How much better is a modern 24-70mm zoom than an older f/2.8 normal zoom?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by chulster, May 23, 2020.

  1. Sorry for the stupid question. I'm hoping a few people will take a crack at it despite its lameness.

    I'm trying to decide whether to buy a current 24-70mm f/2.8. (The one I've got my eye on is the Tamron G2, but that's not terribly important to the question.) The only f/2.8 normal zooms I have experience with are both old and (now) cheap: the Nikon 35-70mm and the Tamron 28-75mm.

    My problem is, I don't know if the image quality of a current 24-70mm is better enough than that of the aforementioned old lenses to be truly worth the much-increased bulk and weight. I can handle a 1-kg lens without much issue, but I really like the size and weight of the Nikon 35-70mm.

    The latest Nikon, Sigma, and Tamron 24-70mm lenses are pretty darn close to each other in optical performance, at least according to tests that I've seen online. But how much better is any of these lenses than the two lenses I mentioned? Does anyone here happen to have both a current 24-70mm and either of these old lenses? Or at least had one of the old lenses recently enough that your memory of it isn't colored by nostalgia? If so, do you mind sharing your comparative observations?

    I'd really like to keep the discussion, if possible, restricted to "universals" and not get into an examination of whether I really need a 24-70mm or what I'm going to use it for. Again, I'm sorry. Basically all I'm looking for is whether there is any consensus that the new f/2.8 lenses are worlds better than the old equivalents, or just incrementally improved, or—who knows?—actually worse than the old!
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
  2. I do not know the answer to your question.

    I will share this with you. I have the Nikon 35-70mm that you have and the first version of the Nikon 24-70mm f2.8. And I also own and use the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm F/3.5-4.5G ED VR lens. The one I use the most on my D800e, D810 and D850 is the Nikon 24-85mm because it is so much lighter than the 24-70mm f2.8. Also, I cannot discern any difference in images taken with it and my copy of the Nikon 24-70mm f2.8. Most of the images taken are in daylight where I am not using the f2.8 aperture. If I am inside or in lower light situations, I use a Nikon or Sigma prime lens.

    When I did use my 35-70mm push pull zoom it was mostly on my D200 or D300. It always produced very good images. Right now it sits in my closet unused.

    From the reviews I have read, it appears that the two best choices are the current Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 and the current Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 G2 Di VC. Why not rent one or both and test them against your 35-70mm?
    chulster likes this.
  3. That's an excellent suggestion. And thanks for sharing your experiences.
  4. The Nikon is excellent. But I have no experience with 3rd-party brands in this range. I used it since the first version, not sure which version I have now. The original one had a zooming problem after I dropped it (more than once, haha); Nikon repaired it but I subsequently replaced it. Focusing is fast. Sharp, of course.
    chulster likes this.
  5. Did you ever use the 35-70mm, Mary?
  6. No. Believe that's before arrival of 24-70? I read good things about it though.
  7. Yes, the 35-70mm was two generations before the first 24-70mm. I am wondering how much better the latest 24-70mms are compared to the 35-70mm. (Ignoring the extra range on the wide end.)
  8. Try continuous shooting of moving objects. I think (not sure) that older lenses would not be able to catch up in focusing.
    yardkat likes this.
  9. There is nothing stupid about the question. I asked the same question a year-and-a-half ago. I purchased the Tamron 24-70 G2.

    Let me preface my answer by saying I am using a D750. If you are using a different camera, your results may be different than mine.

    I had used the Nikon 35-70 on my film F100 for several years and was quite happy with it. When I got my D750, I used 35-70 on it and, at first, was satisfied with the results. As time went on I became dissatisfied with the speed of the AF and, to some extent, with the resolution of the lens. After posting on and receiving several replies, I purchased the Tamron, which at that time, the Holiday sales, came with the Tap-in console.

    At first, I was quite happy with the Tamron. AF was definitely faster, it had VR (Vibration Reduction) which the Nikon 35-70 did not, and seemed sharper. One thing it did not have was a macro capability that the Nikon did have. Then I began to see that some of the images were softer than I thought they should be. Perhaps the lens needed some micro focus adjustment. I had the Tap-in console, I got a target, and tried. The lens definitely need some adjustment. Adjusting at close range - one meter and three meters - was not a problem. Adjustment at "infinity", over 5 meters, was a problem especially at a focal length of 24 mm. The numbers on the target were just too small to read.

