Any love for the NIKON 24-85mm F/3.5-4.5G ED VR AF-S Lens?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by kivis, Apr 22, 2018.

  1. Any love for the NIKON 24-85mm F/3.5-4.5G ED VR AF-S Lens? The venerable FX kit lens. Seems like a nice all around zoom lens. Any real world experience here?
  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Yes, it is a very decent mid-range zoom with typical consumer construction. It has the usual barrel distortion on the wide end and pincushion distortion on the long end. Sharpness is quite good. It is light weight and easy to carry around.

    I used a couple of loaners from Nikon for a while. Since I already have the 24-120mm/f4 AF-S VR, I never bought a 24-85 VR myself.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2018
    kivis likes this.
  3. My needs are modest.I have the old 24-80 f3.3-5.6 lens. A toy really but the shots I get with this lens on my D610 are quite good. But VR and a bit of weather sealing would be a good addition as I walk around Florida a lot where it can squall at any minute.
  4. I have the older non-vr version that I got at a thrift shop a few years ago. It is light and sharp, focuses fast and well on my D90, D7000, and D3300. It is a very good walk around lens with a good focal length range.
  5. Thom Hogan writes, "24-85mm f/3.5-4.5. The smaller size and weight better complements the 24mp camera bodies, and the optical performance is tuned just about right for those cameras, too. These lenses are almost good enough to recommend to D8xx users, and are actually some of Nikon’s best lens bargains in FX."
  6. I have the non VR version and it's quite good. I wanted to buy the new VR version but Nikon don't make it in Japan any more so I don't buy the VR version.
  7. It's an excellent standard zoom. I used one on my D700 and F100 and loved it. They go for around $300 on eBay, so are also a good bargain.
  8. I bought one of these around the same time I bought my D800.

    One local shop had 4 of them on the shelf in their used case, and since they wanted to move them they marked them all down to $150. I tested all of them and couldn't really see a difference, so went with the one that was cosmetically the nicest. It's probably on my D800 70-80% of the time.

    Yes, there are better lenses out there, and the 24-120 f/4 VR is one of those. I looked a the two side-by-side. Cost was certainly a factor, as even used the 24-120 is 2-4x the cost. Ultimately, though, FOR ME, the decision to buy this lens came down to a couple of things:

    1. Even though it's not AS GOOD as the 24-120, it's still pretty darn good and a lot lighter

    2. I don't use the range between 85mm and 135mm that often, and when I do I generally grab a 105 Micro(something neither lens can replace for me). The extra weight and cost wasn't worth it to me considering that it didn't stretch all the way to 135mm. If it DID, I'd have likely found a way to buy the better lens.

    3. With digital, I don't consider the difference between a fixed f/4 and f/3.5-4.5 all that significant, especially with VR involved. The D800 high ISO performance combined with the VR in this lens is good enough(as long as the subjects aren't moving) that I can get usable photos in mediocre light even at f/4.5.

    As an example, I went to a family wedding reception back in January and they had just assumed I'd photograph it without actually communicating that to me beforehand(have to love family). Since I hadn't actually prepared to be the semi-official photographer at the event, all I took with me was my D800 and this lens-if I'd known I'd have probably at least brought an SB-800 or two and a couple of fast primes. In an case, managed a couple of 8x10s that everyone was absolutely THRILLED with in the cave of a reception hall.

    4. Although this is a consumer lens, it definitely is what I'd call a "high end consumer" lens. The build quality is miles ahead of lenses like the ubiquitous 18-55 DX kit lenses. It is internal focusing(although does extend when zooming), has a non-rotating front element, and has "real" AF-S. Someone mentioned weather sealing-I don't know how much is in the lens, but it does at least have a base gasket. I don't shy away from using this lens in light rain.

    Yes, the distortion is bad. Lightroom DOES have a profile for this lens, so it mostly goes away with a few clicks.

    Also, I've had good results on film with the lens. It's a nice match for my F100 or N80.

    If I'm going for all out resolution, I have better lenses-both primes and zooms-that I can use. Does it get the best that my D800 is capable of? I think I'm safe to say no in that. Does it get perfectly usable results where I'm not making huge prints or huge crops? Yes. After a few thousand frames with this lens(I'm still a film shooter at heart, which means that I tend to not machine gun) mostly on the D800 I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of its capabilities and lack of them.

