Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens review

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f:2.8E ED VR lens review
This Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens review is by Steve Perry (website | YouTube | Facebook):

I remember it like it was yesterday. Just a few months back, Nikon announced a new version of their 24-70mm lens (the AF-S 24-70mm E VR). I use the old version of this lens all the time and I have to admit, reading the announcement got me more excited than a college girl getting a free pumpkin spice latte.

So, I ordered one right away, images of grand landscapes dancing through my head – all with perfect corner to corner sharpness of course.

When this lens arrived, I raced out to test it – I was brimming with questions that begged for answers – particularly how it stacked up against the “old” 24-70mm. Little did I know what kind of surprises I was in for – this wasn’t exactly what I thought it was going to be. Luckily, I have no affiliation with Nikon, so I can speak my mind and freely reveal the good, the bad, and the ugly about this new lens.

Also, keep in mind I’m not a professional lens reviewer, and I was only able to test one copy of the new lens against my one copy of the old lens. Ideally, I would like to test a bushel basket of each lens to average out sample variation, but for this review we’ll have to settle for the glass I have at my disposal.

The first thing you’ll notice about this new 24-70 is that it seems to have been hitting the french fries a little too hard. It’s gained a bit of weight from the slimmer 2007 version (I know how it feels), as well as gathering a bit more girth and height. While you won’t need to press your spouse into service as a sherpa, you will need a bit more space in your bag to haul it around. So, if you were dreaming about a smaller, lighter optic, then you’re going to be disappointed. Also, the filter size gets bumped from 77mm to 82mm, so break out the wallet for a new set of filters.

As for the build quality itself, it feels at least as robust as the old 24-70mm. The zoom and AF rings are silky smooth and it seems almost eager to take on whatever challenges you want to throw at it. Of course, all of this is speculation on my part, only time will tell if it’s tougher than the current model – which was known to wear out with excessive use. I’m on my second copy of the first version of this lens and the zoom ring has recently been making like it’s got peanut butter stuck in there. Sigh.

This new lens also features VR and – for my shaky hands – it seems to grant another 3-4 stops of hand-hold ability. The VR seems to work exceptionally well, and I’ve been very impressed with it. As to whether or not you need it, that’s going to vary from person to person, however, I imagine if you shoot in a lot of dark venues it could come in handy.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f:2.8E ED VR lens review 1
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f:2.8E ED VR lens review 2

What about AF?

There has been a significant improvement in AF speed. It’s not like the old lens was sluggish, but this locks on like a teenage boy peeping into the girls locker room. Even Live View AF was much quicker than the old lens. As an added bonus, my copy needed ZERO AF fine tuning – spot on right out of the box.

This is also an “E” series lens – not to be confused with the original E series Nikkors that graced the shag camera bags in the late 70s and early 80s. The current “E” stands for “Electronic,” referring to an electronically controlled aperture rather than a mechanically controlled one.

I’ve seen Nikon offering a lot of new “E” type glass recently, and I suspect it’s for compatibility with the upcoming D5 camera. I’m speculating that the new camera will probably run 15 frames per second and I’m guessing that the old mechanical aperture can’t keep up, hence the rash of new lenses we’ve seen lately.

OK, so how about sharpness?

Well, I shot several hundred photos at various F/Stops at various locations and I was anxious to watch this lens optically annihilate the original one – at least that’s what I expected would happen. All tests were shot with a D810 on a tripod, focused via live view, mirror locked up, using electronic front curtain, and with a cable release.

In the center areas using mid range F/Stops, sharpness is close at pretty much all focal lengths. Looking from image to image, I just don’t see a significant difference between the center area of the new lens and the old. Sure, in some cases the new lens might be just a touch better, especially at the wide end – and in other cases it actually seems like the old lens has a slight edge. I’ve also noticed that this can flip flop a bit depending on subject distance, but overall, it seems to be a practical wash at mid-range apertures across the focal range in the center of the image.

