Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR Zoom Lens Review Roundup2012-12-07 03:57
12/6/2012: Add review by PB.
11/25/2012: Add review by AP.
11/22/2012: Add review by PR.
11/15/2012: Add review by PhotoZone.
11/7/2012: Add review by Phoblographer,
10/28/2012: Add review by SLRgear, PCMag, PhotographyLife.
On June 14 2012, Nikon announced the AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR standard zoom lens. The lens comes with vibration reduction (VR II) to provide camera shake compensation equivalent to a shutter speed increase of four steps, Silent Wave Motor (SWM) for quiet autofocus operation, and two focus modes - M/A (autofocus with manual override) and M (manual). Here's the lens technical specifications:
- Focal length 24-85mm
- Maximum aperture f/3.5-4.5
- Minimum aperture f/22-29
- Lens construction 16 elements in 11 groups (including 1 ED glass and 3 aspherical lens elements)
- Angle of view 84° - 28°30' (61° - 18°50' with Nikon DX format)
- Minimum focus distance 0.38 m/1.25 ft (from focal plane)
- Maximum reproduction ratio 0.22x
- No. of diaphragm blades 7 (rounded)
- Filter-attachment size 72mm
- Diameter x length (distance from camera lens mount flange) Approximately 78 x 82 mm/3.1 x 3.2 in.
- Weight Approximately 485 g/17.1 oz
- Supplied accessories 72 mm snap-on Front Lens Cap LC-72, Rear Lens Cap LF-4, Bayonet Hood HB-63, Flexible Lens Pouch CL-1118
The AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR lens is listed for $599.95 and is currently selling at around $599, via Amazon.com. Here's the lens review roundup:
PhotographyBLOG, gave a rating of 4/5: "The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR is an affordable walkabout lens for Nikon full-frame users who don't want to pay the substantial price premium for Nikon's more pro-level zooms. It offers good, but not outstanding performance, across its versatile focal range, capable of capturing everything from ultra-wide-angle landscapes to head-and-shoulders portraits. The lens' centre sharpness, while not quite as "biting" as that of Nikon's most prestigious primes and zooms, is good at most focal lengths and f-stops. Edge sharpness isn't so great, requiring quite a lot of stopping-down to get acceptable results. There are a few other weak points including some h corner shading and quite a bit of chromatic aberration at maximum aperture, a somewhat "nervous" bokeh and a hefty dose of geometric distortions.
Still, the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR does offer a useful focal range, well-implemented Vibration Reduction system, fast auto focus and respectable build quality, all in a relatively lightweight and compact design. While it won't win any awards for image quality, it does offer a compelling combination of portability, versatility and affordability that many Nikon FX-users will value."... [Source]
AmateurPhotographer, gave a rating of 60/100: "Given its price, the Nikkor 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR lens is very sharp. At the 24mm focal length, the lens is able to resolve to around 30 on our test chart when paired with the 24-million-pixel Nikon D3X. This is impressive, and when shooting at 24mm and f/8 it is almost a match for the more expensive Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 optic. As expected, there is some drop off in sharpness when the lens is used with the aperture wide open, and also when apertures of f/16 or smaller are set. However, this gives a very wide range at which the lens is at its optimum, especially given its general-purpose nature. Set the focal length to 85mm and there is another drop in resolution, although our shots show that the lens is still capable of resolving up to around 28 on our chart, which is still very good. The lens is not without its flaws, however. There is a slight fall-off in resolution towards the edges, although still with an acceptable amount of detail, particularly when you take into consideration the budget nature of the lens. Similarly, some green/magenta chromatic aberrations can be seen on high-contrast edges, although I found that the Nikon D3X corrected these automatically on all the JPEG images. Removing the colour fringing was simple enough in Adobe Camera Raw.
