Fast, Wide, and Handsome

Photo © Bob Krist

Well, I can finally talk about those two lenses, the 24mm f/1.4 and 16-35mm f/4 VR, I was shooting for Nikon’s Japanese ad agency back in Miami a while ago. First, I’d like to apologize to the DPReviewers and Nikonians whom I upset with my passing mention of new gear I couldn’t identify until it was announced.

Guys, I’m sorry. Didn’t mean to rile you up that much…. although it’s pretty much a truism that at any given time, camera manufacturers are testing new stuff, so I’m still not really sure why everybody got so, um, exercised.

Actually I do know why. Speculating about new gear is almost as much fun as eating pizza and drinking beer (you know you’ve reached a certain age when pizza and beer go from being a dietary staple to a forbidden fruit), and far less damaging to your arteries (although it seems to play havoc with some people’s blood pressure!).

There was no marketing conspiracy, though, with me making the passing mention. I just really needed a blog post (sometimes, it’s very hard to come up with bi-weekly tidbits….it’s the freakin’ digital Sword of Damocles hanging over your head!) and really it was to talk about the helicopter company and give them a plug.

But folks posited all kinds of conspiratorial sub-rosa marketing campaigns. Thankfully, nobody accused either Nikon or me of engineering the great financial meltdown or fixing the Super Bowl game. (So, my all-powerful Nikon cronies, and fellow members of the New World Order, we got away with those; heh, heh, heh….yeah, Cheney; gimme a high five!).

This shot was done with  the new 24mm f/1.4, a nano-coated gem. It’s a 77mm filter mount, not too big or heavy for what it is and sharp as a tack. Nice bokeh too. I made this shot with the D3s I had to borrow to do the shoot (I’m a DX guy, still, but am sorely tempted by these lenses—I miss the narrow DOF with fast, wide glass. And this baby is just a world class optic.).

It’s Tungsten white balance and the musician, Miami personality, and all around great guy Leo Casino is being lit with an orange gelled SB900 shot through my little portable umbrella setup held by an assistant.

Hit the jump for a couple of other samples. My brief from the agency was to highlight the nice bokeh and shoot wide open, or close to it, whenever possible. More on the other lens coming up in another post.

Photo © Bob Krist
Photo © Bob Krist

Photo © Bob Krist
Photo © Bob Krist

Photo © Bob Krist

This Post Has 113 Comments

  1. Nice report Bob. Looking forward to the next one.

  2. Finally! Wow!
    Now all we need is an updated 85/1.4 lens from Nikon….

    1. Really? What I need is a bank loan for all this tasty gear….BK

      1. How true – the 24/1.4 will be pretty expensive… 🙁

      2. Bob —
        This being a 24mm on a full frame, that would mean the first shot and the second at least are cropped, no? Or am I crazy? My film 24mm shots even in closeups look a lot wider than these.
        Meanwhile, no matter the answer, they are beautiful photographs, with the first, as someone said above, ranking as a magnificent classic.
        Vince P

        1. No, they’re not cropped. Don’t know why they don’t look wide enough. Bob

  3. Thank you Bob Krist! You are so much cooler than McNally!

    1. Not so. Joe is the man, and I’m happy to be counted as being one of his friends…and his confessor! BK

      1. ah beer and pizza…

      1. Huh? Oh, cooler, now I get it!

  4. I love the photos. My favorite is the the city. Great work.

  5. why not post some full sized shots at F/1.4? we’d love to see just how sharp it is. 😉

  6. Awesome sample shots…it going to take a lot of effort to not buy this.

  7. Thanks Bob – good of you to share your experience with the 24. It looks like a great piece of kit. Really excited to see more superb images and nice bokeh from you wielding this lens. Of course they’ll probably force me to take out a fat loan to get my hands on one of my own.

  8. holy cow these samples are great! thanks for the samples bob!

