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. I can vouch that diet Coke cans are very shiny and good at showing LoCA, especially if they have condensation...
    Albin''s images likes this.
  2. No diet here, only the hard stuff :)

    Still, I think I can make a line-up of bottles and cans that will do the job.
  3. Okay, here's another attempt. This will likely be several posts. Everything shown here is an SOOC JPEG Fine from my D810(aside from my text annotation). I debated about whether or not to do it this way, but thought that might be the most "fair" way to compare PP sharpening, etc, on an even keel.

    As can be seen, this is a line-up of soft drink bottles and cans on the deck railing. Focus for every photo was manual/magnified live view while focusing on the words "West Jefferson" on the bottle cap of the Mountain Dew bottle in front. I refocused after zooming, but focused at full aperture without refocusing after changing aperture.

    First, for comparison sake, is Nikon's first "normal" zoom, the 43-86mm f/3.5. This is the early "chrome nose" pre-AI version that was AI converted.

    View attachment 43-86 3.5.JPG

    View attachment 42-86 43mm 5.6.JPG

    View attachment 43-86 43mm 3.5.JPG

    View attachment 43-86 86mm 5.6.JPG
  4. Oh, this is going to be good! The 43-86mm shots are a great teaser.
  5. Oh damn, you've got a good one. Why can't I be so lucky?
  6. On the whole, I have to say that I'm incredibly happy with that lens, at least based on this test.

    It seems to have a bit less contrast wide open than the 24-70, and also the bokeh(especially at 70mm) seems a lot busier. 35mm on the wide end is a bit limiting for me, but aside from that I can actually see this going into my rotation. The 24-70 is outstanding, but it gets a bit heavy on my shoulder all day. The 35-70mm f/2.8D is heavier, than, for example the 35-70mm f/3.3-4.5 that's on my N8008s now, but it's lighter than some of the other "walk around" lenses I carry.

    Even at 5.6, the 43-86mm isn't terrible, and certainly would be acceptable on film.
    chulster likes this.
  7. It would appear the 24-70mm missed focus in the 50mm f/2.8 shot. The f/4 shot from that series is also slightly misfocused, so I assume you left the focus alone after focusing at f/2.8 with all the lenses and focal lengths.

    Thanks so much for doing all these! I agree that the 35-70mm (your copy at least) acquits itself admirably, even if it can't quite match the 24-70mm in most of the shots. There is much to discuss in this comparison, but I'll leave that to the more knowledgeable members, including you.

    BTW, my compliments on your tripod! It doesn't seem to have budged even one full pixel's width between shots! I'm frankly amazed.
  8. I noticed that the 50mm f/2.8 shot is very soft. To be honest, I'm not sure what happened there, especially as subsequent ones in the series are okay. It's dark now so I can't reshoot, but we'll see tomorrow. There again, these were manually focused.

    To be honest, I was a bit concerned about the tripod. It was my Manfrotto CF that feels a bit rickety, and it seemed to bounce around enough that I used the self timer on all of these photos. I have a couple of 10-pin remote releases, but couldn't find any of them. As a side note, it would be really nice if Nikon would make the nifty little IR remote compatible with higher end bodies. I had everything snugged down, but for whatever reason I also wasn't super happy with how the RRS plate on my D810 fit into my Arca-Swiss head. I thought my other RRS plates fit better, although I don't think there was any slop there.
  9. Good job Ben. Thanks.
  10. Looks like it settles down again pretty repeatably, which for the testing is very handy!

    Which one is it? My 3 section CF 055 is light but nice to use.
  11. It's cheaper than that :)

    It's an older 190, which is 3 sections. It's pre-redesign on that model and doesn't have the "trick" center column.
  12. The 35-70 f2.8 is a great lens, but according to my tech (who has worked on a bunch of them) they tend eventually to develop an internal fog in a location simply cannot be reached to clean it. If you've got one that is problem-free treasure it.
  13. I took the plunge and bought a Nikkor 24-70 f2.8 that came from the same estate as a D3 I bought awhile ago. Love the D3, far more than I imagined I would. The 24-70 is astounding, by far the finest zoom lens I've used and also the quickest and nicest to work with.
    [​IMG]_DSC9614 by fiddlefye, on Flickr
  14. Well, I finally pulled the trigger on a 28-70mm f/2.8. (Still not man enough for a 24-70mm, probably never will be.) It should arrive by Thursday. Exciting! Hope it's good!
    Albin''s images likes this.
  15. Great purchase!

    I have barely taken mine off a camera since getting it. I agree that it's easily the best all-around zoom I've used, despite the fact that I was told in another thread here that the 24-120 was just as good...
    Fiddlefye likes this.
  16. No the 24-120 is not as good - good, but not as good. The constant f2.8 maximum aperture more than makes up for the lack of VR for my purposes and image quality is nice wide open.

    When I made the move up to full-frame after my D200 I made two sorta-mistakes. I bought a D750 and got the 24-85 f3.5 VR because I found a used one for a really good price. The D750 has been a constant headache. It is on its third loud, nasty and fragile-sounding shutter, has frequent exposure oddities and produces falsehoods regarding exposure data. It has made four trips to Nikon service under warranty and I despair of it ever working properly on a reliable basis, ever. I bought the D3 as a back-up body and even though it has 12MP vs 24 for the D750 it now gets the lion's share of use. The 24-85 is at best moderately sharp and CA at the edges is horrific at any f-stop, not to mention the high level of distortion. Ok for stuff I'm shooting for online use, but a waste of time for anything I might want to print bigger than 4x6. A snapshot lens, pretty much.

    The 24-70 is seriously worth the extra size and weight.
    FPapp likes this.
  17. You have zero disagreement from me.

    I like the 24-120 a lot. It's a convenient zoom range in a good, sturdy but not overly large package, and for a lot of situations the f/4 max is offset by VR.

    The 24-70mm f/2.8 is phenomenal, though. Outdoors, it's not even a contest between the two lenses when absolute image quality is your main concern.

    When light drops a bit-even indoors-it can be a bit more off a toss-up. Earlier this evening, I was at a small birthday party get-together and had my D810 with the 24-70. There were times where I had to keep it at f/2.8 to keep my shutter speeds reasonable, and I would have benefited from VR and letting my shutter speeds drop down into the 1/30 or even 1/15 range and enjoyed the extra DOF and/or lower ISO. As it was, I was at 3200 and 6400 at f/2.8 to keep 1/100 or so. In my experience, the VR on the 24-120 is good for ~3 stops, which makes it about two stops better than the 24-70 in this sort of situation, but of course there are trade-offs.

    Maybe one of these days I can get the E VR version, which takes the no-VR tradeoff out of the equation, but leaves you with and even easier lens that's stuck at f/2.8 for film.
  18. Not my experience in moving from a non-VR (or VC) Tamron f/2.8 standard zoom to the 24-70 f/2.8 VC version. Tamron's VC is rock-steady and allows handholding down to 1/15th s easily - and my hands are getting pretty shaky these days.

    The only Nikon VR lens I have for comparison is the 18-140 kit lens that came with my D7200. Not the same class of optics I admit, but IMO Tamron's VC is better than Nikon's VR, which has a tendency to 'jump' at the shutter-press and reframe your shot, or just randomly not apply much VR at all.

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