Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 vs. Nikon 16-35mm f/4: The Ultimate In-Depth Wide-Angle Lens Showdown

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Choosing the perfect wide-angle lens for your photography arsenal can be a daunting task, especially when faced with two exceptional options: the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 and the Nikon 16-35mm f/4.

Both lenses have garnered praise from photographers worldwide for their capabilities in capturing breathtaking landscapes, awe-inspiring architecture, intricate interiors, and the vast night sky. But how do you determine which lens is the right fit for your unique photographic vision and needs?

In this article, we’ll dive deep into a comprehensive comparison of these two remarkable lenses, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses across various aspects, from image quality to build and ergonomics. Whether you’re an ambitious hobbyist, a seasoned professional, or simply a photography enthusiast looking to expand your creative horizons, our comparison will provide you with the insights you need to make an informed decision.

Come and join us on an exciting adventure as we delve into the subtleties of the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 and the Nikon 16-35mm f/4 lenses, assisting you in unlocking the complete potential of your wide-angle photography expeditions.


Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm F2.8G EDNikon AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm F4G ED VR
Max ApertureF2.8F4.0
Aperture TypeFixedFixed
Focal Range (mm)14-2416-35
Max Format35mm FF35mm FF
Zoom Ratio (X)1.72.2

The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 and Nikon 16-35mm f/4 are both wide-angle zoom lenses designed for 35mm full-frame cameras.

The 14-24mm f/2.8 has a maximum aperture of f/2.8, which allows for better low-light performance and a shallower depth of field. This lens has a 1.7x zoom ratio, providing a slightly more limited focal range (14-24mm) compared to the 16-35mm f/4, which has a 2.2x zoom ratio and covers a 16-35mm focal range.

The 16-35mm f/4, on the other hand, has a smaller maximum aperture of f/4, which may limit its low-light capabilities but still provides a decent depth of field for landscape and architectural photography. Due to its smaller aperture, the 16-35mm f/4 lens is lighter, more portable, and more affordable compared to the 14-24mm f/2.8.

While the 14-24mm lens offers better low-light performance, shallower depth of field, and generally better image quality, it may also exhibit more distortion or vignetting at its widest focal lengths. The 16-35mm lens, although not as strong in low-light situations, still provides excellent image quality and a more versatile focal range for various shooting situations.

In conclusion, the 14-24mm f/2.8 is an outstanding lens for photographers who prioritize low-light performance, image quality, and a shallower depth of field. However, if you value a more versatile focal range, portability, and a lower price point, the16-35mm f/4 may be the superior choice for your needs.

Design and Ease of Use

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm F2.8G EDNikon AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm F4G ED VR
Diameter x Length (mm)⌀98×131.5mm⌀82.5×125mm
Weight (gr)1000680
Filter Thread (mm)No Filter Thread77
Weather SealingYesYes
Zoom MethodRotary (internal)Rotary (internal)
Distance ScaleYesYes
DoF ScaleNoNo
Hood SuppliedYesYes

Lens Mount and Barrel

The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 features a metal lens mount with a rubber gasket for dust and water sealing and a texturized metal finish on the lens barrel, providing a premium and professional feel. Its zoom and focus rings are made of plastic with ridged rubber coatings, ensuring a secure grip. The physical length of the lens remains constant during zooming, with only the inner lens tube moving slightly according to the focal length.

On the other hand, the Nikon 16-35mm f/4 lens mount is made of dull-chromed brass with a rubber gasket for weather sealing, and a magnesium alloy chassis that enhances its toughness. The lens barrel is made of plastic, which is lightweight and weather-resistant. Although the exterior is not metal, the lens barrel has plenty of metal inside, but the markings on the exterior may wear off with use.

In conclusion, both lenses have their own merits. If you prioritize durability and a professional feel, the 14-24mm lens may be the better choice. However, if you value portability and affordability, the 16-35mm lens could be a more suitable option. As a professional photographer, carefully consider your specific needs and preferences when choosing between these two lenses.

Weather Sealing

The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 and Nikon 16-35mm f/4 lenses both offer weather sealing, protecting them against dust, moisture, and light water splashes. However, there are some differences in their weather sealing features that may impact your decision.

