Nikon 24-70mm - how much different to other zooms?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by Ian Rance, Jun 23, 2009.

  1. Firstly, I am not a 'pro' and make very little money from my photography, however that does not mean that I am not aware of the pro equipment out there available to us.
    I often find myself chatting to other enthusiastic Nikon users when out and about - it is nice that a camera can 'break the ice' and allow easy chat with new people... Anyway, this lens is often mentioned as something they aspire to own and I say "yes, that is a nice lens", but I realise that I am only saying it on behalf of it's aforementioned 'pro' status and pricetag (and to follow their enthusiasm).
    So, to avoid future "yes, that is a nice lens" comments (a bit bland) I am interested to know if apart from the speed, is it actually better than the normal lenses? In that range I use a Series E 36-72mm zoom and a 28-105mm zoom which seem fine - so I cannot easily think how the 24-70 can be 'better' apart from speed. It would be nice to be a bit more clued up on this lens and so I would be grateful if those who have it can sum it up in a way that can help me chat about it a bit more freely.
    So, what is it about the 24-70mm f/2.8 lens that makes it special?
  2. Optically: at any zoom setting, very low distortion, outstanding sharpness starting wide open, low CAs.
    Mechanically: great ergonomics, very compact IF design, fast AF operation, rugged construction with better materials, great hood.
    Most zooms (other than pro ones), optically loose performance while zooming, need to be closed to get the most of it, some could have strong CA issues (I`m thinking on the 24-85AFS).
    Mechanically, some zooms have not as good ergonomics, usually have telescopic barrels, are made in plastic with higher tolerances and have smallish hoods usually attached to the front element.
    It doesn`t mean the "normal" zooms are bad, just designed for other preferences. Pro zooms are designed for a more demanding use in all aspects.
    The expensive 24-70 is not absolutely perfect, too. Field flatness is probably its biggest drawback (although only at 24mm... ).
  3. Ian.... I don't know much about lenses..... I was using it in Italy. My friend has it..... One thin is I was using it on my D300..... I didn't feel anything so great about it... after I came home i try to see if i can see anything exceptional about it on my shots. All I can say about it is that at 24 it has less distortion than my 17-55. Then again I used it on a crop camera.... construction..... nothing better than my 17-55. Flare, it was good..... but so is my 17-55 at 24....
    I think it is an over priced lens..... at least it is in Japan where it cost over 2,000 USD. Then again, if I was to buy a lens for an FX camera that is the lens I would buy.
  4. Compared to consumer lenses the main benefit of the 24-70 is the mechanical quality. When you're a pro you can't afford loosing a shot because your lens was broken. If you're an amateur, it's not the end of the world when your lens or camera fails, just annoying.
    Optically the 24-70 is better than the consumer lenses, but it depends on the image if it's noticable in real life. Because the 24-70 starts at 2,8 you can assume that at f/4 or f5,6 already reaches a optimal image quality, while consumer lenses need to be stopped down to f/8 before you reach optimal image quality.
  5. Image quality, clarity, color rendering, sharpness, contrast, construction, all make this lens outstanding. It works very well on DX as well as FX and tends to be sharper than the primes in that range although some primes can be faster at f1.4 when that is needed. The 24-70 is absolutely a fine piece of equipment.
  6. Ian,
    Yes - it really is very nice. Although paradoxically I don't use mine very much (usually because I am using the 17-35mm or some prime) the image quality is really outstanding across the zoom range and well worth the money when used on FX (on DX it seems a waste to me).
  7. It is interesting to read your experiences - it sounds a nice lens. My local shop has one in the box, but they will only get it out to show those interested in purchacing it. One day I will hold one I am sure - then I will probably be hankering after it too!
  8. Until now my 'lightweight' kit was the 17-35mm, a 50mm and the 80-200mm but having recently received the spectacular 21mm Distagon ZF as a present (thank you wife!) I think I will switch round to carrying the 21mm, the 24-70mm and the 80-200mm and forego the extra 4mm on the wide zoom unless I know I will really need it. Maybe.
  9. This lens is very capable of grabbing every shot that you point it to. This is important in a fast shooting continuous sequence.
