Friday, April 19, 2013

Nikkor AF-S 24-120 f/3.5-5.6 VR

There is an older AF-D variety of this lens, as well as a newer one, with constant f/4 aperture. The f/3.5-5.6 lens, which is the subject of this review, has a pretty nasty reputation. It's considered a really bad, really soft lens - some people consider it to be among Nikon's worst. I was curious enough to borrow one and try it for myself.

+ good range for full frame.
+ VR works great
+ relatively good price - considering it's an FX lens with VR and full AF-S capabilities.

- strong vignetting in certain focal length/apertures (with FX cameras)
- pretty strong distortions (ditto)
- bad bokeh at the long end

It's not bad, but it's not great either.

Intended Users
Great for:
  • a cheap FF zoom lens which still has VR
  • reasonably good "amateur" portrait lens - although bokeh is far from stellar
  • good travel/ walk-around lens

Not for:
  • professional work. Image quality is, indeed, not great.
  • low light. Yes, there is VR, but it's also f/5 already at 60mm.
  • fine detail (e.g. foliage, macro, etc)

Final Verdict
It's not abysmally bad, as people claim, but it's not great either. I guess one would expect a little bit more from a modern lens. Overall, this is a lens with an identity problem. It's cheap, and you get what you pay for. The problem is, it's meant as an FX lens - and it's hard to justify using a very mediocre lens for cameras that are, by definition, meant for quality work

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