By March 30, 2009

Nikkor 24mm f/3.5D ED review

Should I add a Tilt/shift lens to my photography kit bag ?

The PC-E Nikkor 24mm f/3.5D ED.

In 2008 Nikon introduced the PC-E NIKKOR 24mm f/3.5D ED lens, at the time this was the latest in a series of tilt/shift lenses that offer effective manipulation of: perspective, distortion and focus. Ideal for photographing landscapes, architecture, or panoramas, this (PC) or Perspective Control lens simply corrects linear distortion and aberration to deliver images closer to a true human eye view. This lens can be used on many Nikon D-SLR cameras, and it offers a multitude of possibilities beyond its functions as a precision correcting tool.


The larger knobs at the top and on the side of the lens are for tilt and shift adjustments; the smaller locking knob (on the right side of the lens) keeps adjustments in place after they are set. The aperture stop-down button, for checking depth of field and for use with manual exposure operation


What’s in the box?

Bayonet Hood HB-41,

Flexible Lens Pouch CL-1120

Nikkor 24mm f/3.5D ED Specification

  • Focal length – 24mm
  • Aperture – f/3.5 – 32
  • Lens construction – 13 elements in 10 groups (with three ED glass elements, three aspherical lenses, one with Nano Crystal Coat)
  • Picture angle – 84°, Maximum 101° when fully shifted
  • Closest focus distance – 0.21 m / 0.7 ft
  • Maximum reproduction ratio – 1:2.7
  • Aperture blades – 9 (rounded)
  • Filter attachment size – 77 mm
  • Focusing – Manual focus
  • Dimensions – Approx. 82.5 x 108 mm / 3.2 x 4.3 in.
  • Weight – Approx 730 g / 25.7 oz


This lens is both a special-purpose lens and also a very effective wide-angle lens. It provides both the pro and serious amateur photographers with a groundbreaking, effective solution for many photographic challenges, as well as offering a whole range of new and exciting avenues for creative exploration. It has a good solid build quality and is a great lens to handle. Despite the multitude of moving parts and complexity of the lens functionality it feels very solid and reliable.


Pro’s and Con’s

  • Many photographers will value the capacity to more efficiently correct images during a shoot. Considerably reducing the postproduction needed on the images afterwards with software.
  • This lens has many characteristics that mean it is well suited to a variety of tasks and offers both a wide angle-of-view combined with dramatic depth-of-field control. Ideal for capturing stunning landscapes.
  • The lens allows the photographer to quickly adjust the aperture with a stop-down button, or with the aperture ring.
  • Many of the functions also mean that this lens a great choice for close-up macro work, with a minimum focusing distance of 0.7 feet and the capacity to fine tune focus with perspective control.
  • The small locking knobs for the movements can be tricky to reach, depending on how the lens is tilting.
  • Three aspherical elements virtually eliminate all types of lens aberration even at the widest aperture.


This lens offers photographers ‘complete control’ over all its features. Its controls are easy to use and I found it very intuitive to use straight out of the box. The features include an aperture ring, aperture stop-down button, focusing ring, shift knob and tilt knob. The use of Nikon’s Nano Crystal Coat, 3-element glass lens and aspherical elements come together to create a lens that offers outstanding optical quality, with minimal flare and chromatic aberration.

Those photographers who are most likely to find this lens a practical addition to their kit would include architectural, interior, landscape and stock image photographers. Although I feel it has a great deal of creative range and options opening up new potential for any photography enthusiast.

It offers you unbelievable control and the ability to manipulate depth of field in new and interesting ways.

Unfortunately the price means that it’s a very expensive piece of kit to purchase if you are just looking at experimenting with its many interesting possibilities. But it functions extremely well as a 24mm lens and with the additional options it offers you for many photographic disciplines it could be worth its weight in gold and function as a very versatile tool in your camera kit.


I guess I would recommend this lens to any professional photographer. It seems currently the price tag would need a little justification for a specialist lens like this to find its way into many enthusiasts’ kit bags. It can of course always be considered a very good option as a 24mm lens with outstanding built quality and durability. To really benefit from this lens you either have need a practical functional need for its corrective capabilities: as in architectural photography for example. Or just be prepared to experiment and explore your creative potential with added control over the focal plane and depth of field. I personally found this lens a joy to use and more importantly I found it inspired me to challenge myself and discover new avenues for creative expression.

It was refreshing as a digital camera user to find a tool, which gave me back a real sense of creative control and interesting ways in which to use the technology. I also own a lens baby and it is the only lens I can draw a comparison from, its very similar but in a more professional way, it also has a very high level of durability and a fantastic build quality, where as the lens baby in comparison is more of a junior level lens.


Review by: Stuart Birchall

Posted in: Cameras

About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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