Although the suggested retail price for the Nikkor 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR lens is £519, it can be bought for as little as £429. This is a good price for a basic zoom lens designed for a full-frame DSLR. While there are compromises that come with a lens of this price, they are easily overcome, and the centre sharpness of the lens is very good, as is the optical image stabilisation. Although this optic will not appeal to many professionals, it would seem that Nikon is attempting to make ownership of an FX-format DSLR more affordable. It would therefore be no surprise to see this 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 optic bundled as a kit lens with an affordable full-frame DSLR in the future. The 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR may not be the greatest zoom lens ever made, but it is a good option for those enthusiasts looking for an affordable lens to pair with their full-frame Nikon DSLR."... [Source]
PhotoReview Australia, gave a rating of 8.8/10: "Images straight out of the camera appeared very sharp with both camera bodies. Slight edge and corner softening were apparent at all focal length settings and through most of the aperture range with the D600. Mounted on the D3200, the softening was only noticeable at the widest aperture settings (because the sensor covers a smaller percentage of the lens's imaging circle). Imatest confirmed our subjective assessments and showed even the highest resolution we recorded wasn't quite a match for the high-resolution sensor on either camera body, although it came quite close, particularly with raw files. We obtained the best results in our Imatest tests at f/5.0 with the 24mm focal length with both cameras. Diffraction limiting set in around f/8, and its effects became noticeable between f/16 and f/22. Stopping down beyond f/16 isn't recommended. Lateral chromatic aberration hovered around the dividing line between 'negligible' and 'low' and can't be seen as a significant issue. The use of ED glass elements has played a role in keeping CA low (and most modern cameras include automatic or selectable CA correction). In the graph below showing the results of our tests, the red line marks the boundary between 'negligible' and 'low' CA, while the green line marks the edge of the 'moderate' zone.
While this lens is solidly constructed and provides good enough image quality to satisfy entry-level enthusiasts, Imatest showed its optics couldn't quite match the resolution of the 24-megapixel Nikon D3200 and D600 camera bodies we tested it on. Nevertheless, it represents a valid choice for cash-strapped photographers, particularly when purchased with the D600 body. Aside from the slight light falloff and loss of sharpness in the corners with the FX camera, this lens can be seen as a good all-round performer. Most aberrations are well constrained - or automatically correctable in a modern camera. Even though it's not capable of macro focusing this lens can produce perfectly good close-up shots in relatively low light levels. For its price, it represents very good value."... [Source]
PhotoZone, gave an optical quality rating of 2.5/5: "The Nikon AF-S 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR leaves us with mixed impressions. Mechanically, there's not much to complain about. The built quality is good and in line with other current consumer-grade Nikkor lenses. The optical stabilization works very well, even at short focal lengths, and thanks to a silent-wave drive the AF is silent and quite fast. The resolution figures in the image center are very high, however the lens needs to be stopped down to achieve good to very good sharpness across the frame. At large apertures the extreme corners show significantly lower resolution than the image center, especially at wide-angle zoom settings.
CAs and vignetting are a bit on the high side. This is also true for image distortion, which is worse than what we are used to see from super-zooms with considerably larger zoom ranges. It almost seems, that with software correction available for all three issues in-camera nowadays, these properties are no longer high on the priority list during lens design. So, in summary, the lens delivers solid performance regarding sharpness, at least when stopped down, but fails to impress regarding other image parameters. Most of the issues mentioned here can be resolved with in-camera correction (or in post processing), however from a consumer zoom carrying a price tag close to 500 EUR we expected a little more."... [Source]
Phoblographer: "Some people may like the Nikon 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED AF-S VR though. It is the economy car of lenses. I may just be overly hard on it. It does cover a decent range and some folks may find it useful. If someone is buying the D600 because it was sold to them by a greedy salesman, not because it's what they needed, they will probably only use this lens. Their camera will, most likely always set on auto and take a lot of snap shots and pictures of children. If someone is taking their photography a little more seriously, they will learn of other lens options available to them and eventually put this lens down.
