- The lens is great for architecture, landscape, astrophotography applications and photographers looking for a fast and lightweight walk-around wide-angle.
Not so good for
- High magnification/macro photography or shooters looking to use this lens in inclement weather conditions.
The Nikkor 24mm 1.8G ED is a fast and lightweight wide-angle prime that offers very nice optical quality at a bargain price. The lens offers smooth and fast autofocus and a solid amount of light gathering ability with an F1.8 maximum aperture, which makes it one of Nikon’s most affordable and best performing wide-angle primes.
The AF-S Nikkor 24mm F1.8G ED was first announced back in August 2015. It joins Nikon’s growing family of modern full frame primes alongside the 20mm F1.8G, 28mm F1.8G, 35mm F1.8G, 85mm F1.8G and the 50mm F1.8G. It’s priced at just under $750 making it a well matched option to be paired with cameras like the Nikon D610 and the Nikon D750. The Nikkor can also be used on DX format cameras with an equivalent focal length of 36mm.
This fast wide-angle prime will most likely appeal to architecture, landscape and portrait or wedding photographers. Additionally, the F1.8 max aperture may come in handy for those looking to utilize the lens for astrophotography work as well.
At 24mm the lens is Nikon’s second widest modern prime option to date, coming in just behind the Nikkor 20mm lens. It’s worth noting that there are a few other options at 24mm that potential buyers should definitely be aware of. One of those options is the slightly faster Sigma 24mm F1.4 DG HSM Art that comes in at just under $850.
The Sigma 24mm can be seen mounted on a Nikon D810 on the left and the Nikkor 24mm can be seen mounted on a D810 on the right.
Although the Sigma is a bit pricier, it is a sensible alternate option for folks looking for a lens at this focal length. By comparison the Nikkor 24mm F1.4G ED is is priced at just under $2000 which makes the Sigma version that much more attractive to potential buyers. We will be taking a closer look at the Nikkor 24mm F1.8G and the Sigma 24mm F1.4 as an alternative lens option in this review.
If you’re an APS-C shooter the 36mm equivalent focal length with an equivalent aperture of F2.7 will be a nice addition to your lens kit, being flexible enough to allow environmental and photojournalistic portraits while still being wide enough to accommodate for some landscape and architectural photography as well. It is worth noting however that if you’re looking to purchase this lens for an APS-C camera, then other options, such as Sigma’s 18-35mm F1.8 lens, might be a better alternative for the money. For this reason, we’re not going to consider this lens for use on APS-C in this review.
Nikkor 24mm F1.8G ED Headline Features
- 24mm Focal Length
- F1.8 Maximum Aperture
- ‘Silent wave’ focus motor with full-time manual override
- F-mount FX format lens, works on both DX and FX format Nikon SLRs
- Accepts standard screw-type 72mm Filters
|AF-S Nikkor 24mm F1.8G ED||Sigma 24mm F1.4 DG HSM A (Nikon Mount)|
|Lens Type||Wide Angle Prime||Wide Angle Prime|
|Lens Mount||Nikon F||Nikon F|
|Max Format Size||35mm FF||35mm FF|
|Diaphragm Blades||7 (rounded)||9 (rounded)|
|Special Elements/Coatings||2 extra-LD glass elements and 2 aspherical elements, Nano Crystal Coat and Super Integrated Coating||2 aspherical elements, 3 FLD and 4 SLD glass elements coupled with Multi Layer Coatings|
|Minimum Focus||23cm (9.1″)||25cm (9.9″)|
|Motor Type||Silent Wave Motor autofocus mechanism||HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor)|
|Full Time Manual||Yes||Yes|
|Weight||355g (12.5 oz)||665g (23.1 oz)|
|Dimensions (DxL)||Approx. 78 x 83mm (3.1 x 3.3″)||85 x 90mm (3.4 x 3.6″)|
|Materials||Metal Mount/Plastic and composite material||Metal Mount/Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) material|
|Hood Product Code||HB-76 Bayonet Hood|
The Nikkor 24mm has a metal lens mount and a mostly plastic/composite material body. It feels surprisingly light for being such a fast prime lens; especially when compared to the Sigma 24mm lens which weighs nearly twice the amount and is slightly larger in size (this is broadly to be expected with the Sigma’s 2/3 stop extra light gathering ability). The build quality of the Sigma lens definitely feels more robust with the majority of its components constructed of metal and a composite material that can be found on most of Sigma’s Art series lenses.