  9. Hi Bob!

    I think that the saxo guy photo and the final landscape are two masterpieces! (I think the first one is really THE great one. Really great combination of only three primary colors, in a perfect way! Looks very good for a book cover, or at least a great Miami poster!)
    Can you share here the F number, speed and iso you used in the aerial shot? Best, Bernardo

    1. Hi Bernardo! It was 1/350th f/2 at ISO 3200. I had the rig on my old KenLabs Gyro Stabilizer. Say hi to Mercedes! Bob

  10. Looks very nice! The bokeh doesn’t seem that pronounced, though, even compared to, say, the 35mm f2. It’s a bit hard to tell at these sizes, though.

  11. Excellent news! And just gorgeous photos!
    And one expensive lens! I hope you don’t mind that we use your blog to sell stuf, but is anyone in the need for a kidney? I have a spare and I want a new lens n_n.

  12. Thanks Bob. But I’m especially looking forward to your review & samples of the 16-35mm and how you think it compares to the venerable 17-35mm ED-IF, one of the all-time Nikon image quality champs. Both optically, such as center-to-corner sharpness and performance(AF, ergonomics, etc).

  13. Those are some great photos, Bob.

  14. What about the 16-35 mm? Are you showing some shots of that lens too? I am a little more curious to that lens to be honest. It has more practical use and is more afordable. Finally a good alternative for the 14 – 24 mm with the possibility to use filters.

  15. What’s the next best thing for a fast & wide for DX shooters?

    Actually forget the glass, who’s the lady?

    1. Man I wish they’d make a DX version of this lens. I’m with you on that!BK

  16. Hi Bob, thank you for the first review. Hope to see more pictures. Great job..

  17. Looking forward to the 16-35mm review!

    Really nice pictures- love the ones of the girl at the desk- thanks!

  18. Thanks a lot for sharing, father Bob. And you ARE cooler than Joe, I swear. 🙂

  19. the 24 1.4 looks absolutely gorgeous. It provides excellent context of the scene while keeping a pleasing amount of background blur and subject isolation. It is going to be a hit with wedding guys for sure.

    I thought I wanted a 24-70 f/2.8 but your two shots of the lady in pink made me change my mind. thanks for sharing!

  20. I am interested to hear how a wide-angle zoom with VRII can be half the price of this great prime w/o VR? I hope this can be addressed in your next piece.

    1. You have me confused with a marketing exec…I have no idea how anything gets priced. BK

  21. Hi Bob, nice pics. I loved the pics with the lady in pink. Can you share with us how did you light those pics and also the f-stop, iso and speed?

    Thank you!

    1. The lady in pink shots are both by windowlight. We had to pop up a 42″ diffuser and stick it in the window to cut the direct sun. ISO 200 1/750th @f1.4 at the desk and 1/350th @f/1.4 at ISO 400 at the spinning wheel.

      1. Thank you!

  22. Very nice photos, is that City Tavern with the colonial hostess?

    PS – you must be a saint – you post great pictures, a couple of comments. Post on new gear and you get tons of comments.

    1. Nope, that’s a local historic property down here in Pennsylvania. Gear vs. Pictures? Gear wins every time. That’s just the way it is! BK

  23. Fantastic! I’ve been anxiously waiting for some more nice primes to add to the collection.


  24. Great picture – Bob. Especially your lead one. Once I finish Paris (if ever), I hope to do a story tied with music, too. In fact, I have someone just itching to help me, if I can get to it! I’m going to start shooting RAW, plus JPEGs, and see what happens. You continually come up with the good ones. Congrats!!

    1. Thanks Aileen. Bob

  25. Thanks for the write-up and the great pics – I especially like the one of the soprano sax (I think) player. no need to apologise to Nikonians and DPreview readers – at nikonrumors we just had a lot of fun guessing what you were shooting with, so please give us hints of mystery next time too 🙂

    1. Andrew: If I haven’t angered the powers that be, and there is a next time, I’m afraid I’m going to keep my mouth shut until the stuff is announced. Too much pressure! Bob

  26. Great gig Bob, congratulations!!

    Good to see Nikon stepping up with fast glass again. I’m betting the folks who just bought a used 28 1.4 are doing a Homer Simpson today. Last check a used 28 1.4 was going for about $4K on that popular E auction site. Oh well.

