Viltrox AF 24mm f1.8 review
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Viltrox’s AF 24mm f1.8 is an affordable wide-angle lens for modern mirrorless cameras from Sony and Nikon with the distinct feature of being the only third party lens to date which can autofocus on a Nikon Z camera body. It is sharp in the center and renders quite some detail in the FF/FX-corner but suffers from a relatively soft zone in the middle third of the image-circle. You need to stop the lens down to f5.6 to lift this zone to good resolution. Bokeh is nice (for a 24mm f1.8 lens) on less contrasty backgrounds but it can produce ugly double contours in the distance and onion rings on specular highlights. And there are other weaknesses too: there is no weather sealing and the lens shows some color aberrations. Distortions become really prominent on closer subjects and light fall-off is also pretty strong. This is not helped by a confusing array of options and effects from internal corrections on JPGs and the corrections of RAWs from Adobes converter using the lens’s own lens profile and/or the Adobe supplied one or the additional profile supplied by Viltrox. On the plus side is minimal focus breathing, consistent autofocus (after dialing in some AF fine-tuning) with no focus shift, and the lens retains pretty good black levels even in strong contra light. Regarding sample variations: My copy of the lens was clearly decentered and the aperture ring made a scraping noise. So when you buy this lens make sure you get a well-centered and well-built copy.

Let’s put this into perspective and have a closer look at how the Viltrox compares to the Nikon Z 24mm f1.8 S.


Compared to Nikon Z 24mm f1.8 S

Regarding sharpness Nikon’s Z 24mm f1.8 S has the clear benefit of sharper rendering up to 16mm image height: You need to stop the Viltrox down to f5.6 to get the same level of details which the Z-Nikkor already produces at f1.8 in the DX image-circle. Focus action seems on a par – after the Viltrox received some AF fine-tuning. The Viltrox also renders a Bokeh similar to the Z-Nikkor on less contrasty backgrounds. But it shows ugly onion-rings on specular highlights and can also produce some disturbing double contours in the background. Regarding features and price: The Z-Nikkor is hardened well against the elements while the Viltrox does not even have a rubber grommet at the lens mount. On the plus side for the Viltrox is the dedicated aperture ring – and the much lower price. So if you’re on a budget the Viltrox AF 24mm f1.8 is an enticing alternativ to Nikon’s original.

For more details see my Nikon Z 24mm f1.8 S review where it earned a Highly Recommended.

Compared to Sigma 24mm f2 DG DN

The Sigma 24mm f2 DG DN is a very attractive lens for Sony and L-mount mirrorless owners with very good sharpness which remains crisp into the corners. And while some barrel distortion and vignetting are visible, both can be effectively corrected with lens compensations. It is built more compact plus feels a bit more sturdy than the Viltrox and offers at least weather sealing at the mount. It may be 50% more expensive as the Viltrox but all-in-all the Sigma 24mm f2 DG DN strikes a convincing balance of price, size and performance.

For more details see Gordon’s Sigma 24mm f2 DG DN review where it came Highly Recommended.


Viltrox AF 24mm f1.8 final verdict

The Viltrox AF 24mm f1.8 is a decent large aperture wide-angle lens with autofocus for Sony E-mount and Nikon Z-mount. It is sharp in the center and offers quite some detail in the FF/FX-corner. But its relatively soft rendering between 8mm and 16mm image height requires stopping down to f5.6 to produce sharp landscapes or architecture shots. The lens offers a dedicated aperture ring, has minimal focus breathing, fares relatively well in contra-light situations, and has a fast and consistent AF – after some AF fine-tuning. Bokeh is nice (for a 24mm f1.8 lens) on less contrasty backgrounds but it can produce ugly double contours in the distance and onion rings on specular highlights. The lens also lacks any form of weather sealing and has strong distortions which are not easily corrected. But all-in-all the lens has a good price/performance-ratio and I can recommend the Viltrox AF 24mm f1.8 if you’re looking for a lower-cost wide-angle lens.

Good points:

  • Good sharpness and contrast in the center, good detail in the FF/FX-corner.
  • Nice Bokeh (for a 24mm f1.8 lens) on less contrasty backgrounds but beware the onion rings and double contours.
  • Very little focus breathing.
  • Dedicated aperture ring plus multi-function ring assignable to manual focus, ISO or exposure compensation.
  • Low price.

Bad points:

  • Relatively soft in the middle third of the image-circle up to f5.6.
  • Coma could be better controlled.
  • No weather sealing.
  • Strong distortions especially at closer distances, not easily corrected.
Check prices on the Viltrox AF 24mm f1.8 at B&H or Adorama. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book, an official Cameralabs T-shirt or mug, or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!
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