It’s worth mentioning that both the Nikkor and the Sigma 24mm lenses lack comprehensive weather sealing, but the Nikkor does offer some protection with rubber gasket around the lens mount, so that’s definitely something to keep in mind if you plan to use these lenses in adverse weather conditions.
With these specifications in mind, how do these lenses stack up against one another in terms of performance? In this review we will be looking at the performance of the Nikkor 24mm and how it compares to the heavier and faster Sigma 24mm.
In the following sections we will use DxO data and real life samples to determine how the Sigma and the Nikkor lenses compare to one another and to determine just how the Nikkor 24mm performs.
|Full-Frame||The Nikkor 24mm performs very well in terms of sharpness, although it does appear to drop off at 2/3 the distance to the corners when shot wide open at F1.8. The corner sharpness improves a great deal as you stop the lens down, reaching its max sharpness at around F8. Center sharpness is excellent and fairly consistent across all apertures before F8 from which point diffraction limits its performance. Center sharpness is best when the lens is stopped down to F5.6.|
|Chromatic Aberration||Wide open, at F1.8 the Nikkor does suffer from some CA in the corners with minimal amounts of CA present in the center of the image. As you stop the lens down the CA decreases a bit in the corners. The CA seen here is relatively easy to correct with your favorite post processing software.|
|Vignetting||Vignetting can be a bit of a problem when the Nikkor 24mm F1.8 is shot at wide-open with an almost 2 stop decrease in light at the most extreme corners of the lens with the majority of the corner experiencing about a 1 stop decrease in light compared to the center of the lens. The vignetting improves significantly by F2.8 and then all but disappears when you stop the lens down to an aperture of F4 and continues to perform very well thereafter.|
|Distortion||As expected with a wide-angle prime, a bit of barrel distortion is present in the Nikkor.|
|Transmission or T-stop||The lens’ F-number is a theoretical value, and the actual light transmission value, known as the T-stop, is always fractionally lower due to light losses within the lens. Lenses with more elements, like a complex zoom, tend to be slightly more effected. The Nikkor was rated as having a T-Stop of 1.8 and Sigma was rated as having a T-Stop of 1.7.
Our findings contradict those seen in the DxO data; as the Sigma lens does offer a 2/3 stop difference in light gathering ability over the Nikkor.
How does the Nikkor 24mm compare to the Sigma 24mm HSM ART?
Our comparison lens, the Sigma 24mm F1.4 performs very well and, at comparable apertures, surpasses the Nikkor with respect to center sharpness, distortion and vignetting performance. In terms of sharpness, the Sigma’s center sharpness just surpasses the Nikkor when the lens is stopped down to F1.8. The Sigma is a little softer wide-open, but slightly out-performs the Nikkor when compared at the same F-stop centrally. Corner sharpness in the Sigma does suffer a bit, but recovers nicely, in much the same fashion as the Nikkor 24mm F1.8 when the lens is stopped down to around F8. Overall they offer very similar performance.
Vignetting in the Sigma is nearly identical to the Nikkor wide-open, but it does improve faster, with nearly all vignetting eliminated by F2.8 so the Sigma is much better when both are compared at F1.8. When examining distortion, the Sigma fairs quite a bit better with a fair amount less distortion than the Nikkor 24mm. However both lenses perform well considering the wide focal length.
In terms of transmission, despite DxO’s data, our findings show that the Sigma 24mm does indeed offer the nearly 2/3 stop difference you’d expect, compared to the Nikkor, wide open.
