Evaluate: Is the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S the Final Nightscape Lens?

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My identify is Daniel Stein, and I’m a passionate astro and nightscape photographer dwelling on the East Coast of the USA. I’m an avid hiker and backpacker and like to get out and shoot each time I can. Pictures is my escape, and it’s additionally my story.

This evaluate of the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S lens focuses on nightscape and astrophotography, which I believe is a large draw to most folk curious about a quick aperture wide-angle zoom. I will probably be scrutinizing how this lens performs from an astro mind-set, which is extraordinarily taxing on optics.

I may even be placing it up towards the legacy Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G for F mount in addition to the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 Artwork which is offered for Nikon F Mount, Canon EF mount, Sony E mount and L-Mount cameras, and is a worthy competitor.

Full disclosure: Nikon supplied me with a Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S for the aim of this evaluate. No different product featured, pictured, or described on this evaluate has been supplied to me. This consists of, however just isn’t restricted to, the Actually Proper Stuff, Gitzo, Vello, iOptron, William Optics, and different Nikon gear proven. All further Nikon merchandise apart from the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S are solely paid for by me.

The Nikon Z6 & Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S atop my tracker setup which I exploit for nightscapes.

Be aware: Yet one more fast factor earlier than we get began: this piece is constructed as a subjective opinion for this specific lens primarily based on astrophotography and nightscape use, that means that the opinions fashioned are primarily based upon information offered from my utilization of the lens. Take that as you would like…

Our first cease on this magical journey will probably be to speak in regards to the lens’s design fundamentals earlier than I am going full astro dweeb with the technical points.

What I Love

Portability

Initially (and that is essential): the lens’s portability. That is, certainly, the smallest and lightest lens in its class. The outdated F mount mannequin 14-24mm, the Sigma Artwork 14-24mm, and even the Sony 12-24mm are not any match in measurement and weight relating to this lens. Extra on that later, as it is a celebration piece.

A Much less Bulbous Entrance Ingredient

This subsequent one additionally ties into the lens’s total measurement and portability, however having a much less bulbous (that means that it doesn’t protrude as a lot) entrance aspect that’s fully shielded by the lens makes it much less accident-prone. With regards to panorama capturing, the much less glass “overhanging” from my setup, the safer I really feel. I do know this doesn’t look like a serious concern, however I can’t be the one one who appears to be like at these giant entrance parts of ultra-wide lenses and turns into frightened that factor is simply gonna fall by some means and smash into bits. Heck, I DID have a near-miss with my outdated Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Artwork which had glass protruding from the barrel.

Entrance parts, Sigma on the left, Nikon on the suitable
Facet by aspect with the Canon mount Sigma 14-24mm vs. the brand new Nikkor 14-24mm. At first look the Canon is shorter, however that’s as a result of an adapter is required for mounting to a mirrorless.
Each lenses aspect by aspect, this time the Sigma with an adapter for mounting to Z collection.
The Nikon has a removable lens hood, and even with the hood eliminated the glass nonetheless sits behind the entrance barrel.
The Nikon 14-24mm hooked up to my pano head atop my star tracker.

The Multifunction Button and OLED Display screen

At first, I wasn’t a fan of the lens’s multifunction button or OLED display on the highest of the lens, however after some use, they’ve each really grown on me to the purpose the place I want them over a standard analog-style one. I can use my setup with full confidence and don’t have any lights on in any way due to it. This won’t look like an enormous deal, however having to succeed in as much as my headlamp always to show off/on the pink mild to make minor changes turns into annoying after some time. The lens show, coupled with the highest show on my Z6 makes it potential to have the entire info I want (focal size, aperture, and so forth) at a look, particularly if I’m ready the place it’s simpler to see these screens as an alternative of the LCD panel.

The highest OLED display can show the precise focal size you might be zoomed to. I believe that is tremendous useful particularly at night time. It may well additionally show aperture, focus, or nothing in any respect.
The lens multifunction button is positioned slightly below the show button. I exploit it to shortly hit the max zoom for specializing in the celebs.

