Nikon has just announced two new lenses – the Nikon 24mm f/1.4 and Nikon 16-35mm f/4 VR. With the new 24mm f/1.4, Nikon has finally offered an update to fill the niche left by the discontinued Nikon 28mm f/1.4, but is it too little, too late?
What do these lenses mean for music photography?
With Nikon's new and now-standard-for-pro-lenses Nano coating, ED glass, and all the goodness one now expects from Nikon's new releases. I expect that the new lens should have nothing but excellent performance, if Nikon's recent track record is any indication. The MTF charts of the new lens look promising, to say the least, especially for such a wide-aperture lens.
For live music photography, I think this lens is going to be an excellent performer, but still relegated to specialty use for my needs. Simply put, I very rarely use primes any more. More often than not, f/2.8 glass is fast enough when combined with the excellent high ISO performance of modern DSLRs. Events where this lens will excel are more “creative” lighting treatments at smaller, club-level venues. For arenas and amphitheaters, I'm going to stick to my f/2.8 glass.
More importantly, this lens signals a commitment from Nikon to developing and refining their lens offerings. After discontinuing the 28mm f/1.4 AF-D, their fastest wide prime, several years ago, Nikon has been lacking a low light beast to match Canon's 24mm f/1.4, especially with the latter's Mark II update in 2008. Now what I'd love to see is a 35mm f/1.4 from Nikon to match this and the recent 50mm f/1.4.
Outside of the fast-paced world of rock photography, where the limitations of a prime – even a fast prime – can be considerable, I think this lens will find a very excited market. For travel, wedding, and low-light photojournalist applications, this lens is going to be killer, with the price to match – $2199.95/€2149.00/£1949.99.
Nikon 16-35mm f/4
For full-frame users, things just got interesting in the 16-35mm f/4 VR. At first glance, the lens roughly fills the same gap in Nikon's lineup as the Canon 17-40mm f/4. However, the most interesting aspect of this lens is the inclusion of Vibration Reduction, Nikon's in-lens image stabilization.
So while the f/4 aperture looks a little sluggish for live music photography, between the VR and being a lower-priced alternative to the superlative Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8, I think this lens could be a contender. While I'm not in the market for this lens, I think this is a truly interesting option as a wide-angle zoom that should promise excellent IQ in a very nice zoom range.
Aside from live music photography, where I think this lens could really excel is as an excellent band portrait lens. The focal length is perfect for groups, and I have no doubt that, when stopped down, the image quality rendered will be excellent.
In comparison to the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8, the new 16-35mm f/4 offers a less awkward form factor, a third-less weight, and takes 77mm filters in contrast to the bulbous front end of the f/2.8 zoom. At a listed price of $1259.95/€1199.00/£1049.99, I certainly think there are enough differences between the two ultra-wide zooms to give many general buyers pause for thought.
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