The Sigma experiences much the same pattern in performance with respect to lateral CA: it does initially suffer from some fairly strong CA in the corners which begins to improve once the lens is stopped down to around F5.6. The CA measured by DxO is lateral CA and in our real-world examples the CA seemed to be fairly correctable.
In order to get a better idea of how these lenses compare to one another in the real world we took them out to our balcony to perform a real world infinity test.
Real World Tests
When comparing the two lenses In real world testing we see that the lens sharpness looks better in the Sigma 24mm when the lenses are both shot at F1.8, although the Sigma is a bit soft when shot at F1.4. By aboutboth lenses are performing on par with one another in terms of overall sharpness, which correlates well with the DxO data. When comparing the and sharpness at F5.6 the results we see here again match the DxO, with both lenses are performing almost identically to one another. Both the Nikkor and the Sigma suffer a bit from both lateral and longitudinal chromatic aberration; especially when shot , although the Sigma seems to perform better with respect to the handling of LoCA across all apertures.
Sunstar and Lens Flare
|Nikkor 24mm F1.8G ED sunstar
24mm, F14, 1/50, ISO 64
|Sigma 24mm F1.4 HSM Art sunstar
24mm, F14, 1/20, ISO 64
Lens flare is a bit of an issue for both of these lenses, although the flare is a bit more pronounced on the Nikkor and could cause some issues depending upon the lighting conditions that you are dealing with.
Both of these lenses produce pleasing sunstars, but the Nikkor’s results are bit cleaner and less busy- this is helped in part by its use of 7 rounded aperture blades as opposed to Sigma’s choice of 9 rounded blades. It really comes down to personal preference though, as both lenses produce aesthetically pleasing sunstars with few qualitative differences.
Being that both of these lenses are fairly wide and fast primes, they make excellent candidates for astrophotography. Coma is something that is very important to anyone interested in using these lenses for astrophotography, as bad coma can result in distorted stars that tend to get progressively worse as you look towards the corners of the frame.
|Nikkor 24mm F1.8G ED
24mm, F1.8, 13″, ISO 2000
| Sigma 24mm F1.4 HSM Art
24mm, F1.8, 13″, ISO 2000
The Nikkor and the Sigma both exhibit some coma in all four corners of the frame. The Sigma seemed to suffer from a bit more pronounced coma than the Nikkor, but both lenses were definitely very comparable with one another in terms of performance with respect to the handling of coma. With that said their performance was somewhat mediocre for a lens that you plan to use for this type of application, so that’s definitely something to keep in mind if you plan to use either of these for astrophotography.
It’s also interesting to note that in these examples the Nikkor displays quite a bit more vignetting when shot wide open compared to the Sigma shot at F1.8 which correlates with the DxO data seen above. When the Sigma is shot wide open at F1.4 the vignetting is nearly identical to the Nikkor 24mm shot at F1.8.
Bokeh and Longitudinal CA
Here we’re looking at longitudinal (axial) chromatic aberration (LoCA), which appears as green and magenta fringing on either side of the plane of focus. This tends to be most prevalent on fast primes and it difficult to remove so you want as little LoCA as possible if you’re hoping to shoot wide-open.
The Nikkor does display significantly more LoCA than the Sigma, especially when the lens is shot wide-open. This was even more noticeable in real-world high contrast shooting (take a look at the green and purple water droplets behind and in front of the focal plane, respectively, in this shot). When both lenses are stopped down to F4 the LoCA mostly disappears in the Sigma but persists in the Nikkor until F5.6 in the above widget.
While shooting the Longitudinal CA test, we put a net of Christmas lights a few feet behind our Lens Align tool to create beautiful balls of bokeh, giving us a way to visualize differences between the two lenses’ out-of-focus characteristics. Hover your mouse over any given aperture of any given lens to have the main image switch to a full-frame view of the resulting shot.
|Nikkor 24mm F1.8G ED||1.8|
|Sigma 24mm F1.4 HSM Art||1.4||1.8||2|
Both the Nikkor and the Sigma exhibit some very nice bokeh with the Nikkor producing a slightly cleaner result. Looking at the comparison widget at the top of the page, the Sigma does exhibit a bit ofin the bokeh and the Nikkor’s bokeh has an almost gritty appearance. By the bokeh seen in both lenses is nearly indistinguishable. However, you can really see the difference in bokeh size if you look at the Sigma lens shot at F2 and the Nikkor shot at F1.8; the bokeh is very similar in size and shape despite the Sigma being shot with 0.3EV stops less light than the Nikkor.
