NOTE: A full review of this lens can be found in my Nikon 24-120mm VR Review article.
Another lens that has been released today is the Nikon 24-120mm f/4.G ED VR – an update to the Nikon 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED VR lens that has been out since 2003. The lens has been completely redesigned with a constant aperture of f/4, now coming with a gold ring around the front of the lens barrel, which is an indication of Nikon’s professional line of lenses.
Nikon 24-120mm f/4.0G ED VR Specifications
The Nikon 24-120mm f/4.0G ED VR is a heavy upgrade to the previous version of the lens. It is specifically designed for the Nikon FX sensor to deliver sharper results on professional full-frame cameras such as Nikon D700, D3s and D3x. Here are the lens specifications:
- Focal length: 24-120mm
- Maximum aperture: f/4
- Minimum aperture: f/22
- Lens construction: 17 elements in 13 groups (with two ED glass and three aspherical lens elements, and Nano Crystal Coat)
- Angle of view: 84°- 20°20’ (61°- 13°20’ with Nikon DX format)
- Minimum focus distance: 0.45 m/1.5 ft. (throughout the entire zoom range)
- Maximum reproduction ratio: 0.24x
- No. of diaphragm blades: 9 (rounded)
- Filter-attachment size: 77mm
- Diameter x length (extension from lens mount): Approximately 84 x 103.5 mm/3.3 x 4.1 in.
- Weight: Approximately 710 g/25 oz.
- Supplied accessories: 77mm Snap-on Front Lens Cap LC-77, Rear Lens Cap LF-4, Bayonet Hood HB-53, Flexible Lens Pouch CL-1218
From the Nikon press release:
The new AF-S 24-120mm f/4 G ED VR zoom lens redefines the wide-to-portrait lens category, and provides users with a medium focal range lens with a constant aperture that is ideally suited for a wide variety of photographic disciplines. This high performance lens offers a constant maximum aperture of f/4 to maintain exposure settings throughout the entire zoom range and is perfect for photographing landscapes, portraits, interiors and weddings. The 24-120mm f/4 also features two ED elements, three aspherical lens elements, a useful M/A Focus Mode Switch, Internal Focus and Nano Crystal Coat to reduce ghosting and flare for greater image clarity throughout the entire frame.
Nikon 24-120mm f/4.0G vs Nikon 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G
So, besides the constant aperture of f/4.0, what else is new with the 24-120mm f/4.0G? The lens design adds 2 more new glasses, one of them being an aspherical element, in addition to Nano Crystal coating. The diaphragm is now 9 rounded blades instead of 7, which should yield better-looking bokeh. The front lens design is similar, except the second lens element has been replaced with ED glass. The filter size has been increased to 77mm, which is a standard for Nikon professional lenses. The new 24-120mm f/4.0G is also about 100 grams heavier than the older counterpart. Everything else is very similar, including focus modes.
The biggest surprise, however, comes in the MTF charts. Take a look at the MTF charts of the older 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G (Left: Wide, Right: Tele):
And compare them with the Nikon 24-120mm f/4.0G (Left: Wide, Right: Tele):
Wow, the older Nikon 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6 looks crappy compared to the new 24-120mm f/4.0, especially in the center frame zoomed at both 24mm and 120mm – a huge difference in sharpness! The corner performance is a world better on high resolution FX sensors, while being average on lower resolution sensors, which indicates that this lens is specifically engineered for FX sensors.
When it comes to wide open performance, the Nikon 24-120mm f/4.0 is much better, showing excellent center performance, but rather poor corner performance, while having better corners towards 120mm. Bokeh on the new 24-120mm should also be pleasing, which is good news for portrait and wedding photographers.
I am very excited about the new 24-120mm f/4.0 lens, because it gives so much zoom range to work with. The optics look very good and it looks like Nikon finally has a lens to compete against Canon’s superb 24-105mm f/4.0 IS lens, which is a hot seller in the world of Canon. This lens could be my next favorite travel lens and we will see how it performs as soon as I get it in my hands, very soon :)
The Nikon 24-120mm f/4.0G VR will retail for $1,299.95 and you can already pre-order it from B&H.