  10. All of the reviews like Bjorn's here say it is an excellent lens.
    The more important question is does it fit your shooting style? For a full frame wedding photographer it is probably the perfect lens. Personally I find a mid range fast zoom to be large, heavy, expensive, and boring. For the price of the 24-70 f2.8 you could get a few much faster f1.4 to f2 prime lenses. When travelling I prefer a lighter, slower, variable zoom.
  11. "how the 24-70 can be 'better' apart from speed."
    You likely will not see much if any improvement in IQ over your current lenses. It gives you 4mm wider over your current 28-105mm lens. Its fast aperture combined with its AF-S focusing system gives very fast and accurate focusing in lower lighting conditions and of course very fast and accurate focusing overall.
    For event photography it is likely well worth the investment. Is it worth its hefty price tag for the type of photography you do?? Only you and your wallet can decide that. The good news is that the lens, like many other fine Nikon lenses will retain a lot of its value in the years to come.
  12. I must have a very good copy of the 24-70. because it is quite noticeable how much sharper it is than any other zoom I have ever had. For me, it was well worth the hefty price tag.
  13. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Ian, the 24-70mm/f2.8 AF-S is a G lens. It is essentially not usable on some of the older manual-focus film SLRs you have.
  14. I'm very happy with mine. Do I see a huge difference to my old 17-55 - - not really. But the 17-55 was always too short for me.
    But I do feel the bokeh is better. It's very fast to focus & I feel what I've paid for it was/is fair.
    Lil :)
  15. Shun, yes I know - but as I mentioned, it is nice to know what the newer lenses are about - to be up to speed with what is out there and to discuss these great Nikkors with friends using facts, not conjecture. I may well get one in the future though.
  16. I tested the AFS 24-70mm against a new AiS 24/2.8 (which I love on the D700) and the AFD 28-105mm. Not only the contrast and color rendering was much better for me. The sharpness already wide open is stunning. It is really sharp from the outmost edge on.
    The Ais 24mm and the AFD 28-105 (in the corresponding range from 24-70mm) are soft here and will reach the sharpness of the AFS 24-70mm starting from 5.6 on.
    All in all:
    The sharpness of the AFS 24-70mm was the most impressive thing for me.
  17. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I have mentioned a few times that I have used 6 different copies of the 24-70mm/f2.8, from various loaners from Nikon USA and borrowed from friends. It is certainly a fine lens but it is also the only Nikon constant f2.8 zoom that I have never owned myself. Not that there is anything really wrong with it, but my older 28-70mm/f2.8 AF-S is also a fine lens too. While I prefer the extra 4mm on the wide end, there is not enough to justify an upgrade at this point.
    In Ian's case, if he doesn't already have enough lenses to cover this range, the 28-70mm/f2.8 with aperture ring seems to make a lot more sense for someone who regularly uses SLR bodies that are not compatible with G lenses.
  18. It is nor really an answer to the question above mentioned, rather a question of the 35-70/2.8 or the 24-70/2.8. I own the 24-70/2.8 lens but it is to big for me and I considering to go back to the smaller 35-70/2.8. I have the 17-35/2.8 which is supper, and I'm using it most of the time, during landscape shots mostly, and I can't justify the overlapping 24-70/2.8. Above 70mm I have all the good lenses you can have your hand on it, it is a question about the 24-70/2.8 ? It is mach better then the 35-70/2.8 ? I never own the 35-70/2.8.
  19. mjt


    Other posters have covered the techie advantages of this lens. I suggest you also check out the 28-70 2.8 as a "bargain" 24-70 :)
    I shoot a lot of concerts and that is my prime [sic] lens of choice (mated to a D3/D700/S5 Pro). I've used other lenses (zooms and primes) in this similar range and nothing can touch this lens. Tack-sharp, fast focusing in dim conditions, and of course f2.8 across the range. The 24-70 has additional coating(s) which make it a tad better, plus a little more reach at the wide end.
    It's also a great portrait lens, producing great bokeh. I mostly shoot portraits with the 70-200 2.8, yet I use the 28-70 about 30% of the time. You can probably find the 28-70 used (say, at KEH) for about $1400 or less.
