Nikon 24-120mm VR Review

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This is an in-depth review of the Nikon 24-120mm f/4G ED VR lens that was released in August of 2010. The constant maximum aperture, mid-range Nikon 24-120mm f/4 VR zoom lens is a major update to the Nikon 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G VR that was released back in 2003. The older, variable-aperture 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6 had some optical problems that did not make it a popular lens among photographers, so Nikon decided to address those problems by releasing this highly-anticipated Nikon 24-120mm f/4.0 lens. Why highly-anticipated? Because the 24-120mm focal range is very useful for photographers who use full-frame cameras like Nikon D700/D3s/D3x and who find the 24-70mm f/2.8 either too short on the long focal end, or too heavy for everyday use. In addition, having VR on a mid-range lens like the 24-120mm is crucial for low-light photography, even on the wide end.

Nikon 24-120mm f/4 ED VR

Did Nikon address all problems the Nikon 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G had in this new f/4 update? How does it compare to the legendary Nikon 24-70mm and the new 28-300mm lenses? Is it really on par with the 28-300mm when it comes to performance, making it a worse buy than the 28-300mm like some of the reviewers stated? In this review, I will do my best to provide a detailed analysis of the lens’ performance, including sharpness tests and comparisons against other mid-range lenses and answer the above questions.

Nikon 24-120mm Sample #14

NIKON D3S + 24-120mm f/4 @ 120mm, ISO 200, 1/1250, f/5.6

The Nikon 24-120mm f/4G ED VR is a constant maximum aperture lens with a 5x zoom range that is designed for professional and advanced amateur photographers that need a mid-range lens with image stabilization to be used for many types of photography, including street, nature, travel and wedding photography. Unlike variable-aperture lenses that typically have an aperture of f/5.6 when zoomed all the way in, the Nikon 24-120mm stays at f/4.0 throughout the focal range, giving a one-stop advantage to the 24-120mm f/4 over variable-aperture lenses on the long end. For example, the older Nikon 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G lens has a maximum aperture of f/5.6 beyond 85mm and the new 28-300mm is at f/5.6 beyond 105mm.

In addition, the lens comes packed with plenty of new optical features from Nikon, including the latest generation of VR II (vibration reduction) technology, which offers camera shake compensation equivalent to a shutter speed increase of approximately four stops. Thanks to the AF-S silent-wave focus motor, the lens focuses quietly and accurately in various lighting conditions, and the 77mm filter thread makes it easy to use specialized filters (polarizing, neutral density, etc) without having to mess with adapter rings. The complex optical formula of 17 elements in 13 groups with two ED, three aspherical elements and Nano Crystal Coat all contribute to great performance throughout the zoom range.

Nikon 24-120mm Sample #4

NIKON D3S + 24-120mm f/4 @ 28mm, ISO 640, 1/30, f/4.0

1) Lens Specifications

Main Features:

  1. Compact and versatile 5X standard zoom lens with f/4 maximum aperture is perfect for landscapes, portraits, weddings and distant subjects offering a constant maximum aperture to maintain exposure settings throughout the entire zoom range and VR II Image Stabilization.
  2. Nikon VR II (Vibration Reduction), engineered specifically for each VR NIKKOR lens, enables handheld shooting at up to 4 shutter speeds slower than would otherwise be possible, assuring dramatically sharper still images and video capture.
  3. 2 Extra-low Dispersion (ED) elements offers superior sharpness and color correction by effectively minimizing chromatic aberration, even at the widest aperture setting.
  4. M/A Focus Mode Switch enables quick changes between manual and autofocus operation.
  5. Exclusive Nikon Silent Wave Motor (SWM) enables fast, accurate and quiet autofocus.
  6. Rounded 9-blade diaphragm renders more natural appearance of out-of-focus image areas.
  7. Nano Crystal Coat further reduces ghosting and interior flare across a wide range of wavelengths for even greater image clarity.
  8. 3 Aspherical Lens Elements virtually eliminate coma and other types of aberration, even when shooting at the widest available aperture.
  9. Internal Focus (IF) provides fast and quiet autofocus without changing the length of the lens, retaining working distance throughout the focus range.
  10. Nikon Super Integrated Coating (SIC) enhances light transmission efficiency and offers superior color consistency and reduced flare.
Nikon 24-120mm Sample #2

NIKON D3S + 24-120mm f/4 @ 120mm, ISO 3200, 1/200, f/8.0

Technical Specifications:

  1. Mount Type: Nikon F-Bayonet
  2. Focal Length Range: 24-120mm
  3. Zoom Ratio: 5.0x
  4. Maximum Aperture: f/4
  5. Minimum Aperture: f/22
  6. Format: FX/35mm
  7. Maximum Angle of View (DX-format): 61°
  8. Minimum Angle of View (DX-format): 13°20′
  9. Maximum Angle of View (FX-format): 84°
  10. Minimum Angle of View (FX-format): 20°30′
  11. Maximum Reproduction Ratio: 0.24x
  12. Lens Elements: 17
  13. Lens Groups: 13
  14. Compatible Format(s): FX, DX, FX in DX Crop Mode, 35mm Film
  15. VR (Vibration Reduction) Image Stabilization: Yes
  16. Diaphragm Blades: 9
  17. Distance Information: Yes
  18. Nano Crystal Coat: Yes
  19. ED Glass Elements: 2
  20. Super Integrated Coating: Yes
  21. Autofocus: Yes
  22. AF-S (Silent Wave Motor): Yes
  23. Internal Focusing: Yes
  24. Minimum Focus Distance: 1.5ft. (0.45m)
  25. Focus Mode: Auto, Manual
  26. Filter Size: 77mm
  27. Accepts Filter Type: Screw-on
  28. Dimensions (Approx.): 3.3×4.1 in. (Diameter x Length), 84x103mm (Diameter x Length)
  29. Weight (Approx.): 23.6 oz. (670g)
  30. Supplied Accessories: HB-53 Bayonet Lens Hood, LC-77 Snap-on Front Lens Cap, LF-1 Rear Lens Cap, CL-1218 Soft Lens Case

Detailed specifications for the lens, along with MTF charts and other useful data can be found in our lens database.

Nikon 24-120mm Sample #6

NIKON D3S + 24-120mm f/4 @ 38mm, ISO 800, 1/13, f/4.0

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