I don't know much about the autofocus versions so will stay out of that. As I just mentioned in another post, the 24 2.8 Nikkor (manual focus, any version) is a great lens. It is a shame about the the lack of matrix metering with MF lenses (I have an F80).
I don't find the 24 to be more difficult to compose with than 28; I prefer it myself. For some reason, going down to 20mm (or 21 in other systems) really makes a difference in that regard. For me that is the dividing line between wide angle and super wide.