Alternatives to Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR Lens

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by krishnamoorthy_varadarajan_a, Jun 23, 2013.

  1. Hi All,
    I have just started taking photography more serious than before. All I am looking for is excellent dof. I want to spend as little as I can.
    I have shortlisted
    Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR Lens

    Are there any alternatives ?
  2. SCL


    Yes there are alternatives, but not really with the zoom range of the above lens. If there was a particular focal length, it would be easier to hone in on ... for instance their 50/1.4 is excellent for many things, but of course misses the range above. I used to have a 28-80 (old style) which I used about 5 years for mostly product shots....great lens, ran me about $80. I've used the current G model and it too is good, but a bit slower. DOF, by the way, is dependent on your distance from the subject, the focal length of the lens in use, the aperture, and the chosen circle of confusion....all lenses on the same format camera with similar specs under similar shooting conditions give similar DOF - you might want to read up on the subject to have a more complete understanding of the factors involved..
  3. One of the options is to reach out for classic manual lenses (primes)...that would amount to the same cost and have a faster aperture. Like 24/2.8, 35-50mm, 85 or 105/2.5. Or 24/2.8 + 75-150/3.5. Anyway, there are several other primes (and options like 24-85) that you can add.
  4. The 24-120mm f/4 paired with the 50mm f/1.8 G and/or 85mm f/1.8 G primes would make a very nice kit.
    I assume you're shooting FX, so I didn't mention the 35mm f/1.8 G DX.
  5. What precisely do you mean by "excellent depth of field"? More (f/11, f/16) or less (f/2)?
  6. What camera is this going to go with, what do you want to shoot and does "excellent dof" mean everything in focus or just the subject, with the background blurred? If you have a D90 and want to shoot landscapes you'd get a very different answer than if you had a D800 and wanted to shoot portraits...
  7. There is no such thing as "excellent DOF". DOF is the same for lenses of the same focal length, shot at the same distance, and at the same aperture.
  8. "excellent DOF"

