Compared with the AFS 17-35mm
This is the first “ultra” wide angle zoom with a constant fast aperture of f/2.8. It offers ED and ASP elements, SIC and Nano crystal coatings and other technologies such as SWM, IF, D and G - a pretty impressive feature list. The AFS 14-24mm f/2.8 is an internal focusing based design which means it doesn’t change its physical length when focusing, though the front and rear elements move in and out while zooming. The large front bulbous glass element projects within the hood region just like the old AF 80-200mm f/2.8 lens.
Build quality and handling
The lens is very large but it balances well on a large pro body such as the D3 or the D700 with MBD10. The ergonomics of the camera-lens combination is good since the lens fits in the left hand nicely when shooting. In particular, the focusing ring is nice to the touch and comfortable to use with a smooth operation while the wide zoom ring which is set nearest to the camera is also nice to the touch but has a lot more drag due to the heavy element group it needs to move back and forth.
The ergonomics suffer a bit when mounted on a smaller and lighter body where the front-heavy 1kg lens makes the whole combination to nose-dive. I wouldn’t recommend using this lens on a small camera since its size and weight would overtake the cameras mass and weight and would make handling difficult especially when the combination will be mounted on a ball head.
Flaring and ghosting: As for flaring and ghosting, this lens can flare just like any bulbous wide angle, but thanks to the nano-crystal coating on the inside of the front element and the inclusion of two ED elements , it’s a lot less than expected. Thankfully, when you see ghosts through your viewfinder you only need to move ever so slightly to remove them. Let me remind some of you, that you actually need to be shooting into the sun to get any shiny dots, so this is very good performance. I remember back in my youth, my 16mm fisheye would sometimes produce ghosting together with some flaring even when the sun was outside the frame!
Vignetting: Thanks to the large elements used, vignetting is very well controlled.
Distortion: On a full frame body, the amount of lens distortion is negligible. If you shoot a brick wall, you will see some barrel distortion at 14mm, a lot less at 18mm and no distortion by the time you zoom to 24mm. On a DX body there is no noticeable distortion unless you go searching for it! Let me remind you here, that there is a difference between lens distortion and perspective distortion so don’t confuse the two.
Sharpness: Anyone who shoots with this lens for the first time will be surprised with the results. The amount of detail, micro contrast and overall sharpness are simply outstanding! The overall performance is excellent from wide open till f/8 at all focal lengths. Between 20mm-24mm the excellent performance continues on till f/16.