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