The Rear Filter Holder

Okay, I do know for astro work this won’t look like it will be needed, however hear me out. My Z6 is astro-modded (as I’m certain many different astro-specific photographers’ cameras are). To make use of it throughout the daytime requires an exterior UV/IR minimize filter, and with the outdated fashion lenses utilizing front-mounted filters, this was inconceivable. So far as I do know, no producer makes a UV/IR minimize to suit to work with the drop-in filter methods just like the Lee SW150. And even when they did, I’m certain it will price a small fortune and would additionally require lugging alongside a cumbersome filter system (not best for heading into the backcountry). With the rear mount holder, it’s considerably easier to make use of filters, like mild air pollution and even starglow filters.

A 9 cease ND filter slides in completely on the rear of the lens. No want for loopy big entrance filters right here, however you do have that possibility if you want!

Efficiency on Modified Our bodies

This subsequent one is area of interest, however efficiency with a modified digital camera physique has been excellent. What I imply by that is some lenses have an inner IR mild emitter that may trigger points with modified our bodies, however I’m glad to say this Z 14-24mm doesn’t have this drawback!

Focus Place Reminiscence

That is an superior software-related property of the lens. When the Z physique is switched off then again on once more, the lens will mechanically revert to its final focus place.

Construct High quality

Lastly, the general construct high quality of this lens is unbelievable. Nikon has shifted their lens design considerably with the Z system and this lens is not any exception. The entire management rings really feel excellent, and it looks as if it’s made out of supplies that gained’t undergo from oxidation or peeling like a few of the older F mount items did.

Utilizing the Z 14-24mm f/2.8 and a rear filter to seize a phenomenal alpenglow dawn within the Japanese Sierra on a solo backpacking journey I simply got here again from. Whereas this evaluate is astro particular, I believe it’s honest to say some daytime pictures will probably be taken with this lens, particularly in the event you stayed up all night time to shoot the celebs anyway!

What I’m Detached About
Not essentially issues I don’t like, simply issues that I don’t discover relevant to my use and doubtlessly others taking a look at this lens from an analogous perspective.

I haven’t actually discovered a use for the lens management ring. I attempted enjoying round with the assorted capabilities I might set it to manage (ISO, aperture, and so forth), however for astro (and even panorama) there was actually nothing notable there for me.

The power so as to add entrance filters – whereas this could possibly be helpful for some customers, from an astro perspective there’s not a lot use for this. Particularly when contemplating the rear mount system mentioned above, I didn’t discover myself utilizing (nor planning to make use of) this characteristic.

What I Really Don’t Care For

These are issues that I’m not a fan of in regards to the lens’s design. Some I really feel might probably enhance down the highway with software program.

Focus by Wire

For these of you who could not know what which means, focus by wire is when the lens’s focus is managed electronically, and never straight related to the lens’s focus mechanisms. Whereas all Nikkor Z glass (together with the 50 and 35 primes that I really like for astro work) are all focus by wire, I discovered that characteristic to be relatively cumbersome with this lens. Extremely-wide lenses are already the hardest by way of specializing in the celebs, and the main focus by wire system provides a bit extra complexity to the combination right here. Whereas I’m pretty used to it due to my different lenses, as I used to be bouncing backwards and forwards between the Sigma Artwork 14-24mm and the Nikon Z 14-24mm, I nonetheless thought it was simpler to realize focus with a standard fashion mechanism, as discovered within the Sigma Artwork lens.

OLED Turnoffs

Whereas I really like the characteristic itself, the highest OLED show turns off far too continuously. That is such a useful characteristic of the lens, and I do know I would love it if it stayed on till an image is taken. This could possibly be a possible software program repair down the highway.

Optical Efficiency

Now, it’s time to take a deep dive into what’s most essential for astrophotography: optical efficiency.

That is the place issues get fascinating. No lens is ideal, however at $2,400, I count on near-perfection in most areas, particularly when in comparison with the Sigma Artwork 14-24mm (which is half the worth). What I discovered left me with blended emotions, a minimum of at first.

