Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-120 mm f/4G ED VR
Every digital full frame system, available on the market, features an all-purpose lens with the focal length starting from 24 mm and ending somewhere over 100 mm. In the Canon system it is the EF 24–105 mm f/4L IS USM model; when it comes to Sony we get 24–105 mm f/3.5–4.5. In the case of the Nikon there was the Nikkor AF-S 24–120 mm f/3.5–5.6D IF VR, launched worldwide in 2003. Although it was significantly cheaper, it was also optically worse and slower than the rival Canon; small wonder Nikon has decided to update this segment. In August 2010 the Nikkor AF-S 24-120 mm f/4 G ED VR was shown – it is as fast as the Canon but it features a wider range of focal lengths.
Perhaps the introduction to this test is not the best place for a digression but I simply can’t help myself. In fact I would like to make even two digressions here. Firstly it is an interesting thing that neither Sigma nor Tokina have a lens of this class on offer. Tamron boasts the AF 24–135 mm f/3.5–5.6 SP AD Asph. [IF] Macro model but it is already old - it was designed to work on analogue reflex cameras.
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My second digression relates to a remark written at the beginning, concerning the fact that optics producers don’t treat seriously the users of APS-C/DX detectors. A 16-80 mm lens (so the equivalent of a 24-120 mm device on full frame) with fixed f/4.0 aperture is a splendid amateur instrument for beginners and advanced users as well. Currently only Sony has offered it. Why the other producers, although they still manufacture its full frame equivalent, don’t have such a lens on offer? After all, with similar fastness, it could have been smaller and more handy and if you decided to keep full frame dimensions – a bit faster. Especially amateur photographers seem to be in dire need of such an instrument; a professional or an advanced amateur, owning a full frame camera, will be more interested in a faster 24-70 mm than a slower 24-105 or 24-120 mm device.
It is not our role to assess marketing decisions of different producers, though. Apparently somebody working for Nikon decided that the company would profit more from the launch of the Nikkor AF-S 24–120 mm f/4G ED VR lens; now all we can to is to assess its optical and mechanical properties and present the results in next chapters.
We would like to thank the Nikon Poland company for lending us the lens for testing purposes.
You are also invited to get acquainted with our test procedure, described in the article "How do we test lenses?" If you feel it’s still not enough, please go to our FAQ section where you can find some further explanation.