    The OP probably means 'excellent bokeh'.
  9. 28-70 f/2.8 used for about $800ish? assuming you have a full frame camera
  10. If you're looking for shallow DOF in portraits then one or several of 28/1.8 AF-S, 50/1.8 AF-S, 60/2.8 AF-S Micro, and 85mm f/1.8 AF-S would be suitable and can be purchased within a reasonable budget.
  11. Raj, which camera do you use, and what do you want this lens to do?
    I have this 24-120, and I like it for what it is - a versatile, good quality allround lens which is a bit more expensive than I'd like and a bit heavier too, but it delivers. But it sits in the bag alongside a number of other (faster) lenses. It could never be my only lens.
    So, it could be the right choice, it could be all wrong. Really depends what you expect from it.
  12. Many thanks for the responses.
    I have a Nikon D5000 which is a DX and actually I meant shallow bokeh (not dof). I am novice in this field and still getting accustomed to the terminologies.
  13. Have an older 24-85 2.8-4...fine in most situations...D lens
  15. Raj, I assume you currently have the 18-55 lens with your camera? In which ways, other than depth of field, do you find this lens is holding you back? Are there specific other requirements you have?
    There are a few things to consider:
    • You will miss the area between 18 and 24 mm, which is a useful wide-angle area which (in most people's uses) comes in handy very often. Are you sure that having a lens without these focal lengths is really practical for you?
    • Shallow Depth of Field (*) comes with large apertures. f/4 is not that large, and at the wide end, it is actually the same as the 18-55. If you want really shallow depth of field, look at f/2.8 or less. If you are unfamiliar with what I describe here, then I can really recommend only to first do a course on photography basics before buying anything.
    • The 24-120 f/4 is a quite heavy lens; as the D5000 is a relatively small camera, it may not balance as nice (more difficult to hand-hold). I'd certainly recommend to try the lens on your camera before buying it.
    All in all, I think if you want shallow depth of field and a zoomlens, I'd go for the Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 OS or the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8; if you can do without zooming, the 35 f/1.8DX lens offers a lot of value. But it would help if you could tell a bit more about your needs, maybe some other lenses come up that can fix your wants and needs even better.
    Roy, the lens you mention does not autofocus on a D5000. Its price/performance is also debatable, in my view; it would not be my primary recommendation for DX (and actually also not for FX, though it does make more sense there).
    (*) Raj, some people will not like me for doing this, but here it goes.... There is a difference between "bokeh" and "depth of field". The word you mean in this case is "Depth of Field" which refers to the quantity of the photo that is in-focus, and the parts that are out-of-focus. So, it can be either "shallow" or "deep", or "a little" versus "a lot". It is possible to measure this amount and say "for lens A, at aperture B and subject distance D, the DoF is 10 metres".
    Bokeh, on the other hand, refers to how the out of focus areas look, so the quality of the out-of-focus areas. It cannot be "a lot" or "little", instead it is either "good", "neutral" or "bad". Bokeh cannot be measured, and as with anything aesthetic, different people have different taste.
  16. For shallow depth of field, I use a fast prime lens. On by DX bodies, I use a 50mm f/1.8 or f/1.4 lens for portraits. If you want a tighter composition, then 85 f/1.8.
    To do this at the lowest possible cost: 50mm f/1.8 D Nikkor lens. The new 50mm f/1.8 G is a fabulous lens at a little higher cost.
    Avoid AI/AIS manual focus lenses because you'll have no metering, no auto exposure, and of course no Auto-focus.
  17. @Wouter - Many thanks for the insightful answers and descriptions. All I am looking for is a lens that's gives me ability to take photos of far reaching objects than 18-55mm and a lens which can give me shallow dof's.
    - Safari park, birds etc.
    If I do decide on Nikon 24-120mm, I will definitely check it on my D5000 for the weight before buying one.
  18. Raj, maybe more useful to look at something like a 55-300VR or 70-300VR instead - they gives a lot more reach. 120mm is not enough for birds, nor for most safariparks, 300mm is already a lot nicer (plus, these 2 lenses I mention are a lot cheaper and both really fine performers too).
    For shallow DoF, the effect can be obtained with long lenses easier, so a 300mm f/5.6 will quite easily give shallow DoF too. Else, consider lenses as the 35mm f/1.8 or 50mm f/1.8G mentioned (the AF-D 50mm f/1.8 will not autofocus on the D5000, so it is far from ideal).
  19. Sigma has a 50-150, f 2.8 and Tokina has 50-135, f 2.8. Both have received reasonable reviews (I have the Tokina). I think both may have to be purchased used. I got my Tokina from Hong Kong.
  20. The Tamron 70-300 Di is a good, less-expensive alternative to the Nikon 70-300mm. I would not buy the Nikon 55-300mm.
    Here is a link:
    Remember though that to get that creamy bokeh that you see in "National Geographic" images, you will either need to be pretty close to the animal and have a distant background, or you will need a lens with a wider aperture, such as the amazing Sigma 120-300mm f2.8. It is a monster sized lens though, and expensive (about ten times the price of the Tamron 70-300mm). I suggest getting the Tamron and shooting with it for a while, while you get to know what you can do with a decent, light lens. Sometimes there is no way to compromise and still get the photos you want.
    Another really nice Nikon lens that just came on the market, which you might want to look into, is the new 80-400mm. Here is a link:
    I would prefer the Sigma 120-300mm, because it has that amazing f2.8 aperture, which will allow you to use faster shutter speeds and freeze the motion of your subjects, while giving you that creamy bokeh, but the Sigma lens is heavier and costs more, while not quite reaching as far out (300mm maximum instead of 400mm).
    Good luck!