The 14-24mm f/2.8 lens has comprehensive weather sealing, including rubber seals that repel dust, dirt, moisture, and other grime. The metal mount is designed with a rubber gasket for additional protection against dust and water. This lens also features internal seals at the rings, switches, and front of the barrel, making it a robust choice for photographers who frequently shoot in challenging environments.

On the other hand, the 16-35mm f/4 lens has a rubber gasket at the lens mount, providing some degree of weather sealing. Its build quality comprises a solid plastic construction combined with a weather-sealed metal lens mount, offering protection but not as extensive as the 14-24mm f/2.8.

In conclusion, the 14-24mm f/2.8 lens offers superior weather sealing compared to the 16-35mm f/4 lens, making it a more suitable choice for photographers who often shoot in harsh conditions. However, if you primarily photograph in controlled environments or don’t require extensive weather sealing, the 16-35mm f/4 lens may still offer adequate protection for your needs.


The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens features a 25mm-wide zoom ring and a 15mm-wide focus ring, both located close to the camera body and covered with ridged rubber coatings for a secure grip. The zoom ring has a short rotational travel, taking about a quarter turn to move through the entire focal range without any zoom creep. The focus ring has a 50-degree throw, which allows for easy and smooth adjustments. This lens also has a windowed distance scale with five settings in meters and feet.

On the other hand, the Nikon 16-35mm f/4 lens has a zoom ring and a focus ring with ridged rubber coatings as well, but the ridges on the zoom ring are wider and have two notches cut into each ridge for added grip security. The focus ring also has a 50-degree throw, but there has been some reported play between the focus ring and the internal gears on certain copies of the lens. This lens features a recessed distance scale with four settings in meters and feet, but no depth-of-field markings.

In conclusion, the 14-24mm f/2.8 lens has superior ring design, offering a better grip and smoother functionality than the 16-35mm f/4 lens. Although both lenses have similar ring specifications, the 14-24mm f/2.8 provides a more comfortable and precise experience, making it the better choice for photographers who prioritize ergonomics and control.


The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens sports a minimalist design with a single slider switch for adjusting the focus mode. The switch allows you to engage autofocus with manual override (M/A setting) or set the lens for manual focusing (M setting). This lens does not have built-in image stabilization, and therefore, lacks an IS switch. There are no additional switches or buttons, such as a focus limiter, simplifying its user interface.

On the other hand, the Nikon 16-35mm f/4 lens features two slider switches located behind the focusing ring on the lens barrel. The top switch is for selecting the focus mode, while the lower one toggles the VR stabilization on and off, providing greater control over the lens’s stabilization system.

In conclusion, the superiority of the switches/buttons depends on the photographer’s preferences and needs. The 14-24mm f/2.8 lens offers a simpler interface, ideal for those who prefer minimal distractions and can work without built-in image stabilization. Conversely, the 16-35mm f/4 lens provides more control over its stabilization system, making it a better choice for photographers who value the added stability and flexibility that the VR feature offers.

Filter Thread

The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens lacks a traditional filter thread, which means photographers cannot directly attach physical filters to the lens. However, third-party filter solutions, such as the LEE Filters SW150 Mark II Lens Adapter or the Kase Rear Lens ND Filter Kit, are available. Although these alternatives can increase the overall size and cost of using the lens, they offer photographers a way to achieve their desired filter effects with this high-quality lens.

On the other hand, the Nikon 16-35mm f/4 lens comes with a 77mm filter thread, which is large and suitable for landscape photography. Made of lightweight plastic, the filter thread is easy to use with various filters, such as ND, IR, and CPL filters. It is more appealing to photographers who intend to use filters regularly, especially since it has a front filter thread. High-quality filters, such as the Hoya multicoated HD3 UV or the B+W 77mm 010, are recommended to protect the lens and improve image quality.

In conclusion, the 16-35mm f/4 lens offers a superior filter thread due to its compatibility with a variety of standard filters and ease of use. The 14-24mm f/2.8 lens, while lacking a traditional filter thread, still provides options for those who require filters through third-party solutions. Your choice will ultimately depend on your personal preferences, photography needs, and existing gear.