It is worth noting that we have seen a trend in the Nikkor F1.8G series lenses; when the Nikkor lenses are shot wide open there’s
showing the Nikkor as a 23.9mm lens, rather than the Sigma’s 24.1mm) will play a part, but mainly it’s a reminder that bokeh is a complex characteristic with many causal factors and that depth-of-field (which is calculable) and perception of background blur (which isn’t) aren’t quite the same thing.
The longitudinal chromatic aberration that can be seen on the fringes of the ‘bokeh balls’ is comparable in both lenses with the Sigma performing slightly better than the Nikkor. There are definitely some differences and some similarities seen in the ‘bokeh balls’ in this lens comparison. The Sigma offers a more blurred background even when shot at the same f-number. The Sigma then gains a further advantage since it can be opened up further than the Nikkor.
That being said, because bokeh and sharpness fall-off are very complex topics, it’s difficult to form broad conclusions about the overall bokeh characteristics at any given plane, instead this should give you a good idea of the overall performance and the characteristics of the bokeh.
Real World Bokeh Example
|Nikkor 24mm F1.8G ED||1.8|
|Sigma 24mm F1.4 HSM Art||1.4||1.8||2|
In the above real world example you can get a better idea of how the bokeh behaves in each of these lenses. There isn’t a huge difference in the characteristics of the bokeh seen in the Sigma between F1.4 and F1.8 but there is a fairly noticeable difference when comparing the Nikkor at F1.8. As you can see from the roll-over the Nikkor shot at F1.8 exhibits much the same characteristics of the Sigma shot at F2, which confirms the conclusions that were made from the bokeh examples taken in our studio.
It’s a bit difficult to see from the above examples, but the Nikkor does suffer from cat’s eye bokeh to some degree. To take a closer look at this I threw the focus on the Nikkor while shooting some star photos to test for coma. Here are the results.
I threw the focus on the Nikkor 24mm while taking star images in order to gain a better idea of how much cat’s eye would be evident when the lens was shot wide open.
Nikon D810, 24mm, F1.8, 13″, ISO 2000
As you can see from the above image taken using the Nikkor you do see some cat’s eye bokeh especially in the corners of the lens. This is an extreme example, but it does give you some insight into how the bokeh behaves in this lens.
In the Nikkor 24mm the autofocus is smooth and very quiet. From the minimum focusing distance it takes a second or so for the motor to move to infinity and back on the D810. Since the both lenses are focused wide-open, there’s no change in performance if you stop down. Focus accuracy didn’t seem to be affected by shooting the lens at a smaller aperture suggesting that focus shift isn’t an issue in either of these lenses.
The focusing speed of the Sigma 24mm lens seems just a pinch slower on the D810 compared to the Nikkor lens: we refocused each lens a number of times from close focus to a distant object and found the Sigma only approximately 10% slower than the Nikkor (0.8 vs 0.9s for a full rack), which is impressive considering the amount of glass the F1.4 lens has to move.
In terms of video quality the lenses are very evenly matched, but it is worth noting that the Sigma does have extra light gathering ability with an aperture of F1.4 which will come in handy in low light situations and when you need shallower DOF. In terms of AF, both lenses use of ring-type focus motors, so can be a little jumpy when focused using contrast detection AF, so you’ll be better off manually focusing.
Manual focus can be a bit problematic with the Nikkor because there’s a slight mechanical lag between turning the focus ring and focus actually shifting. The Sigma feels more responsive to minute focus adjustments, which actually makes it easier to focus (despite the higher resistance) which gives it an added advantage over the Nikkor when shooting video.
