I knuckled down to geek out to something Iíve been exploring for many moons, a lens comparison between Nikon 24mm Trinity which includes the legendary ultra-wide angle Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 ($1760), the practical & smooth Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 ($1650), and exotic Nikon 24mm f/1.4 ($1880). The Trinity shares three things in common:
They are expensive Nikon glass. Anytime I spend over $1,000 on anything, I think long and hard.
They focus fast and are razor sharp. One of Nikonís greatest strengths compared is effective focusing in low-light. You could make 20 x 30″ prints no problem using any of these lenses.
They photograph well at 24mm. Sure, wide-angle distortion is a common atrribute at 24mmÖ but nothing that canít be fixed in post-processing (if that is your thing).
What I have been curious about is how well they shoot at 24mm at their widest aperture.
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Shooting 24mm at 1.4 or 2.8 has itís merits. Itís a dance between a macro lens and wide angle, hard to accomplish yet worth weight in goldÖ. like landing a first kiss on a date. Shooting at f/1.4 in the 24mm range requires a certain skill. Add the needed trust needed to get your clients closer.
I took my 24 f1.4 to Burning Man. I left my 14-24 at home. Why? I want lens protection from the elements and the 14-24 is just too much exposed to sand, water, and dirty hippies.
Shooting from the hip has a whole new meaning at 14mm. Youíll know wy when standing inches from a flower girl bubbling with joy who has no idea you are about to create a photo that will make her grandmother MELT. THAT is what wedding photography is about.
Forget flash & tripod when you can hand-hold at 1/15, ISO 3200, at 1.4. Thatís low-light shooting at itís bestÖ almost near infrared spectrum.
16mm is where my world starts. I wish I could take it all in. I simply CANíT at 24mm. Period.
A zoom is faster than my legs can walk in dire situations: think cake-cutting, wagging dog, or over-the-head politician fist pumpingÖ all distinct genres with similar challenges.
Thereís no way I can justify owning, let along carrying, all three. At least one has to go. I boot the 24-70mm f/2.8.
You donít buy a 24mm f/1.4 for sharpness at shooting at f/1.4. The Nikon 24mm is an exception. It is very, very sharp shot wide open. Then again, you donít buy a 24mm f1.4 for shoot at f/11 all day, many cheaper lenses will do get this job done for $1500 less.
Modern zooms are just as sharp at 2.8. Thatís not the point. Thatís like asking for a $5,000 wedding dress for $500. It just doesnít happen. While the extra 2 stops of light is nice, the shallow depth of field makes this lens shines. But to see the bokeh best, you have to be close to your subjectÖ like within 2 feet.
If I had to choose one lens, Iíd go for the Nikon 14-24 which is the best wide angle zoom lens Iíve ever used.
If I was to choose one of the three: The Nikon 24mm f/1.4 is my winner.