Nikon Z 20mm f/1.8 vs Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8: Battle of the Wide-Angle Titans

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Are you on the hunt for the perfect wide-angle lens to elevate your photography game? The Nikon Z 20mm f/1.8 and Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 are two exceptional contenders in the world of wide-angle lenses, each offering unique advantages to help you capture stunning landscapes, breathtaking astrophotography, intimate environmental portraits, and striking architectural shots.

In this comprehensive comparison, we’ll delve deep into the strengths and weaknesses of both lenses, guiding you on your journey to find the lens that’s tailored to your specific needs and photography style.

Discover the remarkable low-light capabilities, sharpness, bokeh quality, and versatility that these lenses bring to the table, and unlock your full creative potential with the right choice.

So, buckle up and join us as we explore the ins and outs of the two Nikon Z lenses, empowering you to make an informed decision and elevate your wide-angle photography to new heights!


Nikon NIKKOR Z 20mm F1.8 SNikon NIKKOR Z 14-24mm F2.8 S
Max ApertureF1.8F2.8
Aperture TypeFixedFixed
Focal Range (mm)2014-24
Max Format35mm FF35mm FF
Zoom Ratio (X)11.7

Comparing the Nikon Z 20mm f/1.8 and the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8, the 20mm lens has a larger maximum aperture of f/1.8 compared to f/2.8 for the 14-24mm lens. This means that the 20mm lens can gather more light, which is beneficial for low-light performance.

However, a larger aperture can also create a shallower depth of field, which may not be necessary for landscape or architectural photography where you want a deeper depth of field to keep the entire scene in focus. On the other hand, the 14-24mm lens offers a focal range of 14-24mm, providing more versatility in framing and composition, which can be advantageous for ultra wide angle photography.

Both lenses have a fixed aperture, which generally results in better low-light performance and more consistent image quality.

In conclusion, the 20mm lens is well-suited for those who prioritize low-light performance and image quality, while the 14-24mm lens offers greater versatility in terms of focal range, making it suitable for photographers who need to adapt quickly to changing scenes or subjects.

Design and Ease of Use

Nikon NIKKOR Z 20mm F1.8 SNikon NIKKOR Z 14-24mm F2.8 S
Diameter x Length (mm)⌀84.5×108.5mm⌀88.5×124.5mm
Weight (gr)505650
Filter Thread (mm)77112
Weather SealingYesYes
Distance ScaleNoYes
DoF ScaleNoNo
Hood SuppliedYesYes
Hood CodeHB-95HB-96

Comparing the Nikon Z 20mm f/1.8 and the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8, the 20mm lens has a smaller diameter and length, measuring ⌀84.5×108.5mm, compared to the ⌀88.5×124.5mm of the 14-24mm lens. Additionally, the 20mm lens is lighter, weighing 505 grams, while the 14-24mm lens weighs 650 grams. These differences have several implications in photography.

A more compact and lightweight lens, like the 20mm lens, offers increased portability, making it easier to carry around during extended periods of shooting or traveling. The reduced weight and size also contribute to better balance with your camera setup, ensuring a more comfortable shooting experience and improved handling.

The 20mm lens’s smaller size makes it more discreet, which can be advantageous in situations like street photography, where blending into the surroundings is essential to capture candid shots. Additionally, the compact dimensions of the 20mm lens mean it takes up less space in your camera bag, providing more room for other gear or reducing the overall weight of your bag.

Lastly, the lighter weight of the 20mm lens makes it easier to handle when swapping lenses quickly, which can be crucial in fast-paced environments where capturing the perfect shot is time-sensitive.

In conclusion, the 20mm lens offers superior portability, balance, discreetness, and ease of lens swapping due to its smaller size and lighter weight compared to the 14-24mm lens.

Lens Mount and Barrel

The Nikon Z 20mm f/1.8 features a metal lens mount with a tight and secure attachment to the camera body, utilizing four locking ears. A rubber gasket is present to protect against dust and debris entering the lens and camera. The lens barrel is designed with a minimalist approach, using black polycarbonate material that is sturdy, weather-sealed, and textured for grip. Subtle chamfered edges add reflective contrast between the segments of the lens body.

On the other hand, the lens mount of Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 is also made of solid metal, including a slot for rear gelatin filters and a rubber gasket to prevent dust and moisture intrusion. The mount is well-made, firm, and smooth. This lens features a customizable metallic control ring, a rubberized zoom ring, and a rubberized manual focus ring that works with the focus motor.