  21. All I am looking for is a lens that's gives me ability to take photos of far reaching objects than 18-55mm and a lens which can give me shallow dof's.​
    so you want a fast telephoto, then. unfortunately, those are expensive. assuming you dont have the budget for the nikon 70-200 VR II /2.8, i'd think about the tamron 70-200/2.8 which has excellent IQ but slow AF. the tokina 50-135 or sigma 50-150 would also work, if you can find them.
    Another really nice Nikon lens that just came on the market, which you might want to look into, is the new 80-400mm​
    Scott, did you really just recommend an 80-400 for a d5000 owner? that lens will fit on that camera, but it won't balance well. also, the old version wont AF on a d5000, and the new AF-S version costs $2700. the tamron 70-200 costs about 1/4 that, and is capable of pleasing bokeh. i wouldn't recommend the tamron for sports or action but for landscapes and portraits, it should be fine.
  22. I had the Sigma 50-150 f/2.8, which is an excellent lens, sharp and great bokeh/dof. I traded it in for the new one with optical stabilization. I use it for concerts when I want to isolate the conductor or musician.
  23. Many thanks for the responses. I am more leaning towards to go for a tamron 70-300mm -
    Tamron SP AF 70-300 F/4-5.6 Di VC USD Lens for Nikon after considering the cost and my requirement.
  24. I am more leaning towards to go for a tamron 70-300mm​
    i have that lens, too. it has really good IQ even out to 300mm and the VC is v. effective. only hang-up is the build quality and zoom ring, which is stiff and awkward. also the VC takes a split-second to kick in. a 70-300 can blur backgrounds, but moreso due to compression at longer focal ranges than shallow DoF. the tamron is a good deal at $450, but if bokeh is important to you, i'd get something with a faster aperture, especially if you are planning on shooting people and/or indoors.
    the problem is that the things you want--telephoto range and shallow depth of field--come at a price. the 24-120 you mentioned is $1300. that same $1300 would buy you a tamron 70-200/2.8 ($800) or a sigma 50-150/2.8 OS ($1000). if either of those are out of your reach, you could consider a nikon 85/1.8 G ($500) and a nikon 55-200 ($150).
  25. Thanks Eric.
    What are your views about the following lens' when compared to the tamron 70-300mm
    Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR Lens
    Nikon AF-S VR 70-300 f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED
    Should I even consider them ? The price for Nikkor 55-300mm has dropped significantly in amazon (around 150 pounds).
  26. Raj, I think Eric's post should not be read as an advice against the Tamron (as he usually recommends this lens), but more a response to the two different requests you have:
    • A longer telelens for birds, zoo etc. --> The Tamron 70-300VC would make a great choice for that, both Nikon lenses you list are also good choices. The 55-300VR does not have a great build quality, but optically it's really quite good (150 pounds is a very nice price!).
    • Shallow depth of field --> the f/4-5.6 lenses can do this, when you are close to the subject. But lenses with a larger aperture are better at this. This is where the f/2.8 lenses come in - they have less zoomrange, and are larger, heavier and more expensive, though. However, you could consider getting a fixed focal length lens (prime) such as the AF-S 50mm f/1.8G or AF-S 85mm f/1.8G (both quite affordable) to get a lens capable of very thin Depth of Field.
    So it comes down to making a choice between your needs; either get two lenses, or one seriously large expensive one, or get one lens and "loose" the zoomrange or the very shallow depth of field.
    Given your descriptions, I think it is a good idea to get started with a lens as the Tamron 70-300VC, or save a lot of money and get that 55-300VR, and get familiar with that lens, and see if that delivers you shallow enough depth if field. If not, you can still always consider one of those prime lenses to be added later.
  27. Many thanks Wouter. I will be going for 2 lenses. One Tamron 70-300 and Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G
  28. All I am looking for is excellent dof. I want to spend as little as I can.​
    I had the same quandary, and I solved it by buying the older 28-70mm f/2.8 zoom, although I really wanted the 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom. The 28-70 doesn't have the focal range I would like to have, but I saved almost a thousand dollars. For now, it will have to do.
    The same day I got it in the mail, a storm came up, and I managed to get this hand-held:
    Had I been just a half minute earlier, I could have gotten the rain blowing sideways.
    It is such a fast lens I really don't miss the VR.
    {Oops! I just saw that you are shooting DX. The lenses I discussed are really designed for full-frame cameras.)
  29. Chiming in late, but I had a 24-120 that I used for traveling and sold it earlier this year. For it's price (I bought a demo unit for $1150, but brand new it's $1299), I did not find it all that exceptional. I also found it a little heavy for just kind of carrying around the street casually. I ended up getting a used 24-85 VR on the auction site for about $275, sold the 24-120 for $1100, and bought a couple of Elinchrom softboxes with the difference. On my D800, I don't find too much of a difference in the IQ between both lenses and like the lighter load. However, if getting out to 120mm is important, there really is no other lens like it (constant f/4, VR, etc.). For me, most of the time I was just being lazy when I went out to 120mm.
  30. Raj, I mainly use Olympus now (!), but had the 55-300mm which I found to be excellent. Indeed, a friend who shoots Canon, had to go out and buy an L series 70-200mm lens to match it in quality terms. It's outstanding value for money in my opinion.
  31. Thank you Wouter,Scott, Eric, Michael, Landrum, Kenneth, Stephen, Leszek, Steve, Dan, Andy , Alan, Elliot, Rick, Ilkka, Roy,Simon,Sebastian, Nick. Your valuable comments have helped me to make a purchase and I went for Tamron 70-300mm.
  32. Cool. Good luck with the Tamron! I look forward to seeing some of your photos that you shoot with that lens!

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