    A month or so later, I met a Tamron Representative at an event at one of the local photo stores, I asked her how she adjusted her lenses. She laughed and said she didn't. She simply sent the lenses and her camera to Tamron Support. They have "software". She told the service was covered by Tamron's 6-year warranty. I had to pay for shipping the lenses and my camera to Tamron; Tamron paid for the return shipping. They would also adjust my Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 A009 which is not user adjustable.

    I shipped my D750 and lenses to Tamron via FedEx Ground - six days from Sacramento, CA to Long Island, NY. Tamron took 2 days to adjust the lenses (they try to do all repairs in 3 days or less) and returned them via FedEx 3-day Air. The lenses have been spot on ever since. Tamron Repair is a pleasure to work with.

    My recommendation is wait until the Holiday sales and then purchase the Tamron G2.
    Mary Doo and chulster like this.
  10. That's fantastic. Thanks for the input! So, would I be correct to assume that, after the adjustment, your Tamron G2 is unconditionally better (optically) than your 35-70mm?
  11. Yes. IMHO

    And don't sell the Vibration Reduction short. It enhances the end result (unless you always shoot from a tripod). On the other hand you do lose the macro capability, which I solved by purchasing the Tamron 90mm Macro lens. It also give me a very nice portrait lens.
    chulster likes this.
  12. Perfect. Thanks indeed.
  13. Here is a link to my post in 2018 when I asked the same question about this lens - and the three pages of helpful replies that I received.

    LINK Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 Di VC G2 Lens
    chulster likes this.
  14. I should have searched and found that... thank you.
  15. ... The Tamron sounds great and receives excellent reviews on YouTube. Just to complicate your final decision a little bit, I checked eBay and there's an excellent Nikon G version asking for below $800.

    Also here's a review of various Nikon versions from Photography Life. I respect this magazine a lot as the content is excellent, many articles contain great photography, not just numbers.

    Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G Review - Photography Life

    I believe you can't go wrong with either brand.
    chulster likes this.
  16. FWIW, some years ago, I did the (Canon) research and decided that the Tamron 24-70mm 2.8 lens ticked all my boxes. It's been my 'go to' (and for my photography, usual ) lens on my Canon 6D for years. I've never ever regretted my choice or ever wished for any 'better' equivalent lens.

    chulster likes this.
  17. Thank you.
  18. Keeping the discussion to general new vs old: my direct experience is that the Micro-Nikkor AF-D 105/2.8 is superior to the newer
    "Nikon AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED". I have the AF-D version, my friend at work has the newer one. She expressed that the lens was just not as sharp as she had hoped. A tripod test of the two lenses, along with the AF-D Micro-Nikkor 200/4, the older lens is sharper and has less CA.I went looking for specs. DXOmark does not have the AF-D 105/2.8, but does have the AF-D 200/4. The CA on the "modern" 105/2.8 is terrible compared with the older lenses.

    Nikon AF Micro-Nikkor 200mm f/4D ED-IF on Nikon D800E vs Nikon AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D on Nikon D810 vs Nikon AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED on Nikon D800E

    Nikon AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED - DxOMark

    Why would an optical engineer do such a horrible thing as design a lens that sucks compared to the prior generation. The new lens is design in the digital age where CA can be corrected in firmware, or in post. The old lens was designed for Film- so corrections had to be done optically.

    Being a long-time Nikon enthusiast, this was embarrassing. $2000 AF-S zoom needing new electronics set her back $600 or so. I gave her my 24~85 AF-S VR lens, picked up for $25 and repaired it myself.

    If Nikon wants to sell new lenses- make them better than the ones they are replacing. Instead, they just keep sticking more letters after the name.
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
  19. I've heard report of that too...that the micro 105mm G isn't as sharp as the D. I think the Tokina 100mm macro is even sharper than the D...but I digress.
  20. Think you landed on the wrong thread. If it's not a faux pas, there may be genuine engineering reasons such as sacrificing certain area's sharpness to compensate the corners, or other issues. Dunno.

    By the way, there are a couple of Nikon 24-70mm E VR lenses listing for below $800 on eBay now, condition described as "excellent", followed by others at >$1K.
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
    chulster likes this.

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