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Nikon 24mm f/2.8
AF and AF-D NIKKOR (1986-today)
© 2009 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

Intro    Specifications    Performance    Compared    Recommendations

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Nikon 24mm f/2.8 AF-D

Nikon AF-NIKKOR 24mm f/2.8 D (52mm filters, 9.4 oz/268g, about $360). enlarge. I'd get it at Adorama, Amazon, J&R or Calumet. It helps me keep adding to this site when you get yours from those links, too. Thanks! Ken.

 

December 2009    More Nikon Reviews   Nikon Lenses

Sharpness Comparison to all other 24mm lenses August 2010

 

Ideal Uses: Inexpensive, lightweight lens for use on FX digital, DX digital and film.

Not for: I wouldn't bother with this on a DX camera. I'd use any DX lens, like the 18-55mm kit lens, instead. This lens will not autofocus with the cheapest D40, D40x, D60, D3000 or D5000; get an AF-S lens, like the kit lens, instead for those cameras.

 

Optics:
Mechanics:
Ergonomics:
Usefulness:
Availability:
Overall:

 

Introduction       top

Intro    Specifications    Performance    Compared    Recommendations

Compatibility    History

adorama

Ritz Camera

I personally buy from Adorama, Amazon, Ritz, B&H, Calumet and J&R. I can't vouch for ads below.

 

This 24mm f/2.8 AF-D lens is a lightweight wide-angle lens for all Nikon digital, AF and manual-focus film cameras.

It sells for about $360 brand-new. It has excellent optical performance for FX and RealRaw photography.

This 24mm f/2.8 is sharper than the $1,850 14-24mm AF-S at 24mm.

It is as sharp as the $1,800 24-70mm AF-S at 24mm, and this compact fixed 24mm lens also has far less distortion than the 24-70mm.

The only thing either of these two zooms do better is allow instant manual-focus override by grabbing the focus ring. With this traditional AF lens you must always move the switch on your camera to go between auto and manual focus.

Focus aside, this little lens makes a lot more sense to me than lugging either of those giant zooms out in the field. Outdoor and adventure photographer Galen Rowell thought the same thing, which is why he used an earlier manual-focus version with exactly the same optics as this AF 24mm for many of his best-known iconic images.

If you're counting pixels, this professional 24mm f/2.8 D is far better than the similar-looking and priced 28mm f/2.8 D. That 28mm is a crappy lens, not at all related to this lens or the superior manual-focus 28mm f/2.8 AI-s.

Nikon 24mm f/2.8 AF-D

Nikon 24mm f/2.8 AF-D. enlarge.

 

Compatibility       back to intro     back to top

This is an FX lens, and works especially well with on FX, film and DX Nikons like the D700, D3X, D300s and F6. It works fantastically on manual-focus cameras like the F2AS, F3, FE and FA, since it has a real manual-focus ring that works exactly as it should.

The Nikon 24mm f/2.8 AF-D works great with almost every film and digital Nikon camera made since 1977. If you have a coupling prong added to the diaphragm ring, it's perfect with every Nikon back to the original Nikon F of 1959.

The only incompatibility is that it will not autofocus with the cheapest D40, D40x, D60, D3000 or D5000, but if you focus manually, everything else works great. These cameras have in-finder focus confirmation dots to help you.

See Nikon Lens Compatibility for details on your camera. Read down the "AF, AF-D (screw)" column for this lens.

 

History and Production       back to intro     back to top

See Nikkor Technology for explanations of terms like AI-s and AF-D.

 

1967-1977: F-Mount

24mm f/2.8

Near-mint condition AI-converted 24mm f/2.8 from the early 1970s.

Nikon's first 24mm f/2.8 optical design was sold as an F-mount (non-AI) manual-focus lens. Many of these lenses were later upgraded, like the one you see here, to AI for use with all modern Nikons.

It has 9 elements in 7 groups and came in three different cosmetic variations. All of these variations focus to 1 foot (0.3m), take the same HN-1 hood and 52mm filters.

Early versions were single-coated, and were multicoated starting with the NIKKOR-N•C Auto version of 1972.

Nikon made a combined total of about 225,000 of these F-mount 24mm f/2.8 lenses.

