The Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/4G VR telephoto lens encompasses a long history with Nikon, introduced in 1996 with its variable aperture, then once more in 2003, this point with the addition of vibration reduction (VR) technology.
The new lens abandons the variable aperture for a relentless style, with ƒ/4 because the largest aperture size. The lens continues to be designed to suit the FX (35mm) detector, and once mounted on a APS-C body, the lens can give an efficient field of read of 36-180mm. The lens ships with a petal-shaped lens hood, takes 77mm filters, and is out there currently for about $1,300.
We’ll begin with the performance of the 24-120mm ƒ/4G VR once mounted on the sub-frame D300s. In general, performance is best within the fisheye and mid-range, and amazingly, it performs at its best once used wide open or stopped down simply slightly.
When set to its widest aperture setting (ƒ/4) and 24mm, the lens is sort of tack-sharp already – we tend to note simply one blur unit within the center, and slightly below one.5 blur units within the corners. Stopping down doesn’t very improve performance at 24mm; in reality, if you are shooting at this setting the most effective performance comes at ƒ/4 and slowly degrades because the lens is stopped down. the foremost obvious purpose is at ƒ/11 wherever diffraction limiting has begun to settle in, and that we note results of around two blur units across the frame. It’s 3 units at ƒ/16, and 4 units at ƒ/22, wherever it’s fairly uneven across the frame. The mid-range performance (28-50mm) is analogous however slightly better; the best setting for sharpness comes at 50mm and ƒ/5.6, wherever the lens is actually tack-sharp across the frame.
At 70mm and higher than we start to notice some problems with sharpness. specially, corner softness is fairly high once used at ƒ/4 from 70-120mm; atiny low patch of central sharpness, encircled by 3-4 blur units of corner softness. It’s worst at 85mm, wherever the corner softness is within the vary of 5-6 blur units. However, stopping all the way down to by only one stop to ƒ/5.6 virtually fully cures this downside, and that we note identical wonderful performance of the wide- and mid-range angles. fully zoomed-in performance (120mm) is truly slightly higher than that found at seventy and 85mm.
With the lens mounted on the full-frame D3x, corner problems area unit way more problematic; what was wonderful on subframe becomes just sensible on full, and what was mediocre becomes quite poor so. Specifically, fisheye and mid-range performance remains fairly sensible, however during this case best performance is not any longer found at the lens’ widest aperture settings, as corner softness is currently an element. Stopping down reins within the corner softness, and then the advice here for best sharpness is to stay to ƒ/5.6, wherever we tend to see between 1-2 blur units across the frame.
Performance on the long finish is problematic once used wide-open (ƒ/4) at either 70mm or 85mm. specially, we tend to see solely atiny low space of central sharpness, encircled by intense corner softness, upwards of 6-8 blur units. It’s onerous to mention that there’s a haul with our sample of the lens, given the superb performance at different focal lengths. All isn’t lost but – once more, merely stopping all the way down to ƒ/5.6 makes a dramatic distinction, presenting a picture with ~1.5 blur units within the center, and 2-3 blur units within the corners.
Nikon has seen fit embrace many technical options so as to cut back the looks of aberration. significantly, 2 ed glass and 3 rounded lens parts, and a Nano-Crystal coating. However, even with the automated aberration reduction in each the D300s and D3x, CA is above expected once the lens is employed at its wider apertures. Specifically, magenta/blue fringing may be noted at edges of high distinction, within the corner areas of the image. The impact of CA is reduced once the lens is stopped down, and employed in the center of its zoom vary (28-50mm).
When the lens is mounted on a sub-frame camera like the D300s, there’s no corner shading to talk of. It’s a lot of outstanding once the lens is mounted on a full-frame camera: once set to 24mm and ƒ/4, pictures can have corners that are up to one 1/4 stops darker than the middle. alternative focal distance / aperture settings are a lot of forgiving; at ƒ/4, corner shading ranges between 1/2 and 2/3 of a stop at 28-120mm. Stopping down reduces this corner shading, smaller, it’s negligible at 35mm and longer. At 24-28mm but, there’ll invariably be some part of sunshine falling off.
