12-24mm f/4G IF ED AF-S DX NIKKOR "Super Wide Angle"
Nikkor is the original ultrawide DX zoom lens, having been introduced
back in 2003. For a while, there was no choice on this front:
if you wanted a zoom lens with the equivalent range of an 18-36mm,
this was the only choice. How does it hold up to the new competition?
12-24mm f/4G IF ED AF-S Nikkor Super Wide Angle Zoom Lens
/ PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS
Nikkor 12-24mm lens is the second heaviest lens of the four we
tested. It weighs in at over one pound (485g). Its finish is very
similar to what you’d find on recent AF-S Nikkors – matte black
with a slight roughness to the surface that most people like.
most Nikkors, the locations of the zoom and focusing rings are
reversed, with the focusing ring at the rear of this lens, and
the zoom ring at the front. If you’ve been using two-touch zooms
for a while, expect to grab the wrong control on occasion. This
lens is a “G” design, with no aperture ring.
lens takes 77mm front filters, and has a pinch-front style lens
cap that can easily be attached or removed with the bayonet-mount
lens hood installed. As this is an AF-S Nikkor, focusing is quick
and silent. Additionally, there is an instant manual focus override:
simply turn the focusing ring to get a revised distance. While
this is a nice feature, it isn’t quite as important on a wide
angle lens as it is on a telephoto due to the large depth of field.
distance scale does not have many markings. For example, the last
distances marked prior to infinity are 1m and 2.5ft. In addition,
the focusing scale is quite compressed. This makes setting a hyperfocal
distance more of a challenge than on other lenses. As with most
zooms, there are no hyperfocal markings on this lens; a laminated
hyperfocal distance table is a good companion for this lens.
lens hood is reversible and is actually the same model as is used
with the 18-35mm 3.5/4.5 AF-D Nikkor and the 17-35mm 2.8 AF-S
Nikkor. If you own one of those lenses, you now have a spare lens
hood. Internally, the lens features an optical formula of 11 elements
in 7 groups and a seven-bladed diaphragm with rounded edges. The
lens has a constant maximum aperture of f/4.0 throughout the zoom
range, and a close-focusing distance of just under one foot. Because
this lens has a “DX” design, the image circle is too small to
cover the frame on a 35mm body at all focal lengths, but you’ll
get minimal vignetting at 18-24mm on a 35mm body.
both bodies, autofocus with the 12-24mm Nikkor is accurate and
precise. The lens has a nice feel in the hand, and its construction
quality is much better than lenses such as the 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5D
AF. It’s not quite as solid as a 17-35mm f/2.8D ED AF-S, but that’s
also because it’s a much smaller lens.
with this lens have excellent contrast at all apertures and focal
lengths and correspondingly fine color rendition. Center sharpness
is very good at 12mm, and excellent at the longer focal lengths
or when stopped down to f/8 or f/11. At the 18-24mm focal lengths,
images were spectacularly sharp – about as good as it gets.
edges of images taken at 12mm and wide-open are noticeably softer
than the center when viewed at 100% in Photoshop, but this improves
quickly upon stopping down. There is very little light fall-off
with this lens, in fact it was the best of the bunch, and was
virtually undetectable. As with the other lenses, there is a noticeable
softening of images due to diffraction effects at f/22. At 18
and 24mm, this lens yields excellent sharpness in the edges, especially
when stopped down.
distortion is controlled very well in this lens. There is slight
barrel distortion at 12mm, and no apparent distortion at longer
focal lengths. At the wide end, chromatic aberration was apparent
in images taken with the D2x, but it was minor. Users of Nikon
Capture will find that if you turn on “Color Aberration Control”,
chromatic aberration will be automatically removed from RAW files.
We didn’t see any adverse impacts from this operation and would
recommend turning it on and leaving it on.
the Nikkor is the "oldest" lens in the bunch, it’s a
strong performer with the best overall optical performance. The
only area where it was surpassed was in chromatic aberration where
the Sigma was slightly better. Image quality at all focal lengths
was very good to excellent; corner sharpness was a little soft
at 12mm and maximum aperture, but this improved quickly at f/5.6
and smaller. The constant aperture design, rounded diaphragm blades
and AF-S focusing motor are other nice touches on this lens.
lens is a very good choice for Nikon shooters who:
Want the best in overall optical performance and don’t need
a 10mm lens
• Have a 28-70mm mid-range zoom, and need the 24mm focal length
• Want minimal vignetting at wider focal lengths without using
• Desire a faster, constant maximum aperture
the other hand, this lens may not be the best choice if:
You’re on a tight budget
• You need an even wider focal length lens
• You want a lighter weight option
being the first to appear in the market, the Nikkor has held up
extremely well and it’s a great lens.
comparatively much higher price tag (US $940) is probably the