 

1977-1981: AI and New Optics

Nikon updated the optics to 9 groups with 9 elements, and added close-range-correction. This is the same optical design used today.

Nikon made about 150,000 of this version.

 

1981-today: AI-s

24mm f/2.8 AI-s

Nikon 24mm f/2.8 AI-s.

Nikon slightly updated the mechanics and diaphragm controls to AI-s. I have a separate review of this 24mm f/2.8 AI-s. This manual-focus lens is still sold today, often in-stock at B&H Photo Video, for about $525.

The AI-s version is Nikon Product Number 1416.

Nikon has made over 150,000 of these, and still makes them today.

 

1986-1991: AF

Nikon's first autofocus (AF) 24mm mounted the same optics in a plastic-covered, metal-based mount.

Photographers hated them because they looked so cheap and trashy compared to the superb manual focus lens which is still sold today.

This nasty first version works great, but has a vestigial thin, hard manual ring. It has a spring-loaded rotating minimum aperture lock.

Nikon made about 50,000 of these.

 

1991-1994: Rubber Focus Ring AF

Nikon updated the nasty thin focus ring to rubber-covered plastic.

Nikon also made about 50,000 of these.

 

1994-today: AF-D

Nikon added distance encoding, and sells this lens today.

Nikon has made about 125,000 of these AF-D so far.

 

Specifications with commentary        top

Intro    Specifications    Performance    Compared    Recommendations

 

Name

Nikon calls this the Nikon AF-NIKKOR 24mm f/2.8 D. The "D" means this lens tells the camera the distance to the subject, which helps the exposure meter, especially with on-camera flash.

The earlier 1986-1994 model was called the Nikon AF-NIKKOR 24mm f/2.8, without the D.

 

Optics

9 elements in 9 groups.

It's multicoated, which Nikon calls Nikon Super Integrated Coating (SIC).

CRC Close-Range Correction (floating elements) is used for optimum performance at every distance.

 

Diaphragm

Front, Nikon 24mm f/2.8 AF-D

Nikon 24/2.8 AFD at f/5.6. enlarge.

7 straight blades.

Stops down to f/22.

 

Close Focus

1 foot (0.3m).

 

Maximum Reproduction Ratio

1:8.9.

 

Hard Infinity Focus Stop?

Yes.

This is great for astronomy; just turn to the stop and you have fixed laboratory-perfect focus all night.

 

Focus Scale

Yes.

 

Depth-of-Field Scale

Yes.

 

Infra-Red Focus Index

Yes, white dot in depth-of-field scale.

 

Aperture Ring

Yes.

Full-stop clicks.

 

Filter Thread

52mm, plastic.

Does not rotate.

 

Size

Nikon specifies 46 mm extension from flange (55.5 mm overall) by 65.4 mm diameter.

 

Weight

9.445 oz. (267.8g), as measured by me.

Nikon specifies 9.5 oz. (270g).

 

Hood

HN-1 metal screw-in, not included.

 

Case

Optional CL-30S, No.61, CL-34A, or CL-S1.

 

Teleconverters

TC-200/201 and TC-14A, but why on Earth would you want to convert this to a manual-focus 33mm f/4 or 48mm f/5.6 lens when it's less expensive, lighter, less expensive, faster, better and easier to carry a dedicated 50mm f/1.8 lens instead?

 

Introduced

Optical design first introduced as the manual-focus AI NIKKOR in 1977.

First AF version introduced 1986.

Current AF-D version introduced 1994.

 

Nikon Product Number

1919.

 

Price

$360, USA, December 2009.

 

Performance       top

Intro    Specifications    Performance    Compared    Recommendations

Overall    Focus    Distortion    Ergonomics    Falloff    Filters

Color Fringes    Mechanics    Sharpness    Sunstars

 

Overall      back to Performance    back to top

The Nikon 24mm f/2.8 AF-D is inexpensive, compact and excellent.

Its optics have been a favorite of Nikon photographers for decades.

There is no better or sharper 24mm lens or zoom in Nikon's stable.

 

Focus     back to Performance    back to top

Auto/Manual Switching

You have to move the switch on the camera to get Auto or Manual focus.

In AF, the manual focus ring moves. Keep your fingers off of it, because if you don't, the lens won't focus.

 

AF Speed

One full turn (two half-turns) of the AF screw pulls focus from infinity down to 2 feet, which is fast!

