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

It is tough being a digital photographer because of the requirements to have good image quality, sharpness, and a wide-angle that is within the price range. Any digital SLR camera should be more than worthy to handle the job, but the lens remains as an important component and the kit lens that come with some of the entry-level models simply do not make the cut. Zoom is also a major factor when it comes to outdoor photography and capturing breathtaking scenery without sacrificing the sharpness and encouraging distortion. However, the Nikon 12-24mm f/4G IF-ED AF-S DX Zoom-NIKKOR impresses by fixing a good majority of these issues while delivering excellent quality that should be enough to impress the amateur and advanced photographers.

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

Design & Construction

The overall design of the Nikon 12-24mm f/4G IF-ED doesn’t depart from the standards that were applied to most of the other lenses in the category and retains the use of a durable plastic for the main components without adding too much weight. The lens mount is still made of metal though which serves as a nice balance between weight and overall durability.

The D-type design is applied in this lens so all the accurate flash information can be found and ambient light exposure processes can be used. It is also specially designed to combine optical features that are specifically optimized for Nikon DSLR cameras with a much wider angle-of-view. The diameter of the lens is smaller because of the way it is designed thus producing a smaller image circle which optimizes the picture quality among the center, edges, and corners of the image.

Actual user review:
“I bought this lens for my D70 in 2004. At the time this was the only wide-angle lens for Nikon’s DSLR, so I could not evaluate it against the offerings from Tokina, Sigma, or Tamron. However, just because it is more expensive than other brands does not mean it is undeserving of a high rating. The photographic quality is excellent and the build quality is good (even though it’s all plastic save the mount). While some feel that F/4 is a bit slow, it’s really not an issue with DSLRs at all with high ISO availabilities. Amazingly, this has become my “everyday” lens. You just can’t fake wide angle views. Given that there are other choices of lens in this focal length now, you should definitely compare before deciding. However if focus override (a feature of “AF-s”) is critical to you, this is your lens.” – K.Wu (US)

Features & Specifications

The Nikon 12-24mm f/4G doesn’t excel in sharpness quality around corners when the lens is wide open, but filters can still be used unlike the 14-24mm lenses. What is good about this is that good blur results remain uniform across the frame. The corners can soften up even more when extended to longer focal lengths while stopping it down improves the focus a little bit which translates to a good wide-angle zoom camera.

The two glass elements are ED (Extra-low Dispersion) and what this does is help minimize chromatic aberration. This results to the chromatic aberration being present solely on the corners when the 12mm wide-angle setting is being used. For a lens with this focal length range, the Nikon 12-24mm deals with chromatic aberration far better than most of the other lenses within the range.

Distortion can be pretty high when used at the widest angle at 1.08% barrel at 12mm, but the three aspherical lens elements help control it when decreased linearly to 0.28% barrel at both 18mm and 24mm. On the upside, vignetting is amazingly low compared to the other super wide angle lenses having a max 0.75 EV falloff that drops to ¼ EV and can even be further reduced when it is stopped down.

Because the Nikon 12-24mm has the AF-S label, various autofocusing features are built-in to the camera to make it perform better including the exclusive Silent Wave Motor that greatly increases the speed of auto focusing while maintaining excellent accuracy and noise-free operation. It is also possible to easily switch from manual to auto and vice-versa thanks to the Manual/Auto mode mechanism. No time lag is introduced when switching even when AF servo operation is active. The rounded diaphragm design which is common in AF-S FX lenses also improves the elements that are out-of-focus resulting to a more natural look.

Bottom Line

The Nikon 12-24mm f/4G IF-ED is a unique gem amongst the wide-angle zoom lenses because of the reduced size of the lens. It may not be the sharpest lens around, but it remains as an ideal choice for taking close subjects and still seeing big pictures. The 2x zoom ratio combined with a variable angle-of-view ranging from 99 degrees to 61 degrees at 12mm and 24mm respectively makes this a decent multipurpose lens suitable for low-light situations and of course landscape photography. The true power of the lens lies on the exclusivity of Nikon digital SLR bodies.

Average User Rating:

  • “I buy and rate equipment based on whether it a useful tool to me personally. I like to shoot landscapes and my gear spends most of its life outside in the elements. This lens has a plastic barrel, bravo! I prefer this lenses plastic barrel over a pro, metal barrel as it keeps the weight down and spares precious ounces in my backpack and handles easier. This lens is everything I hoped for and more. If you can afford it, buy it with no regrets and never look back. This lens reproduces colors accurately and is incredibly sharp given its focal length. Optically, this lens appears to be on par with Nikon’s legendary, but heavy, pro 17-35 f 2.8, which I have used with my Nikon film SLRs for years. My Nikon 17-35 will now go live with my F100 and the 12-24 will stay affixed to my Nikon DSLRs. Buy this lens over the equivalent: Tokina, Tamron and Sigma if you can afford it or if optical quality is your top priority. If cost is a significant consideration, then get the Tokina at around $500, pocket the savings and go out and take more pictures. Enjoy!” – T.West (OR,US)
  • “I recently got this super-wide zoom and contrary to some critics, it is quite sharp. There is essentially no distortion from 14mm up. Compared to the best I could do with the Nikon 18-70, there is no comparison, there is no distortion at 18mm and it is should I say it again, “super sharp”. This lens is so wide, that you have to pay careful attention to what it includes in the image. It “sees” so much more than the human eye that you have to pan back and forth before framing in the viewfinder. It seems to bend light in the way that it transforms the relationship of objects that appear to be close together as they are simultaneously pulled closer but your vantage point is as if you had taken several steps back. I will need to spend some time getting used to the perspective.” – H.Richard

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