How I Put This Lens to the Check…

To maintain issues brief and candy, I took check pictures at 14mm, 20mm, and 24mm at f/2.8 and f/4. I did the identical with my Sigma 14-24mm (utilizing an adapter). I’ll additionally present you some older pictures that had been taken with the identical digital camera physique, however utilizing the legacy F mount 14-24mm f/2.8G. Every shot was taken with a 2-minute publicity and an ISO of 1600 utilizing a star tracker.

It needs to be famous that I shouldn’t have the capabilities to carry out these assessments aspect by aspect, so I needed to first shoot with the Nikon lens earlier than switching to the Sigma. Because of this, atmospheric circumstances diverse between the pictures, so whereas there may be some slight haze within the Nikon pictures, the haze had began to clear throughout the Sigma pictures. Branching off of this level, I additionally need to stress that these assessments should not thought of scientific within the sense that they weren’t carried out in a managed atmosphere. Though circumstances had been altering in between every shot, the outcomes achieved are practical and it is best to count on comparable outcomes upon utilization. That is all real-world stuff right here. Every shot was posted as RAW because it will get. No noise discount, sharpening, or lens corrections had been carried out.

Z6 + Tracker + Sigma 14-24mm
Z6 + Tracker + Nikon 14-24mm

14mm

Nikon @ 14mm f/2.8 Heart 1:1 crop
Sigma @ 14mm f/2.8 Heart 1:1 crop
Nikon @ 14mm f/2.8 Nook 1:1 crop
Sigma @ 14mm f/2.8 Nook 1:1 crop
Nikon @ 14mm f/4 Heart 1:1 crop
Sigma @ 14mm f/4 Heart 1:1 crop
Nikon @ 14mm f/4 Nook 1:1 crop
Sigma @ 14mm f/4 Nook 1:1 crop
Nikon @ 14mm f/2.8 uncropped
Sigma @ 14mm f/2.8 Uncropped
Nikon @ 14mm f/4 Uncropped
Sigma @ 14mm f/4 Uncropped

At 14mm, issues are wanting promising for the brand new child on the block. The Nikkor lens clearly has an edge at rendering the celebs within the nook with minimal astigmatism. The celebs additionally are likely to shift in the direction of extra rounder, pinpoint sources of sunshine nearer to the sting than the Sigma, the place they typically seem as much less rotund streaks.

So far as vignetting goes, I wrestle telling the 2 lenses aside. I believe the Sigma has a barely much less intense vignette, however the “fall-off” of sunshine on the Nikkor is barely extra engaging. I’d name it a tie on this regard.

Chromatic aberration appears nicely managed on each, however I can’t assist however discover that the star coloration on the Nikkor is a tad extra practical, reflecting the blue and yellow colours higher.

20mm

Nikon @ 20mm f/2.8 Heart 1:1 crop
Sigma @ 20mm f/2.8 Heart 1:1 crop
Nikon @ 20mm f/2.8 Nook 1:1 crop
Sigma @ 20mm f/2.8 Nook 1:1 crop
Nikon @ 20mm f/4 Heart 1:1 crop
Sigma @ 20mm f/4 Heart 1:1 crop
Nikon @ 20mm f/4 Nook 1:1 crop
Sigma @ 20mm f/4 Nook 1:1 crop
Nikon @ 20mm f/2.8 Uncropped
Sigma @ 20mm f/2.8 Uncropped
Nikon @ 20mm f/4 Uncropped
Sigma @ 20mm f/4 Uncropped

Now at 20mm, that is the place issues take a flip for the more serious for the Nikkor. At an aperture of f/2.8, the astigmatism within the nook is considerably worse than the Sigma. Happily, issues do enhance TREMENDOUSLY at f/4 and the hole is considerably smaller between the 2, however the efficiency of the Nikkor right here towards a lens that prices half the worth left me a bit underwhelmed.

With reference to vignetting and chromatic aberration, I’d say the Sigma has the sting. General, it appears to be like flatter and the celebs are a tad tighter.

