Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Thoughts on the new 24mm F1.4 AFS Nikkor

Four years after the 28mm F1.4 AF-D Nikkor was discontinued, Nikon has introduced a replacement, this time a 24mm F1.4. How much have the optics changed? Below is a comparison of the MTFs as published by Nikon of the two lenses. The first MTF is that of the older 28mm lens, followed by the MTF of the latest nikkor.

It is obvious from the MTF curves that the new lens will outperform the older lens. But performance numbers via MTF are often deceptive; I imagine that in the real world, the new lens will show less color aberration, and better transmission of light, both of which will improve the performance even further.

The older lens was expensive, which is why it did not sell very well. I had hoped that the new lens would be cheaper, but it seems that it will be the most expensive non-telephoto Nikkor lens, more expensive than the AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, or the AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G IF-ED.

The price differential indicates that Nikon thinks this is a professional grade lens that will set a benchmark in this focal length. Back in the old days of manual focus lenses, every Nikon lens was considered professional grade; Nikon proudly claimed that they did not have first grade and second grade lenses like Canon. However, in the modern age, Nikon has learned something from Canon, and you can tell from the price of the lens, even if it is not marked 'L', that a particular lens is amateur whereas another is professional. I wish that Nikon would create cheaper high quality lenses,  even revive the old classic AIS 28mm Nikkor is an AF mount. But the indications are that Nikon is firmly following on the footsteps of Canon, abandoning users of manual cameras, and depriving all but professionals and the rich amateurs of their best productions.