Thanks to GTA Lens Rentals for providing this lens for review.
The Nikon 14-24mm f2.8, released in late 2007, is the stuff of legend; it’s considered by almost everyone who has tried it to be sharpest wide angle zoom lens on the planet! Just do a search on the web and all reviews say the same thing, the lens is a freaking anomaly! Once you try it your definition of sharp is forever changed. The lens was such a game changer that many Canon shooters salivated in envy because, frankly, all of Canon’s wide angle zoom lenses suck. Suddenly the market exploded with lens adapters so that Nikon lenses could be mounted on Canon cameras. I personally knew a half a dozen Canon landscape photographers who bought the lens and adapter. The introduction of the Nikon D800 in 2012 also caused shockwaves because of its 36 MP sensor. The file quality on the D800 is also legendary. Combine the D800 with the 14-24mm and you have a combo that makes many other camera and lens combos look like a Holga. At this point all my Canon landscape buddies with the 14-24mm lenses just switched to Nikon.
Why didn’t I make the same move as my buddies? Easy, I’m addicted to my Canon tilt-shift lenses for landscape photography. The creative advantages of tilt-shift lenses over a wide angle zoom are many including the ability to tilt the plane of focus, to shift for perspective control and to shift to make panoramic photos and mega-pixel stitches. Nikon’s tilt-shift lenses are not as versatile as Canon’s because Nikon does not not make the tilt and shift rotate independently like Canon does. Independent rotation of tilt and shift are critical for full creative potential of these lenses. As well Canon’s live view is better than Nikon’s (works in lower light and, displays the view at the widest aperture no matter what aperture you choose). Plus I find that I’m not a big fan of super wide lens (wider than 20mm) because the distortion just looks too gimmicky. A focal length of 24mm for me is the perfect wide angle: wide but still ‘real’ looking. And finally, with my Canon 24mm tilt-shift lens I can use my filter system and all the advantages that filters offer me. It’s hard to filter that bulging front element of the Nikon 14-24mm lens and I know many photographers who have spent a fortune buying giant filter systems and contraptions to put filters on the 14-24mm lens; in the end most give up.
So I’m happy with my camera and lens choice and out of the blue GTA Lens Rentals gives me a call asking if I want to try the Nikon 14-24mm lens with a Novoflex lens adapter for my Canon. Well gee, let me think. I get to play with a legendary lens and have an excuse to go and take photos. Well… let me think about it 😉
I’ll cut to the chase. The results were as good as all the hype suggests. This lens is freaky sharp. It’s as sharp as my beloved 24mm TS-E and as sharp as the 17mm TS-E. But with the Nikon you have focal lengths from 14 to 24mm with every single focal length on the lens razor sharp! After you use this lens you’ll see just how poor your regular zoom lenses really perform.
Using the Nikon lens on a Canon body requires you focus manually with the Novaflex adapter set to move the aperture to wide open. I always used live view magnified to 5x for precise focus. After getting focus I moved the adapter to stop down the lens (I usually set it in the middle of the range to give me something near f8, but you really never know what aperture you’re actually shooting at). I can see why my Canon buddies just went out and bought a D800 so that the workflow was much easier than using a lens adapter.
So is a Nikon 14-24mm lens in my future? Not at all. The lens just does not fit my creative vision. I’m not a super wide angle dude. The creative advantages of tilt shift lenses are too alluring for me and I still love using filters. But for anyone curious about the 14-24mm and wants to see if it might be a tool for your creative vision I highly recommend a one week rental from GTA Lens Rentals . In fact, I think before buying any lens, rent it first; nothing worse than laying down big bucks for a lens that just doesn’t work for your style of photography.