Nikkor 24mm f/2.8D

Posted on March 4, 2012 with tags photography. See the previous or next posts.

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.