Nikon Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR Review
Announced back in February 2020, alongside the Z 20mm f/1.8 lens, the Nikon Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR was affected by delays in getting to the market.
Marketed as an “ultra-compact telephoto zoom”, the lens is designed for Nikon’s range of full-frame mirrorless cameras, but it can also used with the APS-C format Nikon Z50 camera.
Particularly appealing towards those looking for an all-purpose zoom lens for travel, it’s perhaps particularly suited to the newly-announced Z5 “entry-level” full-frame camera.
The design of the lens includes aspherical ED glass and aspherical lens elements, both of which have been designed to ensure minimal distortion throughout the range. The lens benefits from ARNEO coatings to help reduce ghosting and flare, even when shooting directly into the sun.
Other specifications and features include inbuilt image stabilisation, dust and moisture sealing and fluorine coatings.
At the time of writing, you can buy the Nikon Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR for around £850 / $899, making it well-priced in comparison with some of the other Nikon Z lenses. You can pick up a 24-70mm f/4 Z lens for around £899 / $999.
Ease of Use
Considering the amount of zoom you get with the Nikon Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR lens, its compact size is pretty impressive. Weighing in at around 570g its not super light, and arguably pairs best with the full-frame cameras in Nikon’s Z range, as opposed to the Z50. However, if you want the flexibility of a long zoom, you may consider it to be worth the trade off of being slightly unbalanced.
In order to attach the lens to the camera, you simply need to line up the white dot on the camera lens mount with the white dot on the lens barrel itself, then twist it into place. The lens mount is made from metal and seems to be high quality - it should withstand repeated movements of it being attached and detached from the camera body.
The outward design of the lens is relatively simple. You’ll see the name of the lens (24-200mm / 4-6.3) as well as markings for the various focal lengths. It is marked in steps 24, 35, 50, 70, 105, 135 and 200 so you can quickly jump to those focal lengths just by glancing down at the lens.
When the lens is fully extended it’s pretty lengthy. You’ll likely attract attention when it is extended to its full length. To stop it from extending during transport or while in your bag, there is a lock on the side of the lens to lock it into the fully retracted position. You can’t engage the lock when the lens is in any other focal length position.
The lens barrel features two rings, one for adjusting the focal length of the lens, and another for adjusting manual focus. There is no manual focus switch on the lens itself, so if you want to work in manual focus only.
You can use the manual focus lens when in autofocus modes, but unless you have back-button focusing switched on, AF will kick in when you press the shutter release button. There’s no hard stops on either end of the manual focusing ring, so setting it at infinity is trickier to do by feel alone.
Nikon says that this lens is ideal for movie recording thanks to its quiet and quick autofocusing. In real-world use, it is barely audible and transitions are smooth. As well as video, it’s useful in situations where you might want to be quiet, such as when photographing wildlife, or in a church or museum setting.
It was rare for the lens to “hunt” to acquire focus, unless shooting in very dark conditions - which is pretty much what we’d expect. Generally speaking, the lens locked in quickly and easily.
Both the focus ring and the focal length extender have a good level of grip on them. The rings are ridged and it’s easy to tell from touch alone which ring is which - the manual focus ring is found close to the base of the lens and is much, much thinner than the zoom extender.
For those who like to use filters, they’ll be pleased to note that the front element does not move with the extension of the zoom. The filter thread size is 67mm.
Included in the box is a rear and front cap, as well as as a cloth lens case plus a lens hood which can be attached to the front of the lens. Again, to attach it, you need to align the white dot on the lens body with the white dot on the lens hood.
The zoom range of the Nikon Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR lens is roughly 8.3x. As it’s designed for full-frame, the length written on the side of the lens (24-200mm) is what you get.
You could also use the Nikon Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR with the Z50, which as it has an APS-C would be subject to a 1.5x crop. That makes the 24-200mm an equivalent of 36-300mm. You could also any of the full-frame Z cameras in “crop” mode for extra reach - such as when shooting wildlife.
At the wide angle end of the lens, the angle of view is 84 degrees, while at the telephoto end it is 12 degrees.
Usually characterised as blue or purple fringing along high-contrast edges in a scene, chromatic aberration tends to be more problematic for cheaper lenses.
We wouldn’t expect a lens with a fairly high price like this to suffer too badly from chromatic aberration.
Indeed, in looking through sample images, it was extremely hard to find any examples of it happening at all, even with close examination.
Light Fall-off and Distortion
At the wide angle end of the lens (24mm) at the widest aperture of f/4, you can see some visible vignetting in the corners of the image. It’s only particularly noticeable when shooting a neutral wall, and is much less evident when shooting normal scenes.
The vignetting becomes much less noticeable once you drop to f/5.6, and goes away entirely by f/8. At lengths from 35mm onwards, vignetting is much harder to spot - but the maximum aperture is also narrower. At 50mm, for example, the maximum aperture is f/5.6, and there’s very little evidence of vignetting.
At the furthest reach of the lens - 200mm - the maximum aperture is f/6.3, where corner shading is extremely minimal.
As we’d expect from a lens of this type, distortion is not something which is particularly problematic. You can see some expected distortion if you shoot close-up at the wide-angle end of the lens, but otherwise, images appear natural.
Although this lens is not designated as a macro lens, it is suitable for shooting typical “close-up” type subjects.
It has a close focusing distance of 0.5m (at the 24mm end of the lens). At the 200mm end of the lens, the close focusing distance increases to 0.7m. At the longer ends of the lenses, typical close-up subjects such as flowers are rendered in a flattering style. The maximum reproduction ratio is 0.28x.
The maximum aperture of the Nikon Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR lens is pretty narrow, in order to make it as small as possible. That being said, it can still produce some attractive out of focus areas.
Bokeh is the name given to those out of focus areas, and is generally described in qualitative terms such as smooth, creamy, rounded and so on. Here, we find that the lens produces very smooth out of focus areas, with nicely rounded light bokeh.
Since opinions on the quality of bokeh tend to be quite subjective, we’ve included some examples here so you can judge for yourself.
In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following pages.