The lens barrel is a combination of plastic and metal materials, with plastic parts including the cover, zoom ring, and OLED display section. The rear barrel exterior is made of metal. This lens also has two custom rings and a small screen on top for displaying essential information.

Plastic lens barrels, such as the one found in the 14-24mm lens, tend to be lighter but are less durable than metal barrels. Metal lens mounts, used in both lenses, are more durable and resistant to wear, providing a professional feel. However, they may be heavier and less portable.

In conclusion, the 20mm lens offers a minimalist and functional design with a weather-sealed polycarbonate barrel, while the 14-24mm lens features a more feature-rich design with a blend of plastic and metal components.

Weather Sealing

The Nikon Z 20mm f/1.8 and the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 both offer weather sealing features to protect against dust and moisture, making them suitable for various outdoor shooting conditions.

The 20mm lens is well-constructed and has weather sealing throughout, including a rubber gasket at the lens mount, rings, and switches. Despite lacking a fluorine coating on the front element for additional smudge protection, the lens has been tested in different environments, including rainy weather, and performed well without issues related to weather sealing.

In contrast, the 14-24mm lens is fully weather-sealed, featuring seals at the base, control rings, buttons, focus mode switch, and joins between components. It has a decent ceiling gasket on the rear mount and a slot for drop-in gel filters at the back of the lens. The front lens element is protected by a fluorine coating, which repels dust, grease, and moisture. This lens offers a higher level of protection for outdoor photography, even in dusty or wet environments.

Weather sealing is a crucial aspect of lens construction, offering protection, durability, and consistent performance in various conditions. Fully weather-sealed lenses, like the 14-24mm lens, provide better overall protection, while non-sealed lenses or lenses with partial sealing, like the 20mm lens, may require extra precautions in challenging environments.

In conclusion, while both lenses offer weather sealing, the 14-24mm lens is superior due to its comprehensive sealing and fluorine coating on the front element. This lens is an excellent choice for photographers who frequently shoot in harsh conditions or require additional protection for their equipment. However, the 20mm lens still offers a reliable level of weather sealing, making it suitable for various outdoor photography situations.


The Nikon Z 20mm f/1.8 features a single multi-functional control ring, which by default functions as a focus ring for precise manual focusing adjustments. It can also be customized to control aperture, ISO, or exposure compensation.

The knurled metal surface ensures a good grip, and the ring turns smoothly, providing an excellent tactile experience. However, it lacks a windowed distance scale and depth-of-field indicator. Although the control ring is wider than on some other lenses, increasing the risk of accidental adjustments, the lens still balances well on the camera body and offers a comfortable handling experience overall.

On the other hand, the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 has multiple rings, including a focus ring, a zoom ring, and a customizable control ring. These rings are well-designed with tough ridged rubber for easy gripping and provide a smooth tactile experience when rotating.

The zoom ring has markings for various focal lengths, and the focus ring moves smoothly, though it lacks a built-in focus scale. The lens also features an OLED display for additional information. The focus ring has a windowed distance scale but lacks a depth-of-field indicator.

In conclusion, the 14-24mm lens offers superior ring design due to its multiple dedicated rings for focusing, zooming, and customizing control, in addition to the OLED display for extra information. This design provides better versatility and precision for photographers who need to make frequent adjustments. However, the 20mm lens still offers an excellent single control ring that caters to photographers who prefer a simpler and more streamlined approach to adjusting focus or other settings.


The Nikon Z 20mm f/1.8 offers a minimalistic design with a single AF/MF switch that toggles between manual and autofocus modes. This switch is easy to locate and use, contributing to a straightforward user experience. The lens lacks additional switches or buttons, like focus limiters or image stabilization controls, which can be found on other lenses. This simplicity makes it an ideal choice for beginners who want a user-friendly lens without the potential confusion of multiple controls.

In contrast, the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 features several switches and buttons, designed for easy use and customization. It includes an AF/MF toggle switch and a focus mode switch, as well as a programmable L-Fn button and a Display button.

The Display button allows users to change the information shown on the OLED panel, switching between focal length, set aperture, and set focus distance. These added controls provide more flexibility and customization options for photographers who require them.

When comparing the switches and buttons of these lenses, the 14-24mm lens offers a more comprehensive and customizable experience, making it superior for photographers who need the added flexibility and control. However, the 20mm lens provides a clean and minimalistic design that is ideal for those who prefer a more straightforward approach to lens operation.

