f2.8S, or in fact most extreme wide angle lenses, even those with higher curvature of field, I generally focus more towards the front of a scene rather than deeper into a scene simple because DOF at f8 takes care of sharpness. Things in the very far distance at say 20mm are so small that they generally do not have to be as crisp as the objects near the forground anyway. Not only that, but a general rule of thumb is that the best spot to focus is at twice the physical distance to the closest item in your photo, assuming that you want the foreground and background to be equally sharp. So, if you are taking a photo on a tripod at say 1.5mts from the ground, but if you are shooting at say 20mm at f8, the closest point maybe at a guess 2mts from your camera when shot horizontally, then you need to focus at say 4mts so that everything from 2mts to infinity is in focus. Looking at the DOF chart, it actually ends up being about 1.18mts to infinity, but if you don't have a DOF calculator, then the above guide will suffice in most situations.

As I also pointed out over at FM, *get to know your lenses* and how they perform. I shot my 14-24 using a number of focus points on a scene at various apertures to get a feel for how it's field curvature behaved and found that it was relatively flat compared to other extreme wide angle lenses that I have used. Not only that, but it may be different at different focal lengths on a zoom which may go to showing why the central sharpness is similar at different focal lengths but be quite different at the edges or corners. Not a great difference but good to know.

With all this in mind, I find the 14-24 f2.8S to be a stunningly sharp lens edge to edge corner to corner and that is borne out by the many reviews that many testers have done and have also come to the same conclusion. It is better than the old 14-24 f2.8G in basically every department and in some instances quite a bit of a step up, flare, coma and CA being the biggest improvements, but also overall sharpness. It is the overall IQ of this lens which is really amazing, the colors and micro contrast (that pop look) are amazing.

Some test sites that have given the 14-24 f2.8S a Highly or Very Highly recommended:
Ephotozine
https://www.ephotozine.com/article/nikon-nikkor-z-14-24mm-f-2-8-s-lens-review-35160
CamerLabs:
https://www.cameralabs.com/nikon-z-14-24mm-f2-8-s-review/
Photography Life - this is a review including all the Z mount Holy Trinity:
https://photographylife.com/nikon-z-lens-trinity
 
Joined
Apr 10, 2021
Messages
37
I borrowed my wife's D850 and 14-24G and did the corner test. This is the upper left.
Chromatic aberration is visible in all 4 corners.

upper left.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 
Joined
Apr 10, 2021
Messages
37
I have been part of the thread over at FM forums discussing the issues that Jay has been having with his 14-24 f2.8S. I think the problem is that the 14-24 f2.8S has quite a flat field and it should be focused more towards the front of a scene rather than deeper into it like some other extreme wide angle lenses may require, as they may have a more pronounced field curvature. The test charts that have been shown from say Photogarphy Life show superb sharpness in the centre and excellent to the edges and corners. These test charts are flat and thus would give you the impression that the lens would be sharp across the frame, which it is, but only if you focus correctly on the scene.

As I pointed out over on FM, if we consider DOF - at 14mm and f5.6 and focusing at 2mts (6ft), DOF runs from 740mm (3ft) to infinity! At 24mm f5.6 and focusing at 3.5mts, DOF runs from 1.73mts to infinity. In other words, if you are standing to take an image, pretty much everything will be in focus from your feet to infinity at f5.6. Use f8 and it will be even better. So, why would you focus further away than the the distances I have shown here? Looking at say the photo of the brick wall and the flower pot on page one of this thread, where the bushes in the foreground are soft, if Jay focused on the wall, I would be very surprised that the bushes in the front would be sharp even at f11! I would be focusing on the small wall just behind the bushes in the foreground (2.5mts?) and then everything from the bushes to the wall would be sharp even at the lowly f4.5 aperture used. In fact in this image, you could probably focus on the bushes and everything from them to the wall would be in focus as there in nothing needed to be in focus past the wall which looks to be only about 5-6mts away!

When I use my 14-24 f2.8S, or in fact most extreme wide angle lenses, even those with higher curvature of field, I generally focus more towards the front of a scene rather than deeper into a scene simple because DOF at f8 takes care of sharpness. Things in the very far distance at say 20mm are so small that they generally do not have to be as crisp as the objects near the forground anyway. Not only that, but a general rule of thumb is that the best spot to focus is at twice the physical distance to the closest item in your photo, assuming that you want the foreground and background to be equally sharp. So, if you are taking a photo on a tripod at say 1.5mts from the ground, but if you are shooting at say 20mm at f8, the closest point maybe at a guess 2mts from your camera when shot horizontally, then you need to focus at say 4mts so that everything from 2mts to infinity is in focus. Looking at the DOF chart, it actually ends up being about 1.18mts to infinity, but if you don't have a DOF calculator, then the above guide will suffice in most situations.

