Nikkor 24mm f/2.8D

Posted on March 4, 2012 with tags photography.

I’m still (ever) looking for the portable, somewhat lightweight photo system but with fast AF, adequate low light capabilities system. Also, I love prime lenses.

I have a Nikon DX format camera, but none of the zoom lenses are what I want, and Nikon hasn’t updated their wide primes. So I tried for a while a Fuji X100, which has much better ISO/noise results than my camera, but it focuses very badly in low light. What’s the use of the low-light capability if you can’t focus? So, after also fighting with the UI, I realised that the Fuji was not for me, and went back to my Nikon. And the first photo I took again with a DSLR was like “Yes, this is what I expect: shutter half-press, instant focus, confirmation beep, shutter full-press, photo taken, ready for next one”. Don’t get me wrong, the Fuji X100 is a very nice camera, but it is not a DSLR; and I realised I wanted a portable DSLR, not simply a portable camera.

What I did learn though from the Fuji is how good the 23mm (35mm FX equivalent) lens is for “general”, i.e. street photography. And it was also a prime.

So after much head-scratching, I got myself a Nikkor 24mm f/2.8D lens. Yes, I know, it’s the old ‘D’ type, the optics are the same for about 20-25 years, and it’s not as sharp as the ‘re-issued’ primes (not even close to the famous 35mm f/1.8 G DX), and it has lots of flare in direct sunlight (as common with wide-angle lenses). However… it’s a lightweight (270g), small (64.5×46 mm) and quite nice lens. And to be honest, I rather like the old-style distance scale (since it has lots of numbers!), so it compensates for the lack of AF-S. The only downside of the non-AF-S is that it wouldn’t work on some of the DX bodies.

As to the image quality… actually a bit better than I expected. Here is a picture I took in Zürich, granted in perfect light. JPEG, straight-from-camera, just with EXIF data removed (click on the link for the original, full-size image; note that the camera was configured for the ‘medium’ size instead of ‘large’… you can see how careful I am when taking pictures: not):

Near Zürich Central
Near Zürich Central

Settings were:

  • Exposure Time: 1/500 sec
  • F-Number: f/8.0
  • ISO: 200
  • White balance: set to “Sunny”, ‘A2’ setting
  • Focus distance: 3.55m (set by camera; I wonder why…)

I think this is quite good quality for a non-processed JPEG; and given how light the lens is, and that it can go down to f/2.8 (with more softness, though), I think this is quite good for a travel lens.

And since I have a short trip coming up sometimes soon, I’ll only take this lens, to see how it goes as an all-around lens. If it doesn’t perform well, I can always blame my bad technique ;-)

PS: I had to learn about the ‘underlay’ plugin in ikiwiki, as I didn’t want to commit megabytes of basically read-only, binary data to git; it works well, so I’ll be able to post more pics in the future.