Filter Thread

The Nikon Z 20mm f/1.8 features a 77mm plastic filter thread, which is a common size that allows for easy compatibility with a range of filters. The front element and filter thread do not rotate during focusing, making it convenient to use with filters such as screw-on polarizers. The lens does not have a dramatic curve at the front, allowing for standard filters to be attached without any issues.

On the other hand, the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 includes a plastic hood with filter threads and can accept a 112mm screw-on filter. This filter size is not standard, but Nikon and B+W offer filters in this size. The lens also supports trimmable drop-in gel filters that can be inserted into the rear of the lens. Overall, using compatible filters with the filter thread on this lens is straightforward.

Comparing the filter threads of the two lenses, the 20mm lens has an advantage in terms of compatibility and filter availability, as it uses the more common 77mm filter thread size. This can make it easier and more cost-effective to find and use filters with the 20mm lens. However, the 14-24mm lens offers flexibility by accommodating both screw-on and drop-in filters, despite its non-standard filter size.

Lens Hood

The Nikon Z 20mm f/1.8 comes with a plastic lens hood that features a standard tulip shape, effectively blocking stray light from entering the lens. Its ergonomic bevel design allows for a comfortable grip, making it easy to attach and detach. The hood can be smoothly rotated and securely locked into position, ensuring proper alignment and functionality while shooting.

In contrast, the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 includes two lens hood options: the lighter HB-96 and the bulkier HB-97. The HB-96 is compatible with the standard lens cap and has a plastic finish, while the HB-97 has a plastic bayonet mount, a large lens cap, and a 112mm thread size for attaching filters. The HB-97 can also hold rear gel filters, though it’s more expensive than standard filter sizes. Both lens hoods have a minimal design and are ergonomically beveled for easy handling. They protect the front element from unwanted light, moisture, and dust while offering the ability to attach screw-on filters and trimmable gel filters for creative control.

Comparing the lens hoods, the 14-24mm lens provides more versatility by offering two options catering to different user preferences and filter attachment capabilities. The 20mm lens hood, however, has a more straightforward design with a focus on blocking stray light.

Focusing and Optical Stabilization

Nikon NIKKOR Z 20mm F1.8 SNikon NIKKOR Z 14-24mm F2.8 S
AF MotorStepper motorStepper motor
Rotating Front ElementDoes not rotate on focusingAlso supports rear gel filters
Min Focus Distance0.2m0.28m
Max Magnification (X)0.190.13
Full-Time Manual FocusYesYes
Focus MethodInternalInternal

Focusing Performance

The Nikon Z 20mm f/1.8 boasts quick and quiet dual autofocus motors, providing reliable and efficient focusing performance. Its focusing speed is impressive, taking approximately 0.3 seconds to focus from infinity to 0.29m (1:10 magnification).

The lens excels in low-light situations due to its wide aperture, and initial autofocus acquisition is accurate. Manual focus override is available for fine-tuning focus, with smooth manual focus action. The lens has an internal focusing design, maintaining constant length regardless of focus and zoom settings, and minimal focus breathing, making it suitable for videography.

In comparison, the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 has a reasonably fast and accurate autofocus system, producing a quiet sound during operation. It can focus from close-up to infinity quickly or make precise adjustments with a slow turn.

Autofocus is accurate with no notable errors, and the minimum focusing distance is 11 inches, resulting in a maximum magnification of 0.13x. The lens also offers manual focus override, and the manual focus action is smooth. However, videographers might miss the repeatable, linear response of mechanical focus systems, and autofocus slows down in low-light situations.

Considering the focusing performance, the 20mm lens appears to have a superior autofocus system, as it performs well in low-light situations and has faster initial autofocus acquisition. Additionally, the minimal focus breathing makes it more suitable for videography. The 14-24mm lens, on the other hand, is still a reliable option but might be less ideal for videographers or those who frequently shoot in low-light conditions.

Optical Stabilization

The Nikon Z 20mm f/1.8 does not feature built-in optical stabilization, but when used with Nikon Z series cameras, such as the Z6 and Z7, in-body image stabilization (IBIS) can provide up to 5 stops of image stabilization. The IBIS system is quiet and effectively minimizes camera shake when shooting at slower shutter speeds, offering a suitable solution for various handheld shooting scenarios.

Similarly, the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 lacks optical image stabilization. However, most Z-mount cameras come with in-body image stabilization, which provides about 3 stops of stabilization when shooting handheld. This improvement is significant compared to turning off IBIS. Nonetheless, in-camera stabilization is less effective in correcting corner shake than center shake, which may limit sharpness in the sides and corners of images.

