Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR Review

January 7, 2016 | Mark Goldstein | |

Introduction

The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR is Nikon's first full-frame professional standard zoom lens to feature Vibration Reduction, offering up to 4 stops of compensation. The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR is constructed of 20 elements arranged in 16 groups - including a number of aspherical and ED glass elements as well as a new aspherical extra-low-dispersion (ED) glass element - and features an iris diaphragm with 9 rounded aperture blades. Nikon's exclusive nano crystal coating is employed to reduce flare and ghosting, the lens has a minimum focus distance of 38cm and a maximum reproduction ratio of 1:3.6, and it's equipped with a Silent Wave Motor for fast and quiet auto focus. The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens is available now, priced at £1,849.99 / €2,499.00 / $2,399.95.

Ease of Use

Weighing in at 1,070g and measuring 155mm in length, the AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm f/4G ED VR is a substantial lens. In practice, we found that it balanced well on the Nikon D810 body, and proved less of a burden than initially thought when used all day long. Build quality is excellent, certainly befitting of its professional billing, feeling solid and substantial in the hand.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRThe Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens mounted on a Nikon D810 body

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRThe Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens mounted on a Nikon D810 body, set to 70mm focal length

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRThe Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens mounted on a Nikon D810 body, set to 24mm focal length

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRThe Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens mounted on a Nikon D810 body

Zooming is not internal – as you can see, the front extends somewhat upon zooming to 24mm. The ribbed zoom ring is sufficiently wide and neither too stiff nor too loose. Zoom creep is not an issue. The lens accepts filters via a standard 82mm thread around the – non-rotating – front lens element, which is great news for those who like to use polarisers or ND grads, for example.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRThe Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens alongside a Nikon D810 body

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRSide of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens, set to 70mm

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRSide of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens, set to 24mm

In terms of features, the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR has a lot to offer. It has an internal focus (IF) mechanism and a Silent Wave Motor, allowing you to use manual focus even when you are in auto-focus mode (denoted with the usual M/A sign on the lens barrel).

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRFront of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRRear of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens

It also features two forms of Vibration Reduction (VR), Normal and Active. Normal VR compensates for quick and small vibrations resulting from shaky hands, but ignores slow and wide movements to allow you to use e.g. the focus-recompose technique or panning. Active VR tries to compensate for every movement, fast and slow, large and small, and is therefore better if you are shooting from a moving vehicle, for example. The stabilising effect can be seen through the viewfinder in both VR modes.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRFront of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRRear of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens

There is a distance scale sheltered behind a window, but there are no depth-of-field marks and no infrared focus index either.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRThe Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens in-hand

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRThe Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens with the supplied lens hood fitted

The lens is claimed to be completely weatherproof via a number of gaskets and seals and the adoption of a fluorine coating on the outer surfaces of the extreme front and rear lens elements. The lens ships with a good quality, lockable, petal-shaped, plastic lens hood (HB-74) and a soft case.

Focal Range

At the 24mm end of the zoom range, the angle of view is 84°.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRField of view at 24mm

At the 70mm end, the angle of view narrows to 34° 20'.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRField of view at 70mm

Focusing

The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR focuses almost instantly when mounted on the D810 that we tested it with. Thanks to a Silent Wave Motor, auto focus operation is very quiet, and instant manual-focus override is available at all times. The ridged focus ring is quite slim but is entirely adequate for the job. It requires an approximately 90° turn to get from the close-focus point to infinity. Note that there are hard stop at both ends of the zoom range.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, can be noticed in photos taken at maximum aperture, but they aren't too excessive and tend to go away upon stopping down.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR

Light Fall-off and Distortion

With the lens set to its maximum aperture, you can see some heavy light fall off in the corners at all focal lengths, and especially at the extremes of the zoom range. Stopping down reduces the phenomenon, especially at the long end.

A zoom lens that goes out to 24mm is bound to suffer from noticeable barrel distortion at the wide end, and the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR is no exception. The good news is that this barrelling rapidly decreases upon zooming in a little, becoming essentially imperceptible once you get past the 28mm mark, and there is very little pincushion distortion at the telephoto end of the zoom range.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRVignetting at 24mm

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRVignetting at 70mm

Macro

The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens has a close-focus point of 38cm (at the 35-50mm focal lengths, 41cm at the others) and a maximum magnification of 0.28x.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRClose-up performance

Bokeh

Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. In the AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens, Nikon employed an iris diaphragm with 9 rounded blades for a very pleasing rendering of the out-of-focus areas.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR
   
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following pages.