NIKON 24-70mm f/2.8 G AF-S ED N
BEST MIDRANGE ZOOM | NEW $1,796.95
|BUILT WELL||MEDIOCRE BOKEH|
The Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 AF-S is Nikonís best mid range zoom. It is built for professional use, and its weight, size, and price reflect that. Optically, its performance is outstanding throughout the entire zoom range, and the ability to zoom and shoot at f/2.8 make it highly versatile. Itís very common among many professionals, such as weddings, news, and landscape photographers, and also along with rich amateurs and hobbyist.
Because the Nikon 24-70mm is so versatile and so optically excellent, it becomes enticing for any photographer looking for perfection. However, the 24-70mm can be quite misleading. With all its versatility, purpose is often lost in the hype. This lens is not for everyone, and sometimes not for those that even own it.
Personally, I find the 24-70mm f/2.8 pretty boring. Its zoom range is unexciting. Beginning with 24mm, I am pleased with how wide it gets, but I am not too happy about the level of distortion and light fall off. There are plenty of other lenses that reach 24mm that are much smaller and lighter. Consider a prime lens like the 24mm f/2.8 AF-D.
Now consider the 35-50mm range. This is a very common range, which a lot of other lenses cover. Also 50mm is considered a normal perspective. There are plenty of alternative 50mm primes that can shoot faster and cost much less, such as the 50mm f/1.8 G.
Lastly is the long end, 70mm. 70mm is not long enough for great portrait shots. I think 85mm would be preferred. Obviously Nikon reached some limitation that they were not willing to sacrifice quality. I am happy they did not sacrifice quality, but I am still disappointed in the long end. Usually I use my 85mm f/1.4 or a 70-200mm, instead of shooting this at 70mm.
What about VR? Vibration reduction would be a nice plus to this lens. Although it wouldnít help much with action shooting, it would help with general handheld shots. I suspect Nikon did not implement VR because of the mechanics of how the barrel expands as the lens zooms.
I would not recommend this lens for DX cameras. It is unnecessarily heavy for the DX size sensor. Other DX lenses can offer a greater zoom range. Consider the 16-85mm, 18-200mm, or 35mm f/1.8 for low light shooting.
The ultimate purpose of the Nikon 24-70mm is professional quality mid range versatility. Its f/2.8 aperture allows good light collection, greater depth of field control, and excellent optics from corner to corner.
The biggest limitation of the Nikon 24-70mm is its zoom range. Although it reaches a nice wide angle of view, it falls short in its long end. It also lacks Vibration Reduction (VR).
Sharpness or lack thereof, is never an issue with this lens. It is incredibly sharp throughout its entire zoom range, even at f/2.8. However, the corners at f/2.8 are slightly soft, more so at 70mm. But soft corners are rarely an issue unless you like shooting flat surfaces in dim light. By f/5.6 is becomes ultra sharp from corner to corner, and can resolve at least 60mm line pairs. By f/11 sharpness begins to decrease slightly as diffraction settles in. If sharp zooms are your thing, then this lens is for you!
At f/16 (FX), diffraction begins to become obvious, as the overall sharpness is reduced.
|- NIKON SPECIFICATIONS -|
|GLASS||15 ELEMENTS / 11 GROUPS|
|DIAPHRAGM||9 ROUNDED BLADES|
|MINIMUM APERTURE||f / 22|
|CLOSE FOCUS||1.20 FT (36.6 CM)|
|DEPTH OF FIELD SCALE||Yes|
|WEIGHT||900 GRAMS (31.75 OUNCES)|
|DIMENSIONS||83mm Diam x 88.5mm L|
|MAXIMUM REPRODUCTION RATIO||1:3.70|
Nikon's published MTF chart shows how sharp this lens can perform at f/2.8. MTF Measurements describe only a sub set of overall lens performance and should be used cautiously. Learn more about MTF.
The Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 has a descent amount of barrel distortion at 24mm and some pincushion distortion beyond 35mm. It should only be a concern below 30mm. Adobe Lightroom provides distortion profiles for various Nikon lenses, including this one. Correcting distortion is easy, just enable this feature. You can read more on distortion in the learning section.
Lateral chromatic aberration is easy to correct in post processing, and Nikon automatically corrects for it in its internal camera processing. This lens has minimal lateral CA. Longitudinal chromatic aberration cannot easily be corrected in post processing. Not to worry, this lens doesnít have any noticeable longitudinal chromatic aberration.
