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Review – Nikon 24mm 1.4G

What Is It?

In short, it is a bad ass piece of glass! There really isn’t anything that comes close. With a maximum aperture of 1.4, it is a wide angle light bucket that transforms your camera into a mythical tool for creating dreamy goodness. It is a lens that will call to you when you are away from it. I can hear it now….”Justin, quit typing…let’s go make magical bokeh together”. Seriously, I can’t quit thinking about it….aaaaannnndddd…it’s kind of expensive (current B&H price).

It Completes Me

I’m a storyteller, and I got this lens to tell stories. Why did I decide on the Nikon 24mm 1.4G you ask? There are three reasons.

  • I wanted a lens that could provide subject isolation within context. The only way you can achieve that requirement is a wide angle lens with a super maximum aperture. I’ll share more about that later.
  • I also wanted a lens for available light street photography. Stories don’t end when the day does! An aperture of 1.4 lets a whole bunch of light in. That, coupled with the high ISO capabilities of modern digital cameras, allows me to make photos in less than ideal lighting conditions. Because it is a wide angle lens, the effects of camera shake are greatly reduced. I can easily get sharp images at 1/30 second.
  • Yes it is wide, but not so wide that you experience the ‘crazy human morphing freakish distortion’ of say a 14mm lens. This lens doesn’t turn your camera into a fun-house mirror. It keeps people looking as they should.

The Isolating Power Of 1.4

You get the Nikon 24mm 1.4G for one reason and one reason only…1.4! Sure, you can use all of it’s apertures, but the reason you spend the big bucks for a 1.4 lens it to use it at 1.4. What does 1.4 get you? It gets you incredible depth of field isolating power. Even a wide lens like the 24mm, shot at 1.4, still achieves a very narrow depth of field. Narrow enough to isolate your subject within context of their environment. Here are a few examples of its amazing super power.

FYI: This is the band Reptar. If you’re looking for some good music for the old iPod, pick up their album!

Body Faucet - Reptar

A Lens For The People

I’m a people person. I’m the happiest when our travels are rewarded with meeting new folks and listening to interesting stories. Simply looking at a pretty landscape doesn’t really do it for me. Let’s put it another way…the day I visit China, and I have the choice of going to the Great Wall or having dinner at a local family’s home….I’m going to dinner. In short, people are far more interesting than any of the 7 wonders. This is the very reason I have the Nikon 24mm 1.4. It is an incredible environmental portrait lens. The field isolating power of a 1.4 aperture, even on a wide lens, is remarkable. However, because it is a wide lens you simply can’t sneak a photo of some unsuspecting person. Nope, you have to engage in a conversation with that person, earn their trust, and then ask to photograph them. That’s the the real beauty of this lens. You need to know the person’s story before you can tell it with the photograph. I spoke with Marcus for a good 1/2 hour before I made this image.

Is it good for photographing cats?

I get this question a lot. The answer is yes! It is an awesome lens for photographing cats as long as your cat likes to be photographed. Why? Because it is a wide angle lens you will need to be relatively close to your feline friend. If you have a photogenic love bug, this is the lens for you. If your cat runs away every time you take your camera out, you will need a lens better suited for a safari.

What If I Don’t Like People or Cats?

You should probably get yourself checked out. I’m mean who doesn’t like cats? However, if you are one of those introspective types, this lens will still work for you…but I think your money would be better spent elsewhere. Maybe trying to figure out why you don’t like cats. There’s nothing more anti-social than photographing the decay of society. In order to be thorough in the review, I set out on a quick Urban Exploration mission (UrBex as the kids call it) to test this lens in its unintended use. Yep, it works!

Competitive Advantage

I’m not a portrait/family photographer, but I do take the occasional photo for my good friends. It is a super competitive segment of the photography industry. If I were a portrait/family photographer, I’d buy this lens, slap it on my camera, tell jokes and have the kids make funny faces. Whenever I do that, my friend’s Facebook pages go nuts! They love the photos. This simple formula has powered many a holiday card. If I was trying to set myself apart from other photographers, that’s how I would do it.

What I Like

  • It’s Awesome! – There isn’t another lens like it. It inspires me to make photographs. It calls to me when I’m away.What more can I say?
  • Sharp – It is crazy sharp and the contrast/color rendition of this little guy is second to none.
  • Beautiful Bokeh – Frame your subject in its mythical sea of soft focus. Its bokeh is the universal language of dreams.
  • Creativity in available light – My muse doesn’t stop when the sun sets. It carries on well into the night. Don’t limit your muse with 2.8, that will only make it sad. No, reward your muse with this creative light bucket.
  • Power Of Isolation – Let those that experience your art know what you wanted them to see. Your creative vision is awesome so don’t be afraid to share it with others.

Things To Note

  • Expensive – It ain’t cheap!
  • Bright Light – It’s hard to shoot at 1.4 under the full power of the sun. If you want the isolating power of 1.4 in the bright sun, YOU WILL need to get a neutral density filter. I’d suggest a Singh-Ray Vari ND.

A Few Of My Favorites

San Ignacio Market

Comments

  1. Have you used the Singh-Ray vari-ND on this lens? I’m needing an ND solution and am considering one, but I am worried about vignetting. In videos particularly I won’t be able to crop it out.

    • I haven’t, sorry about that. If I get time to try it I will let you know….but this next month is pretty hectic for me preparing for 24 Hours Of Photoshop and working a couple of books. Keep you posted.

      p.s. I dig you site and your work!

      • Thanks Justin, I like your site too. And I REALLY like your photos.

        If you have a chance to test out the combination I would really appreciate it. Where I live I don’t have the opportunity to try before I buy, and that Singh-Ray filter is not cheap.

  2. Good site, good information, As a sports photographer, this lens if fantastic;
    In boxing matches the light is always bad, ring ropes, referee and other ring people in the way. I stick my D700/ 24mm f1.4, set on CL through the ropes look across the top of the prism, and hold the shutter down. At 8fps, I get 8 to 15 frames of the knock out before the boxer hit the canvas…great lens.

  3. Hi just wondering what settings you had for the first cat picture

  4. Hi,

    Just one question: how do you think this lens compare to the 28mm 1.8? Does it justify the higher price or the 28mm will do? Money is not the issue but I don’t like to overspend principally if it is not worth it (quality/price-wise).
    I shot a dinner at a wedding with a 35mm 1.4 I rented and it felt too long for the way I see things through the camera…
    All my photos end up being between 24-30 & 50-70 :) – unless I use a 70-200mm
    And as I mentioned the Tele is there any chance Nikon will bring a new 135mm or 200mm??

    Thanks!

    • Howdy!

      I couldn’t tell you about the 28mm, I’ve never used it. I can say that I think the Nikon 24mm 1.4g is one of the best lenses Nikon has ever made. It’s an amazing lens. Sorry I couldn’t be more help.

      Justin

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