20mm is my favourite focal size (amongst wider focal lengths) to shoot at, so this left me questioning if I used to be higher off selecting up the Nikkor Z 20 1.8 S as an alternative of utilizing this 14-24mm. Extra on that beneath…

24mm

Nikon @ 24mm f/2.8 Heart 1:1 crop
Sigma @ 24mm f/2.8 Heart 1:1 crop
Nikon @ 24mm f/2.8 Nook 1:1 crop
Sigma @ 24mm f/2.8 Nook 1:1 crop
Nikon @ 24mm f/4 Heart 1:1 crop
Sigma @ 24mm f/4 Heart 1:1 crop
Nikon @ 24mm f/4 Nook 1:1 crop
Sigma @ 24mm f/4 Nook 1:1 crop
Nikon @ 24mm f/2.8 Uncropped
Sigma @ 24mm f/2.8 Uncropped
Nikon @ 24mm f/4 Uncropped
Sigma @ 24mm f/4 Uncropped

Now all the best way zoomed in at 24mm, as soon as once more I discovered Sigma to have the extra engaging stars within the corners with a lot much less astigmatism. Nonetheless, the Nikon lens does come via with a a lot sooner correction to pinpoint stars nearer to the corners. This results in type of a toss-up right here. The celebs within the nook are somewhat bigger at first, however they change into spherical extra shortly with the Nikkor than the sigma. Nonetheless, the celebs on the Sigma solely begin changing into spherical nearer to the middle. It’s simpler to note the nook of the Sigma when zoomed out, however when pixel-peeping the Nikon lens is extra pronounced with distortions.

With regards to the vignette, I’d say the Nikkor has the sting. It appears brighter total, with flatness pretty equal between the 2. One factor to notice about vignette, nevertheless, is that it’s pretty simple to appropriate. The chromatic aberration appears to be about the identical on each, however once more the Nikon lens has barely higher star coloration.

Ghosting (when the celebs look larger and softer than they need to be) in any respect focal lengths additionally appears to be like to be dealt with higher by the Sigma. Nonetheless, this can be a small results of the hazier circumstances throughout capturing with the Nikon lens.

Optically, the Sigma Artwork lens appears to be a barely higher performer than the Nikon Z lens.

The Legacy Nikon 14-24mm G Lens

Let’s take a stroll down reminiscence lane and have a look at the legacy Nikon 14-24mm G lens.

On this comparability, I discovered that the options of the brand new Nikkor stood out essentially the most. Nikon was capable of shrink down the dimensions and weight of the lens considerably, whereas additionally making it much better optically over the outgoing mannequin. These samples are all taken from real-world images I’ve shot with each lenses and are totally different from the above set of pictures. This could hopefully offer you a greater concept of efficiency in that the pattern measurement with the brand new lens is now elevated than simply with the direct comparisons to the Sigma Artwork lens.

All photographs had been taken at 120 seconds, aperture the place famous, and ISO 800-3200. Publicity was adjusted in post-processing to all equal the identical ISO, because the Z6 is ISO invariant.

Nook Comparability @14mm f/2.8

The legacy Nikon 14-24mm G lens.
The brand new Nikon 14-24mm Z lens.

At 14mm, variations between the 2 lenses appear negligible.

Heart Comparability @14mm f/2.8

The legacy Nikon 14-24mm G lens.
The brand new Nikon 14-24mm Z lens.

The brand new lens is way sharper within the heart. Star coloration seems much better.

General 14mm f/2.8

The legacy Nikon 14-24mm G lens.
The brand new Nikon 14-24mm Z lens.

Nook Comparability @20mm f/2.8

The legacy Nikon 14-24mm G lens.
The brand new Nikon 14-24mm Z lens.

Astigmatism is current on each lenses at 20mm. The newer lens tends to have bigger artifacts however corrects them sooner than the older lens. The vignette additionally appears much less dramatic on the newer mannequin.

Heart Comparability @20mm f/2.8

The legacy Nikon 14-24mm G lens.
The brand new Nikon 14-24mm Z lens.