Here are a few test shots at F/8, be sure to click them to enlarge (also, if you see a magnifying glass over the image when you open it, click it one more time for full resolution

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f:2.8E ED VR lens review 3
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f:2.8E ED VR lens review 4
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f:2.8E ED VR lens review 5
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f:2.8E ED VR lens review 6
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f:2.8E ED VR lens review 7
When I open the lens to F2.8, it seems like, at least from 35mm and up, the old lens actually has an advantage over the new one in the center. Nope, I didn’t get struck with a brief episode of dyslexia just now, you read that right. It’s not huge, but it seems like the old lens consistently keeps AHEAD of the new one wide open. My mind was so blown by this I must have tried a dozen different scenarios, all with the same results.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f:2.8E ED VR lens review 10
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f:2.8E ED VR lens review 11
Now, as we start moving from the center areas to the mid sections, edges, and corners, the new Nikon turns things around. It is generally better at all focal lengths than the old lens, especially at the wide end. Where the old lens really struggles at 24mm ~ 28mm, the new lens manages to keep the corners much sharper. Additionally, there seems to be better overall mid-frame sharpness than the old lens, at least in general.

24-70-24-corner
24-70-24-corner2
24-70-35-corner
24-70-70mm-uprt
So, the bottom line is that if you were anticipating a GIGANTIC leap in sharpness, sorry, it just isn’t there. I’d rather say that the sharpness seems more evenly distributed across the frame, in some cases scraping off a little center sharpness for better edges and corners. Now, whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing depends on what you shoot. As a landscape guy, I’m thinking it’s an improvement. I like my entire frame to be sharp with no really weak areas, so I think I’m OK with losing a touch of center sharpness to have an image that’s sharper overall. Although, for the record, I wish it could have been pulled off while maintaining the same (or better) dead center sharpness.

Additionally, I also noticed the new lens has quite a bit more wide angle barrel distortion than the old one. As a landscape photographer this isn’t a huge problem for me, but I can’t imagine too many architectural photographers are going to be very happy about it.

24-70-barrel
It also shows obvious vignetting wide open, particularly at the wide end, more than what we see with the current lens. Easily correctable, but it’s definitely there. It’s mostly gone by F4 and pretty darn good by F5.6.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f:2.8E ED VR lens review vignetting
And that’s not the only bad news I discovered on the optical front. (You thought I was done, didn’t you?) This lens also seems susceptible to focus shift.

See, I was testing the new lens on closer subjects and I couldn’t help but notice it was really embarrassing itself in front of the old lens. I can understand a slight difference, but this was pitiable. I remembered seeing this mentioned in a few reviews and looking at the test shots, it clearly seems like the new lens doesn’t hold a candle to the old one at close range.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f:2.8E ED VR lens review at 50mm
However, I started wondering if maybe there was a little focus shift going on. In case you’re not familiar with this concept, this is basically where the plane of focus changes slightly as you change F/Stops. If you focus at F/2.8 and drop down to say F/11, the plane of focus shifts slightly one way or the other. At normal distances, it’s usually not an issue and is more than covered by the added depth of field of the smaller selected aperture – but it can be a problem for closer subjects.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f:2.8E ED VR lens focus plane
Now the REAL problem is that when you use phase detection AF – the kind you use when looking through your viewfinder. See, your lens always focuses wide open, regardless of the F/Stop. The lens only stops down to your selected F/Stop when you snap a photo, otherwise your viewfinder would get real dark when you start dropping to F/8, F/11, etc. So, if you focus via your viewfinder for close subjects with this lens, and select smaller F stops, you may have a problem.

However, this isn’t an issue with contrast detection AF, like the kind used in Live View.

With that in mind I did the test again, only this time while in Live View I made sure to refocus every time I changed the F/stop. Sure enough, the new lens turns out to be at least as sharp as the old one when using this technique – at least when both are at F8. However, it could still be a problem for regular AF shooters at close range, so it’s something to keep in mind. Also, note that the old lens does not seem subject to any focus shift, at least not any I could see or have experienced over the years.

