Review of Nikon 20mm f/1.8 G Lens with Sample Photos

Nikon 20mm 1.8 G AF lensMy favorite wide angle lens to shoot with is the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G. It’s magic. I love it because it’s versatile and can be used for documentary, portraits, architecture, weddings, and travel. I sold my Fuji X-E2 along with the Fuji 10-24mm (15-36mm full frame equivalent) so I was wanting something a bit wider before heading on a family vacation to Europe. Also since my wife is a photographer too, we didn’t want to worry about who gets the wide angle lens while walking the streets of Paris. We took a chance on the Nikon 20mm 1.8 G after reading a few reviews online. Sure, it’s not much wider than 24mm, but it’s physically lighter than say, a Nikon 16-35mm f/4G or the popular Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G. Not to mention less expensive. The f/1.8 aperture is also a nice perk.

The photo samples in this review were all taken with the Nikon 20mm 1.8 using a Nikon D750. There are photos from Paris, Greece, Rome, Atlanta, and North Carolina.

What I use it for: travel, landscapes, architecture, commercial, and weddings (sparingly)

Here is a size comparison between the Nikon 24mm 1.4 G, Nikon 20mm 1.8 G (middle), and Nikon 24-70mm 2.8G. The 20mm is the smallest and lightest of the bunch. If I could only pick 1 of these to take on a trip I’d have to pick the 24mm 1.4. But the 20mm would be my second choice.

Nikon lens size comparison

If you find my review & photo samples helpful, please consider buying your Nikon gear through one of the links throughout the post:

Loved:

• Lightweight

• Excellent image quality

• Sharpness. It’s sharp. Maybe not Daaamn, Daniel sharp but if you hit the focus just right, I see no reason at all to complain about it. And of course it depends on proximity to your subject. If you zoom into a tree 300 feet away it’s not going to be as razor sharp as a person’s eyeball 2 feet away. I included a couple 100% zoomed in crops below.

• Well balanced on a D750

• Auto-focus: works well, probably hits focus more accurately than the Nikon 24mm 1.4

• f/1.8 aperture – came in handy for a couple portraits in the dark when I had no tripod and didn’t want to boost my ISO to 3200+ (which I’m okay with doing, but sometimes I prefer less grain)

• Chromatic aberation: not a problem with this lens. Check out the photo of the Japanese magnolia tree. I didn’t apply remove chromatic aberration or defringe in Adobe Lightroom

Neutral:

• You can get really close to your subject with this lens — like 4 inches away close. I certainly didn’t buy the lens for this reason but it’s nice to know in case you want to try some crazy wide close-up stuff.

• Price: seems about right for what you get. But when there is a Nikon rebate on this lens, it’ll be an excellent price.

• Lens flare (lack of). I like lens flare occasionally and it was difficult getting any with the 20mm 1.8. But that’s ok, because I can always use the 24mm 1.4 or 24-70mm for flare. And if you hate lens flare then this will be a positive thing for you.

• Bokeh: it’s not a 50mm so why would you care about bokeh on 20mm lens? Because it’s f/1.8 and you can get really close to your subject. And the bokeh looks good!

• Vignetting: vignetting on the corners didn’t bother me. Also the quality at the corners at lower apertures was just fine. Once you go above f/2.8 there are really no quality issues with the corners. This photo was f/2.0 and I didn’t apply vignette in post or add any profile correction.

Didn’t like:

• Honestly there isn’t much I didn’t like. It doesn’t quite have that magical look that the 24mm 1.4 has, but for less than half the price I wasn’t expecting it to.

• It’s that plastic casing that the other 1.8 G lenses have. However, this makes it more lightweight.

• No VR / vibration reduction. Again, comes down to price. How much more would it have been with VR? I was able to do handheld at 1/8 second if I was careful.

