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Nikon AF-S 12-24mm f/4 DX G ED Interchangeable Lens Review

|  Nikon AFS DX 12-24mm f/4G in Interchangeable Lenses
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Designed to meet the Ultra wide angle requirements of photographers using Nikon’s 1.5x crop sensor cameras, this lens has been given the DX classification, meaning that it can only be used on those cameras with cropped sensors. This does, however, mean that the lens design is bang up to date. We take a look at what you get for your money.

Nikon AF-S 12-24mm f/4 DX G EDSpecification

  • Focal length 12-24mm
  • Aperture f/4
  • Angle of view
  • Filter size / type 77mm
  • Construction Elements/groups 11 elements in 7 groups
  • Focusing type Internal SWM
  • Closest focus 0.3m
  • Weight 0.485kg
  • Dimensions (Dia x length) 82.5x90mm
  • Mounts available Nikon
  • Tripod bush No
  • Price (SRP) £899.99

Build and Handling
This lens is smaller than you would expect, especially if you have used fastish wide-angle lenses on a 35mm film body. In fact, it is not a lot bigger than the 18-70mm kit lens that Nikon make in the same DX format. The filter size of 77mm is a popular one and the lens cap is Nikon’s later version with inner grips to enable use of the cap with the supplied lens hood in place. Immediately in front of the mount is a distance window and the side of the barrel at this point carries the M/AF switch, a well-made and positive affair.

A narrow (12mm) manual-focussing ring is next up, and it can override the autofocus without switching. The zoom ring, marked at 12, 15, 18, 20 and 24mm, then occupies forty percent of the barrel with the lens ending in a six millimetre flange on which the petal style hood is mounted with a positive click bayonet. The autofocus is totally silent and fairly quick, with the manual ring only needing some 50mm of movement through the entire range.

Zooming requires less than a quarter of a turn of the ring to get from wide to even wider!
If you are intending to use a filter system on this lens, you will need one that is at least 100mm across or more to avoid vignetting and the Cokin Z-Pro holder did not encroach on the frame at the horizontal, although did just come into play when set on the diagonal.

Optical Quality
We used this lens on a couple of occasions before ever putting it on the test rig. The results were impressive! Formally testing it showed why. The only thing we can say about it is that the results are outstanding! There is a slight pincushion effect throughout the range, but it is only slight.

Chromatic aberration is so well controlled as to be virtually immeasurable in the centre and could not be seen by the naked eye at the edges. For pure resolving power it goes straight into the top three that we have tested to date, especially at the wide end. The longer end is no slouch either!

The nice thing about it is that the lens performs well wide open, gets better with a stop or so, and then holds up well as the aperture closes down.

Dramatic views of both landscapes and architecture are possible. The rows of tiles can be counted on the full size file.
1/500sec at f/8 and 12mm

Without moving the feet, totally differing views of the same subject can be achieved with this type of lens simply by bending the knees and changing the camera orientation.
1/250sec at f/11 and 15mm

Although no filters were used on this shot, the 100mm Z-Pro system by Cokin worked well on the lens.
1/6sec at f/16 and 24mm

1/500sec at f/6 and 16mm

Click on each comparision photo below to view full size versions

12-24mm set at 12mm and f/8

12-24mm set at 24mm and f/8

12-24mm set at 12mm and f/4

12-24mm set at 24mm and f/4

Below is our lens test data. To find out how to use these graphs look at this article: How we test lenses

Nikon were the first to produce a dedicated ultra wide angle lens for their cropped sensor cameras and they obviously put all their experience of both SLR lenses and wide angle for smaller sensor (Coolpix) lenses to full use. Despite some more recent very wide contenders, this offering from Nikon still looks like the Rolls-Royce of the pack. Although you will have to pay for it, if you want the ultimate performance for your cropped sensor, this is the lens to have.

In summary the main positive points of the Nikon AF-S 12-24mm f/4 DX G ED are:
Superb optical quality
Compact and well built
Silent autofocus

Negative points are:
Slight pincushion throughout (Being picky!)

Check the latest price of the Nikon AF-S 12-24mm f/4 DX G ED here

Test by Ian Andrews

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