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Nikon's Two New FX Wideangle Lenses Preview

by Shun Cheung, January 2010 (updated February 2011)


Back in August 2007, when Nikon introduced the D3, their first full-35mm-frame, FX format digital SLR, they simultaneously updated five lenses: two shorter constant f/2.8 zooms: 14-24mm and 24-70mm and three 400, 500, and 600mm super telephotos with AF-S and vibration reduction (VR). Since then, Nikon has updated many additional lenses for the FX format: 70-200mm/2.8 zoom, 300mm/2.8, three tilt-shift PC-E lenses, and a 50mm/1.4 AF-S, to name a few.

After a flurry of new lenses, there are three main areas that still need updates:

  • Some fast f/1.4 or f/1.8 fixed-focal-length AF-S lenses from 24/28/35mm wides to 85mm teles, perhaps with VR, to complement the 50mm/1.4 AF-S and the 35mm/1.8 AF-S DX.
  • A parallel line of constant f/4 AF-S zooms. While Nikon’s f/2.8 zooms are excellent, for a lot of photographers, they are just too expensive and heavy.
  • Updates to the 180/200mm f/2.8, 300mm f/4, and the 80-400mm zoom to have both AF-S and VR.

Where to Buy

Photo.net’s partners have these 2 Nikon lenses available. Their prices are fair and you help to support photo.net.

The AF-S 24mm f/1.4G ED

From the mid 1990’s, Nikon had a 28mm f/1.4 AF-D lens that has been popular among those who are into indoor, available-light style photography. By 2005, that lens was retailing for around US$1700. However, in early 2006, Nikon discontinued it with no replacement, and suddenly the value for the 28mm f/1.4 AF-D shot way up in the used market. In the last four years, the price varies from $2000 to over $3000 for a used copy. Part of the high price could be the result of collector interest, but clearly there is a need for fast and wide lenses.

Finally, that void is filled by the new 24mm f/1.4 AF-S, which should be excellent for indoor news, events (weddings, parties, festivals), and concerts/performance photography. In particular, in conjunction with the excellent high-ISO capabilities from the D3, D700 and the new D3S, it will break new grounds in photographing in very dim environments without using external flashes that can easily modify the mood.

While it is certainly not an inexpensive lens, the $2199.95 price is very much in line with the price for the old 28mm f/1.4 AF-D as described above. Similar to other pro-grade Nikon lenses, the 24mm f/1.4 AF-S accepts 77mm front filters.

The AF-S 16-35mm f/4 VR

As I mentioned earlier, constant f/2.8 zooms tend to be heavy. When I was hiking in the Antarctic in late 2009 with a big 200-400mm f/4 plus 2 or 3 of those f/2.8 zooms, the weight issue was very apparent. In particular, with modern high-ISO capabilities from DSLRs such as the D3, D700 and the latest D3S, f2.8 is not nearly as necessary as before, even indoors. Therefore, what is clearly missing is a parallel line of constant f/4 AF-S zooms.

I am very glad to see that Nikon is adding a 16-35mm f/4 AF-S zoom with VR, which hopefully will be followed by longer counterparts. This new lens replaces the older 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 AF-D and is slightly wider than the very popular 17-35mm f/2.8 AF-S. Therefore, it is also suitable as a wide-to-normal zoom on DX-sensor DSLRs. And unlike the 14-24mm f/2.8, which has a bulging front element such that it cannot accept any front filters, the new 16-35mm f/4 AF-S accepts 77mm filters. It should be an excellent choice for landscape photographers who tend to use polarizers and graduated neutral-density filters; the lighter weight also means it is easier to carry around for hikers.

The addition of VR is the first for a Nikon wide-angle lens. In conjunction with the high-ISO capabilities from modern DSLRs, this new lens can also be used for most indoor, available-light situations. For those who need to photograph under extremely dim conditions, there is a new 24mm f/1.4 AF-S wide angle.

The initial $1259.95 price tag is on the high side for this lens, though. Two or three years ago before the recent appreciation of the Japanese yen, those constant f/2.8 zooms used to be available for perhaps just $100 to $200 more. The 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 AF-D is still available for about $600. Hopefully, the street price for the new 16-35mm f/4 will come down a bit after the initial demand subsides. It weighs 685g, somewhat lighter than the 17-35mm f/2.8 AF-S (745g) and the 14-24mm f/2.8 AF-S (1000g).