As soon as once more the middle on the brand new lens is considerably sharper than its predecessor. The legacy lens has important ghosting.

General 20mm f/2.8

The legacy Nikon 14-24mm G lens.
The brand new Nikon 14-24mm Z lens.

Nook Comparability @24mm f/4

The legacy Nikon 14-24mm G lens.
The brand new Nikon 14-24mm Z lens.

The brand new lens produces far better-managed corners than the outgoing mannequin. Chromatic aberration is extraordinarily nicely corrected pretty shortly.

Heart Comparability @24mm f/4

The legacy Nikon 14-24mm G lens.
The brand new Nikon 14-24mm Z lens.

The middle on the newer mannequin has a lot much less chromatic aberration.

General 24mm f/4

The legacy Nikon 14-24mm G lens.
The brand new Nikon 14-24mm Z lens.

Who Is This Lens For?

This lens is an ideal match for the adventurous nightscape photographer capturing on a Nikon Z mount digital camera who’s on the lookout for a strategy to cowl the ultra-wide focal lengths whereas slimming down the load and measurement of things of their backpack (aka, somebody like me). I’d enterprise to say that almost all nightscape photographers looking for a lens of this caliber are these hitting the paths like myself, so I really feel that the target market of this lens is substantial.

This lens is a stellar substitute/improve to the legacy F mount 14-24mm f/2.8G. In case you can afford it and need to ditch the adapter, that is the lens for you.

Final however not least, this lens is nice if you’re a nightscape photographer but in addition plan to shoot some daytime landscapes as nicely. The flexibility of a quick aperture zoom is difficult to beat. If you have already got the lens in your bag and have been up all night time capturing the Milky Approach, why not catch the dawn with it when you’re at it, am I proper or am I proper?

Making ready for an all-nighter to shoot the Milky Approach atop a rock scramble I summited within the Japanese Sierra.

Who Isn’t This Lens For?

It type of goes with out saying (nevertheless it must be stated), in the event you shouldn’t have a Nikon Z mirrorless digital camera, then this lens just isn’t accessible for you. However on that notice…you would possibly as nicely swap (and no, Nikon didn’t pay me to say that). I firmly imagine that this method is the best-suited for astro work; I selected Nikon for a lot of causes after having each Canon and Sony.

Nonetheless, this lens can also be not for many who don’t have to or need to hike to their capturing areas. In case you are the kind of photographer who drives to most of your spots to shoot, and also you park inside a reasonably brief strolling distance, you may save the cash and get the Sigma.

I’ll be blunt right here: this lens just isn’t going to win any awards for being essentially the most budget-friendly possibility on the market. If that could be a major concern for you and you don’t assume you’ll thoughts the additional measurement and weight of the choice lenses and adapters, then this Nikkor just isn’t the lens for you.

Why Do I Love This Lens?

I’ll begin out with a well-known Chase Jarvis quote I heard once I was in highschool, “One of the best digital camera is the one that’s at all times with you.” So whereas the Sigma lens is optically a worthy competitor and even higher in some instances, it isn’t the lens I need to have in my bag.

You see, 90% of the time I’m capturing nightscapes, I’m mountaineering into my shoot areas, and oftentimes these hikes are technical, lengthy, and require me to have fairly a big (and considerably heavy) quantity of drugs and meals to have the ability to full them safely. The additional grunt of the Sigma and even the outdated F mount 14-24mm left me with a call I used to be pressured to make earlier than packing for my hikes. That call was that there was no potential approach I used to be taking that massive hunk of glass up that mountain….it simply wasn’t value the additional weight. Nonetheless, with the brand new Nikkor Z 14-24mm, that mindset has modified to, “Yeah I can match that, will probably be value somewhat extra weight, I believe I can get some nice pictures if I’ve this lens with me.” The dimensions and weight distinction on this lens actually are that immense and impactful.

A full backpacking loadout of my gear earlier than I hit the JMT & PCT within the Japanese Sierras included a sleep system, bear canister with a number of days provide of meals, a cooking system, toiletries, water filtration system, bug spray, sunscreen, a number of sorts/layers of clothes, photo voltaic charger, map, compass, GPS, hydration bladder, and naturally a ton of digital camera gear. All in all, I had about 75 lbs of drugs on my again once I hit the paths.

