Monday, December 9, 2013

Nikon 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 VR - Gear Review

Next on our gear review list is the relatively new released Nikon 24-85mm. This lens was released as a kit lens to the Nikon D600/610 series of cameras.

Nikon 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G VR
Why purchase this lens, especially since we already have the older Nikon 28-85mm f/3.5-4.5? 

Nikon 28-85mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro

The older Nikon lens is actually a great lens. Very sharp for what it is,  sturdy metal construction, smooth zoom doing,  and can be found for next to nothing.   I picked this lens up a few years ago when I wanted a walk around zoom for my full frame Nikon D700.  Did some online shopping and found it for $62USD at KEH.

Ault Park Pavilion - Cincinnati, Ohio
ISO 100, 1/125, f/10,  32mm(no VR)
We've shot some street with it and a few community events.   It has held up well and performed admirably. It does have a bit of a slow AF speed performance.   It also lacks VR.

Strategically Lit
ISO 1600, 1/15, f/5.6, 50mm(VR active)
Fountain At Night
ISO 1600, 1/30, f/5.6 24mm(VR active)

So we went looking for a replacement and found a refurbished 24-85mm VR for $349USD. 

So far,  initial use has been positive.   It is definitely a sharp lens,  even acceptably so wide open at all focal lengths. The VR works as advertised, but we found little need for it until we started getting into the 50mm focal lengths and beyond or started shooting in very low light(night scenes).

Mass Transit, Downtown Cincinnati, OH
ISO 1600,  1/40, f/4.2, 44mm(VR active)
The newer 24-85mm also had the full time MF override capability.  

Test Platform:  Nikon D700 with Picture Control Standard (I do this because I like to post process all my JPG images in Lightroom/PS CC).  All the images here are hand held.

Size:  In comparison to the older Nikon 28-85mm zoom,  it is shorter, but larger in diameter.

Handling:  What you would expect from a zoom of this grade.  A little sticky at times, but overall pretty smooth.  I expect it to smooth out more with use(it has already).  It also has the same focus and AF ring positioning(zoom toward the front, focus ring toward the back) like on the Tamron 70-300mm we reviewed earlier. Not bad,  just different, especially since the older Nikon has the zoom ring to the rear of the lens.  Full time AF override, so you can crank that manual focus ring if need be.

AF speed:  Dead silent and heads and shoulders faster than the older 28-85mm.  Not pro grade lens fast, but acceptable for everyday use.

Optical quality:  Pretty close to even, I don't think I could give a nod one way or the other.  They both were very good.

Image Stabilization:  As mentioned earlier, we found very little need to use the VR until we got at and well past the 50mm focal length and into some night scenes.

Mall Christmas Tree
ISO 1000, 1/30, f/4.5, 24mm(VR active)
The sample images are from a wide array of scenes.  EXIF data provided will show that we were able to successfully use the VR for handheld night shots.  Generally, I would have used a tripod and a lower ISO for these kinds of images, but its good to know you can "run and gun" with some higher ISO and VR and get acceptable images.

No comments:

Post a Comment