The Best Ultra-wide on The Planet For Canon or Nikon

July 29th, 2009

It’s been pretty clear to me for a long while that the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 G ED ultra-wide lens is something real special. I got a chance to shoot with one at the Seattle PFRE workshop in April of 2008 for a short while and the review site I link to on the lenses page gives it a 10 out of 10 rating that no other wide-angle gets. However, until you see a side-by-side comparison of actual images it’s difficult to wrap your mind around the difference between two lenses.

For Canon shooters the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L II and the Canon 14mm f/2.8L II USM have been the gold standard for ultra-wide lenses. But look at this! A side-by-side comparison of the Canon 16-35mm and the Nikon 14-24mm and the Canon 14mm f/2.8L II USM and Nikon 14-24 both done on a Canon 1Ds Mk III. Just like the author of this article, all I can say is WOW! I guess I’m going to have to update the Canon section of my wide-angle lens page to include the Nikon 14-24 in the Canon section.

Up until now, I’ve never paid much attention to lens adapters other than knowing it was possible to mount Nikon lenses on Canon bodies with some hacking. This comparison article used an adaptor called a Nikon G to Canon EF Adaptor. I have no idea if this is the only way to adapt the Nikon 14-24 to a Canon body but this approach looks to me like it’s worth the effort. I was considering upgrading my old Canon 16-35mm to the newer Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L II but after seeing this comparison I may go with the Nikon 14-24mm instead.

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20 Responses to “The Best Ultra-wide on The Planet For Canon or Nikon”

  • Won’t say that the Nikon lens is not better than the Canon lens it was compared to. However, comparing lenses wide open is not the best test to begin with as performances at middle apertures can be significantly different. It is best to test them at the apertures you usually shoot at — in the middle.

    But, the bigger problem is comparing one lens at the middle range of it’s zoom to another at either the beginning of it’s zoom range. No lens performs as well at the extremes of it’s zoom range as it does in the middle as a general rule. The only valid point to make is that if you always shoot at 17 mm the a lens that puts that at mid range will most likely perform better than one at the extreme of the range.

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  • I have this lens and love it. Even on my D300, with the 1.5x crop factor, it makes a wonderful walk-around lens when traveling or for casual shots, effectively as a 21-36mm. Many bemoan it’s large glass front element and inability to take filters, but for it’s primary uses it’s wonderful. Besides, many filters don’t work well on something this wide.

    Speaking of wide, on full frame sensors or my film cameras, it’s almost too wide.

  • Bob obviously didn’t read the review Larry cited. From this review and various others I have seen, the Nikon 14-24 is an optical marvel.
    It is apparently the equal of the best ultrawide prime lenses (and there are not many really great ones), at all focal lengths and apertures, on full-frame dslrs.

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  • I’m speaking as a Canon shooter. But for RE Purposes on a full frame camera I dont really think this lens beats the 16-35L Mark2

    A couple of arguments:

    1. The extra wideness is redundant, even 16mm is very often way too wide.

    2. 24 is to short, especially for exteriors, I sometimes feel that even 35 is to short but alows to do some good exteriors.

    3. Loosing the weather sealing it’s a big nono for me, because you are using that adaptor.

    4. Loosing aperture control and moving it to an outside lever feels weird. I saw one of these adapters at a friend and I was a bit disappointed by the handling. He wasn’t that happy either.

    These are my biggest concerns regarding this combination.

    For a Nikon shooter, this looks like a must have!

  • @Michael- You raise excellent points. I love my 16-35mm for real estate exactly the reasons you point out in 1 & 2. I admit that I am dazzled by the sharpness.

    3 & 4 are serious considerations that one has to balance against the sharpness.

  • You also have to take that comparison with a grain of salt. The reviewer manufactures and sells the adapters himself. To this date, out of the half dozen or more reviews he’s posted, I have not seen a single one that he hasn’t put a Nikon lens far ahead of it’s counterparts. For all we know, he may be applying sharpening to the Nikon image and not the Canon one. You also have to consider that focus may slightly be off on any one of the non-Nikon lenses he tests.