Lens Hood

The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens has a built-in, non-collapsible, petal-shaped lens hood made of plastic. While it does not provide full protection to the front element of the lens at the wide end, it serves as a guard against accidental damage. The fixed nature of the hood means it cannot be rotated or detached, offering consistent protection but limiting flexibility.

On the other hand, the Nikon 16-35mm f/4 lens comes with an included, reversible lens hood that can be used with a polarizer filter. Its short design is due to the wide angle of view, and it shares the same HB-23 lens hood as the Nikon 17-35mm lens. The reversible feature of the lens hood allows for easy storage, and the removable design offers more flexibility in various shooting situations.

In conclusion, the choice between the lens hoods of the 14-24mm f/2.8 and 16-35mm f/4 lenses comes down to personal preference and shooting requirements. The built-in lens hood of the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens is more convenient and offers consistent protection, while the removable and reversible lens hood of the 16-35mm f/4 lens provides greater flexibility and is better suited for use with polarizer filters.

Focusing and Optical Stabilization

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm F2.8G EDNikon AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm F4G ED VR
AF MotorSilent Wave MotorSilent Wave Motor
Rotating Front ElementDoes not rotate on focusingDoes not rotate on focusing
Min Focus Distance0.28m0.28m
Max Magnification (X)0.150.25
Full-Time Manual FocusYesYes
Focus MethodInternalInternal

Focusing Performance

The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens offers fast and accurate autofocus performance, featuring a ring-type ultrasonic autofocus that is nearly silent and has a speedy initial autofocus acquisition. While the lens performs well in low-light situations, it does produce audible clacking during video recording. The manual focus override feature allows for instant switching between autofocus and manual focus modes. Although the manual focus action is generally smooth, the short rotational travel of the focus ring may prove challenging for applications like astrophotography.

In contrast, the Nikon 16-35mm f/4 lens boasts a fast, accurate, and quiet autofocus system, thanks to its Silent Wave Motor (SWM). The lens excels in low-light situations and offers manual focus override for greater control. With a focusing speed of just 0.5 seconds, the 16-35mm f/4 provides a smooth and well-damped manual focus action. However, some users may experience play between the focus ring and internal gears, and the lens records audible clacks and snaring sounds during focusing.

In conclusion, both the 14-24mm f/2.8 and 16-35mm f/4 lenses deliver impressive focusing performance, with the 16-35mm f/4 offering a slightly quieter and smoother experience. The ultimate choice depends on the photographer’s specific needs and preferences, with the 16-35mm f/4 being more suitable for situations where quiet autofocus is essential, while the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 offers a slightly faster initial autofocus acquisition speed.

Optical Stabilization

The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens does not feature built-in optical stabilization. This may not be a significant drawback for many wide-angle applications, as camera shake is generally less noticeable with shorter focal lengths and wider fields of view. However, in situations where handheld shooting is required, such as in low-light conditions or while recording video, the lack of optical stabilization might prove challenging.

On the other hand, the Nikon 16-35mm f/4 lens comes equipped with a Vibration Reduction II system, which Nikon claims can provide an advantage of up to 4 stops. In field tests, photographers have managed to achieve up to 3 stops longer shutter times at the long end and up to 2 stops at the short end of the focal range. The Vibration Reduction (VR) system operates quietly and has a dedicated switch for turning it on or off.

In conclusion, the 16-35mm f/4 lens offers superior optical stabilization compared to the 14-24mm f/2.8 lens. While optical stabilization may not be essential for wide-angle lenses, the added benefit provided by the 16-35mm f/4 can prove advantageous in certain situations, such as low-light handheld shooting or video recording. If optical stabilization is an important factor for your photography needs, the 16-35mm f/4 would be the better choice between the two lenses.

Image Quality

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm F2.8G EDNikon AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm F4G ED VR
Special Elements2 ED glass elements, 3 aspherical lenses and 1 Nano Crystal Coat2 ED glass elements, 3 aspherical lenses and Nano Crystal Coat
Diaphragm Blades99
Circular ApertureYesYes


Comparing the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 and Nikon 16-35mm f/4 lenses in terms of aberration control, we can see some differences in their performance.