Verdict:

4.5 out of 5 stars. It’s a quality wide angle lens at a good price point. It is excellent in environments you’d except a wide angle to be, but it can even be good for certain portraits. If you think 24mm is too wide for portraits, obviously 20mm isn’t gonna do it for you. I was not planning to use it for this but actually got a couple neat shots (here is one) that didn’t look weird or distorted at all. Also I hate taking selfies but when you want a picture of you and your wife at The Colosseum and don’t want to hand your camera to a stranger, this lens is pretty nice. It doesn’t even really give you Stretch Armstrong arms. I’ll be hanging on to this fantastic lens until Nikon or Sigma releases an even wider prime. Perhaps an 18mm f/2.0?

What do you think of the Nikon 20mm f/1.8 G? Feel free to leave comments or questions on this post.

Amadeus Asheville Festival

Over the weekend I photographed the Amadeus Asheville festival put on by Daniel Meyer and the Asheville Symphony. Amadeus is one of my favorite movies so it was neat photographing the symphony performing Mozart (and even Salieri too). There were spectacular performances during the festival such as Grammy award winner Emanuel AxOrion Weiss, and Franklin Keel, Jason Posnock & Kara Poorbaugh of the Asheville Symphony. Enjoy these photos from the Diana Wortham Theatre and Thomas Wolfe Auditorium.

Asheville Photo in Our State Magazine

Check out the March 2015 issue of Our State which includes an Asheville, NC photo of mine on page 68.

our state photography

Equipment I used to take the Asheville photo: Nikon D4 & Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8.

Asheville Music Portrait Photographer

Recently I took some portraits of gifted musicians Nikki Talley and Jason Sharp. They are a husband & wife duo based in Asheville, NC and you should check out their music! They have been on tour lately and also have a Kickstarter campaign going to record a new studio album.

For this session I focused on natural light portraiture among trees, streams, and rustic wooden buildings. They brought along some of their instruments and I even got a mini personal concert at some of the locations. I play guitar as a hobby (originally I swore I was going to be a musician for a living) so I love taking portraits of musicians. Jason is also a talented photographer so we all geeked out a little on music and photo gear.

Review and Samples of Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS Lens

fujifilm-10-24I’m giving this equipment review thing a try starting with the Fujifilm XF 10-24mm F4 OIS Camera Lens. I like reviews to use picture samples in real world situations rather than objects on a dusty shelf. I get annoyed searching for sample images from a lens or camera on Flickr only to find badly exposed, poorly processed photos. So I do edit the images to show the colors, rendering, and dynamic range. I shoot RAW and edit in Lightroom 5 with basic processing, and dodging/ burning.

I’m a wedding photographer primarily and have lots of pro gear: Nikon D4, Nikon 24mm 1.4, Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art, Nikon 58 1.4, Nikon 70-200mm 2.8G VR II, etc. I wanted a small “take anywhere” camera so I got the Fujifilm XE-2. I love shooting wide and usually opt for prime lenses but gave the Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 a chance; the versatility sounded nice for a vacation. This lens saw action in New Orleans, San Antonio, Austin & Gruene, TX, and Asheville, NC. I crammed a lot of sample photos in ranging from midday, sunset, twilight, long exposure, night, and indoor.

Size of Fuji 10-24mm lens

What I used it for: Landscapes, wedding ceremonies, casual snapshots, architecture, commercial photography

Loved:

• Optical Image Stabilization (or OIS or VR) is an awesome feature. It makes up for the f/4 somewhat and it’s a great tool if you like adding a little motion to your shot. For example, someone walking in the frame and looking blurry while the rest of the picture is sharp. I could shoot handheld with the shutter as low as 1/3 second and stationary objects would remain tack sharp.

• Image quality and sharpness from 10mm-18mm especially with subjects in focus that are within approximately 1 – 50 feet of you.

• Being able to zoom to 14mm when 10mm was just too wide

• Chromatic aberration (or lack thereof). Edges of objects look great, even leaves on a tree with backlight, or power lines.

• Dynamic range. Retaining details in the shadows is something I like and this lens held up well with the XE-2.