As I also pointed out over at FM, *get to know your lenses* and how they perform. I shot my 14-24 using a number of focus points on a scene at various apertures to get a feel for how it's field curvature behaved and found that it was relatively flat compared to other extreme wide angle lenses that I have used. Not only that, but it may be different at different focal lengths on a zoom which may go to showing why the central sharpness is similar at different focal lengths but be quite different at the edges or corners. Not a great difference but good to know.

With all this in mind, I find the 14-24 f2.8S to be a stunningly sharp lens edge to edge corner to corner and that is borne out by the many reviews that many testers have done and have also come to the same conclusion. It is better than the old 14-24 f2.8G in basically every department and in some instances quite a bit of a step up, flare, coma and CA being the biggest improvements, but also overall sharpness. It is the overall IQ of this lens which is really amazing, the colors and micro contrast (that pop look) are amazing.

Some test sites that have given the 14-24 f2.8S a Highly or Very Highly recommended:
Ephotozine
https://www.ephotozine.com/article/nikon-nikkor-z-14-24mm-f-2-8-s-lens-review-35160
CamerLabs:
https://www.cameralabs.com/nikon-z-14-24mm-f2-8-s-review/
Photography Life - this is a review including all the Z mount Holy Trinity:
https://photographylife.com/nikon-z-lens-trinity
Thanks Lance and let me add that (as I said on the FM forum), I have adopted your method of focusing with this lens.
Upon viewing many images I've shot over the years with ultra wides, I've come to discover that I had never really been as concerned about the critical sharpness as much as I am now (I guess this is what shooting with high resolution cameras does to me) and I have actually seen that older shots that I had done with the G version of this lens as well as shots done with the Leica and Zeiss 21s are not s sharp edge to edge at all the way I remembered them to be. I was just not as critical back in those days.

If I may Lance...take a look at the corner testing that I did above with the 14-24s and give me your opinion (not the single corner shot from my wife's D850 that I just posted). The lower left edge lacks just a bit of sharpness compared to the other edges. This was shot at F4 and I know that 5.6 or 8 would clean it up considerably. I can exchange this lens but am not sure if I should bother.
Any opinions? Am I being too critical? Andy above thinks I am not.
 
Joined
Jan 13, 2011
Messages
1,745
Location
Australia
Thanks Lance and let me add that (as I said on the FM forum), I have adopted your method of focusing with this lens.
Upon viewing many images I've shot over the years with ultra wides, I've come to discover that I had never really been as concerned about the critical sharpness as much as I am now (I guess this is what shooting with high resolution cameras does to me) and I have actually seen that older shots that I had done with the G version of this lens as well as shots done with the Leica and Zeiss 21s are not s sharp edge to edge at all the way I remembered them to be. I was just not as critical back in those days.

If I may Lance...take a look at the corner testing that I did above with the 14-24s and give me your opinion (not the single corner shot from my wife's D850 that I just posted). The lower left edge lacks just a bit of sharpness compared to the other edges. This was shot at F4 and I know that 5.6 or 8 would clean it up considerably. I can exchange this lens but am not sure if I should bother.
Any opinions? Am I being too critical? Andy above thinks I am not.
The samples you have shown look bloody good to me considering it was f4. Yes, the lower left looks slightly less sharp, but are the houses the same distance away as the right side? If they are at the same distance, then try at f8 and see if it is better, if not then you may have a slightly decentered lens. The trouble is, you may get a worse one. As Roger Cicala has pointed out in his blogs at Lens Rentals, most lenses are not perfectly aligned. I can't find his blog post regarding decentred lenses (it might actually be part of another article), but if you go to Roger Cicala's blog over at Lens Rentals, it is a veritable minefield of fantastic resources and there are a number of great articles on field curvature. Go back right through the many pages of blogs, there are some brilliant articles and buried in them are some intersting facts:
https://www.lensrentals.com/blog/author/roger/

I only decided to add to this thread so as to point out that it is critical to get the focus plane right for this lens, or any lens for that matter! 🙂
 