50mm-close-2
So, the new lens adds some nice features, but it also takes a step back when it comes to barrel distortion, focus shift, and it looks like it gives up some center sharpness, especially wide open.

As for if you should upgrade or not, that’s a tough call so I made a list for you to consider.

  1. If you shoot hand-held in low light situations, the VR alone may be worth the upgrade.
  2. If you need faster AF.
  3. If you need slightly better mid-frame sharpness and much better edge and corner sharpness.
  4. If you anticipate using this lens at high frame rates with a D5.
  5. If you think the current 24-70 has stopped working now that the new one is out.

On the other hand, the current 24-70 is no slouch and the two lenses are really close in sharpness in the middle part of the frame.  So, if most of your subjects tend towards the center part of the lens, you don’t need VR, and the AF is fast enough in the old version, there’s probably no reason to upgrade.

For me personally, it looks like I’m going to keep this one. I have to admit, I’ve been going back and forth over the last few days, but I think – at least for my type of photography – that there are enough advantages to justify keeping it.

This review was originally posted hereYou can check also Steve's previous [NR] posts here. 

If you have an interesting idea for a guest post, you can contact me here.

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  • Carlo

    I think it is urgent to wait and get more feedback from other users. My “old” 24 70 will have to wait for retirement … Maybe 5 to 10 years …

    • Aldo

      So far it doesnt seem like a replacement.

    • Spy Black

      My lenses hit retirement once they stop working. I’ve been waiting over 40 years now on some of them, they haven’t stopped working yet…

      • Richard Harding

        even when they stopped working they can always be repaired , retirement is when the lens is crushed or soaked in salt water 🙂

    • Patrick O’Connor

      “urgent to wait”. I know what you mean but it sounds funny! 🙂

      • Thom Hogan

        Well, it is different than waiting to be urgent ;~).

  • Nice review! I sold my 24-70mm last year (don’t use it as a wedding and portrait photographer), but I’d say more uniform sharpness and VR are very positive points. Vignetting/distortion don’t matter for my type of shooting. Too bad of the focus shift though!

    • Aldo

      What do you use? If I may ask.

      • Mostly 85mm and 35mm, and a 16-35mm (but very seldom). Weddings we shoot with two persons though, it’s more relaxed.

        • Aldo

          Nice

  • Proto

    Great review! Helped me decide to keep the regular version. VR was very enticing, but the shifting focal plane issue negated that.

    • Eric Calabros

      When Nikon made a mirrorless FF camera, it will be no issue 😉

      • sickheadache

        I have great news for you. The President of Nikon, Akihiro Nikon said to me to tell you…2016 will be exciting. The New Mirrorless with 10mp, 6fps, 2k video, $3,500. And Get this…A new Lens System..so you have to buy new expensive lenses. Great News!

        • Aldo

          Tim?

          • Eric Calabros

            The virus is spreading, and old people are first infected ones

            • Aldo

              I wanna believe NR is more than grumpy older people… I also believe in the d400

  • What an embarrassment for Nikon, far worse than the focal-length controversy of the new 70-200 f/2.8 back when it was released in 2009. That seemed like a big deal at the time, but didn’t really matter to most shooters. This is a bread and butter lens and needed to be great, and it just sounds like a step back.

    • HF

      Look at lensrentals blog. The performance off-center is really much better. So no slouch at all. Worth 2500 Euros? Depends on how you shoot.

    • Patrick O’Connor

      More like a side step.

    • what focal length controversy?

      • Carleton Foxx

        At closer distances the newer version of the 70-200 didnt magnify as much as the old one. At 200mm it was more like a 135mm lens

        • Get out. I’ve owned the new one for 5 years and I’ve never encountered the phenomenon. That’s a significant difference. Any source links to the controversy?

