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Nikkor 14mm f2.8 ships  
Tuesday, June 27, 2000 | by
The AF Nikkor 14mm f2.8 ED is beginning to reach retailers in the UK, says D1 shooter Peter Ibbotson. In two postings on the D1 Discussion List today, Ibbotson indicates that he purchased one of the new super wide lenses this week, and has already found it to be superior to the older Nikkor 15mm f3.5 lens he's replacing:

Collected my 14/2.8 this morning, and have run a series of test shots on the D1 with the 14mm, the 15mm/f3.5 manual which it is replacing, and the 17~35 at 17mm.

The image from the 14mm is slightly wider than the 15mm, and very noticeably wider than the 17mm setting on the zoom. It seems to be every bit as sharp and straight-lined as the 15mm, with the additional advantage of AF (but not AFS, use of matrix metering, and the elimination of the residual colour fringing of the 15mm which was apparent on high contrast boundaries. (Since the 15mm, though beautifully made, is a twenty-year old design, I expect more critical examination to show other areas of improvement).

I will need to wait for frames back from my F5 (how odd it seems to have to WAIT for images after nine months of the D1!) to see how the performance extends to the corners of its coverage on full frame 35mm.

My only (relatively minor) gripes are:-

(a) the leather lens cap/protector, which is designed like a miniature version of the cap for the 300/2.8 etc. It is easy enough to pull off, but impossible to put back on over the 'petals' of the fixed lens hood without using two hands. Nothing like as elegant or functional as the metal cap of the 15mm (which is unfortunately too big for the 14mm). At the very least Nikon will have to produce a rigid plastic cap like the one that comes with the 16mm fisheye.

(b) the gelatine rear filter holder system is far less usable than the bayonet rear filters used with the 15mm and 16mm.

(c) it comes without a hard leather case like the one that comes with the AFS zooms. The soft pouch supplied is fine, but I had expected better protection to be included with a $2000 item. Here, however, the 15mm case (CL-17) does the trick.

All that said, it looks as though it will become a much used item for interiors etc with the D1, with 90 degree coverage (21.7mm equivalent)

and...

I have now run some more test shots: it is MUCH better in colour and contrast than the old 15mm I was using, with very good fine detail. In tone it matches the 17~35AFS very well indeed. Despite the small 3mm difference in focal length, the extra area covered is very noticeable.

Later in the week, Ibbotson offered this additional observation:

The first tests I did were in typical English summer weather: grey cloud from horizon to horizon. Today the sun came out and I discovered yet another virtue of the new 14mm lens: it has VASTLY better flare control than the old 15mm, whose purple ghosts were almost unavoidable in bright sunlight.

See Nikon announces 14mm f2.8 for more information on the lens, which is expected to reach North American shores in July.

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