Extremely sharp, lot's of microdetails, bad ergonomics
This is the sharpest 24mm I have tried so far, sharper (and/or has more microdetail) than the AF-S 24-70/2.8, AF-S 17-35/2.8 or the AF-S 24/1.4.
The movements work the best on a D3/D4 size body. D200/D300/D700/D800 will limit the rotation (switch between portrait and landscape) because the knobs bump into the pentaprism house of the camera body.
Although the focus ring is really smooth and allows precise operation, the overall mechanics of the lens is rather disappointing because the tilt/shift lock knobs tend to overtighten themselves just by staying in the camera bag to a degree where you will need a pair of pliers to release it. Tightening the lock knobs requires large amount of force, which is hard to deliver as the knob heads are rather small and doesn't grip very well (especially in gloves, it is impossible to lock them). Without locking, the weight of the lens will prohibit keeping the set tilt angle, it will rotate by itself.
The axis of shift and tilt is fixed (unlike the new Canon T/S designs), and changing their orientation relative to each other needs a Nikon repair shop. The lens ships with the tilt and shift axis being perpendicular to each other. Landscape and architectural photography usually needs them to be parallel. Good news is, that if you can handle a screwdriver, you can do it yourself too, here is my tutorial on it:
interaction designer, photographer
work > prezi.com
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Thank you for your candid review and the tip on changing the shift / tilt relationship
I had a 24/3.5 PCE for about 6 months with a D800E.
It was the most insanely high resolution lens I'd ever seen...but only in the center. By the edge of the non-shifted frame it had declined to merely good. When fully shifted, it had strong astigmatism in the tangental(or meridional) lines.
IMO it needs a redesign. Better shift movement results can be obtained by using a 14-24 on a high res body like a D800. Of course, there is no substitute for the swing movements using a non-swing lens.