    BTW, I'm a wide angle guy and consider 24mm a valuable focal length. I will take 24mm at the short end ANY day over a 28mm lens that goes longer.
    kivis likes this.
  9. Never heard of it.
  10. I have the 24-85vr and use it all the time. I liked it a lot on my D700, and not as much on my D750. I have felt that on the higher resolution camera I have a lot more focus errors with it. I finally learned just to keep the lens at f8. I suppose that's really true for most lenses, but I'm a bonehead sometimes. When I first got the D750 I just could not get anything in focus, it's gotten better, or I should say, I guess I've gotten better.

    I rented a 24-120 last summer, and I think the copy I got wasn't great, because it was definitely not better than my 24-85, and I didn't find the extra focal length to be a deal breaker, but I've read/heard such great things about that lens I just have to assume I got a bad copy. Soft, soft, soft and out of focus.

    The 24-85 is a perfect weight for walking around. We hike a lot and I don't ever feel like I'm carrying too much camera weight. (The tripod is another story...)
    I agree with @ben_hutcherson about the 24mm focal length, and I couldn't give it up for a 28 or 30 that goes longer, either. (I've just recently decided that I need to understand how to use longer focal lengths, so I've started carrying my 70-300 along.)

    As far as distortion, I have LR set to correct it on import and so I never notice it.

    However, because of the higher rate of focus errors, and because I'm wishing to step up my game and produce better images, I've been trying to figure out if the 24-70 class of lenses (Nikon or third party) is a better option than the 24-85. But the carrying weight of 24-85 is perfect, so truth be told, I haven't landed on an answer yet. If you think of anything let me know. ;) I sort of think I'd like to be one of those people who shoots only prime lenses, but the truth is I don't like changing lenses so often out in the field. It's dusty here in Utah!

    So all that to say, it's a good enough lens. The weight is perfect, the focal length is very useful, and it's price point is perfect. (esp by this time, I bought mine a few years ago, but it was still only about $500 Nikon refurbished back then.) I've taken some nice photos with it, but it does miss. It's a slower (and noisier) focus than the 24-70 that I've rented from time to time. I didn't find it worth it to consider the 24-120. A good enough walk around lens. untitled-187.jpg
  11. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Finally located the review I wrote for this lens back in 2012:
    Nikon 24-85mm/f3.5-4.5 AF-S VR Lens Review

    Please keep in mind that I had written the article in the middle of 2012, before Nikon announced the D600 in September that year. At the time the least expensive Nikon FX bodies were the D700 (from 2008 and deeply discounted by then) and the D800 introduced in February 2012 for $3000.
    yardkat likes this.
  12. I had the VR version, but sold it. The zoom on the VR I had was unpleasantly sticky, and I thought the lens was just a little too large when compared to the earlier non VR version I still have and use on occasion as a one camera-one lens setup for going out light/simple.

    Maybe I am just unlucky, but, between my neighbor and I, we have encountered at least two and I think three failures (trash bin, too expensive to repair) of the earlier non-VR version.
  13. Have you tried compensating for its focus error with AF Fine Tune on your D750? It may very well be that your sample needs a minor AF adjustment.
  14. Yes, after a couple months of all over the map focusing, I took it to a local camera shop and had them test it, came back fine. It's just different to use on the D750, and took me a while to figure it out. The guy who tested it for me gave me a couple pieces of advice, 1. make sure I'm staying around f8, and 2. put primes on the D750 and don't look back. :) I've been thinking about both of those things, and trying to figure out what to do moving forward.

    I had also sent the camera body in to Nikon for a completely unrelated repair, and on the checklist when it came back was "adjusted auto focus" or something like that. I feel as if it's behavior has been better since then. I really don't know what they did, and the tech couldn't tell me any detail about it, but it seems like it focuses more consistently.
    All that to say, the 24-85 is a pretty good walkaround lens, but. I feel I've had some trust issues with it on the D750 and I'm learning how to work those out. ;)
  15. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Back in 2012, I put the 24-85 AF-S VR on the 36MP D800 and sharpness was fine, probably not the greatest possible, but certainly acceptable. I had two different loaners from Nikon, one to test the lens itself and later on one with a D600 test sample. Both samples of that lens were good.

    I suggest you try AF fine tune.

    BTW, I would totally disagree with the advice to use f8 and “prime” lenses only.

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