I do understand the reasoning behind a kit lens. Its to get people out and shooting. I feel the Nikon could have done better with this lens. There is something in the way that it feels that makes me think of the Nikon 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G at $599.0,0 is not worth the cost. I just did not enjoy shooting with this lens. Comparing to other lenses, like a Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 ($649.00, only $50 more), Nikon could have made a better kit lens. Again for me the Nikon 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G just feels wrong. It does not suit me. If asked, I would suggest buying a Nikon 50mm f1.8 G and/or 85mm f1.8 G. These lenses won't break the bank. If you want a zoom, I would say take a look at lenses like the Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3. Another option is going used. If you can find a used Nikon 28-80mm f3.3-5.6G (a lens that used to come with Nikon autofocus film cameras around between 2001 and 2006) it would be far cheaper, more compact, lightweight and may just give you a better experience, even without vibration reduction. The Nikon 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G felt unwhelming. Something pushed out and dumbed down for Nikon's low end full frame. After testing the Nikon D600 I felt that being paired with the Nikon 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G was a disservice. If you do like the Nikon 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G it should be tested, if you can, before you buy it."... [Source]
SLRgear, gave a rating of 8/10: "The Nikon 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 VR provides generally quite sharp images. Performance is better when the lens is mounted on the sub-frame (DX) D7000, as the lens' corner performance is not seen by that camera's sensor. Used wide open on the D7000, images are almost tack-sharp, with just a hint of corner softness at the 24mm focal length. Zooming to 50mm or stopping down even just a half-stop solves this problem and you're left with super-sharp images. The 70mm and 85mm settings aren't as sharp, though it's just a matter of degrees; performance is still excellent, though curiously, it's slightly better at 85mm than at 70mm. Mounted on the full-frame D800 exposes the lens' true nature. Used at the widest aperture setting at any focal length produces some level of corner softness: from considerable at 24mm, to just slight at 85mm. Central sharpness is very good when used wide open, and gets somewhat better when stopped down to f/5.6 or f/8, but you don't get the same tack-sharp images with this lens when used with the D7000. In this case, we could be seeing the sensor out-resolving the lens. Diffraction limiting sets in by f/11, though the effects are really noticeable until f/16: fully stopped-down performance is generally best avoided, as it produces consistently average performance.
The Nikon 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 VR is a capable kit lens, offering very good results on a D800 and excellent results on a D7000. While it isn't the sharpest offering available for full-frame, it's the most economical, making it the go-to option for someone wanting to get a full-frame lens without paying the premium price for a professional lens."... [Source]
PCMag, gave a rating of 3.5/5: "I used Imatest to measure the sharpness and distortion when the lens is paired with the D600. It exceeds the 1,800 lines per picture height required for a sharp image throughout its zoom range--notching 2,238 lines at 24mm, 2,090 lines at 50mm, and 1,900 lines at 85mm. The major issue with the lens is distortion. At 24mm it exhibits 4 percent barrel distortion. Zooming to 50mm changes the distortion to 3 percent pincushion, which increases to 3.2 percent at 85mm. Distortion can be corrected in Lightroom or similar software, but doing so will require a bit of extra time in your post-processing workflow.
If you're looking for a budget zoom option for a full-frame Nikon D-SLR, the 24-85mm is a solid option. You can spend more and get a zoom lens with a longer range, like the AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm f/4G ED VR that is often paired with FX bodies, or one with a faster aperture like the top-of-the-line AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED. If you're moving up from APS-C to full-frame and are in need of a standard zoom, the lens represents an excellent value--just be aware of its distortion characteristics before making the purchase."... [Source]
PhotographyLife, gave a rating of 4/5: "When the Nikon 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G VR was announced, a lot of photographers including myself got pretty excited about it. With a low price of $599, this full-frame lens sounded like a great potential choice for those that do not want to shell out over a thousand USD for the professional Nikon 24-120mm or the Nikon 24-70mm lenses. And with an entry-level full-frame Nikon D600 coming out soon, the Nikon 24-85mm could become a popular lens again, especially if Nikon decides to make it a kit lens for the D600. I spent over a month testing this lens on multiple Nikon cameras and found it to be a solid performer overall. While it is a little weak at short focal lengths and in the extreme corners, it has very good center sharpness and its overall resolution is quite good when stopped down to f/8 and smaller. At longer focal lengths above 35mm, it can resolve a lot of fine detail and it outperforms the older 24-85mm lenses, even in the corners. The Nikon 24-85mm VR almost has no focus shift and it has much less field curvature issues compared to the discontinued Nikon 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED and the much older Nikon 24-85mm f/2.8-4D lenses. Vibration Reduction (VR II) is very useful and works extremely well, allowing to use up to 3-4 times slower shutter speeds. It produces images with great contrast and beautiful colors, although I would not put it in the same category with some of Nikon's pro level lenses.
