14-24mm & 16-35mm Compared on D4

Started May 25, 2012 | Discussions thread
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JoshRtek
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14-24mm & 16-35mm Compared on D4
May 25, 2012

I championed my Nikon 10-24mm on DX, and now with the move to FX, it needs a replacement.

For the Holiday weekend I've rented both the 14-24mm and 16-35mm to see which I prefer. I'm using both on the D4.

I thought I might post my impressions to anyone considering either lens on this body, or perhaps another.

I've haven't had a chance to test either lens in ideal light, but from what I have shot, I can certainly say that BOTH lenses are exceptional in their own way.

I rented from BorrowLenses.com (and have rented from them many times before). However, this was the first time I seem to have gotten two VERY used lenses. I've rented the 24mm f/1.4G, 85mm f/1.4G, and 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II on a few different occasions, and each time, those lenses all seemed either newer, or gently used.

I was kinda shocked that the 14-24mm rental had one of those white rear lens caps. Additionally, the 16-35mm seemed beat to crap, the hood barely stays attached and the included UV filter is the cheapest kind I've seen from a rental (i.e. ghosts pretty bad).

Both of the focus rings for each lens were some of the loosest I've come across (especially the 16-35mm...so much so that the lens feels like it has a cheaper build than my 28-300mm zoom).

Despite all of this, each lens seems to operate perfectly...

Right away, it appears to me that BOTH lenses are very, very sharp. I haven't done any real scientific tests, but sharpness seems to be fantastic all around.

Here's some specific observations:

16-35mm:

-Much lighter than it appears. This lens is longer than the 28-300mm, but seems far less dense.

-Not sure how this is possible, but it certainly feels of a lesser build quality than my 28-300mm. This might be because the focus ring is so lax and weight vs. size ratio. Either way, it was surprising.

-The VR on this lens is simply fantastic! Not so sure I'd need the f/2.8 of the 14-24mm with this VR system.

-Autofocus is reasonably fast but very accurate. Have not missed one shot using each of the D4's focus points (in 11-point mode). Awesome.

14-24mm:

-Wicked sharp. It's insane really. I need to test in better light, but so far I can't find a way to make this lens unsharp.

-At 1 kilogram, I was expecting more when picking this lens up for the first time, but it didn't seem that heavy. When mounted to the camera, this lens makes its presence known very quickly. My arm got tired after shooting around my office for 10 minutes. Hmmmm...that lightweight 16-35mm is starting to seem appealing.
-Built like a tank...to be expected from a professional optic.

-Autofocus is very fast. Accuracy seems to be hit and miss at f/2.8. Center and right side seem fine, but left side seems a little off in few test shots I've done. This just might be my D4 with the dreaded "left AF sensor problem". My 24mm f/1.4G needs a -20 AF Fine Tune adjustment (this makes all the AF points accurate), so perhaps this lens needs adjustment as well). Let me also state that my other three lenses (50mm f/1.4G, 28-300mm, and 105mm VR Macro need no adjustment whatsoever).

-The exposed front element is not nearly as intimidating as I thought. I still have a little concern about it, but its not that big of a deal.

-The inability to use filters isn't really an issue for me. I don't shoot a lot of landscapes that require ND filters, and at the focal lengths I'd use this lens at, a circular polarizer isn't very effective.

Those are my thoughts for now. I plan on taking a ton of shots this weekend to get the full idea of how these two lenses compare. Hope this all helps someone out who's considering the same!

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