    Now when they come out with the 35 1.4 …

    1. Thanks Terry, I hope they do too. But I hope they come out with a fast DX wideangle first. It would make my day! Bob

    2. A lot of the people who buy the 28mm f/1.$ AI-S are likely involved in Motion picture production. Same with the 300mm f/2 AI-S. Manual focus and lens controlled apertures make sense for them.

      Its either that or they are collectors and not working photographers.

      1. The 28 1.4 I was referring to is an AF lens, discontinued a few years back, now hot on the aftermarket. Well it was hot, I’m not so sure how toasty it will be with the 24 1.4 soon to be available.

        The 300 f/2 was an amazing piece of glass. I used one to shoot some football back in the 70’s (oh geeze that sounds like a long time ago!). According to Bill Pekala the last of them were sold from the locker at NPS back in the late 80’s, and yes, they were being converted for the movie industry.

        1. HmmmTerry, that’s some long corporate memory you’ve got. I thought you were just a kid:-). Bob

        2. The 28mm f/1.4 was an AF-D lens with an aperture control ring so my comment is still valid.

          When I was shooting the Statue of Liberty / Ellis Island /Liberty Weekend in 1986 as part of the official S-o-L team organized by Peter B Kaplan, NPS offered us our choice of lenses, including a 300mm f/2. I picked it up (in its case), walked about 30 feet and returned it for a 400mm f/3.5. There was just no way that I was going to haul that beast around for three days all over New York Harbor along with the other lenses, cameras and tripods and a couple hundred rolls of Kodachrome!

        3. LOL… thanks Bob, I still feel like a kid most days, except in the knees. And yes, I do have a pretty long memory, just don’t ask me about yesterday’s lunch ; )

          I remember that 300 f/2 weighed somewhere around 36 pounds. It was one amazing chunk of glass. Can’t imagine attempting to carry it around for a three day event.

  27. Damn! Love this. Cool examples!

  28. You’ve been listening to Loudon Wainwright III’s new CD!

    1. Hi Ellis: Although I’m a fan, I wasn’t aware of Wainwright’s new title. “High, Wide, and Handsome” is old Americana, although I first heard on a job in Canada back in the 70’s, when I was shooting up a storm at Peggy’s Cove lighthouse and some local salt looked at me and said said a little sarcastically, “ooooh he’s flyin’ now; high, wide, and handsome.” Bob

        1. Thanks Ellis, I’ve got some album buying to do! Bob

  29. Enjoying the pics and the info on the new 24. BTW, are you guys getting the great snowstorm of ’10? Should make for some pretty shots if you can get out the door.
    Here in California, we’re shivering with this 58-degree weather…

    1. All right Dana, don’t rub it in:-). I’ve just laid in enough red wine and good cheese to get me through to the spring, so I say, let it snow! BK

  30. Hi Bob,

    Thanks for the review. Stupid question, but what was your distance from the woman in the first image? Lens distortion seems to be well controlled which was a fear coming from a 35mm f2.

    1. Bert: It was three or four feet if I remember….I was close.Bob

  31. Here’s some exif to this lady,
    notice some flash was added.
    Hope this helps. Lovely gear and pics.

    Image Description = Historical reenactor Rose Gutekunst at the historic Parry Mansion in New Hope, PA. rnrnMODEL RELEASEDrnrnrnrn
    Model = NIKON D3S
    Orientation = top/left
    X Resolution = 144
    Y Resolution = 144
    Resolution Unit = inch
    Software = Adobe Photoshop CS4 Macintosh
    Date Time = 2010-02-08 19:09:19
    Artist = Bob Krist
    White Point = [313/1000, 329/1000]
    Primary Chromaticities = [64/100, 33/100, 21/100, 71/100, 15/100, 6/100]
    YCbCr Coefficients = 299/1000, 587/1000, 114/1000
    YCbCr Positioning = co-sited
    Copyright = © Bob Krist
    Exif IFD Pointer = Offset: 528
    GPS Info IFD Pointer = Offset: 1204

