Lens review

Nikon Nikkor Z 24 mm f/1.8 S

Nikon Nikkor Z 24 mm f/1.8 S
15 April 2020
Maciej Latałło

1. Introduction

The 24 mm focal length joined with a full frame detector means an angle of view of as much as 84 degrees. That's a lot and its correction is far from easy. That problem was especially visible at the beginning of the reflex camera era and for many reasons. Wide angle of view and good aperture fastness demand a complex optical construction. Several dozen years ago accessibility of exotic kinds of glass was very limited so you had to deal with typical elements and there should be many of them. On the other hand their number was limited by simple, one-layer coatings which, for light falling perpendicular, lost about 1.5% of light on one air-to-glass surface. A wide-angle optical construction with 7 groups of elements ( quite a modest number for contemporary standards) had 14 air-to-glass surfaces and lost about 20% of perpendicular light and even 30-40% of light falling at wider angles. As you can imagine weak performance against bright light and contrast decrease were quite common issues.

Despite these difficulties the first reflex camera 24 mm Nikkor device so the Nikkor-N 1:2.8 f=2.4cm, shown in 1963, was very optically complex for those times, consisting of 9 elements positioned in 7 groups – all of this with a not especially impressive f/2.8 aperture, not impressive for contemporary standards of course.

The situation got distinctly better with the launch of its successor (1975), already equipped with multi-coatings. They improved the performance concerning ghosting and flares but still the producers didn't increase the number of optical elements. It happened only in 1986, with the launch of the AF-Nikkor 24mm f/2.8s that was an autofocus lens consisting of 9 elements positioned in 9 groups.

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Meanwhile, in 1977, a faster aperture-wise model appeared on the market. We think here about the Ai Nikkor 24mm f/2.0. Its superior maximum relative aperture forced to use as many as 11 elements positioned in 10 groups. That version, with small changes, was produced till 2007.

We had to wait till our times to see truly fast 24 mm instruments in the Nikon line-up. In 2010 the Nikkor AF-S 24 mm f/1.4G ED (12 elements in 10 groups) was launched and in 2015 the Nikkon's offer was enlarged by the Nikkor AF-S 24 mm f/1.8G ED (12 elements positioned in 9 groups).

Allegedly getting rid of the mirror chamber makes construction of wide-angle lenses easier so we weren't especially surprised that the new Nikon Z system soon was given the Nikkor Z 24 mm f/1.8 S with the number of elements and groups very similar to those of its predecessor. Still we expected it would perform better both in the frame centre and on the edge of the frame. Did reality match our expectations? Let's find out by reading the rest of the chapters of our test.

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Nikon Nikkor Z 24 mm f/1.8 S - Introduction

Nikon Nikkor Z 24 mm f/1.8 S - Introduction