10-24mm Nikon Wide Angle | A non-technical Review

Words fail me as I try and describe my joy; The Nikon 10-24mm (14 Elements, 9 Groups) is a game-changer for DX [crop sensor] DSLRs. I got mine used for $450.00CAD from another photographer; a complete bargain considering the price tag of $1169.95CAD new. I always consider buying used if I can. Not only is it better for the environment you save some real money doing so. If you want a new wide angle but don’t want to pay 1 month rent for one you can consider the 10-20mm Nikon which retail new for around $300.00-$400.00CAD and has superb optic quality and is about 1/3rd the weight. If the 10-24mm wasn’t available used I would have purchased the 10-20mm.

Make no doubts about it, this is not exactly the sharpest lens in the tool shed. At around 10-12mm the lens is plagued by distortion, chromatic aberration in the corners, fringing and ghosting. It is to the point where I cannot be fixed in post so cropping is a necessity at that focal distance. This issue is compounded by shooting at the extremes of the aperture scale; f/3.5-5.6 and f/16-22 are considered off limits unless you have confidence in your post work. All of this is really meaningless as most camera in the mid 2010s have distortion correction.

Photography is about how you captured the image; that is how I like to think about it. So if your image has noise because you shot it as ISO 4000, or has colour ghosting in the corners or maybe it has a large lens flare in the top right third of the frame, these are story tellers. I tend to believe that Instagram has ruined photography; affirming the notion that images have to be completely smooth, clear and saturated. Without taking into consideration the environmental/physical/equipment limitations.

I say ruined and that is hyperbolic; it did not completely ruin photography, maybe a more apt dissertation would be Instagram has desensitized photography. In the sense that we forget about how the image was captured; the work that went into capturing that image, the technical aspects that add to the image. So what if your image has grain in it, that 4000ISO was needed in order to capture the composition you created in your mind.

It is interesting how we can view classical artistic pieces as beautiful; an artistic representation of an idea. This tends to stop at photography. The undue burden of pressure thrust upon the modern photographer is often overlooked by the consumption masses; the photographer doesn’t get paid UNLESS it meets technical perfection. UNLESS is grasps the eye of the onlooker with unnaturally saturated colour and installed light. UNLESS the portrait of the person has no pores. UNLESS you have invested $10,000 in professional equipment. If you do not meet this strict criteria you, in the eyes of the Culture Industry, are an amateur, a hobbyist, just doing this for “fun”.

Rather than understanding the the photographer is working within their means; and appreciating the art in that; we look towards to person who has the means to spend the money (or rather the means of going into debt) on a Sony A7R IV full kit with a carbon tripod, external flash, 3 batteries and an additional 3 lenses.

As a final conclusion to this rant; I fully understand there has to be differentiating factors between what is considered ‘hobbyist’, ‘amateur’, and ‘professional’. Should that calling card really be the means of the photographer? Or should it be viewed upon the end to the means?; That is to view the photographers will, their drive and their understanding as the end to their story. One can understand, appreciate and be committed to the art while only having a 10MP 2008 Olympus E300 they picked up for $50 bucks at the pawn shop.

This is why I consider the Nikon 10-24mm an extraordinary piece of kit that enhances a photographers eye. Sure it has its limitations, everything in this universe has limitations. If you are committed to work with the 10-24mm limitations, it will be a great lens for you. If you play with it, test it, use it, experiment with it; find the sweet spots, this lens will work with you rather than against you.

It is within this method of work that separates the ‘amateur’ from the ‘professional’, not clarity, not quality of the kit, not means of transportation. It is, as with most of the human experience, within the willingness to explore the concept.