Well, this is going to be a long post that I am going to preface with this; I am not into any official lens testing. There are plenty of sites out there that will show you sharpness charts and the like. I didn't do anything special other than order this lens from my usual lens rental place and take it for a spin for a week shooting some of my favorite places and subjects. This "review" is nothing more than my thoughts on this lens. Please take it or leave it.
Okay now that we've got that out of the way. My first impressions of this lens - LOVE IT! For being a wide angle lens the bokeh is excellent on this lens. It can blur background out with the best of them. Would I use this as a portrait or event photography lens - you betcha! Do I think it is sharp? Razor sharp! Personally I would love this for both landscapes and portrait work. As a landscape lens, the sharpness and portability of a single focal lens is highly appealing to me. Sure I probably won't shoot it at f/1.4 often, but the ability to in low light opens a lot of doors. I also really like that this lens has a filter size of 77mm, which seems to be the standard. So my polarizer and neutral density filters fit on like a dream. 24mm is also finally wide enough to legitimately use as a landscape lens even on my crop sensor D300. Do I wish I would have had a full frame D700 or the likes with this bad boy? Abso-frickin-lutely!
I'm going to start with some images that are 100% SOOC (straight out of camera). They were shot in RAW using aperture priority with auto white balance at ISO 100 on my Nikon D300. They've been run through Lightroom 3 only to resize them for web and export as jpegs. Thrown in are also a few shots with the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 G lens (SOOC) for the purpose of showing lens contrast and how much wider 24mm really is. In the case of switching lenses. I didn't move my feet. I simply switched lenses in place so you could see the difference.
24mm @ f/1.4, 1/500050mm @ f/1.4 1/3200 (sorry this one is ISO 200.) I didn't move. Same position only at 50mm24mm @ f/1.4, 1/640 (look how close you can get and still focus!)2 samples of 24mm @ f/1.4
24mm @ f/3.5, 1/160 (Looks how sharp and detailed even at f/3.5)
24mm shown first at f/6.3 1/100, then at f/1.4 1/1600.
50mm @ f/1.4, 1/500 24mm @ f/1.4, 1/1000 (notice how much more contrast is rendered in the 24mm) I didn't move. Same position only at 24mm.
Okay, now that you've seen shots right out of the camera. Here are a few more shots edited in Lightroom 3 shot using my Nikon D300 and this lens. I also shot this lens in extremely low light from a kayak. Those shots will be coming up in another post. If you get a chance to rent this lens, go for it. It is a lot of fun to play with. I'm also looking forward to trying the new 85 f/1.4 and 35 f/1.4 when they become available.