Nikon Z 14-24 f/2.8  vs Z 14-30 f/4

Is the Price Difference Worth It for Lenses?

Why do we pay more money for an f/2.8 lens instead of an f/4 lens?

We are buying features such as build quality, weatherproofing, autofocus, and wider apertures. In reality, how noticeable is the variation in image quality between these two lenses?

I am James Yu, a freelance photographer based in Adelaide, South Australia.

I purchased the 14-30mm lens on the first day when it released in 2019. Yet, its glory didn't even last a year, as the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 released soon after a year.

But I waited another two years to upgrade to the expensive lens in Feb 2023.

This time, I want to compare these two lenses to see which one comes out on top.

Let's take a look at the specifications for these two lenses.

Aside from the weight and maximum aperture. These two lenses have other distinct differences. With pretty similar features, you might confused about which one is suitable for you.

If you are looking for a flexible lens that fits your budget, the 14-30mm f/4 might be a better choice.

The first difference is price:

$1350 or $2500?

You can save a lot if you only shoot landscapes like long exposure or city skylines, but I want more.

I'm keeping my Sigma 14mm f/1.8 for Milky Way photography, which is worth $1600.

So, how much am I paying now?

$2950. That's why I've decided to upgrade to the Z14-24 and sell these two lenses after this video to get some money back. Do you think my decision is right? Welcome your feedback.

The second difference is their build quality.

Although the 14-30mm lens is well-built, it's not quite on par with the build quality of the 14-24mm. It contains plastic components, and dust or sand can easy find their way into the barrel through the external zoom.

While the 14-30mm lens feels good in the hand, it may not be as durable over the years as the 14-24mm, and you really have to use it to understand the difference.

In contrast, the 14-24mm f/2.8 has a more reasonable size than many ultra-wide f/2.8 lenses, and it doesn't have a bulbous front element like them.

The lens feels well-balanced and solid in the hand, and it has excellent weather and dust sealing, including a rubber seal along the metal lens mount.

The front lens element moves forward and backward within the nonmoving outer barrel.

As you change focal lengths, extending the most at 14mm and gradually receding as you zoom to 24mm.

To prevent dust from collecting, you can use a 112mm UV filter with the HB-97 lens hood. This setup ensures that there are no external moving lens elements when you zoom.

The third difference between the two lenses is the most crucial: image quality.

The Nikon Z 14-24mm lens produces sharper images, reduces vignetting, and improves brightness compared to the 14-30mm lens.

To test this, I used a Nikon Z7 mirrorless camera in Av mode and shot at f/4, f/8, f/11, and f/16 from 14mm to 24mm. Each shot was autofocus on the clock using a Leofoto LM364 tripod and G4 head to ensure consistency.

While I can't conduct standard tests like DxO Labs, but the results are evident – the 14-24mm f/2.8 is a much sharper lens.

But let's put that to the test. Take a look at these images of the most beautiful reading room in the world.

Can you spot the difference between the f/4 and the f/2.8 lens? It's difficult to find the difference in the center, even when zoomed in at 100%, but it's noticeable in the corners.

In the end, it's important to remember that the most critical factor in a photograph is the content, not the image quality.

If you're primary shooting landscapes, you likely won't need to pay an extra $1,200 for the slight difference in image quality.

The Z14-30mm lens is an excellent lens for landscape photography, Cause you never need to shoot at f/2.8.

But low-light photography is another matter. With an f/2.8 lens, you can save half the exposure time and capture more stars when focusing on the Milky Way.

It's not about the image quality; it's also about the practical advantages of a faster lens.

Finally, if you're an architecture photographer, you'll appreciate the 14-24mm f/2.8's outstanding distortion performance.

In contrast, the 14-30mm f/4 exhibits more distortion at all focal lengths compared to the 14-24mm.

The fourth difference:handling

They all have two control rings (at least one of which you should reserve for manual focus),14-30mm is just simple to use, but Z 14-24mm has a custom function button make it more easy to handling.

The “DISP” button is to change which information like focal distance or depth of field appears on the display.

Which help to confirm 15mm when I review 7artisans 15mm f4 lens , I need compare the image quality at 15mm not 14mm.

Something unusual about the 14-24mm f/2.8 S is that it ships with two lens hoods rather than one. The first, the HB-96, is a smaller, standard lens hood like you’d expect.

The other is called the HB-97, and it’s a slightly larger hood with a built-in filter thread for 112 mm filters. You can see the difference here:

But I never use lens hood ,so it seems waste my money.

Now the fifth major difference between the two lenses is filter compatibility,

which is crucial for landscape photography.

The Z 14-30mm lens can fit all 82mm filters, such as UV, CPL, and ND filters, but stacking two or three filters can result in visible vignetting.

To avoid this issue, I recommend to use the KASE 95mm magnetic filters, which can stacked up to three filters without causing vignetting.

However, if you choose the Z 14-24mm lens, you will need to invest more in filters, as it requires a larger 112mm filter size.

One advantage of this lens is its compatible with the HB-97 lens hood, which is also compatible with three other Nikon Z lenses: the 14-30mm f/4 , 24-70mm f/2.8 , and 70-200mm f/2.8.

This means that if you get a 112mm filter for the 14-24mm lens, you can easily swap it between lenses by simply swapping the hood.

To solve the filter issue, you can choose the KASE armor filter system, which requires a special adapter to fit on the Z 14-24mm lens.

With this adapter, you can use at least one piece of 95mm round magnetic CPL or ND filter, and two pieces of GND or reverse GND filters. To handle different light and exposure time requirements, it is recommended to carry 8, 64, 1000, and 16000, These 4 95mm round ND filters, Put all of them in a carry bag, which is not a big challenge even when hiking long distances.

Sixth difference: sunstars.

Yes, sunstars and lens coma are important factors to consider when shooting night cityscapes and astrophotography.

The number and shape of sunstars can add an interesting visual element to photos with bright light sources such as street lamps or the sun itself.

Here are some photos I shot at f/11 and f/16.

While both lenses produce solid sunstars, they are not quite at the level of lenses such as Hasselblad's 8 spikes or 7artisans' 10 spikes lenses.

Nikon's 9 element design could be improved in this regard.

Do you know what lens coma is?

It's an optical aberration that can cause points of light in the corners of a photo to appear distorted, like smears. While coma isn't typical noticeable in everyday photography, it's a crucial consideration for astronomy photography.

Both of two lenses we've been discussing perform better in terms of coma than the Sigma 14mm f/1.8, which is known to have issues with coma.

This is why many serious photographers choose 20mm or 24mm prime lenses to shoot the Milky Way instead of using a 14mm lens.

However, I personally have had no problems getting sharp corners with the 14-24mm and still enjoy using it for wide-angle shots.

Final thoughts:

When it comes to ultra wide zoom lenses for Nikon mirrorless camera, the options are limited.

If you have the budget, the Z 14-24mm f/2.8 is the best choice for all types of landscape photography.

Yet, if you're new to landscape photography, I would recommend getting the more affordable 14-30mm lens and saving $1250 to invest in good tripods and filters.

Ultimately, both lenses have their strengths and weaknesses, but they are both capable of producing stunning images in the right hands.

Thank you for watching this video.

I value your opinion and welcome feedback, whether you agree with my opinion or not.

I put a lot of effort into creating this video and I hope you found it helpful.

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