Would Anyone Opt For 16-35 f/4 VR Before 14-24 f/2.8?

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dj dunzie
Registered: Aug 14, 2006
Total Posts: 7040
Country: Canada

Hey Roman your last paragraph there is very well said. It is very rare that discussion of the 16-35 doesn't inevitably lead to "but the 14-24". I feel for kid brothers of professional athletes. There's no winning, even if you're "pretty darn good" at a sport...

Registered: Oct 22, 2004
Total Posts: 38171
Country: United States

Well, the 17-35 isn't as sharp as either the 14-24 or the 16-35 at the center, where it matters the most, imo Also, the corner sharpness of the 17-35 is not as good as the 16-35. Other than f/2.8, 16-35 betters 17-35 in resolution and range. So, I still choose the 16-35
the 17-35 is sharper in the center than either lens @f4 from 17-24mm. It'll out resolve most sensors.
Don't believe me check Photozones tests on the D3x with all 3 lenses. I've had 'em all and chose
to keep the 17-35 for my needs. YMMV but know what you're talking about, first.

..and here's what our buddy Bjorn had to say (old review BUT still applicable)

"AFS-Nikkor 17-35 mm f/2.8 ED-IF



(D2X, D200)

(FX: D3)


(D1, D2H, D70, S3Pro UVIR)

This is an awesome lens developed with an eye to the digital D1 camera. Click here to see a test shot made with it. Compared to the 20-35 AF, this lens is slightly heavier and balances nicely on all modern Nikon bodies. Its IF construction makes for very fast AF action on the F5 and D1/D1X/D1H cameras. It is a two-ring design with a truly far-out optical formula, including aspherical and ED elements and a front that actually bulges inwards (!) in the centre. The sunshade is fairly anonymous as wide-angle zooms go, too. Filter size at 77 mm follows the new Nikon standard, and there isn't a rotating front. The exterior barrel has a smoother finish than the 20-35, although a hammered surface still is used.
Quick shooting with it on an F5 left me with an impression of extreme optical quality. I also checked the lens on a D1 and drew similar conclusions there. Sharpness, contrast, and colour saturation all are superb across the entire focal range. Vignetting in the frame corners is moderate at f/2.8@17 mm and largely disappears at f/4. On the D1/D1X, there is no perceivable fall-off at all at the wide end. At the opposite focal end, negligible fall-off is seen even at f/2.8@35 mm on the F5, and none on D1/D1X. There is some barrel distortion in the wide-angle settings, which however is kept under good control even at 17 mm. By contrast, set at 35 mm the lens exhibits a slight degree of pincushion distortion.

Virtually gone is the colour fringing that haunts the AF 20-35 lens. This gives the 17-35 Nikkor a significant advantage over all other similar lenses on the market (all exhibit plentiful of lateral colour aberration towards their shorter end, even the expensive Canon 17-35/2.8 L). This by the way was an improvement necessitated by the D1, which would not have taken the colour fringing of the 20-35 in its stride. The vestiges of colour fringing that may occur is outside the coverage of the lens when mounted on the D1. To put this into perspective for use of the lens on a full-frame 35 mm camera, I had to scrutinise my test shots at 40X magnification to detect the minute traces of residual lateral colour. For all practical and ordinary purposes, this lens is devoid of colour flaws. However, if you shoot close-ups, there will be observable (but slight) blue fringing towards the corners of the image.

The 17-35 performs extremely well when shooting into bright light, in fact its performance in this respects surpasses most prime lenses. Flare and ghosting evidently are strictly controlled. I've never used a zoom with this degree of superior flare and ghosting control before. Likely the fancy optical formula and the bizarre front element pay dividends in this respect, too. However, an early report by "Moose" Peterson claims this lens flares easily. His sample may differ from mine, or test conditions may be quite different. Leaving a UV filter on will make the ghosting much more visible so any filter should be removed before shooting into the sun.

Curvature of field for the 17-35 was very low, so it is eminently suitable for shooting flat as well as 3D subjects. It is quite uncommon for a wide zoom to perform in this way.

A full test of the 17-35 is given here. This review now includes news about production variability of the 17-35.