          • Carleton Foxx

            It’s called “focus breathing” and I don’t think you’d notice it unless you went directly from old to new.
            Our Thom puts it this way: “The new 70-200mm is a pretty heavy breather: it loses 29% of its focal length as you focus closer.” You can see the pix at: http://www.bythom.com/nikkor-70-200-VR-II-lens.htm

          • Ken Elliott

            I owned both, and it’s true. But never a problem for me. But a lot of trolls freaked about it. Here’s a reasonable analysis of the issue.

            http://www.bythom.com/nikkor-70-200-VR-II-lens.htm

  • fanboy fagz

    $600 for VR. less sharp in the center, bigger and heavier with more vignetting. tradeoff is a bit better corner sharpness but since you lose center sharpness to the non vr- theres no benefit.

    so far from the 2 reviews posted here, the lens is hitting 0 for 2

    • HF

      Don’t agree. Look at lensrentals blog. A bit sharper is an understatement in my opinion.

      • fanboy fagz

        nope

        • HF

          Lensrental R. Cicala: “The new lens is dramatically better at the very edges of the image.” Do you challenge his measurements?

          • Steve Perry

            I wrote the article above and I do agree with Roger, especially when you get to the wide end. Not sure sure if I’d use the word “dramatic” once you get north of 30mm, but it’s still better than the old one at the edges.

            I’m honestly more excited that the mid to edges areas are improved, even if it’s only a little. One of the posts on my blog noted that it seems good for folks who like to use the rule of thirds – those areas are (for the most part) improved.

            Also, both lenses really are good. When viewed at 50% instead of 100%, it can be a struggle to see the differences in all but the wide angle corners.

            • Eric Calabros

              on 24mp sensor its really really good, but its supposed to be workhorse lens in next 8 years, while Nikon is going to make 50+ MP camera next year! I guess they think 24-70 is mostly used by PJs (that’s true), and they are on low resolution sensors, so won’t see the higher resolving power, so why bother? That’s wrong.

            • Steve Perry

              The new 24-70 actually looks really good on my D810 (these pics above were from that), and I would guess it would still look good if Nikon goes for that 42MP Sony sensor. North of 50MP, 60MP? Yeah, I’m with ya – not so sure that this lens would keep up with a sensor like that.

            • Eric Calabros

              Roger said that it probably makes more pleasing bokeh. Can you confirm that?

            • Steve Perry

              Sorry, I didn’t really compare them for that. Plus, as a landscape guy I’m not sure I’d be a good judge for bokeh 🙂

            • Aldo

              Old one already has nice bokeh… problem is it gets soft at 70mm.. which I guess nikon doesnt care… If they had improved 70mm sharpness you could occasionally leave your portrait lens at home.

            • Thom Hogan

              Look at the recently posted interview with the Nikkor 58mm designer. The 24-70mm, and the recent f/1.8 primes, all seem to be targeting the same goal. That would be a focus to out-of-focus (OOF) transition that’s gentle and problem free. In general, I agree that they’ve achieved this.

              However, looking at OOF effects is a very Japanese thing. It’s valued in their culture more so than in the Western cultures, which I’d characterize as more acuity driven.

              Thing about optics: you can optimize to just about any goal, but that also means that you will de-emphasize another. The notion that there will be a lens that doesn’t vignette, doesn’t have astigmatisms, is sharp corner-to-corner, has beautiful bokeh, has no linear distortion, and has no field curvature or focus shifting is false. When you start trying to push one parameter to perfection, you intersect against the other parameters.

              Thus, the question becomes one of balance.

              While the Zeiss optics have very high acuity, in my testing they also produce a lot of CA. Indeed, the images that Zeiss sends out with their press releases often have CA in them ;~). Zeiss is pushing a different set of variables than Nikon is.

            • Eric Calabros

              if all new lenses released were designed with this strategy in mind, I would be totally ok with that. but, 35 f/1.8 is super sharp, lacks character. 200-500 is awesome, no Nano coating. what I would like is a clear message like this: “ok people, we reached a point that resolving power is good enough for %90 of your clients, and beyond this line any further step toward higher sharpness needs lots of compromises you’ll be disappointed about. so from now on we focus on other lens characteristics that will help you differentiate your images.”

            • Patrick O’Connor

              One line of lenses for every task? Doesn’t make sense to me.