In conclusion, both lenses lack built-in optical stabilization but can take advantage of in-body image stabilization offered by Nikon Z series cameras. The 20mm lens benefits from up to 5 stops of stabilization, while the 14-24mm lens provides approximately 3 stops. As a result, the 20mm lens has a slight advantage in optical stabilization performance, especially when shooting handheld in low-light conditions or when capturing video.

Image Quality

Nikon NIKKOR Z 20mm F1.8 SNikon NIKKOR Z 14-24mm F2.8 S
Special ElementsED and aspherical elements + Nano Crystal and Super Integrated coatings4 ED elements, Arneo + Nano Crystal coatings
Diaphragm Blades99


The Nikon Z 20mm f/1.8 demonstrates well-controlled lateral chromatic aberration, with measurements ranging from 0.73 to 0.85 pixels. Longitudinal chromatic aberration is present at larger apertures (from f/1.8 to f/4) but disappears at smaller apertures. The lens also offers impressive coma performance, with stars appearing almost as perfect dots, surpassing many ultra-wide angle lenses available.

Spherochromatism is present but is generally not a significant concern in most situations, especially considering the wide nature of the lens. With proper focusing techniques, the coma performance can be further improved, resulting in round dots in the corners when shooting at night.

On the other hand, the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 performs exceptionally well in terms of chromatic aberrations, both lateral and longitudinal. Lateral chromatic aberration is easily correctable in post-processing, while longitudinal chromatic aberration, which is more challenging to fix, is nearly non-existent.

The lens also manages spherical aberration and coma effectively, producing sharp, detailed images with good contrast and minimal distortion. Spherochromatism is not significant with this lens, further contributing to its impressive aberration performance.

In conclusion, both lenses exhibit strong aberration control, but the 14-24mm lens outperforms the 20mm lens in terms of handling various types of aberrations. The 14-24mm lens delivers impressive results with minimal chromatic aberrations, spherical aberration, coma, and spherochromatism, making it the superior choice when considering aberration performance.


The Nikon Z 20mm f/1.8 delivers outstanding sharpness across the frame, featuring exceptional center sharpness even at its wide-open aperture. Although corner sharpness is slightly weaker when the lens is wide open, it improves considerably when stopped down.

The lens reaches its sharpest aperture at f/4, which is the sweet spot for achieving sharp corners. Stopping down beyond f/4 doesn’t yield additional sharpness benefits, as diffraction begins to affect overall sharpness. In various conditions and setups, the lens maintains impressive sharpness performance.

In contrast, the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 is incredibly sharp throughout its range, exhibiting excellent center sharpness even at its wide-open aperture. Corner sharpness is good but drops off noticeably when wide open, improving slightly in extreme corner performance when stopped down.

The sharpest aperture tends to be f/5.6, which results in a fairly flat field and a sharp frame. Diffraction is minimally evident at f/8, and images start to appear visibly soft at f/11 and beyond. The 14-24mm f/2.8 S is significantly sharper than the 14-30mm f/4 S, boasting superior midframe and corner performance.

In conclusion, both lenses offer remarkable sharpness, but the 14-24mm lens outshines the 20mm lens in terms of sharpness throughout its range and aperture settings. Given its consistent sharpness and improved midframe and corner performance, the 14-24mm lens is the superior choice when prioritizing sharpness in a wide-angle lens.

Bokeh Quality

The Nikon Z 20mm f/1.8 offers fairly good bokeh performance for a wide-angle lens, particularly when shooting subjects at extremely close distances. While the bokeh may not be as smooth or beautiful as that produced by a lens with a longer focal length and larger aperture, like a 50mm f/1.2, it still delivers a soft background with decent subject isolation. The lens renders highlights into gentle, round bokeh balls, and the blur circles are neutral. It is important to note, however, that bokeh quality is subjective and depends on personal preference.

On the other hand, the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 produces bokeh that is generally pleasing but can appear busy, with a soap bubble effect on specular highlights and a double-edged bokeh in transition zones. It may also exhibit some nisen bokeh at wider apertures. The circle of confusion test indicates that the bokeh is relatively smooth and evenly lit, without onion rings or coloration. While achieving a very shallow depth of field with this ultra-wide lens may be challenging, the bokeh that is attainable remains soft and visually appealing.

