Actually no real surprise. Especially with the 24mm Nikon TS-E. This particular lens seems to be full of sample
variation. Some people report very good results:http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/nikon/36870-d800e-24mm-pc-e.html
others show the results obtained in the original Australian blog.
I have found that with ultra wides, you may have some work to do to find a good one. The 14-24 is an example, Lens number 3 I received was
very good. Even with that I found that it need AF micro adjustment. Micro adjustment on the D800 is very critical, it was critical on the 5D MKII and
is even more now on the D800.
Where I have trouble is finding a good lens/ultra wide that is good wide open, or even close. The 14-24 on the D800 (nonE) from F2.8 to about F5.6 is not really
good at all and even shows some of the detail smearing you tend to see with a MF back and a tech camera lens shifted too far past the effective image circle.
However this same lens when set to F 7.1 to F 11 is excellent corner to corner. I have yet to try the Zeiss 21 or 18 (shying away from the 18mm due to it's unique flare issues). I hope to be able test out a 21mm next week.
As has already been mentioned, Nikon has the glass, in the 24mm range, with either the 24 1.4 or 1.8. Both seem to do very well, but I 24 is not wide enough
for where I need to work.
But it's not just a Nikon issue. Canon has the same issue. They have been busy reworking a lot of their glass (which may be a better approach), The new 24 TS-E for example on a 21mp Canon is a truly wonderful lens. You can take it to a full shift and you will see very little smearing and no CA. The older 24mm TS-E can't come close. However I wonder right now if Canon brought out a 36mp or higher 35mm sensor just how many of their current ultra wides would hold up to the full resolution of the sensor. For me the decision wasn't the resolution it was the DR of the D800. If anything the resolution is a bit of problem since you have to really be selective on lenses if you want to get the full benefit of the sensor.