This is an in-depth, long overdue review of the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED lens that was released back in August of 2007 together with the 14-24mm f/2.8G ED lens. I have owned the Nikon 24-70mm ever since it came out and I have written a lot about it in my articles, but never got the chance to sit down and provide some detailed feedback about what I like or don’t like about this lens. After I got my hands on other FX wide-angle lenses such as Nikon 16-35mm f/4 VR, Nikon 24mm f/1.4G and Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G, I knew it was time to put them all up to a real test and compare each one with the 24-70mm.
1) Lens Overview
The Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED lens is a truly versatile lens that can be used for many different kinds of photography needs – from wide-angle landscapes and panoramas, to portraits and events. With its constant aperture of f/2.8 (meaning the aperture does not change while zooming) and state of the art optics, the lens is targeted towards enthusiasts and professionals, who work in various lighting and weather conditions and need exceptional sharpness, color and contrast in their images – something the Nikon 24-70mm was designed to deliver. It replaced the older Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8D lens and its optics were completely redesigned for superior performance and extra coverage on the wide-end. Featuring 15 lens elements in 11 groups, 3 out of which are ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements that reduce chromatic aberration and increase sharpness, the lens is a heavyweight monster weighing a whopping 31.7 oz. (900 grams), which is heavier than the Nikon D300 DSLR! In addition to the Silent Wave Motor (SWM/AF-S) that provides fast and quiet auto focus, the Nikon 24-70mm also features the Nano Crystal Coating technology, which reduces ghosting and flare. When it comes to weather sealing, the Nikon 24-70mm is designed to be well-protected against dust, moisture and tough weather conditions (read more under Lens Handling below).
Along with the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G, the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G was specifically made for FX (full-frame) DSLR camera bodies like Nikon D700/D3/D3s/D3x, and is a part of the Nikon professional lens “Trinity” – Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G, Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G and Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II. Just like any other full-frame lens, the 24-70mm works well on any Nikon DX camera, but due to the 1.5x crop factor (equivalent to 36-105mm), it might feel a little “too long”.
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During the last three years, the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G has been my #1 workhorse lens for my photography. Out of 32,500 images that I shot in 2009, over 15,000 (almost half) were taken with the 24-70mm lens. I have a wide array of lenses and no other lens was used as heavily as this one – my Nikon 50mm f/1.4 captured a little over 4,000 images and it is the second most used lens in 2009. The primary reason, is that I traveled a lot in 2009 and the 24-70mm was an essential part of every trip. Besides being my top travel and landscape photography lens, the Nikon 24-70mm has also served me well during various local photo sessions both in studio and outdoors environments. So, as you can see, it has seen a lot of abuse from me and knowing it inside out, I can speak of it with confidence.
In terms of optical performance, the Nikon 24-70mm delivers outstanding performance from center to corner above 28mm, especially between 35mm and 70mm. At its widest focal length of 24mm, the lens suffers from vignetting, corner softness and slightly decreased performance when shot at maximum aperture, but most of these problems are gone by f/5.6 and above (more on sharpness on the second page). You also have to be careful with filters, since this lens does not like stacked filters at 24mm – you will see heavy vignetting if more than one regular filter is used.
2) Lens Specifications
- Fast, wide-angle to medium Telephoto AF-S zoom lens optimized for edge-to-edge sharpness on both the Nikon FX (23.9 x 36mm) and DX format image sensors.
- Two Extra-low Dispersion (ED) elements and PGM aspherical lenses control chromatic aberrations while enhancing sharpness and contrast, even at the widest aperture settings.
- Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor (SWM) enables ultra high-speed auto focusing with exceptional accuracy and powerful, super-quiet operation.
- Focus as close as 14.9 inches.
- M/A focus mode switch enables quick response to changing situations between manual and auto focus operation.
- Enhanced optical formulas engineered to produce exceptional sharpness, contrast and color, rendering outstanding image integrity.
- Exclusive Nano Crystal Coat further reduces ghosting and flare for even greater image clarity.
- Internal Focus (IF) provides fast and quiet auto focusing without changing the length of the lens, retaining subject-working distance through the focus range.
- Rugged construction with professional-grade dust and moisture resistance.
- Mount Type: Nikon F-Bayonet
- Focal Length Range: 24-70mm
- Zoom Ratio: 2.9x
- Maximum Aperture: 2.8
- Minimum Aperture: 22
- Maximum Angle of View (DX-format): 61°
- Minimum Angle of View (DX-format): 22° 50′
- Maximum Angle of View (FX-format): 84°
- Minimum Angle of View (FX-format): 34° 20′
- Maximum Reproduction Ratio: 0.27x
- Lens (Elements): 15
- Lens (Groups): 11
- Compatible Format(s): FX, DX, FX in DX Crop Mode, 35mm Film
- Diaphragm Blades: 9
- Distance Information: Yes
- Nano Crystal Coat: Yes
- ED Glass (Elements): 3
- Aspherical (Elements): 3
- Super Integrated Coating: Yes
- Autofocus: Yes
- AF-S (Silent Wave Motor): Yes
- Internal Focusing: Yes
- Minimum Focus Distance: 1.2ft.(0.38m)
- Focus Mode: Auto, Manual, Manual/Auto
- Filter Size: 77mm
- Accepts Filter Type: Screw-on
- Dimensions (Approx.): 3.3×5.2 in. (Diameter x Length), 83x133mm (Diameter x Length)
- Weight (Approx.): 31.7 oz. (900g)
- Lens Case: CL-M3
- Lens Hood: HB-40
- Supplied Accessories: LC-77 77m snap-on front lens cap, LF-1 rear lens cap, HB-40 Bayonet Hood, CL-M3 Semi-soft Case
Detailed specifications for the lens, along with MTF charts and other useful data can be found in our lens database.