Zooms lenses invariably have difficult patterns of distortion, and during this regard the Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/4G isn’t uncommon. Between 24-30mm distortion is of the barrel selection, with upwards of +0.7% (DX) and +1.3% (FX) within the corners. there’s not extremely a degree where there’s ”no” distortion, however the result is reduced around 30mm. After that, the corners show the cushion form of distortion, with the most important values showing between 50-85mm: -0.4% (DX) and -1% (FX).
An AF-S lens with inaudible motor, AF operation for the 24-120mm ƒ/4 is nearly silent and fairly quick, if not lightning quick. The AF-S specification additionally means that you’ll be able to override the AF motor at any time by simply turning the main target ring, while not having to change the camera or lens to manual focus mode. The front part doesn’t rotate throughout focus operations, creating life that tiny bit easier for polarizer users.
The lens is not an obsessive macro lens, however despite this it really produces fairly smart macro results: zero.24x magnification, with a minimum shut focusing distance of 45cm (around one and a 0.5 feet).
Build Quality and Handling
The 24-120mm ƒ/4G consists principally of polycarbonate plastic, ended in Nikon’s dappled black matte finish. because of the plastic construction it is a very little lighter than you’d expect for a lens of its size (670 grams, or one and a 0.5 pounds). Then lens incorporates a distance scale below a plastic window, marked in feet and meters, but there are noy|aren’t any} depth of field markings and neither is there an infrared index mark. with the exception of the zoom and focus rings, there square measure 3 management switches: one to modify or disable autofocus on the lens (marked M and M/A), one to modify or disable image stabilization (marked VR ON and OFF), and the last to change between active and traditional VR modes.
The new lens options some helpful upgrades: additionally to Nikon’s nano-crystal coating, 2 new parts are additional to its optical configuration, for a complete of seventeen parts in thirteen teams, as well as three rounded and a pair of ed parts. The lens diaphragm is upgraded from seven to 9, and people blades are currently rounded to provide a lot of pleasing out-of-focus areas. Finally, Nikon has adjusted the lens to use 77mm filters rather than 72mm.
The 24-120mm ƒ/4G VR is one in every of Nikon’s lenses wherever the main target ring is placed before the zoom ring; the bulk of Nikon’s lenses feature a zoom ring 1st, then a spotlight ring close to the front part. there is nothing wrong with either arrangement, it will simply take some obtaining used to if you are a lot of at home with the opposite configuration.
The zoom ring has deep rubber ribs and is regarding 7/8” wide. The ring takes a ninety degree turn to bear its vary of focal lengths, and needs solely a small quantity (two fingers) of force to maneuver it. there’s a small quantity of lens extension because the lens is zoomed in and out. Zoom creep isn’t an element with this lens.
The focusing ring consists of deep rubber ribs of a special texture than the zoom ring, and is slightly diluent at 3/8” wide. The ring has soft stops at nighest focus and at slightly past time, and takes roughly ninety degrees to travel through its focusing vary. Filters mounted on the lens don’t flip with focusing operations.
The VRII system works terribly well: using the system can enable the common shooter to shoot at around three.5 stops slower than usual. like all Nikon lenses with the VR system, after you 1st slightly press the shutter button the VRII moves its correction lens with a small click and you’ll be able to hear a small whirring because it operates whereas the shutter button is half-pressed. It also makes identical click after you unleash the shutter button. See our IS Testing results for a lot of details on its performance.
Nikon’s created a pleasant kit lens for full-frame bodies, although it is not while not its caveats. The lens fared quite well in our tests, for the foremost half – the large downside is that the wide open performance at seventy and 85mm, wherever it’s quite soft so once used at ƒ/4. If you do not got to shoot at ƒ/4 – and by and huge, with VR and therefore the high-ISO performance of contemporary Nikons, you would possibly not got to – then it is not extremely a problem.