Starting with the 14-24mm f/2.8 lens, it performs admirably in controlling chromatic aberration. Throughout most of the aperture range, only negligible to low amounts of chromatic aberration are present. However, at 24mm and larger apertures, chromatic aberration becomes more prominent. Thankfully, this issue can be addressed using post-processing software or the built-in chromatic aberration correction available in some camera models.

On the other hand, the 16-35mm f/4 lens boasts impressive chromatic aberration control, with virtually no evidence of lateral chromatic aberrations. Even when shooting in raw format, the aberration remains barely noticeable. Modern Nikon DSLR bodies can automatically correct for chromatic aberration when shooting JPEGs. The lens also produces negligible levels of coma and spherical aberration, contributing to its excellent optical performance with minimal aberrations.

In conclusion, both lenses offer commendable aberration control. However, the 16-35mm f/4 lens stands out as the superior choice in terms of aberration performance, exhibiting practically no chromatic aberration and negligible levels of other aberrations. This level of optical quality allows photographers to capture sharp and precise images with minimal post-processing needed to correct aberrations.


The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens is known for its exceptional sharpness, particularly at the short end of the zoom range. At 14mm, this lens offers excellent center and mid-frame performance, with the sweet spot located at f/5.6. Corner performance improves as the aperture is stopped down, with the best results at f/8 when zoomed in to 24mm. However, there is some astigmatism and a noticeable drop in sharpness towards the corners at the short end. Overall, this lens delivers outstanding sharpness, optimized for maximum performance at 14mm, but does exhibit some focus shift and corner shading, especially at wide-open apertures.

In contrast, the Nikon 16-35mm f/4 lens exhibits good to excellent sharpness overall, with some softness at the edges when using wider apertures. The center sharpness is generally good, with the sharpest aperture varying slightly depending on the focal length. At 16mm, the center is already quite sharp when wide open, with the sharpest aperture being f/5.6. Corners are softer when wide open, but sharpness improves when stopped down. At 35mm, both borders and corners show good resolution, and stopping down does not significantly increase sharpness. The best results are achieved at f/8 or f/11, with a loss of contrast at f/22.

In conclusion, both lenses offer impressive sharpness. However, the 14-24mm f/2.8 lens stands out as the superior choice in terms of sharpness, delivering exceptional performance, especially at the short end of the zoom range. This lens allows photographers to capture stunningly sharp images, particularly when shooting wide-angle scenes or subjects requiring fine detail.

Bokeh Quality

When comparing the bokeh quality of the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 and Nikon 16-35mm f/4 lenses, it is essential to note that bokeh quality is not typically a primary concern for wide-angle lenses. However, there are instances where bokeh can play a role in wide-angle photography, such as environmental portraits or close-up photography.

The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens is not renowned for producing spectacularly attractive bokeh, which is to be expected for an ultra-wide lens with aspherical elements. When shooting close-up subjects at the longest focal length of 24mm, you can achieve reasonable results, but the bokeh may appear nervous due to a certain amount of outlining.

On the other hand, the Nikon 16-35mm f/4 lens features a 9-segment diaphragm with rounded blades for pleasing bokeh. Although having anything substantially out of focus is rare with an ultra-wide to wide zoom lens, if you manage to get a background out of focus, the bokeh is excellent.

In conclusion, while bokeh quality is not the primary focus for wide-angle lenses, the 16-35mm f/4 lens provides better bokeh quality when compared to the 14-24mm f/2.8 lens.


The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens is prone to flare and ghosting when shooting against the sun, especially towards the border opposite the light source. This is a common issue with most lenses, but the amount of flare produced by this lens can be relatively high under such conditions. Nevertheless, the Nano Crystal Coat helps reduce flare and ghosting, and post-processing software like Lightroom can easily correct vignetting issues.

On the other hand, the Nikon 16-35mm f/4 lens does an excellent job of managing flare and ghosting, necessitating a powerful backlight with the sun positioned either within or just outside the frame to create any discernible flare. While it’s not completely immune to flare, it performs better than other lenses in this aspect. Additionally, stopping down the lens yields positive results, with minimal diffraction effects at f/16 and f/22, making for consistent performance without excelling in any specific area.