VIGNETTE / LIGHT FALL OFF:
Light fall off, or vignetting, is not a huge concern with this lens. The corners are a bit dark (-1.5EV) at f/2.8. By f/5.6 its mostly gone. Adobe Lightroom version 3 or greater will correct for light fall off.
This is one of Nikonís first Nano Crystal coated lenses. However, flare can show up at times when pointing it at bright subjects, like the sun. It should not be a huge concern. It is well managed and can be pleasing at times.
This lens produces poor sunstars. Itís nine bladed diaphragm does not help this either. If you want better sunstars, try an older 7 straight bladed lens. Read more about Sunstars.
Most Nikon lenses render accurate color. The 24-70mm is no different.
I am not impressed with the Bokeh of the 24-70mm f/2.8 G. Itís not real bad, but with all the hype about this lens, I would think the bokeh would be more pleasing. At 24mm, the bokeh is poor, busy, and has some edges. At 70mm the bokeh is better, although, the 70-200mm f/2.8 VR-II has better bokeh at 70mm. Bokeh is a weak characteristic of the 24-70mm f/2.8. Donít buy this for its bokeh!
The design of this lens, although simple, is well thought out. The zoom ring is precise, smooth, and has adequate resistance. The focus ring is also smooth, but easier to turn than the zoom ring. Both feature a comfortable rubber grip surround. As the lens zooms, the front barrel extends outward. At 50mm, the lens is most compact.
The autofocus is always dead on accurate with this lens. I have tested it on both FX and DX cameras. It is also impressively fast. f/2.8 is a sweet spot for autofocus, as it provides enough light for the autofocus to excel, yet doesnít require ultimate accuracy of a shallow depth of field of f/1.4.
Manual focus is easy, just grab the focus ring. The M/A feature allows full manual override at any time. The depth of field scale is not the most useful because it is so tightly spaced between distances.
The Nikon 24-70mm is built solid. It is made of nearly all metal parts and is tough and heavy because of it.
The zoom and focus rings have a nice rubber feel and turn smoothly and accurately. The zoom retains a linear adjustment, while the focus is more logarithmic, as one would desire.
The lens features a depth of field scale. However, like most modern Nikon lenses, it isnít much use because of its small scaling. Older lenses were geared differently so their focus and depth of field scale were more usable.
The 24-70mm features durable metal filter threads, so swapping filters will not be an issue. Some cheaper Nikon lenses feature plastic threads, which over time wear or can be easier stripped.
The bayonet mount is all metal with a rubber type gasket surround to block out water.
All modern Nikon cameras work great with this lens. However, older film cameras which require an aperture ring will lose some functionality.
The 24-70mm is substantially large for its limited focal range compared to more common mid-range zoom lenses. This is attributed to its large f/2.8 aperture. Below is a comparison to alternative 24mm prime lenses.
It takes 77mm screw on filters. Vignetting may be an issue if you stack more than two filters.
The HB-40 bayonet plastic hood is gigantic. It comes packaged with the lens. The large hood is required because the lens extends a good amount when zoomed to 24mm. Although the hood is not really required, I recommend using it for the protection of the front element. I also recommend using a clear 77mm filter for additional protection. The hood has a button to release it from the lens.
The serial number is located on the bottom of the barrel towards the lens mount. US lenses will be prefixed with "US". The serial number is a laser engraved. It should be clearly visible, unlike Nikon's older lenses. Serial numbers range from 200049 - 594000.
PRICING - PURCHASE SUGGESTIONS
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I am on the fence about purchase recommendations for the 24-70mm. I would consider purchasing used if the price is less than $1600 and in top quality, with a fairly newer serial number. I would also stick with a private seller who is the original owner. Just to the right are the current eBay auctions for the 24-70mm in used condition.
If you are considering buying this lens new, it comes at a high price. I would look at Amazon or Adorama. They usually have decent discounts, even with Nikonís new pricing policy.
It is difficult to not recommend this lens. It is so optically excellent and meets professional expectations. However, I would be cautious before purchasing this lens without a full understanding of its intended use. There are a lot more exciting lens to purchase and this one sucks up a huge chunk of change. Its focal length is fairly uninteresting.
Other lenses to consider are the Nikon 24-120mm f/4 G ED VR-II AF-S. Although not as optically excellent, it comes at a more affordable price. If you are just interested in optical performance without a zoom, consider a prime lens.