The real voyage of discovery is not seeking new landscapes, but having new eyes. (Proust)
The Nikon 14-24mm ultra wide angle is the most ungainly piece of
equipment in my photographic arsenal. It is also the most nerve-wracking
to use. The huge, round dome of expensive, coated glass that protrudes
into a scratch-prone world. Minimal lens shade. No protective filter
even possible. NO filter possible. Front-end heavy, inviting disaster.
Who would even WANT such a thing?
Well, I do. At its widest,
14mm, it produces a sharp, and importantly, semi-rectilinear image that,
while not distortion-free, is an image that someone who revels in
geologic landscapes can live with. The 16-35, with its hideous,
blasphemous, wide-end distortion is now forever banished to the D7000,
where it is a more reasonable and usable 22-50.
With the 14-24mm lens, and its decent 10-inch close-focus, foregrounds are a cinch. Just don't get that class too close to the rocks. It
is wide enough to incorporate all sorts of un-expected nearby trivia
into the unwary photog's picture. Feet. Fence-posts. Fingers. But to
incorporate a whole scene, and especially to capture the all-important
story of foreground, mid-ground, background, this is a not-to be missed
lens. Worth the weight to haul on a pack trip. But it needs a tripod.
It deserves a tripod.
The only other rival is the Sigma 12-24. A
sharp copy of this lens (half the price of the 14-24) yields great
images, but from 12 to 16mm, this lens produced considerable and for me,
unpleasant distortion. I sent mine back, despite it being a very sharp
and fast-focusing copy, but at times, I miss its super-wide
capabilities, distortion or not. And it was a bit smaller. And less
nerve-wracking to haul. Still, I do not for a moment regret the switch
to the more reliable 14-24. It's in a class of its own.