Nikon 24-85mm VR review
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Nikon AF-S 24-85mm f3.5-4.5G VR sample images gallery

The following images were taken with the Nikon AF-S 24-85/3.5-4.5G 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 24-85/3.5-4.5G VR at 70mm f4.5 on a D800
Main image and all 50% crops: 70mm, f4.5, 100 ISO

You can’t expect too much bokeh from any lens at f4.5, the 24-85G VR being no exception here. What little bokeh it shows seems OK in the foreground and suffers from some outlining in the background which produces a “nervous” bokeh.

The second shot shows a street-scene. I had to go close to get through the crowd and thus used a focal length of 32mm to capture the whole scene. The image below is cropped to 18MP to focus on the two women.

Spinning: portrait shot with Nikon AF-S 24-85/3.5-4.5G VR at 32mm f5.6 on a D800
Main image and all 100% crops: 32mm, f5.6, 100 ISO, VR=ON

The lens captured all the details with tiny fibers and hairs being faithfully reproduced.

Check out more Nikon AF-S 24-85mm f3.5-4.5G 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 0.38m, from infinity to 0.85m it’s around 0.6 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. In general the impression of build quality is that of a typical Nikon kit-lens: A plastic construction combined with a weather sealed metal lens-mount, and seven 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 85mm with VR=ON at 1/15 sec and with VR=OFF at 1/60 sec. Rating the sharpness of those images at 100% magnification on a scale from 0 to 5 the sample of images with VR=ON was clearly distributed towards better sharpness than 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 that is clearly beyond two stops. Very good!

Overall the latest Nikon standard zoom delivers a pretty compelling overall performance, which only leaves me to wrap things up in my Nikon AF-S 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G VR verdict.


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