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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

4. Image resolution

The resolution test of the Nikkor AF-S 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5 G ED VR II (in the sense of the MTF50 function values) was based on RAW files from the Nikon D3x. Before we progress to a detailed analysis of our results let’s remind here that in the case of the D3x tests the decency level is situated near 30-31 lpmm and the best fixed-focal lenses can reach as high as 45-46 lpmm.

Now let’s see how the lens fares in the frame centre.

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

At the shortest focal length we don’t have any reservations whatsoever. In its case even at the maximum relative aperture the image is still of good quality. On stopping down the lens is able to get to a very high level of 44 lpmm.

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Longer focal lengths are noticeably worse. At the maximum relative aperture the image is on the border of usefulness and to get good results you have to stop the lens down by about 1 EV. What’s worse, even significant stopping down doesn’t make the lens to exceed 40 lpmm. The image is of a good quality but it never reaches an excellent or outstanding level.

A comparison between the Nikkor 24-85 mm VR and the more expensive Nikkor 24-120 mm f/4.0 VR, with a wider focal range, is really interesting. The latter fares noticeably better, showing smaller differences between particular focal lengths and a distinctly better performance near the maximum relative aperture.

Let’s check how the Nikkor 24-85 mm VR fares on the edge of the APS-C/DX sensor.

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

In this case once again the 24 mm focal length is the best. At the maximum relative aperture you reach the decency level and on stopping down by about 2 EV you can enjoy images of good quality. The 50 mm focal length fares similarly like the 24 mm but only from f/5.6 upwards. At the maximum relative aperture the result is noticeably worse and below the decency level. The maximum focal length fares the worst – a fully useful image can be obtained only near f/8.0.

Although the differences between the Nikkor 24-85 mm VR and its 24-120 mm cousin are here smaller than in the frame centre, that second model fares better once again.

There is only the edge of full frame left – an appropriate graph with the results is shown below.

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

Unfortunately there are no reasons to be satisfied here– almost none at all. Extreme focal lengths are useful only near f/8.0. The 50 mm focal length fares the best as the useful range is wider, from less than f/5.6 to a bit over f/11. Still, to tell you the truth, these are not results we would like.

At the end of this chapter we present crops taken from our test chart photos, saved as JPEG files.

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