    Exposure Time = 1/750″
    F Number = F1.4
    Exposure Program = Aperture priority
    ISO Speed Ratings = 200
    Exif Version = Version 2.21
    Date Time Original = 2010-01-14 16:19:26
    Date Time Digitized = 2010-01-14 16:19:26
    Components Configuration = YCbcr
    Compressed Bits Per Pixel = 4
    Exposure Bias Value = -0.5EV
    Max Aperture Value = F1.41
    Metering Mode = Pattern
    Light Source = Fine weather
    Flash = Flash fired, compulsory flash mode, return light not detected
    Focal Length = 24mm
    User Comment =
    Subsec Time = 0.6″
    Subsec Time Original = 0.6″
    Subsec Time Digitized = 0.6″
    Flashpix Version = Version 1.0
    Color Space = Uncalibrated
    Exif Image Width = 995
    Exif Image Height = 662
    Interoperability IFD Pointer = Offset: 1172
    Sensing Method = One-chip color area sensor
    File Source = DSC
    Scene Type = A directly photographed image
    CFA Pattern = [R,G],rn[G,B]
    Custom Rendered = Normal process
    Exposure Mode = Auto exposure
    White Balance = Manual white balance
    Digital Zoom Ratio = 1x
    Focal Length In 35mm Film = 24mm
    Scene Capture Type = Normal
    Gain Control = None
    Contrast = Normal
    Saturation = Normal
    Sharpness = Normal
    Subject Distance Range = unknown
    Gamma = 2.2

    1. I did use a flash on the background in a couple of shots with the young lady in period clothes, but not on her. I have a post coming up on it. Bob

  32. Wow – thank you Bob, and thank you Nikon! Looks like a couple of great FX lenses. Am definitely curious to read a comparison with the outgoing 17-35 f2.8, although something tells me this new beauty will be the hands-down winner.

    1. Matt: I didn’t do any side by sides with my 17-35mm…didn’t have the time. The VR more than makes up for the one stop difference in speed. I’m guessing that the 16-35 is going to be a better performer, since every lens in the digital age gets far more scrutiny at 100% than the film-era lenses ever got! Bob

  33. Bob, re: the new 16-35, can you offer any input on how it compares to the 14-24 in terms of rectilinear and optical distortion, or lack thereof?
    Also any issues with autofocus slowing down in low light due to the f/4 widest aperture?
    Thanks much-

    1. John: I’ve never used the 14-24, but the 16-35 seems very clean in terms of distortion. I didn’t notice any slowness in AF in low light. I was hired to make pictures with these things, not run optical tests, and I only had them for a short amount of time, so I couldn’t run any real scientific tests. For that, you’ll have to wait till the magazines and websites get hold of them. I did enjoy making pictures with them, though. Bob

      1. Thanks much for answering, Bob. I wasn’t looking for optical tests as much as real world experience. My guess is the rectilinear/distortion issues are minimal, or you would have noticed them. AF focus in low-light sounds good as well. Though with the D3s the requirements for lowlight AF get even greater- As images look great (to me) at 6400 and above, I’m hoping the f/4 lens can focus in those conditions. This for event work.
        The quality of the 14-24 is outstanding, but I find it a pain for PJ work- I so often want to go longer. Though fine for set-up shots.