Added after having used this lens professionally for nearly 3 years: A heavily used lens will get more dusty in its innards and accordingly, be more prone to flare and ghosting. I've seen this occuring with my own sample, so be warned. On a more positive note, my 17-35 has taken a lot of beating without any other ill effects. The surface finish seems to stand well up to wear, too.

On the D3, the 17-35 behaves in an exemplary fashion. Only a small amount of vignetting into the extreme corners occurs at the widest end, and stopping down helps mitigate the issue. However, the age of the design is shown by corner sharpness @17mm being less crisp unless you stop down well beyond f/5.6. So I have reduced the rating ever so slightly to cater for this observation.

IR performance: No hot-spots seen with any camera tested so far.

The AFS 17-35 Nikkor is rapidly becoming one of the Nikon legends. You cannot go wrong with this lens."

Kerry Pierce
Registered: Feb 01, 2004
Total Posts: 3860
Country: United States

Anyone know how well the 16-35 does with flare? The 17-35 is supposed to be excellent with flare handling. I assume that the 14-24, with the bulbous nose, can have flare issues.


Registered: Jan 24, 2004
Total Posts: 2500
Country: United States

Hey Kerry, I still havent made the purchase yet. Should have it by the end of the month. I am opting for the D800 (no E) as I do somtimes shoot weddings or senior shoots for family and friends.

Will start posting once I get my rig and dial it in.


Kerry Pierce
Registered: Feb 01, 2004
Total Posts: 3860
Country: United States

Cool, that's good news, Roman. Looking forward to seeing how the d800 works out for you and especially looking forward to seeing the pics.

Hopefully you'll get a good body with no issues and your dial-in efforts will be minimal.


Registered: Jan 27, 2002
Total Posts: 8517
Country: United States

The one issue i did not see mentioned is the fact that the 14-24mm is prone to flare. I realize most wide angle lenses can flare in specific lighting situations but the 14-24mm is much more prone in my opinion. With that said, I have the 14-24mm and love the sharpness corner to corner. THe lack of VR is not a huge deal for me with wide angle lenses. The issues about size and weight and lack of good filter options are very valid issues.

What I end up doing most of the time now is to take my Zeiss 18mm unless i am going to a spot where i anticipate a lot of wide angle shooting.

Dustin Gent
Registered: Apr 04, 2005
Total Posts: 5484
Country: United States

Make NO compromises -- atleast that is my motto. I see the word "weight" thrown around a bit. Take no offense, but i would never let such a minute detail, such as weight, be a deciding factor. The kit I use now probably weighs more than most, but my gear goes where most don't dare .

Realistic deciding factors would be needs. I haven't used filters in years, and I shoot landscapes quite a bit. The 16-35 is an excellent lens, the 14-24 does everything just a bit better. The 16-35 has VR, the 14-24 does not. If you are using newer bodies, the high ISO range may negate the need for VR. I would rent both before buying, to be honest. As long as either lens isn't made of egg shells, I could put either to good use..

Registered: Aug 01, 2009
Total Posts: 871
Country: United States

I have owned both. Stuck with the 14-24. I feel the 16-35 is a great lens for shooting subjects in the center of the frame such as people, but the soft edges were just not acceptable for landscape after getting used to the edge to edge sharpness of the 14-24. No other UWA zoom compares to that and a sharp landscape shot edge to edge is not to be underestimated.

I tend to like the weightier lenses as well as they balance with the heavy body for me, but that is usually the opposite of what most people desire. You can also make a DIY filter for the 14-24, but I have not pursued that as of yet. The reason I have not really jumped into filter use with UWA lenses is that the flare is so bad with filters that it ruins a lot of shots. As for flare without filters, seems to have been a problem with all UWA lenses I have owned, but I always thought it was easy to remove in Photoshop as it usually appears in the sky sections of the shot.

Registered: Aug 05, 2010
Total Posts: 222
Country: Australia

For better optics in an ultra wide specifically I would go for the 14-24.

For a little extra range & therefore versatility, plus filters and cost, I'd go the 16-35, which I actually did.
I did a post on my Blog about it with samples and such.
I find it better for closer, centre subjects as opposed to anything at a fair distance.

I'm still considering the 14-24 as well though for the better optics and the extra 2mm of width.

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