In conclusion, both lenses provide acceptable bokeh quality for wide-angle lenses, but the 20mm lens has an edge in terms of producing a softer background and better subject isolation. However, it is essential to remember that bokeh quality is subjective, and personal preference plays a significant role in evaluating the performance of each lens.


The Nikon Z 20mm f/1.8 exhibits impressive flare and ghosting control in various shooting scenarios, including when facing strong light sources directly. The Nano and Super Integrated coatings on the lens elements significantly reduce flare and ghosting, leading to improved contrast and clarity. Although minor flare may still be visible under certain conditions, it is generally well-managed and not overly distracting. Using the lens hood is recommended when shooting in challenging light conditions, as it helps enhance contrast and minimize flare.

On the other hand, the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 excels in controlling flare and ghosting, with virtually no loss of contrast, strange reflections, or ghosting even when dealing with bright light sources. The lens coatings almost entirely eliminate flare, ghosting, and coma, regardless of the direction of incoming light. The lens also produces appealing 18-pointed sunstars with well-controlled flare and effectively manages bright light sources entering the lens.

In conclusion, both lenses perform well in terms of flare and ghosting control, but the 14-24mm lens has a slight advantage due to its virtually flawless performance in handling bright light sources and maintaining contrast.


The Nikon Z 20mm f/1.8 displays noticeable vignetting, particularly when shot at its widest aperture of f/1.8. It exhibits about a third of a stop worse vignetting compared to its predecessor, amounting to roughly 2.3 stops. However, stopping down the lens significantly reduces vignetting. Although it is more pronounced in this lens, vignetting can be easily corrected during post-processing and should not be a major concern for most photographers.

In contrast, the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 exhibits minimal vignetting when shooting wide open at f/2.8, which is not a deal-breaker. Stopping down to f/4 or smaller reduces the vignetting to reasonable levels, even at 14mm and infinity focus, and it becomes almost invisible at 18mm and beyond. Auto-corrected images in Lightroom will display less vignetting, so it may not be as noticeable in real-world situations. Keeping in-camera corrections turned on is crucial to minimize vignetting, especially when shooting Milky Way images at high ISOs, as correcting for vignetting can add extra noise in the corners.

In conclusion, both lenses exhibit some degree of vignetting, but the 14-24mm lens performs better in this aspect, displaying less vignetting and effectively managing it when stopped down.


The Nikon Z 20mm f/1.8 displays barrel distortion of approximately 1.94%, which is higher than its Nikon 20mm f/1.8G counterpart, having around 1.06% distortion. This distortion may cause straight lines to appear slightly curved, particularly near the edges of the frame.

However, this distortion can be easily corrected using post-processing software like Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop, which apply automatic corrections. For those using non-Adobe software, manual correction may be necessary but is still relatively easy to achieve.

On the other hand, the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 exhibits noticeable distortion at its widest end of 14mm, which can be easily corrected with in-camera lens corrections or lens profiles available within RAW processing engines like Adobe Lightroom Classic, Photoshop, and Capture One Pro.

There is slight pincushion distortion at the longer end of 24mm, but it is not very prominent. The distortion becomes invisible when in-camera corrections are enabled, and they are also available for Raw photography.

In conclusion, both lenses exhibit some level of distortion, with the 20mm lens displaying more barrel distortion compared to the 14-24mm lens. The 14-24mm lens offers better distortion control, particularly when using in-camera corrections or RAW processing engines, making it the superior choice in terms of distortion management.

Final Verdict

For landscape photography, the 14-24mm lens is the superior choice due to its consistent sharpness, better aberration control, effective vignetting management, and excellent flare/ghosting control. The versatility in focal range also offers more creative options for capturing diverse landscapes.

For astrophotography, the 20mm lens’s low-light performance, faster initial autofocus acquisition, and better optical stabilization make it a better choice. Its softer background and better subject isolation can also be advantageous when capturing celestial objects.

For environmental portrait photography, the 20mm lens provides a slight edge in terms of bokeh quality, producing a softer background and better subject isolation. However, the 14-24mm lens’s versatility in focal range can be beneficial for quickly adapting to different environments and subjects.

For architectural photography, the 14-24mm lens is the preferred option due to its better distortion control, sharpness, and aberration handling. The wider focal range also allows for greater flexibility in capturing various architectural subjects and perspectives.

In conclusion, both the Nikon Z 20mm f/1.8 and Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 have their merits depending on the specific genre of wide-angle photography. The 20mm lens is well-suited for low-light performance, bokeh quality, and portability, while the 14-24mm lens excels in sharpness, aberration control, and focal range versatility.

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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