  • This lens is absolutely stunning on a Nikon body – sharpness, overall IQ, and lack of distortion is truly staggering. Better than any prime I’ve used – I can’t wait to try it on a 24MP Nikon rather than my current D700. I only have 2 issues – yes, 24mm is a bit limiting for RE. Secondly, I often like to use a polarizer which is not possible with this lens.

  • I have this lens and it dazzles every time I use it. I have actually handed over images with NO post processing. It’s that good.

  • Chris, if you read enough of this guy’s reviews you will see that he does not always, or even most of the time, rate Nikon lenses higher. I don’t see any evidence of bias. While I can’t vouch for his reviewing techniques, he seems to know what he is doing. Anyway, if he were doing what you suggest and he were found out, his credibility would be nil.

    Larry, a number of manufacturers make adaptors for various lens makes (Nikon, Olympus, Contax, etc.) to Canon. Novoflex is a very reputable manufacturer. Fotodiox is another maker which seems to make good adaptors. I don’t think you really need this lens for real estate though, unless perhaps you are doing a lot of high-end stuff that is going to be reproduced large in slick brochures or magazines.

    If you want it for other stuff, where you need maximum quality, then maybe…. But, with tripod and hand-held meter only. The old fashioned way.

  • The Nikon 14-24G rocks, no doubt. But I wouldn’t use it for RE photography… main reason is that its really expensive at almost 2k and it doesn’t take a lens filter. The front element on that lens is similar in profile to a fisheye front element. Its too easy for me to picture that beautiful lens crashing into a door knob or the pointy edge of some furniture… crunch! If I were shooting for interior designers, architects, etc. yeah, I could see buying it along with a T/S lens (for exteriors) and a D3x (while we’re at it.) But shooting for agents, the ROI just isn’t there… I don’t think I’d buy anything more expensive than a used 17-35 in Nikon (~$1100)

  • Having been a wedding/commercial photographer since 1981, I’ve got to say that, even back then in the “stone age” of photography, adapters, 2X converters, etc., were interesting toys, but pros left them alone, because they seriously limited the quality of the image.
    Also, adapters may let you use somebody else’s lens on your camera, but may not give you full connectivity – you may have to shoot in manual mode all the time, or adjust apertures by hand, etc.
    With today’s “computer with lens” cameras, I think you’re better off using the best quality native lens you can afford.

  • Re. Hal’s comment: I just got Norman McGrath’s latest book on architectural photography. He uses Canon dslrs. In the book there are photos he has taken with a Nikon 14-24 adapted to Canon and a Canon 24mm ts-e lens with a Canon 1.4x teleconverter. Are you going to tell me this is a photographer who doesn’t care about quality? You lose no optical quality with a well-made adaptor and you don’t really need the connectivity for architectural photography. You may lose a little quality with a teleconverter, but whether this is a problem depends on the type of image and how the final image will be viewed.

  • The previous comment was mine.

  • Anyone using a Nikon 10-24mm F3.5-4.5G?? I’ve been using it for a few months now and like it… But I have never put it up against the Nikon 14-24… has anyone else had experience with both?

  • Lots of useful information here. As a newcomer to residential real estate photography, with a Nikon D90, what is the concensus on wide angle lens recommendation? Like the sound of quality with the Nikon 14-24 mentioned above, but not if it doesn’t work with RE needs. What is feedback on above Nikon 10-24mm f3.5-4.5G?

  • @Tim- The general consensus on the Nikon 10-24mm is that it is very close to the same quality as the Sigma 10-20 for about twice the price.

    See my lens table at: for more details.

    The Sigma 10-20mm is used by more real estate photographers on cropped sensor cameras like the D90 than any other wide-angle lens. It has very good quality for the price.

  • Larry – Did you end up going this route? I ask because I see that you have to take off the weather seal gasket on the lens and wondered if it was having any effect on the lens or the images? Do you get more dust on the camera sensor or more dust on the rear optic of the lens?

  • @Drew- No I don’t have a Nikon 14-24mm. I have a 16-35L (the old one) I may upgrade to the MKII version. I think Michael Asigan’s points above are well made. I’m very attached to my 16-35

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