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Review by Markus Stamm, published November 2010
The segment of ultra fast primes has not seen much attention from Nikon for many years. Once famous for lenses like the Noct Nikkor 58/1.2, the fast options available with AF drive were rather limited and, with the exception of the recently modified AF-S 50/1.4, either a little dated or even discontinued like the AF-D 28/1.4.
In 2010 Nikon finally recognized the gap and introduced 3 new or updated ultra fast Nikkor primes, the shortest (and probably most unexpected) one being the AF-S 24mm f/1.4. Regarding its street price of 1800 EUR/2200 USD as of the time of this review it's obviously not targeted at the consumer market.
Even though this is a full frame (FX) lens, it's certainly an attractive option for DX shooters, too, since its angle of view comes very close to a classic 35mm lens on these cameras. So, let's have a look how the lens performs on our 10 Megapixel DX test camera (D200).
The AF-S 24/1.4 is cleary designed with the professional photographer in mind, featuring a very solid construction mostly made of metal (including magnesium alloy parts) as well as dust and weather sealing. The rubberized focus ring is nicely damped and operates smoothly.
The AF-S 24 has a rear focus group so its length remains constant regardless of the focus setting and the front element does not rotate. Using a polarizer is therefore no problem.
Optically the lens features a rather complex construction including ED and aspherical elements as well as Nikon's Nano Crystal Coat, which helps to reduce flare and ghosting in backlight conditions.
Thanks to an AF-S drive (Silent Wave Motor) the lens is compatible with any current Nikon DSLR, including the entry level cameras. In addition, AF-S allows for a near-silent autofocus and manual override at any time. The AF speed is not overly fast and certainly slower than the high end f/2.8 professional zooms. However, for typical usage, even press work, the AF is certainly fast enough in the field.
The AF-S 24 is a G-type lens and thus does not feature a dedicated aperture ring.
|Equiv. focal length||36 mm (full format equivalent)|
|Equiv. max. f-stops||f/2.1 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field - not speed)|
|Optical construction||12 elements in 10 groups including 2 ED elements, 2 aspherical elements and Nano Crystal Coat|
|Number of aperture blades||9 (rounded)|
|min. focus distance||0.25 m (max. magnification ratio 1:5.6)|
|Dimensions||83 mm x 88.5 mm|
|Filter size||77 mm (non-rotating)|
|Hood||Nikon HB-51, petal-shaped (bayonet mount, supplied)|
|Other features||Lens provides distance (D) information to the camera, Silent Wave AF motor, dust and weather sealing|