Joined
Apr 10, 2021
Messages
37
The samples you have shown look bloody good to me considering it was f4. Yes, the lower left looks slightly less sharp, but are the houses the same distance away as the right side? If they are at the same distance, then try at f8 and see if it is better, if not then you may have a slightly decentered lens. The trouble is, you may get a worse one. As Roger Cicala has pointed out in his blogs at Lens Rentals, most lenses are not perfectly aligned. I can't find his blog post regarding decentred lenses (it might actually be part of another article), but if you go to Roger Cicala's blog over at Lens Rentals, it is a veritable minefield of fantastic resources and there are a number of great articles on field curvature. Go back right through the many pages of blogs, there are some brilliant articles and buried in them are some intersting facts:
https://www.lensrentals.com/blog/author/roger/

I only decided to add to this thread so as to point out that it is critical to get the focus plane right for this lens, or any lens for that matter! 🙂
Yes, I did another test this morning at F5.6 and it does look sharper. The houses are the same distance, beyond infinity for that matter. I think I am going to keep this lens as like you say, it is only slightly off, clears up by 5.6 and if I exchange it, there is no guarantee that another will be any better. Besides, I am told by my camera store, that they are out of stock, have another on order but even Nikon cannot tell them when it will ship. So it might be worth holding onto this one and at some point get Nikon to do a check on it and have it adjusted if need be. That's probably a better way to go than to chance another lens altogether.

Thanks
 
Joined
Oct 25, 2007
Messages
4,216
Location
Potomac Falls, VA
It’s great to see personal experiences on these threads. I have the 14-24 f mount for the D850 and I did buy the 14-30 for my Z6. I prefer the extra range on the 14-30. I am not yet doing enough photography lately to go all in on S lenses.

I really like wide angle images. I’ve also owned the 10-20 Sigma on DX and a couple of fisheyes as well as the 16-35. Some lenses are better suited for critical sharpness across the frame while others are good enough. But at $2300 you should expect better imho.

The posts here are convincing me that I don’t need to do anything but use them more for their intended purposes. Eventually, I’ll move on from DSLRs and the f mounts.
 
Joined
Apr 10, 2021
Messages
37
Thank you for the comments. In an ideal world, I would own both Z and F but that just isn't realistic. I do like the Z system and just wish there were some telephoto prime options and a couple of smaller lenses to choose from (maybe the upcoming 28 or 35 will be to my liking).

As far as the corner sharpness goes, it is difficult in that it is hard to tell if what you see is good enough or not. If I were to bring this lens back and exchange it for another, would that second lens be any better or might it even be worse? Then what? Do I waste the store's time and resources in allowing me to exchange $2400 lenses over and over? That's not fair to them if what I've already got is within Nikon specs.
 
Joined
Jan 22, 2019
Messages
2,618
Location
Jupiter, FL
Real Name
Andy
I think the problem is that the 14-24 f2.8S has quite a flat field and it should be focused more towards the front of a scene rather than deeper into it like some other extreme wide angle lenses may require, as they may have a more pronounced field curvature.

When I use my 14-24 f2.8S, or in fact most extreme wide angle lenses, even those with higher curvature of field, I generally focus more towards the front of a scene rather than deeper into a scene simple because DOF at f8 takes care of sharpness.

I shot my 14-24 using a number of focus points on a scene at various apertures
Lance, thanks for repeating your FM remarks here. And thanks for reassuring me that the 14-24mm f/2.8 S is as good as I had already believed it to be. My own testing of it has been strictly "real world shooting" with no pixel peeping - or put simply, not very thorough. Still, all that has been discussed here is very useful indeed, especially the three remarks I quoted above, which I will put into practice going forward.
 
Joined
Apr 10, 2021
Messages
37
So I did one last test, this time a pretty well controlled test using some documents taped very flat against a wall. I did my absolute best to line the camera up perpendicular to that wall actually taking measurements doing so.
What I saw was pretty much no difference at all between the corners from 2.8, to 4 to 5.6. I am very satisfied that the lens is performing as it should.
 

Latest posts

Links on this page may be to our affiliates. Sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
Nikon Cafe is a fan site and not associated with Nikon Corporation.
Forum post reactions by Twemoji: https://github.com/twitter/twemoji
Forum GIFs powered by GIPHY: https://giphy.com/
Copyright © Amin Forums, LLC
Top Bottom