Nikon 24-120mm f4G VR review
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The following images were taken with the Nikon AF-S 24-120/4.0G VR on a D800. Each image was recorded in RAW and converted with Lightroom 4.1 at Adobe Standard settings. Noise-reduction is set to 0, sharpening to 70/0.5/36/10, no extra tone, color, or saturation-adjustment was used. Some images have White Balance set to a standard daylight value to make them comparable. You can click on each image to access the large original. Please respect our copyright and only use those images for personal use.

The first shot should give you an impression of the bokeh that this lens can produce wide open. The 50% crops are from the background, the sharpest point, and the foreground in the overall image and demonstrates the rendering of out-of-focus elements.

Flowers: bokeh shot with Nikon AF-S 24-120mm f/4.0G VR at 120mm f4.0 on a D800
Main image and all 50% crops: 120mm, f4.0, 100 ISO

You can’t expect too much bokeh from any lens at f4.0, the 24-120G VR being no exception here. What little bokeh it shows suffers from some outlining in the foreground and background which produces a “nervous” effect.

The second shot shows an architecture-shot at 70mm. This shot was taken with the first copy of the lens I tested that showed some decentering on the right side (in landscape orientation) respective to the upper side (in portrait-orientation). But that part of the image shows only the sky. So not to worry. Contrast against the bright sky is very good and the details of the church are reproduced faithfully.

Church: architecture shot with Nikon AF-S 24-120/4.0G VR at 70mm f5.6 on a D800
Main image and all 100% crops: 70mm, f5.6, 1/320 sec, 100 ISO, VR=ON

The next image shows the wedding-bouquet on a car captured at 85mm. Again captured with the first copy of this lens, but the critical upper part of the image is out-of-focus anyway.

Bouquet: street shot with Nikon AF-S 24-120/4.0G VR at 85mm f5.6 on a D800
Main image and all 100% crops: 85mm, f5.6, 1/60 sec, 100 ISO, VR=ON

The lens managed to reproduce the flowers in sharp detail and renders the reflections in the car’s body and the gleaming chrome without ringing or color-aberrations.

Check out all my high-resolution Nikon AF-S 24-120mm f4.0G sample images.

Focus, build quality, and image stabilization

Focus accuracy and repeatability is critical to consistently produce sharp shots. Repeatability (the accuracy of focus on the same subject after repeated focus-acquisition) of this lens is excellent with no outliers over a series of 20 shots. And there is almost no performance variation whether the lens focuses coming from infinity or from minimum focus distance. The lens focuses reasonably fast: around 0.8 sec from infinity to 0.45m, from infinity to 0.85m it’s around 0.5 sec.

The focus ring has quite some slack/play between its movement and the focus-action, which makes accurate focus wide open at the long end a hassle. The focus ring is very small and movement is not very smooth but AF-operation is quiet. Zoom-Action is pretty smooth and consequently the lens does suffer a little from zoom-creep. The double zoom barrel extends 45mm and wobbles slightly in the fully extended position. Shaking the lens does not produce any suspicious sounds. In general the impression of build quality is that of a better Nikon kit-lens: A mixed plastic/metal construction combined with a weather sealed metal lens-mount, and nine rounded aperture blades.

VR-operation is also very quiet. To test the effectiveness of the image stabilization I did a series of over 40 test-shots hand-held at 120mm with VR=ON at 1/25 sec and with VR=OFF at 1/100 sec. Rating the sharpness of those images at 100% magnification on a scale from 0…5 the sample of images with VR=ON was similarly distributed as the sample with VR=OFF, although that sample had the benefit of a 4x faster shutter-speed. So VR on this lens gives you an advantage of around two stops.

Now, let me wrap things up in my Nikon AF-S 24-120mm f/4.0G VR verdict.


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