 

AF Accuracy

AF is always right-on.

 

Manual Focus

Manual focus is easy, once you've moved the switch on your camera.

This lens works great on all manual focus and film cameras.

 

Distortion    back to performance     back to top

At 10 feet (3 meters), there is a little bit of complex barrel distortion. If it bothers you, Photoshop's simple Lens Distortion Tool can't fix it. You'll need a higher-order correction tool, like a plug-in for DxO, if it exists.

At infinity on DX, the 24/2.8 AFD has some simple barrel distortion, easy to correct in Photoshop's Lens Distortion Tool at +2.0.

 

Ergonomics    back to performance     back to top

Ergonomics are great, except for having to fiddle with a switch on the camera to go between auto and manual focus.

For use on manual-focus cameras, it is almost as good as a dedicated manual focus lens.

 

Falloff (darkened corners)    back to performance     back to top

Falloff on FX is no big deal.

There is a little at f/2.8, and almost none at f/4. It's gone by f/5.6.

You won't see this in photography of anything except blank walls.

It won't be an issue at all on DX (see crop factor).

I've greatly exaggerated it below by shooting a gray field and presenting it against a gray background. In real photos, it's minor at f/2.8 and invisible by f/4.

 

Nikon 24mm f/2.8 AF-D falloff on FX and film at infinity.

 

f/2.8
f/4
f/5.6
f/8

© 2009 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Filters, Use with   back to Performance    back to top

The filter ring does not rotate.

Be careful with 52mm filters. There is not much leeway before you get vignetting.

You're OK with standard Nikon-brand filters.

Standard rotating-mount filters, like grads, might vignette a little.

Go easy on the polarizers; 24mm is wide enough that because the sky changes its own polarization with angle, you'll usually be darkening different parts of the sky different amounts. This usually looks like a mistake.

Forget using two filters at the same time.

 

Lateral Color Fringes   back to Performance    back to top

There are no lateral color fringes on the D3, which would correct them if the lens had any.

Sometimes the D300 will show some, which is odd because the D300 ought to correct them, too.

 

Mechanics    back to Performance    back to top

The 24/2.8D is mostly metal, inside a plastic case. I prefer a metal filter ring, but it does keep your fingers from freezing to it in winter.

Bottom, Nikon 24mm f/2.8 AF-D

Rear, Nikon 24mm f/2.8D AF. enlarge.

Barrel Exterior: Plastic.

Filter Threads: Plastic.

Focus Ring: Plastic; rubber covered.

Focus Helicoids: Could be metal.

Depth-of-Field Scale: Yes.

Internals: Seem like mostly metal.

Aperture Ring: Plastic with painted numbers.

Focus Geartrain: Metal.

Mount: Dull-chromed brass.

Markings: Paint.

Serial Number: Laser engraved onto bottom rear of aperture ring.

USA Models Designated by: "US" Prefix to serial number.

Ass-Gasket (dust seal at mount): No.

Noises When Shaken: Mild clunking from AF helicoid.

Made in: Japan, at least the one I show here from about 2005.

 

Sharpness    back to Performance    back to top

Warning 1: Image sharpness depends more on you than your lens.

Warning 2: Lens sharpness doesn't mean much to good photographers.

With those caveats, the 24mm f/2.8 AF-D is a very sharp lens. It is as sharp or sharper than the 24-70mm f/2.8 AF-S at 24mm throughout most of the field Only the farthest corners of the 24-70mm are a bit sharper at f/2.8, but this fixed lens is sharper throughout the rest of the image where it counts.

It's always sharp in the center. Compared to a Tokina 28-70mm f/2.8 ATX, this Nikon lens is much sharper in the center at f/2.8.

It's mushy in the corners on FX at f/2.8, and somewhat at f/4, so stop down to at least f/5.6 if you're going to look at the corners through a microscope.

Stop down to f/11 for the sharpest corners under the microscope. Otherwise, it gives 90% performance in the corners by f/5.6.

 

Sunstars    back to Performance    back to top

With its straight 7-bladed diaphragm, the 24/2.8 makes magnificent Nikon-hallmark fourteen-pointed sunstars on bright points of light.