  20. Hi, Ian...I use this lens as a pro , to photograph weddings. I shoot all my life with Canon gear using Canon and Sigma F2,8 pro fast lenses, until last year when I swich to Nikon. In my opinion the lens is good , but not so good as legend tell. Pros : very low CAs and very fast AF, fair sharpness , strong contrast an saturated colours. Cons : not so great ergonomics (the zoom ring - to close to the camera body), high barrel distorsions from 24 to 35 mm , low DOF at F2,8 , heavy and long, mediocre mechanics (compared to Canon L lenses - I don't like the zoom "smoothness") Combined with D3/D700 body = the best allaround tool , Nikon can give us at the moment. Another thing - mine have AF fine tune set at +15 on D3 (in order to achieve best results) At the moment I'm very interested to test the new Sigma 24-70/2,8 HSM (the reason - very high barrel distorsions at 24 mm - to high for my taste)
  21. i'd be lying if i said this lens didnt interest me. although i currently have a d300, it's still very attractive--i'd probably get it over the 17-55 or 70-200 right now--especially because my 28-75 tamron may need to go in for repair (it took a hard ding which cracked the UV filter i had on it; mechanically the lens still works fine but the plastic housing the front element has become loose, forcing me to 'retire' it until i can get it fixed). that makes me wonder if the nikkor's higher build quality would have weathered such a knock without suffering damage. but since i can't afford either a d700 or a 24-70 right now, it's just a dream...
  22. Honestly I think this lens gets way too many raves. Yes it's an excellent lens -- for its intended purpose, which seems to be photojournalism and wedding-type settings; it focuses fast, delivers the good in a close range and large apertures are fully usable. However, my initial testing of the lens was very dissatisfying; I tried it at 24 mm, focused using the center point on a subject about 80 meters away with a D300. The result was that the center was sharp but the edges were mush, even when stopped down. Apparently the field flatness can really ruin an image where the focused area fills a large part of the frame. Also, 70 mm is quite short on FX and the performance at 70 mm is entirely decent but nothing special. I'm not trying to dissuade anyone from getting the lens, just saying that it's not a jack of all trades, ultimate lens for very type of subject. For more static photos than weddings and events, I'd take something that gives less quirks.
    Oh and the lens is BIG, it's certainly not inconspicuous.
  23. I tried the Tamron 28-75/2.8 on my D700 body before I bought the new 24-70/2.8 Nikkor. I've read some good opinions about that Tamron lens. But I found out quickly that this lens is not good enough to be mounted on D700 body. The plastic, fragile feel, softness at f/2.8, severe back focus and yellow color tone did not convince me. I returned the Tamron lens and bought the Nikkor lens. Yes it is expensive, (digital SLR photography is expensive) big and heavy but everything else is fantastic. I also used the 17-55/2.8 Nikkor on D300 and I can say that 24-70/2.8 + D700 combo is miles away.
  24. Thank you for the comments - and I think that Nikon have built a fine lens for sure. I really must try one out so I can see for myself, but then again my Series E zoom might not shine so brightly to me if I do try it...
    There was me telling myself to find out about this lens for other people's benefit but now I fancy one myself! Must resist....must resist....
  25. I bought mine reluctantly due to high cost and heavy size. But I am so impressed with this lens now. It os much better than my 17-35mm and 70-200mm at the identicle focal lengths. There is something about the contrast and sharpness that really makes this lens the best I own. The 24mm, 35mm, and 50mm primes compare poorly as well, IMHO. I thought, I would miss VR, but somehow it just works out with this lens.
    The size is the true drawback. This is not a vacation lens but any means.
    HTH, Dmitry
  26. Paul B: "low DOF at F2,8"
  27. i would say that the difference between this lens and what you currently have would be negligable. if you really want quality, then primes are the answer.
  28. I agree completely with Jose Angel. I own lots of Nikon lenses, and the 24-70 is one of the few that I would never trade. It is a fantastic, pro-grade walk around and PJ lens. Its sharpness and contrast are matched only by the 70-200, and then only when the tele is mounted on a DX body.
  29. I am with Joel, what exactly do you not like about the DOF at f2.8?
    You are not saying that other lenses have different DOF at the same aperture and focal length?
    But if you compare DOF at a usable f2.8 from this pro lens with a DOF at f8 you need to use with a consumer lens you are aware that one can actually use f8 with a pro zoom as well :)
    So where is the "con" ?
  30. I really need a lens in this range for weddings but the price tag is beyond horrific for the 24-70 and even the 28-70 is crazy money. If I'm spending close to this much I would want to be able to do my own tests with a number of copies.