At the same time, the Nikon 24-85mm VR has a number of optical problems. The lens shows high levels of vignetting at maximum aperture, especially at 24mm. Stopping down the lens to f/8 minimizes vignetting quite a bit, but it still stays close to 1 EV at short focal lengths. Its distortion levels are also very high - at 24mm, it starts out with -3.74% barrel distortion, which immediately switches over to pincushion distortion at 35mm. Starting from around the 40mm mark, the lens has 3.2% or higher pincushion distortion, which is very noticeable in images. On top of that, the extreme corners also suffer from a high amount of lateral chromatic aberration, again, primarily at shortest focal lengths. All this is not very unusual though - it is after-all a lens without a gold ring..."... [Source]
ePhotoZine, gave a rating of 4.5/5: "At 24mm and maximum aperture, sharpness in the centre of the frame is already excellent, with the clarity towards the edges of the frame not too far behind. Stopping the aperture down improves sharpness with peak quality being achieved at f/5.6 for this focal length. Here clarity in the centre is outstanding and excellent towards the edges of the frame. Zooming to 50mm results in a drop in overall clarity, but sharpness in the centre is still very good in the centre of the frame at maximum aperture. Clarity towards the edges of the frame falls just below good levels at this setting. Peak quality across the frame is achieved with the aperture stopped down to between f/8 and f/11 where sharpness in the centre is excellent and very good sharpness is present towards the edges of the frame. Zooming to 85mm sees a slight increases in sharpness towards the edges of the frame, with good levels of clarity being recorded during testing. Sharpness in the centre of the frame remains very good at maximum aperture and peak quality across the frame is achieved at f/11. Chromatic aberrations are well controlled throughout the zoom range barely exceeding half a pixel width between 24mm and 50mm. There is a slight increase in fringing at 85mm, but CA levels of 0.75 pixel widths should not pose any issues for general photography.
Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is quite pronounced for a lens sporting a moderate maximum aperture. At 24mm the corners are 2.83 stops darker than the image centre and at 85mm the corners are 1.93 stops darker. Visually uniform illumination isn't achieved until the lens is stopped down to f/8 or beyond throughout the zoom range. Distortion is also quite strong at the extremes of the zoom range. At 24mm 4.74% barrel distortion is present and this is replaced with 2.78% pincushion at 85mm. Both these distortion values can be quite visible in images with straight lines towards the edges of the frame. Luckily the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame throughout the zoom range, which should make applying corrections relatively straightforward in image editing software afterwards. A particularly deep petal shaped hood is provided with this lens, which does an excellent job of shielding the lens from extraneous light that may cause flare or loss of contrast. This lens is pretty resistant to flare, although some flare may appear when shooting into the light at 24mm, and a slight loss of contrast can be seen at 85mm under the same conditions. This new 24-85mm lens is ideal for those looking for a high quality standard zoom for a Nikon FX format DSLR, especially if the cost and bulk of other lenses on offer is off-putting. It is capable of delivering sharp images with low CA, and although distortion is quite strong, it should be easily correctable in image editing software afterwards. The addition of Nikon's VRII stabilisation should help when shooting at low shutter speeds in low light too."... [Source]