This was taken with the Nikkor 24mm F1.8G ED in downtown Seattle, WA. Edited in Lightroom to taste including a graduated filter to correct the exposure in the sky.
Nikon D810, 24mm, F5, 1/200, ISO 64
The Nikkor 1.8G series of lenses offer some really nice performance for the money, but it’s safe to say that 3rd party lenses have come a long way in terms of performance over the past few years. Sigma is no exception to this; in fact one could say that it’s led the charge. That being said the Sigma and Nikkor 24mm lenses are fairly evenly matched with the Sigma performing better in some cases such as the handling of longitudinal CA and the more pleasing bokeh size and shape. The differences in bokeh can really be seen when comparing identical apertures, as the Sigma lens tends to give more blurred backgrounds and slightly larger out-of-focus highlights than the Nikkor, which can generally lead to more pleasing bokeh. On the other hand, the out-of-focus highlights of the Sigma did have a bit more patterning to them, which could be why we see slightly less smooth bokeh and some patterning in slightly out-of-focus regions.
In our side-by-side real world tests both the Nikkor and the Sigma were neck and neck in terms of sharpness at the same F-number with the Nikkor performing slightly better in terms of coma. The sharpness in the Sigma suffers a bit wide open, but the performance improves dramatically as you stopped the lens down. Even the photos shot wide-open at F1.4 were still very useable and the Sigma significantly outperforming the Nikkor at F1.8 with respect to sharpness. In terms of LoCA the Nikkor displayed quite a bit more LoCA, especially when shot wide-open, which really only disappeared once the lens was stopped down to F5.6. The Sigma performs much better in this regard.
In terms of autofocus both the Nikkor and the Sigma performed very well with the Sigma falling only slightly behind in terms of focusing acquisition speed when focusing from minimum focus distance to infinity. The Sigma and the Nikkor were very fairly evenly matched in terms of AF performance during video capture and neither faired well since their ring-type focus motors aren’t very smooth when focused using contrast detect AF. In regard to manual focus, the Nikkor exhibits a slight mechanical lag between turning the focus ring and focus actually changing. The Sigma feels more responsive to minute focus adjustments, which actually makes it easier to focus (despite the higher resistance), giving it an added advantage over the Nikkor.
This image was taken with the Nikkor 24mm mounted on the Nikon D810. Edited in Lightroom to taste including a graduated filter to correct the exposure in the sky.
24mm, F5.6, 1/160, ISO 64
For my money I would take the Sigma over the Nikkor. The extra 2/3 stop of light that you get with the Sigma can be a big deal if you shoot landscapes (which can often times present you with difficult lighting conditions), astrophotography, or if you shoot in situations where lighting can be somewhat difficult to control. The bokeh is more pleasing in both size and shape in the Sigma (albeit the Nikkor bokeh is a bit cleaner in some respects). You can definitely get more subject isolation at any given aperture, and especially when the lens is shot wide-open at F1.4. The Sigma also handles LoCA a great deal better than the Nikkor; especially when the lenses are compared wide-open. This is important, because this is the type of CA that’s difficult to remove.
Centrally, the detail seen in the Sigma at F1.4 is class leading and the photos are very usable even when the lens is shot wide-open. The lens sharpens up nicely when it’s stopped down to F1.8, slightly out-performing the Nikkor at the same aperture both in terms of sharpness and subject isolation. Additionally, the extra light gathering ability that is possible with the Sigma is a fairly big deal; depending upon what you plan to use this lens for, of course. The autofocus acquisition speed is nearly on par with the Nikkor, which is very impressive for a 3rd party lens. The manual focus also performs better than the Nikkor, which is useful for video shooters.
That being said, the Nikkor is significantly smaller and lighter-weight, while similarly sharp at matched apertures, albeit with slightly less subject isolation and significantly more green/purple fringing. Still, you really can’t go wrong with either of these lens choices; both offer very nice performance at a bargain price.