    For the wedding guys, how much do you use the wide end and it what situations? I'm not a wide angle fan at the best of times so I'll save the money and go for a 35-70 and keep my 28mm ais lens in case I get caught short in a big group shot.
  31. Ups..., I mean : very shallow DOF at F8 and above..., but of course, compared with my previous Canon 24-70/2,8. It's just a limitation that you must be aware of, sometimes , but in most cases an advantage. Mark, I use the wide end quite offen, in small places, in lage churches (when I want to illustrate the ambient) or when I want to take interesting perspective pictures :
  32. I think the 24-70 is better than any of the other zooms that I've used from Nikon (maybe 15 of them including five other f/2.8 zooms). In some situations it's better than any of the primes I've used (this includes many Nikkor and Zeiss primes). At a few settings it's a bit worse than the best prime. It's nearly impossible to get it to ghost. Colours are vivid, images are clean. Focuses fast, allows manual focus override. It is wide enough that on FX I almost never need a wider angle. At the tele end I would prefer something longer but realize that this is Nikon's widest range f/2.8 constant standard zoom and all wide-to-tele zoom Nikkors that go to 105 or beyond are pretty soft at that setting. So it's pretty much the state of the art in zooms of its type. It's expensive, heavy, and big. What did you expect, a free lunch?
    For weddings I think the range is great though a 28-105 would be better for me. I think 24mm can give a nice sense of being very close to the people and showing the couple walking through the guests etc. However, I often need lenses faster than f/2.8 and also the 105mm focal length. At well lit weddings the 24-70 could be the only lens needed. I also often use it for landscapes and I've come to think that it's performance is very good there also. The images are clean of artifacts such as CA and the FX image area is very evenly rendered. There are a few primes that are better in some situations such as in very low light obviously the 50/1.4 AF-S is. Sometimes you need a PC lens, other times macro. The 24-70 can't fill these functions. However, if you need a zoom from wide to short tele and at least sometimes need a moderately fast aperture, the 24-70 is as good as they get and quite a bit better than most.
  33. Adding to my previous post. I'm not really happy with the 24-70 for portraits (i.e. wedding formals). I am not sure what is wrong - perhaps I am just used to the 50/1.8 and 85/1.4 that give a crisper image in these situations, or it could just be something about the "look" of the image. I know this is a very unscientific commentary ... but it is a good idea to have a 50, and 85 or 105 for portraits and use the 24-70 for the wide end and also when shooting rapidly changing situations. In landscapes I think the 24-70's best area is also the wide end (just be sure to have a foreground interest to focus on so that you can avoid focusing to infinity) whereas at the long end I think e.g. a 50mm f/1.8 gives a bit contrastier image (but still the 24-70 is more than adequate; these are really fine points). Discussing "issues" with the 24-70 is quite a popular activity on the net - I think if the price were more moderate people would not bring these up. By comparison, the f/3.5-4.5 and slower zooms are way worse in overall performance and especially lack the ability to give a sharp, CA free image at f/2.8 (well, of course) and f/4 which the 24-70 has little difficulty in especially at the wide end.
  34. Beeing an "old school" photographer, I allways have a second camera with me (D300), equipped with an 85mm . The 125mm give me another perspective and different looking pictures . But most inportant, a very light setup , wich give me high quality portraits.
  35. I have used Nikon 24-85 f/2.8-4, Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 and now Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
    I have also used Canon 5D + 24-70 f/2.8L, Canon 5D with 24-105 f/4L
    The combination Nikon D700 + Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 blows all other lenses away with its focus accuracy, sharpness, contrast, colors. In other words, it is the best lens I have ever used in that zoom range.
    It is expensive because of a reason. You get what you pay for.
  36. "You likely will not see much if any improvement in IQ over your current lenses."'
    With all due respect, you've obviously not tried the 24-70 f/2.8 or had a bad copy if you did. This lens on my D3 or D700 absolutely blows away any other Nikon zoom and most primes I've ever used. The sharpness is superlative - in a class of it's own, only matched by the Nikon 17-24 on FX and 70-200 on DX. A truely stunning lens.
  37. How does the lens compare optically with the 28-70/2.8? Does it justify a change?

Share This Page