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Lens review

Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR

27 August 2012
Szymon Starczewski

11. Summary

Pros:
  • good image quality in the frame centre,
  • decent image quality on the edge of APS-C/DX,
  • good correction of the longitudinal chromatic aberration,
  • not bothersome distortion on APS-C/DX sensor,
  • almost imperceptible coma on the smaller detector,
  • moderate vignetting on APS-C/DX,
  • silent and accurate autofocus,
  • efficient image stabilization.

Cons:

  • slacks on the manual focus ring,
  • weak image quality on the edge of full frame,
  • very high lateral chromatic aberration and on both types of detectors to boot,
  • noticeable spherical aberration,
  • pronounced distortion at the ends of focal range on full frame,
  • high vignetting level on the bigger detector,
  • relatively slow autofocus,
  • weak price/quality ratio.

Merely comparing the cons and the pros list you can tell that the tested lens is not the best Nikon product. If you analyse the pros and cons in more detail you can conclude that the Nikkor AF-S 24–85 mm f/3.5–4.5G ED VR might be a good device for the APS-C/DX sensor but on full frame its performance is too weak. Well, the problem is it was created for full frame as a universal zoom; aimed at those who don’t need or can’t afford more expensive models like the 24–70 mm f/2.8 or the 24–120 mm VR

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The duel with the second lens, listed above, is for the Nikkor 24-85 mm VR especially painful. Despite a narrower focal range and overall worse aperture fastness the 24-85 mm model loses to the 24-120 mm VR almost in all categories. The only argument that speaks in favour of the Nikkor 24-85 mm VR is its price – it costs 1500 PLN less than its rival. Despite that all potential buyers should think twice before buying such a lens – paying some more for a much better and more universal model seems like a very sensible option.

Let me to elaborate on the subject of the price a bit. A professional Nikon 24-70 mm f/2.8 class lens, optically and mechanically perfect, costs about 6,000 PLN. A slower 24-85 mm lens should be cheaper for obvious reasons. The aperture range from f/3.5 to f/4.5 makes it easier to produce than a 24-70 mm f/2.8 instrument. In my humble opinion a company which has a good product policy and takes care of its customers should offer two substitutes of the 24-70 mm model. The first one could differ from the professional lens mainly in its aperture (of course the 24-85 mm range could be taken into account as well). Still, it should remain a perfect, high quality instrument, made completely in Japan – then a price of 3-4 k PLN would seem completely appropriate. In the Nikon line-up the 24-120 mm VR model tries to fulfill such a role but it lags behind the 24-70 mm when it comes to the mechanics. In this scenario the tested Nikkor AF-S 24–85 mm f/3.5–4.5G ED VR, of average optics and mechanics quality, could have fitted perfectly well – providing that it didn’t cost more than 1,500 PLN. The company should encourage potential customers by creating special product bundles (so-called kits) - adding the tested lens to such bodies as the D700 or the D800; with them the extra charge for it would amount to less than 1,000 PLN. Actually it seems to be the only sensible solution to me; paying as much as 2,500 PLN for this lens is really controversial.

Sample Shots

Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR - Summary
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR - Summary
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR - Summary
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 24 mm, f/3.5, exp. 1/1250 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 8.46 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 24 mm, f/8.0, exp. 1/320 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 8.7 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 48 mm, f/4.2, exp. 1/1000 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 7.36 MB
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR - Summary
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR - Summary
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR - Summary
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 50 mm, f/8.0, exp. 1/320 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 7.63 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 85 mm, f/4.5, exp. 1/1000 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 7.14 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 85 mm, f/11.0, exp. 1/100 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 10.16 MB
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR - Summary
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR - Summary
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR - Summary
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 85 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/250 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 14.9 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 70 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/250 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 14.15 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 35 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/250 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 14.97 MB
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR - Summary
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR - Summary
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR - Summary
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 85 mm, f/4.5, exp. 1/125 s, ISO 200
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 7.6 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 70 mm, f/4.5, exp. 1/200 s, ISO 400
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 9.47 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 50 mm, f/4.2, exp. 1/200 s, ISO 400
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 8.45 MB
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR - Summary
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR - Summary
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR - Summary
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 50 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/200 s, ISO 400
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 10.15 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 34 mm, f/4.0, exp. 1/500 s, ISO 400
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 10.22 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 24 mm, f/3.5, exp. 1/20 s, ISO 400
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 9.56 MB
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR - Summary
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR - Summary
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR - Summary
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 24 mm, f/4.0, exp. 1/1250 s, ISO 400
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 10.02 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 85 mm, f/4.5, exp. 1/500 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 10.21 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 48 mm, f/8.0, exp. 1/200 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 12.08 MB
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR - Summary
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR - Summary
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR - Summary
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 85 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/400 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 9.78 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 48 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/640 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 10.46 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 24 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/640 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 11.94 MB
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR - Summary
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR - Summary
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR - Summary
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 24 mm, f/11.0, exp. 1/160 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 11.23 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 24 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/500 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 10.36 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 50 mm, f/8.0, exp. 1/200 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 11.42 MB
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR - Summary
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR - Summary
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR - Summary
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 85 mm, f/8.0, exp. 1/250 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 9.77 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 35 mm, f/4.0, exp. 1/500 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 10.4 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 85 mm, f/4.5, exp. 1/250 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 7.12 MB
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR - Summary
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR - Summary
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR - Summary
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 24 mm, f/4.0, exp. 1/1250 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 10.75 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 42 mm, f/11.0, exp. 1/160 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 11.13 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 35 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/800 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 11.3 MB



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