• Auto-focus (AF) is great — doesn’t miss very often

• Price. At $999 this was a better option to me than buying a more expensive Nikon wide-angle zoom. $899 would be the ideal price in my opinion.

Neutral:

• The minimum f/4 aperture. I usually shot around f/8 or higher because I wasn’t going for shallow depth of field with this lens. Nor did I buy it for portraits. f/2.8 sure would have been nice but as I mentioned the OIS feature makes up for it.

• Barrel (or pincushion) distortion. Didn’t bother me that much and I noticed very little of it.

• The hood. I didn’t use it because it added even more length and size. The lens flare isn’t too bad but it’s not “artsy cool” like some Canon lenses. Very rarely did I regret leaving the hood at home.

Didn’t like:

• It’s a pretty big lens for a mirror-less camera and on the XE-2 it was a little awkward. Especially when it’s dangling around your neck on the strap — it was inclined to tilt downward.

• Image quality and sharpness beyond 20mm isn’t amazing.

• Manual focusing felt uncomfortable because the focus ring is relatively far from the camera body. I have long fingers and even with that it was awkward

• The lens blocks the on-camera flash and creates a shadow on the bottom of frame. I realize some people won’t care about this but a few times I did want to take a snapshot in a restaurant of some family members.

• No markings on aperture ring like the 23mm or 35mm Fuji lenses have. It’s annoying going from a 23mm 1.4 Fuji lens to the 10-24mm and not being able to look at the lens to see what aperture you’re at.

• Detail in objects far away isn’t the best. This may just be a drawback from the smaller sensor size, but a group of trees in the distance at 100% crop isn’t very detailed (looks too smooth). I’m not a pixel-peeper but since this lens can be considered a landscape lens, someday I might like to have photos printed out nice and large.

Verdict:

I give this lens 4 out of 5 stars. I enjoyed my time with this lens but I’m going to sell it for something more compact and less bulky (*see UPDATE 1). It’s a little awkwardly weighted on the XE-2 and I found myself shooting only within the 10mm – 14mm range 80% of the time. So I’m considering the Zeiss 12mm f/2.8 Touit * — a nice middle ground that will take up less space in my bag. The Fujifilm 10-24mm f/4 is a high-quality lens that could definitely pass for certain professional uses but perhaps not for huge fine-art prints (though that’s up for debate). While compiling the photos for this review I almost convinced myself to keep the lens (spoiler: I kept it. see UPDATE 1+2). If you don’t mind the extra weight and size or f/4 aperture, this is is fantastic purchase.

* UPDATE 1: After doing more extensive research I’m on the fence about selling my 10-24mm for the Zeiss 12mm. Below are the metadata results of the 2000 photos I’ve taken with the 10-24. I’m thinking I might not be content with a 12mm since I shot so many 10mm images, with 14mm being my second most used focal length. I took about 10 images exactly at 12mm, but that could be the lack of a “12mm” marking on the lens itself (I tend to physically line it up at 10mm or 14mm). My gut is telling me that 12mm might be ‘neither here nor there’ for the way I shoot.

* UPDATE 2: Three months later and I still own my Fuji 10-24mm. I decided to keep it and am glad I did. I’ve continued using it for wedding ceremonies, travel, and commercial. It’s a great supplemental lens to all my Nikon gear.

582 shots at 10mm
390 shots at 14mm
152 shots at 18mm

If you found my review and photo samples helpful, please consider purchasing these products through the links below or above in my review. Thanks!

Now the photo samples. I made notes underneath that I thought would be pertinent and included a few 100% crops here and there.

So what do you think of the Fuji 10-24mm f/4 lens? Feel free to leave comments or questions on this post.

All sample images on this review are © 2014 Derek Olson. The photos of the lens itself at the top of the post were also taken by me.

Forsyth Park in Savannah, GA

Savannah is a gorgeous city with lots of history and romantic sites to visit. Here is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Savannah, the fountain in the middle of Forsyth Park.

Forsyth Park

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