Nikon announced, on September 16th, two new S-Line lenses to their mirrorless lineup – the 14-24mm f/2.8 and the 50mm f/1.2. These are two exciting and anticipated lenses. Both Canon and Nikon continue to bolster their mirrorless cameras and lenses, and we continue to see some great innovation in both departments. That innovation was evident with Canon’s 15-35mm f/2.8 and 50mm f/1.2 and now we see it with these new Nikon lenses as well.
I have mentioned it numerous times, but seeing this back and forth between Canon, Nikon, and Sony is really great for us photographers. Excellent engineering and technology are going into the offerings available for us and better gear just makes our lives easier in the field.
The focus here is on Nikon’s announcement so let’s discuss each lens. Our main focus will be the 14-24mm f/2.8, as it will be a premier lens for landscape photography. Both lenses are slated for a November 2020 release.
Nikon S-Line 14-24mm f/2.8 – $2,396.95
It seems like ages ago, but way back in August of 2007 the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 EF lenses were released for Nikon DSLRs. At the time, it was a highly anticipated release and it turned out to be one of the best wide-angle lenses ever made. It was so good, that 13 years later it is still one of the best landscape lenses available and used as a standard when comparing new wide-angle lenses.
Over the last few years, there’s no doubt it has slowly become outdated. It’s weight, lack of threaded filter support, and the trend to go mirrorless have slowly pushed it into the rearview window.
Personally, I used the 14-24mm f/2.8 EF for many years. It was an incredible lens, absolutely incredible. But, it’s weight really wore on me during long hikes and backpacking. It wasn’t just the weight and size of the lens itself, it was the combination of size from adding a filter attachment system so I could use a polarizer and other filters.
I ended up switching to mirrorless last spring and I purchased a Nikon Z7 and 14-30mm f/4. The 14-30mm f/4 is a work of art in itself, it has great range and it is actually sharper than the 14-24mm f/2.8 EF AND it takes threaded filters. I was ecstatic. The only downside was a fixed aperture of f/4 vs. f/2.8. So, I have been anticipating seeing what this new 14-24mm f/2.8 is al about.
Now, we can welcome in the new generation for the 14-24mm f/2.8. The new S-Line 14-24mm f/2.8 for the Nikon Z series. It completes the trinity lineup for the Nikon Z system, along with the 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8. The 14-24mm f/2.8 will be an excellent choice for landscape photographers.
It weighs 35% less than it’s predecessor at 1.43 lbs (14-30mm f/4 is 1.07 lbs), it’s also shorter, takes threaded filters at 112mm, and it is able to be stabilized via IBIS (in-body image stabilization) in Z cameras…something not available with the DSLR model.
If we compare to the excellent 14-30mm f/4, there are also some benefits of the new 14-24mm f/2.8. The new lens is a stop faster at f/2.8, something to consider if you are a serious astrophotographer.
Click here to learn more about why aperture for night photography is critical.
The speed of the lenses makes no difference for general landscape photography since we often are shooting at narrower apertures. It also has better build quality with custom controls, including a customizable one-touch shortcut button, EL Display panel, and custom control ring, making controls. Those are features I wish were available for the 14-30mm f/4. I am assuming image quality will be better with the 14-24mm f/2.8, but I’m not sure if it matters because the image quality is fantastic with the 14-30mm f/4.
There are downsides, however. The first is the price. The new 14-24mm f/2.8 debuts at $2,396.95, while the 14-30mm f/4 is still pricey at $1,296.95, but obviously much cheaper. The second relates to filters. It is great news that this new lens takes threaded filters. That was a major downside of the first model. The issue is this new lens requires a 112mm threaded filter. That’s an uncommon size and still quite large. I’m sure we will see some of the top filter manufacturers produce polarizers and ND filters in that size, but right now, Nikon is marketing their own branded 112mm CPL, and get this, it retails for $649.95. Nikon is saying it can take gel filters and potentially Breakthrough Filters drop-in filters so there should be much cheaper options available in the future.
There’s no doubt this lens will be awesome though. I’m excited to see sample images and I will be following developments on the filter end of things as well. I think the choice between the 14-30mm f/4 and 14-24mm f/2.8 is difficult. The image quality of the 14-30mm f/4 is excellent and it takes 82mm filters, a common size. The 14-24mm f/2.8 does have better build, controls, and a faster aperture of f/2.8, but is it worth it? I’m really not sure. I will say in my personal experience that having the extra reach to 30mm is very helpful.
Nikon S-Line 50mm f/1.2 – $2,099.95
Nikon calls the new lens their ‘fastest and most optically impressive AF prime lens yet, effortlessly balancing the combination of intense sharpness and dreamy bokeh.’ This lens is primarily a portrait lens and will have superb image quality. The lens is super, super-fast, but it’s definitely not a light lens, as it measures in at 2.4 lbs. The size and weight are the major tradeoffs, as really nothing will come close to this in terms of image quality at 50mm from Nikon.
This lens will be a direct competitor to Canon’s RF mirrorless 50mm f/1.2. A 50mm prime isn’t as useful for nature photographers, but I did want to touch on one possibility of this lens. It’s super fast at f/1.2 and could be an excellent astrophotography choice for those that like a closer perspective of the Milky Way or stars. I have seen fantastic shots at 50mm of the night sky. With a hefty price tag though, it might be best if you buy this one primarily for portraits and maybe test it out for landscape/macro shoots. It will be priced at $2,099.95.
Matt Meisenheimer is a photographer based in Wisconsin. His artistry revolves around finding unique compositions and exploring locations that few have seen. He strives to capture those brief moments of dramatic light and weather, which make our grand landscapes so special. Matt loves the process of photography – from planning trips and scouting locations, taking the shot in-field, to post-processing the final image.
Matt is an active adventurer and wildlife enthusiast as well. He graduated with a degree in wildlife ecology and worked in Denali National Park and Mount Rainier National Park as a biologist. He also spent 6 months working in the deserts of Namibia before finding his path in photography. Matt’s passion for the wilderness has taken him to many beautiful places around the world.
As a former university teaching assistant, Matt is passionate about instruction. It is his goal to give his students the technical and creative knowledge they need to achieve their own photographic vision. He truly enjoys working with photographers on a personal level and helping them reach their goals.
You can see Matt’s work and portfolio on his webpage at www.meisphotography.com
Don’t Miss the Next Session of BCJ “Live”
Image Review: Landscape Edition
with Matt Meisenheimer & Kenton Krueger
Tuesday, Feb 23rd, 2021 at 11 am (Mountain)