The weight is 465g compared to the 745g for the 17-35mm. Its lighter not only because its physically smaller but because it has more plastic and carries a smaller volume of glass. There are 11 elements in 7 groups, three elements of which are of the aspherical type and two ED. Thanks to these special elements CA’s are kept well under control. The front of the lens does not rotate while focusing or zooming and the minimum focusing distance of 0.3m is very good for such a zoom. Also being an internal focus design means its total length does not alternate while focusing.
- Focal length: 12-24mm (18-36mm on the DX format)
- Lens Construction: 11 elements in 7 groups (2 ED, 3 Aspheric)
- Picture Angle: 99-61°
- MFD: 0.28m @ manual focus and 0.30m @ AF
- Filter Size: 77mm
- Dimensions: 82.5mm x 90mm
- Weight: 465g
- Diaphragm: 7 (rounded)
@12mm – 14mm: Some softness along the edges but a good sharp center. The whole frame improves by f/5.6 with more contrast and better overall sharpness. Distortion evident and some traces of CA’s. Best performance at f/11
@14mm – 18mm: Soft edges have gone and overall sharpness has improved. CA’s at edges of frame can be reduced a lot by Capture NX. Very good to excellent performance from f/5.6 but best performance between f/8 and f/11.
@ 18mm-20mm: Excellent performance from wide open onwards with astonishing results in all areas (sharpness, contrast, color etc) between f/5.6 and f/11
@20mm – 24mm: Excellent results from f.5.6 to f/11.
Even though I use f/16 a lot in my photography I avoided mentioning this aperture above, since there is some small deterioration due to diffraction. Some lenses are affected more than others and of course the camera body (pixel density) also plays a major role. I don’t mind it since a touch more sharpening and contrast can help it, but be warned, if diffraction is strong and you use too much sharpening, then things get ugly.
Flare: Even though the 12-24mm doesn’t use the nano coating of more recent designs, the older SIC coating in combination with a good optical design seem to be doing a good job since flaring and ghosting are hard to produce. I have mentioned this before but I’ll repeat it here as well. If you desire the maximum performance from your lens try to avoid using filters and keep the front element clean, especially when shooting into the sun.
Chromatic aberrations: Quite a few nikkors (old and new) can produce traces of purple fringing when including transitions with strong contrast, especially towards the edges of the frame. Digital sensors are a lot more demanding in this area compared to film and CA’s are also dependent on the type and size of the sensor in the camera. This is why the CA performance of this lens on the D70 is way different to that when mounted on the D300. So does this lens have CA's? Yes, but in most cases you wont notice them. The weakest point for this lens is open apertures and wide zoom settings – as expected. . The newer DSLR's combined with Capture NX help to remove most traces automatically. Overall though quite an excellent performer.
Distortion: Wide angle lenses are used a lot for those low and wide type of images making it easier to add drama to a sweeping scape, though finding the right subject to use is the hard part. Distortion is not a problem with most scapes since its hard for the human eye to distinguish it amongst an unknown landscape, but with known subjects such as people and buildings, the distortion can really hurt if you are not careful. Unfortunately if you intend to use this lens for architecture, the distortion can get ugly with straight lines rendered in a wave form. This is what most people refer to as the "mustache" type of distortion. Its evident mostly when you place lines towards the far edges of the frame. You also don’t want to place people along the edges otherwise they will get stretched out of proportion especially if they are really close. So care is needed when framing people or straight lines.
Vignetting: On the DX format cameras (that it was designed for) there is no noticeable light fall off.