Nikon 24-70mm F2.8 with or without VR?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by RaymondC, Nov 19, 2017.

  1. At the time I bought the E version in late 2015 I was using a copy of the G purchased new in 2013; my previous one (from 2008) was damaged (though still usable). The two year-old copy of the G lens was quite comparable with a new one. The zoom mechanism in the G was never that smooth or even resistance to begin with. Personally I think the mechanical characteristics of a lens should remain unchanged for at least 10 years of use without service especially if a lens is intended for professional use. The E version seems more ruggedly built, the zoom mechanism works better (more even tension) and Nikon also said that the lens can withstand impacts from the side better than the earlier version.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2017
  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    Heimbrandt, I pay absolutely no attention to DxOMark. According to Lens Rentals, who gets to see many samples of each lens, the E VR version of the 24-70mm/f2.8 is more even across the frame while the older G version is sharper in the center but worse towards the edges. I have used both versions quite a bit but only have the E. Both are fine lenses IMO.

    However, for a party, wedding, news type lens, I would rather have better center performance as the edges are mostly not significant, perhaps except for group shots, but then I would avoid 24mm for group images anyway. A uniform performance is probably more important for a landscape lens, but a heavy VR lens is not I would use for landscape and hiking.
  3. I've hired the pre-VR 24-70, and wouldn't go hiking with it easier - it's too bulky, and I speak as someone who'll hike with a 14-24 (or, at a push, 70-200 f/2.8). It also has an inner zoom element slightly exposed to getting thumped if you whack the lens into something. I've walked quite a way with the Tamron, though - if you can live with the 24-120, it's not much bigger than that. DxO's report of the 24-70 VR is pretty unflattering; photozone are also not that impressed by it, although it does show stronger corners than the Tamron at wide angles. I do like having acceptable edges at 24mm, but I concede these lenses sometimes get used for 70mm portraits too (though I'll switch to my 70-200 if I can).
  4. I used the 14-24 only a few times per year because I didn't find the wider focal lengths (apart from 20-24mm) useful for my style of photography all that often and the lens was heavy (this is why I sold the zoom after getting the 20/1.8 which is a better fit for my needs.) The 24-70E by contrast I don't mind carrying at all because it provides useful (central) focal lengths and functionality for me. I use it for portraits, events, documentary photos of all kinds, travel, architecture and landscape to name a few.

    Dxomark and photozone test using targets at relatively close distance (magnification 1:40 apparently for photozone; I don't know what distance dxomark use) whereas lensrentals test using an optical bench with the lens set to infinity focus. Lensrentals' account of the differences is favourable to the E version:

    Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 ED AF-S VR Sharpness & Optical Bench Testing

    My guess is that the G version was optimized for typical distances in reportage-style photography and the designers prioritized central sharpness. Some landscape photographers seemed to be less happy with it (though I didn't personally have a problem in using it for landscape). It is understandable that Nikon would try to correct the reported flaws of the G version in the new version: (1) lack of VR, (2) lack of sharpness at long distances, (3) a lot of field curvature at 24mm, with significantly reduced sharpness in the outer areas of the frame if focused on the center and using mid apertures, (4) zoom mechanism failure in some of the lenses over time. I think they achieved those things (of course we have to wait a few years to see if the zoom mechanism is indeed more durable) but zoom lens design is always a compromise and there are some drawbacks. In my brief time as owner of both lenses I could see that at 70mm, the G version was sharper at short distances and the E version at longer distances (at f/2.8). At 24mm the E version was clearly better. I had initially assumed I would keep the G as backup but after using the E for a short time I was convinced I didn't want to use the G any more. I was particularly impressed by the color and contrast from the new lens, the reduced field curvature was of practical significance to me (for the group photos) but also I liked the faster focusing, nicer bokeh and reduced out of focus color fringing. Other users may find themselves with a different conclusion depending on their needs. Someone who prioritises central sharpness at close distance may prefer the G version. Personally my initial prejudice against VR lenses in this focal length range was quickly put aside after using the E version for a while, I realized I preferred the new lens even though the 70mm findings were mixed depending on the focused distance.
  5. The Tamron SP VC 24-70mm f/2.8 works for me. The VC is pretty useful in less-than-great light.

    I'm finding it increasingly less reliable to handhold at speeds of 1/60th or 1/30th these days, and the VC means that I don't have to concentrate too hard on holding the camera steady at those speeds. Even 1/15th is a possibility with a reasonably high success rate.
    Andrew Garrard likes this.
  6. I use the 24-70/2.8 G since 2012.

    - generally good quality throughout (which you expect, considering price)
    - too bulky for all purposes
    - not good in the (extreme) corners
    - not good close-up .. and dramatically bad with extension rings..
  7. I have the non VR 24-70G, had it for years. Love it. I use it just as you describe as a walkaround lens shooting people and groups especially on Mardi Gras. If I were buying new I may consider it, but having what I have---and I have VR on the 70-200 and 16-35--I am not in any market for a replacement 24-70/2.8. If I were a pro PJ, maybe??? but that's a lot of money for an improvement that may come with baggage

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