User review by Coronet Blue, gave a rating of 4/5: "It's pretty difficult to make a zoom that covers both wide angle and telephoto and is good at both. The Nikon 24-70 does this, for $1800 and by limiting the range to 70mm. The other options that come to mind (I've owned them all) are the Nikon 24-120, Canon 24-70 and Canon 24-105. With the exception of the Nikon 24-70 which big, heavy, expensive and limited in range, the main strength of these lenses is convenience, which is a polite way of saying they're good but not stellar. The situation with this new Nikon 24-85 is much the same--but for far less money(!) I'm pleased with this lens. Using a D700, it's good at all focal lengths. There's no need to stop down at 85mm but at 24mm things definitely improve starting around 5.6. I found f/7.1 looked the best to me. A few things to note. The front element is really exposed so if you don't have anything 72mm laying around, I'd suggest getting a filter asap. The rear element is out there too, but I guess we'll just have to be careful there. Zooming is a little stiff (I have 2 of these lenses, both the same). This seems to be because the "gearing" of the zoom is such that going from 24mm to 35mm is just a few degrees of turn so this adjustment is a little coarse. All that stuff is minor, but you should know that like all other wide-tele zooms there is a lot of distortion at both ends. A lot. I don't know if Nikon has provided any corrections for this yet. Anyway, if you shoot a sunset, it won't matter. But if you shoot a sunset through a window, I'd try to set the lens around 28-30mm which seems to be where it switches from barrel to pincushion. The VR works well, although it seems to take a little longer to engage than with the 16-35VR.
So that's why no 5 stars. But I like this lens a lot and it will see a lot of use. If Nikon plans to use this in a kit with a future FX SLR, it would be a great choice for an all-purpose walk around lens. OTOH, if you are using a D800 with the mirror up, trying to get that last little bit of detail, this lens should be fine but it won't get everything the D800 is capable of capturing. FYI, except for the caps, it's made in China and yes, the lens mount is metal. Comments that it was plastic were made by people who had never seen the lens but noticed the rubber gasket shown in photos that covers the outside edge of the mount. A nice touch is that the lens has a large raised white dot for lens mounting alignment. Another very good sign is that the two lenses I have are nearly identical in performance and neither has a bad side or a bad corner. Well done, Nikon."... [Source]
Sample Photos from Flickr:
AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR
June 14, 2012
A compact, lightweight Nikon FX-format standard zoom lens suitable for a variety of shooting situations
TOKYO - Nikon Corporation is pleased to announce the release of the AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR standard zoom lens, with a 3.5x zoom ratio, compatible with the FX format.
The AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm F/3.5-4.5G ED VR is a highly versatile lens with a focal length of 24-85mm, making it ideal for shooting in a wide variety of situations including landscapes, portraits and snapshots. The lens also offers an extensive set of features including vibration reduction (VR II) to provide camera shake compensation equivalent to a shutter speed increase of approximately four steps, the Silent Wave Motor (SWM) for quiet autofocus operation and two focus modes - M/A (autofocus with manual override) and M (manual). Furthermore, despite the fact that it is compact, lightweight and priced affordably, the AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR realizes images that maximizes the characteristics of high-resolution, high image quality FX-format D-SLR cameras, making it a lens that you can use regularly.
In 2012, Nikon released the D4, D800 and D800E. Along with the expansion of FX-format D-SLR camera lineup, Nikon has strengthened its NIKKOR lens lineup. With the optical technologies Nikon has spent years cultivating, Nikon will continue to meet and exceed the expectations of professional and advanced amateur photographers who demand increasingly advanced shooting and expressiveness by proactively developing and releasing highly functional, high-performance products.
AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR Primary Features
- An standard zoom lens with a zoom ratio of 3.5x, a focal length of 24-85mm and FX-format compatible, allowing you to enjoy shooting a wide variety of situations with just one lens
- Vibration reduction (VR II) offering camera shake compensation equivalent to a shutter speed increase of approximately four steps
- Silent Wave Motor (SWM) for extremely quiet autofocusing
- Two focus modes, M/A (autofocus with manual override) and M (manual)
- The optical system with ED and aspherical lens elements optimal for D-SLR cameras enables sharp rendering and superior optical performance
- A size and weight that makes it very portable