12-24mm f/4G ED-IF AF-S DX Zoom review

The great part about digital SLR cameras is that they give your lens a 1.5 multiplication factor, that is you get a little more bang for your buck out of telephoto lenses as far as field of view and observed zoom are concerned. (ie your 200mm lens on a dSLR gives the same 4×6 print that a 300mm lens would on 35mm). This is an awesome feature for people who don’t want to spend the big money anything more than 200mm usually runs; however, there is another edge to that sword and that is wide angle lenses aren’t so wide angle anymore. Suddenly you’re 28mm moderate wide angle lens is the equivalent of a 42mm lens. What to do! The Nikon 12-24mm lens is the answer. This lens is for digital only as noted by the DX in the alphabet soup. (see What do all the Letters Mean ). That means that if you put this on a full frame film camera you will get black edges all the way around as the image projected on the film won’t be large enough to cover it. Normally I’m anti-DX lens because I feel that eventually Nikon will offer a full frame dSLR, and I feel in general the full frame lenses are sharper, but here there is no other choice, and this lens performs excellently. 

Specifications Max Aperture: f/4, this isn’t as slow as it seems since “f” is so little. 
Construction: 11 elements in 7 groups 
Min Focus 11.4 inches 
Filter Size Nikon Pro standard 77mm 
Included Lens hood, front and rear caps 

Why would you want an expensive lens that covers a relatively small focal range? A wide angle lens is great for a lot of situations, this is the lens that is almost always used to sell boats and small apartments. Here is a shot of the inside of a reasonably sized sailboat out for a day of entertaining tourists on the Chesapeake bay:
You can click on the image for a larger look. The picture is not a good one, but it illustrates the wide angle point. It was taken with this lens at 12mm with a SB-800 speedlight. A couple things to notice with the wide angle lens. Perspective is really accentuated, the table looks much more long and stretched than it is in real life, and the stairs to the outside almost fade away in the distance, making you think this boat is huge, when in fact the stairs are probably 15 feet in front of me. This kind of shot that gets a 99 degree field of view is great for showing all of a small room. There is no other lens in my bag that could show all of the galley area since it was so narrow. 
Another shot from the same boat shows another use of wide angle. It’s at the slightly less wide 15mm. 

So here you can see a great use of this expensive lens: a bunch of tourists, sitting around looking touristy (This just goes to show you can still take a boring picture with an expensive lens, but it shows the point and keeps the nautical theme going for this article.) Here again you get a sense of the water being larger than life, and the entire rear end of the boat is in the shot. The same sort of thing happens here, with the boat appearing stretched out in the middle, and fatter near the edge of the frame. Not quite a “fisheye” effect, but heading that way. Pros 
Great wide angle lens, good sharpness, pretty fast at f/4 
Expensive for somewhat narrow zoom range 
Bottom Line 

If you want a wide angle zoom lens for your Nikon dSLR, this is your only choice from Nikon. The 3rd party lenses in this range have mixed reviews. I’ve heard a lot of good about the Tamron 11-18mm lens which is a bit cheaper but much less percentage range. I don’t use wide angle that often; however just like a macro lens it does things that can’t be faked later in photoshop. If you can afford it, you can’t go wrong with this lens. On Amazon it retails new for about $950 and used for a decent amount less.