        1. John: I haven’t used the 14-24 so I don’t have anything to compare the 16-35 to, but it seemed to focus fast and sure even in low light. I didn’t notice any roadblocks at all from the equipment. I think one reason they went with an f/4 rather than a 2.8 was to keep the lens reasonably lightweight, and very sharp. The VR makes up for at least part of that speed loss. I don’t know if you’d want to dump your 14-24 (my pals who use that lens are mad for it). The greater range would make it easier for PJ work for sure. If I were going FX, I’d go for the 16-35 over the 14-24,b ut I’m a filter guy too. Hope this helps, wish i could be more helpful. I got the lenses, had to shoot with them and return them really quickly. cheers, Bob

  34. Hi Bob,
    Congratulations for having been hired by Nikon to test on field these new gears!
    Regarding the long-awaited 24/1.4, do you think it is well-corrected against coma phenomenon (like the legendary Noct-Nikkor 58/1.2)? It seems to be so regarding the final landscape…

    1. Vincent: It appears to be very well correcsted for coma, but how it compares to the Noct, I can’t say, having never used the latter. Bob

  35. Hi Bob,
    thanks for posting the pictures with the 24 f/1.4. I am really interested in this lens. Is the bokeh really so pleasing (I especially like your very first picture with the man in front of the car), or did you also notice situations where it was a bit harsh? And it would be great if you could give me your impressions as regards the distortion of this lens. Can it also be used for architectural work, or wouldn`t you recommend it for that?
    Thanks a lot for your help!
    Best wishes from Germany

    1. Markus: I am not an expert in bokeh…the bokeh looked fine to me, but I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about bokeh. I think this lens, used properly, would be fine for architecture. I feel safe in saying it is one of the best, if not the best, 24mm f/1.4 lenses on the market. But I am just a working photographer, and not an optical expert. Let’s just say that for my clients, like National Geographic Traveler and other magazines, this lens would be fine! Bob

      1. Bob: Thanks a lot for taking your time and helping me out! I will have a close look at this lens when its up for sale.
        Best wishes from Germany

        1. Marcus: Wish I was more technically oriented and could help you out more. But I had limited time with the gear and the bokeh looked so good to me that it’s making me rethink my commitment to stay small and DX….so that’s probably pretty good bokeh! Bob

  36. Bob,

    That image of Leo Casino is dynamite..what a slice of life, and the colors! Well done, look forward to seeing more.

    I was looking forward to getting my mittens on that lens until I caught wind of the high MSRP…so now I will hope to pick up some one’s trade in as they shell out for the upgrade!

    Best, Jeremy

    1. Jeremy: I know what you mean. The sticker shock might keep me in DX-land. That, and my athritic spine! Bob

  37. Its March 14th 2010 and it’s still not available, any idea when Nikon will release this lens?

    1. Hi Jeff: Unfortunately, no. They don’t tell me anything once the job is done. I’m just as much in the dark as everybody else. I’m sure it’ll be soon as the 16-35 is widely available. Bob

  38. Hi Bob, thanks for all your shots and information.
    Can’t this apparently wonderful lens be used on a DX camera?
    I mean, is it just not possible, or is it a waste of money…?


    1. Jack: For DX, it’s a waste of money. If you are a DX shooter and you want something in this range, buy the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 and you’ll be a happy camper, and $2000 or so richer. BK

      1. Well thanks Bob, it’s an eyeopener to me… but could you also tell me why exactly it would be a waste of money…?
        Appreciated your quick answer a lot.

        Best regards,


        1. Because you don’t need an FX lens if you’re shooting a DX body, so why pay extra for it when there’s something similar out there specificially for DX that is reasonable and performs well. BK

  39. A very usefull report. Being an FX user both these lenses look very usefull. Thanks.

  40. I wave been on a waitlist for this lens & just received the call that it has arrived but am now nervous after reading a review from digiloyd that said the lens is a mess w/AF issues-Do you have any insight regarding this problem & do you think it is safe for me to go ahead & buy it now?
    Thanks for any insight you can give me regarding this lens.

    1. Hi Kelli: I had no issues with it during the two weeks that I used it. Bob

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