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Lens review

Nikon Nikkor AF-S 20 mm f/1.8G ED

18 October 2014
Szymon Starczewski

11. Summary

Pros:
  • very good image quality in the frame centre,
  • good image quality on the edge of the APS-C/DX,
  • slight chromatic aberration,
  • properly corrected spherical aberration,
  • moderate distortion,
  • low coma level in the corners of the APS-C/DX sensor,
  • negligible astigmatism,
  • not very bothersome vignetting on the APS-C/DX,
  • silent, quick and accurate autofocus.

Cons:

  • too much plastic and slacks in the casing,
  • a bit too weak image quality on the edge of full frame,
  • distinct coma in the full frame corners,
  • work against bright light could have been better,
  • significant vignetting on full frame.

The tested Nikkor can by only compared to the Sigma 20 mm f/1.8 EX DG Aspherical RF, a lens which could be called good over 10 years ago; currently our demands are noticeably higher and the performance of the Nikkor is the proof. The Nikkor managed to beat the Sigma in practically every testing category – even the vignetting, despite its smaller physical dimensions, was corrected slightly better (still keep in mind the fact that our conclusions are based only on the smaller sensors results because we didn’t test the Sigma on any full frame camera).

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The price of the Nikkor is sensible as well – it is just slightly more expensive than the Sigma; facing such an alternative I admit I wouldn’t have any problems with picking the system device.

The cons that appeared on our list were rather predictable and didn’t surprise us at all. It would be also difficult to criticize the tested lens for them because they stem from the specificity of the used detector, the parameters and the physical dimensions of the lens. One thing seems to be quite unforgivable, though – the build quality. For 3,000 PLN you should expect something better than a plastic instrument produced in China with focus ring slack. Older Nikkors were the epitome of solidity. Many photographers have been using them up to now even though they are already several dozen years old and I am sure they will serve them the next several dozen years too. I doubt the Nikkor AF-S 20 mm f/1.8G ED can dream of such a longevity.

Mind you, I wouldn’t like to end this summary in a pessimistic way because Nikon still should be praised for launching such an interesting and optically good instrument. The new lens fits well the policy of that company, which consists of consequential enlargement of their line-up of fast, fixed-focus lenses. We are looking forward to the next launches!