My unique plan was to launch this evaluate earlier on in the summertime. Nonetheless, I made a decision to carry again my opinions till after I got here again from an 11-day backpacking journey alongside the John Muir Path, Pacific Crest Path, and Yosemite Nationwide Park. With out this new Nikon Z 14-24mm, I’d not have captured a few of what I imagine are my favourite pictures I’ve ever taken. This lens is the GOAT. This lens made these pictures potential. I standby my phrases to the fullest and am thrilled I used to be capable of name this lens my favourite alongside my journey!

Verdict and Remaining Ideas

The lens is a large enchancment over the legacy F mount Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G. It’s leaps and bounds forward optically and is available in a considerably smaller type issue that’s native to Z mount. It additionally fixes all of its shortcomings by way of design.

Nonetheless, the lens does fall brief ever so barely in a couple of areas; primarily, by way of astigmatism and distortion within the corners compared on to the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 Artwork lens. Whereas the Nikon appears to have the benefit at 14mm, the Sigma appears to be like to carry out somewhat higher when you begin zooming in. 20mm, particularly, appears to be the Nikon lens’s weak level, and for me personally, this was a little bit of a letdown as it’s considered one of my favourite focal lengths to make use of when capturing the Milky Approach.

A few of you could be pondering “Why not simply get the Nikkor Z 20mm f/1.8 S prime?” Properly, the flexibility of getting 14-24mm is much extra essential to me than having good corners. In truth, I used to have the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Artwork however switched to the Sigma 14-24mm as a result of I needed that focal size versatility, regardless that the prime was higher optically. That trade-off of prime versus zoom can simply be a matter of opinion, however relating to composing pictures, having that variable vary can actually make or break a shot.

I did discover that many of the distortions have a tendency to scrub up at f/4 on the Nikon, so if the scene permits straying from f2.8, there may be that possibility as nicely. In any case, I’m utilizing a tracker, and I extremely suggest you check out that route BEFORE committing to ANY new lens if you’re planning to pursue astrophotography.

So, what in regards to the Nikkor Z 14-30mm f/4 S lens? Properly in my analysis, the Z 14-30mm S has some actually dangerous astigmatism within the corners. Far worse than the Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S stopped to f/4, so that could be a no-go in my e-book. From my assessments, it looks as if the Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S simply occurs to be the proper glad medium amongst all of those lenses.

Really easy, so mild, so compact, so highly effective!

If it had been my very own cash, would I purchase this lens?

In a phrase, sure. In a couple of extra grammatically incorrect phrases, very a lot sure. Very VERY a lot sure. However in a couple of sentences, I’d begin by making an attempt to search for one used! I’m all for secondhand gear (if its earlier house owners handled it nicely).

Nonetheless, if I had no alternative and nothing was coming to the market and I had an enormous hike developing, then I’d completely splurge for this lens model new.

Wow.

One very last thing to sum up; I stated it only a few paragraphs in the past, however I’ll say it once more. I. LOVE. THIS. LENS. Recently, I’ve discovered myself having fun with capturing nightscapes at 35mm and 50mm, however this Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S made me get pleasure from going wider as soon as once more.

If it weren’t for this lens, my journey into the Sierra wouldn’t have been full. My eyes and different senses wouldn’t have opened as extensive as they did. My appreciation of the pastime has been additional expanded, and this shall proceed. I believe it is a vital a part of this exercise; we, as artists are the storytellers, and cameras and lenses are our instruments. It’s how we use them which helps deliver forth our tales, and this lens is a splendidly lovely instrument in telling these tales.


In regards to the creator: Daniel J. Stein is a passionate nightscape photographer working full-time in New Jersey in his household’s industrial plumbing contracting enterprise. The opinions expressed on this article are solely these of the creator. You could find extra of Stein’s work on his web site and Instagram. This text was additionally revealed right here.



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