In conclusion, when comparing the flare and ghosting performance of these two lenses, the 16-35mm f/4 outperforms the 14-24mm f/2.8.


The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens exhibits some vignetting, especially at wider focal lengths and larger apertures. However, it can be easily corrected in post-processing software such as Lightroom. At 14mm and f/2.8, the corner shading can be up to 2 stops darker, but at other focal lengths and aperture combinations, it doesn’t exceed a quarter-stop. The amount of vignetting also depends on the shooting distance and angle relative to the light source. Some photographers may appreciate a bit of vignetting in their images, and it’s not a major issue with this lens.

Conversely, wide-open shots with the Nikon 16-35mm f/4 lens exhibit noticeable vignetting across all focal lengths, although it’s not overtly apparent and can be remedied by stopping down the aperture by one or two stops. At 16mm, the vignetting is relatively strong, but the center performance is already excellent even at the maximum aperture.

In conclusion, both lenses exhibit vignetting, with the 14-24mm f/2.8 experiencing more noticeable vignetting at wider focal lengths and larger apertures.

However, the difference in vignetting performance between these two lenses is not substantial, and both can be easily corrected with post-processing software or by stopping down the aperture.


The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens exhibits barrel distortion at its widest focal length of 14mm, which gradually decreases as you zoom in and becomes barely perceptible at 24mm. However, even a slight tilt of the camera can produce exaggerations typical of ultra-wide lenses, particularly at the 14mm setting. Nonetheless, distortion is correctable in post-processing software, and the lens performs well for landscape photography.

In contrast, the Nikon 16-35mm f/4 lens displays noticeable barrel distortion at 16mm (5.7%), which can be easily corrected in post-processing using software like Lightroom and Photoshop. Distortion decreases as you zoom in, and at 24mm, the lens is devoid of distortion.

However, as you zoom in further towards 35mm, pincushion distortion begins to emerge, with approximately 1.3% distortion visible in real-world conditions. While Nikon SLRs provide in-camera distortion control when shooting JPGs, correcting barrel distortion at the wide end can trim the edges of your composition. Opting for the Raw format permits one-click distortion correction or alterations using the Distortion slider, which makes less extreme corrections while retaining edge detail.

To summarize, both lenses display a degree of distortion at their widest focal lengths, with the 16-35mm f/4 lens showing more apparent distortion at 16mm than the 14-24mm f/2.8 lens at 14mm.

However, distortion in both lenses can be corrected in post-processing software.

Final Verdict

The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens has a slightly wider field of view at 14mm, which can be beneficial for capturing expansive landscapes, large architectural structures, and cramped interiors. The faster f/2.8 aperture allows for better low-light performance, which is particularly useful for astrophotography and indoor shooting. Additionally, the superior sharpness and image quality provided by this lens can help capture the fine details often required in architectural and real estate photography.

On the other hand, the Nikon 16-35mm f/4 lens offers a more versatile focal range, extending to 35mm, which can be advantageous in some architectural, real estate, and interior photography situations where a slightly tighter framing is needed. The optical stabilization, while not crucial for wide-angle photography, can be helpful for handheld shooting in low-light environments or during video recording. Furthermore, the 16-35mm f/4 lens exhibits better aberration control, flare, and ghosting performance, which can be important in various wide-angle photography scenarios where strong backlight or reflections are present.

Taking a broader perspective, both lenses are capable of delivering excellent results for wide-angle photography. The choice between the two depends on the specific requirements of your photography style and the trade-offs you are willing to make. If you prioritize a wider field of view, better low-light performance, and superior image quality, the 14-24mm f/2.8 lens would be the better option. However, if you value a more versatile focal range, affordability, and additional features such as optical stabilization and better aberration control, the 16-35mm f/4 lens is the more suitable choice.

Meet the Author

Wei Mao

Wei was a cruise photographer who worked at Disney Cruise Line. He is a lucky traveler who has been to more than 20 countries with his camera while working on an around-the-world cruise. Photography has changed his view of the world forever. Now he wants more people to benefit from photography through his blog.

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