 

Compared       top

Intro    Specifications    Performance    Compared    Recommendations

Most people today would rather own the 14-24mm f/2.8 AF-S and 24-70mm f/2.8 AF-S, each of which duplicates the function of this 24mm f/2.8 lens.

Nikon 14-24mm, 24mm f/2.8 and 24-70mm AF-S

Nikon 14-24mm, 24mm f/2.8 and 24-70mm AF-S. bigger.

Which would you rather carry?

Today's FX Nikon photographer usually owns, or wants to own, the Trinity of the 14-24mm AF-S, 24-70mm AF-S and 70-200mm AF-S VR-II.

Let's think about this. If you've got a 70-200mm, do you really need both the 14-24 and the 24-70mm, each of which duplicates the 24mm range?

Why not think like a pro and take only this 24mm instead of four pounds of 14-24mm and 24-70mm along with your 70-200mm?

I'm serious: very few people know how to make use of any lens wider than 24mm. You don't need and don't want the 14-24mm if you have this 24mm.

Pros know they don't need any lenses between 24mm and the 70mm end of their 70-200mm. If they need a looser or tighter framing, they simply take a few steps forward with the 24mm, or a few steps back with the 70mm.

Galen Rowell traveled the world with just a 24mm f/2.8 and a 75-150mm zoom.

Leave the 14-24mm and the 24-70mm back at the store.

 

How about the relative performance?

I shot all three of these at 24mm on a D3.

This 24mm f/2.8 is as sharp as the 24-70mm zoom at each aperture. EIther is superior to the 14-24mm zoom at 24mm.

How about distortion? Let's see what factor is needed in Photoshop's Lens Distortion tool to correct each at 10 feet (3 meters):

Lens
Factor
14-24mm at 24mm
-0.4
24/2.8D
0*
24-70mm at 24mm
+4.0

* Some waviness remains

So let's see.

The 14-24mm has as little distortion as this 24mm f/2.8, but it's not as sharp.

The 24-70mm is about as sharp as this 24mm f/2.8, but it has hellacious and often obvious distortion at 24mm.

The best lens at 24mm is this one, and it uses simple 52mm filters, not the huge 77mm of the 24-70mm. The 14-24mm can't use any kinds of filters at all.

Leave the 14-24mm and the 24-70mm back at the store.

 

Recommendations       top

Intro    Specifications    Performance    Compared    Recommendations

The Nikon 24mm f/2.8 AF-D is an excellent performer, and a fraction of the size, weight and price of any zoom. It can replace both the 14-24mm and 24-70mm zooms, saving you over $3,000 (and almost four pounds of baggage) with improved performance.

It is worlds better than the seemingly similar 28mm f/2.8 AF-D.

This compact 24mm lens could be the only wide lens you ever need. I'm very serious: the more decades I do photography, the more I realize that my pictures today would be so much better if I would have shot with just the lens or two like this that I had decades ago, and spent my concentration and research time on learning how to take better pictures. Instead, like most of you, I also wasted most of the past couple of decades researching and buying more gear that I didn't really need and didn't do anything different than my gear did back in the 1970s.

 

Deployment

I'd leave either a 52mm Nikon Clear (NC - UV) filter, or a 52mm Hoya Super HMC UV on the lens at all times.

I wouldn't bother with a hood, but don't let me stop you.

If I was working in nasty, dirty areas, I'd forget the cap, and use an uncoated 52mm Tiffen UV filter instead. Uncoated filters are much easier to clean, but more prone to ghosting.

 

Acknowledgment: Many thanks to Dick in Rancho Mirage who got me access to this lens for this review.

 

More Information: Nikon, Japan.

 

Help me help you         top

I support my growing family through this website, as crazy as it might seem.

If you find this as helpful as a book you might have had to buy or a workshop you may have had to take, feel free to help me continue helping everyone.

If you've gotten your gear through one of my links or helped otherwise, you're family. It's great people like you who allow me to keep adding to this site full-time. Thanks!

If you haven't helped yet, please do, and consider helping me with a gift of $5.00.

The biggest help is to use these links to Adorama, Amazon, Calumet, Ritz, J&R and when you get your goodies. It costs you nothing and is a huge help to me. eBay is always a gamble, but all the other places have the best prices and service, which is why I've used them since before this website existed. I recommend them all personally.

Thanks for reading!

Ken

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