Where to Buy

Photo.net’s partners have these 2 Nikon lenses available. Their prices are fair and you help to support photo.net.

More

Official Nikon Press Release

MELVILLE, N.Y. (February 8, 2010)—Nikon Inc. today announced two new lenses for professional and enthusiast photographers that epitomize Nikkor leadership in optical excellence. The highly anticipated AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED lens is engineered to meet the demand for an ultra-fast professional lens for wide angle applications, while the AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR offers Nikon’s widest FX-format focal range with VR, offering additional versatility to a broad range of photographers.

“The 16-35mm f/4 VR and 24mm f/1.4 are two new lenses designed to address the needs of an ever-expanding number of Nikon FX-format photographers, delivering dramatic perspectives, amazing clarity, contrast and color when capturing stills or HD video,” said Edward Fasano, general manager for marketing, SLR Systems Products at Nikon Inc. “Customers that choose these new lenses will experience excellent image quality and sturdy handling, which is made possible through our commitment to excellence and expert NIKKOR engineering.”

World renowned Nikkor technologies play an essential role in the design of these two new lenses, and both feature Nikon’s exclusive Silent Wave Motor (SWM) technology for quiet, fast and accurate autofocus performance. The optical construction of both lenses also utilizes precision Nikon ED glass elements along with multiple aspherical elements to suppress chromatic aberrations resulting in sharp, high contrast images. Additionally, Nikon’s proprietary Nano-Crystal Coat minimizes instances of internal “ghosting” and flaring, further ensuring exceptional image integrity.

The 24mm f/1.4G ED Lens

Perhaps one of the most hotly anticipated lenses in recent memory, the new AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED lens blends a natural yet versatile 24mm perspective with an ultra-fast f/1.4 aperture to expand an existing collection of well over 60 Nikkor interchangeable lenses. The f/1.4 maximum aperture allows photographers to shoot handheld in low light and provides dramatic separation between subject and a softened background. In a wide variety of photographic situations, both FX and DX-format shooters will enjoy the benefits of extra-bright f/1.4 viewing, superb image quality and the dramatic perspectives afforded by a picture angle of 84 degrees (61 degrees when mounted on a DX-format body).

The 16-35mm f/4 VR Lens Brings a New Perspective to VR

The new AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR lens is an ideal lens for enthusiasts and professionals craving a constant maximum aperture and ultra-wide angle zoom versatility with the benefits of Nikon’s Vibration Reduction (VR) II image stabilization. As the widest FX-format Nikkor zoom lens with VR, users can realize the ability to shoot up to four shutter speeds slower than otherwise possible, expanding low light shooting opportunities and contributing to dramatically sharper handheld photography and video capture. Nikon VR II image stabilization technology is engineered specifically for and optimized to function most effectively for each lens, ensuring optimum performance. Whether joining the growing ranks of FX-format photographers or using the Nikon DX-format, photographers will appreciate the perspectives possible when shooting architecture, interiors, landscapes and more.


Original text ©2010 Shun Cheung.

Article revised February 2011.

Readers' Comments


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Derek Thornton , February 15, 2010; 09:07 P.M.

Looks like a fine piece of glass. Cant wait to get it!

Darius Tulbure , April 26, 2010; 02:52 A.M.

I really hope they will make a similar lens for DX. 16-35mm on a DX? This is the perfect range for landscapes as I'm not into more extreme perspectives. f/4? Again, perfect for landscapes as I don't usually shoot landscapes under f/5.6. VR? What else would you want more?

Hannu Soini , July 10, 2010; 07:30 A.M.

Well, Nikon is not really making a complete series here ? - The true enjoyment would follow after a design of FX zoom - say 80-500 with reasonable price. The 14 mm 25mm 2,8 zoom covers the areas of landscape and steet to a certain extent. Being a bulky object it is not easy to carry around, but there is not very much improvement to that I would guess. So, hope there would be a similar choice of lenses as during the film era. And of course, the adjustment rings are not coming from Nikon i.e. those that would give us possibility to use say other high end lenses like those from Leica...:)

 


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