            • Thom Hogan

              I’d go further. I’d like to know that there is one photography-minded decision maker who is shaping ALL of Nikon’s products into a rationalized and logical set. Your comment, for instance, really only applies to FX, and only to lenses ;~).

              Note that recent interview with the optical managers: “design what I want to” still reigns within Nikon. Solving customer problems is down the list. Basically, we have a smallish group of senior designers dictating to us. We either accept what they create or not. I don’t think it’s a surprise that this approach—and Nikon’s the only one that does it, they just are at the extreme—is slowly leading the camera business downhill.

              People keep claiming that the camera companies are “innovative,” and then point to things like sensor-based IS, which was invented by…wait for it..Hewlett Packard. Innovation is not what I see out of the camera industry in Japan. Those camera companies are not looking forward at what building blocks will be available five years from now and what user problems that those building blocks might solve. Instead, we’re getting aging write circuitry that’s slower than the cards you put in them, slow and partially implemented WiFi in a world where fast and fully implemented WiFi is common, and much, much more.

              Much of what we get is larger numbers. More megapixels, higher labeled ISO values, 4K (bigger than 1080P ;~), etc. Those iterations are certainly useful, but to smaller and smaller groups of people. Meanwhile, more photographs are being taken today than ever before, only not with something Tokyo designed.

            • Mike

              Going from 36 to 60 mp is not that big a jump actually. Not like 12 to 36. 36 to 60 isn’t even double. Where as 12 to 36 is triple the pixels. That said, and someone else can fill in the math, the linear increase is even less. A lens designed around 36 mp, let’s say, won’t have problem with 60.

            • Thom Hogan

              Typically, this lens is more used on a D3/D4/D5 type camera, and in every day event, journalism, or sports work. The D5 is going to be 20mp and last for the next four years, so I don’t see the disconnect. Moreover, it’s not as if there is a 24-70mm on the market that knocks the new Nikkor off. To my eyes, the new Nikkor has better edges and corners (other than vignetting) than anything else on the market.

            • Eric Calabros

              Sigma 24-70 will come sooner or later. I doubt many PJs or sport shooters rely on 3rd party AF, but still, it gonna make another hype about resolving power. perhaps.

            • Patrick O’Connor

              I’m guessing later. Sigma seems to be targeting gaps (quality or cost) in Canon’s and Nikon’s lines. They varied that when they released the 24-105 and it didn’t review or sell nearly as well as other Art lenses. They would have sold a whole bunch more 150-600s except Tamron beat them to it.

            • Spy Black

              I think performance will depend on the given sample. Another sample may coalesce more with what Roger concluded. Another one may suck altogether. Big problem with buying lenses today. I had a 24-70 Tamron that was absolute junk and brought it back.

              Roger tests about 10 samples of a given lens model and averages the results for his conclusions. On occasions he’ll do a quick summary on a single sample, as he did with the 24-70 Tokina. Not sure what he’s done with the Nikkor.

            • El Aura

              The Lensrentals results for this Nikkor were based on 10 copies.

            • Thom Hogan

              Yes, DX shooters are going to like the way this lens renders on their cameras because of that “sharp mid.”

    • Wesley

      They are still selling the first version so I see it as “two different flavors”.

      Pick your needs and compromises to know which one you want.

      • fanboy fagz

        Im still waiting.
        1-nikon QC has been crap as of late so wont be buying anything the first year they release something
        2-Im hoping sigma might release an art zoom lens for FF. maybe a 50-85 f/2 so It can go with the 24-35 f/2. or possibly a 24-70 ART
        3-that price jump is a bit much for little in return. there is hype because its new but this not a lens that will sell in bulk. there is lukewarm excitement about it.

        • neversink

          fanboy – You are always here saying you are waiting for this Sigma lens or that one. How much does Sigma pay you to promote their lenses that fail. They have had serious focusing problems in the 35mm and 50mm Art lens series in both Nikon and Canon mounts. And then you have to wait for Sigma to develop new firmware in order to use them on new camera bodies, or even on old camera bodies whenever Nikon updates their own firmware. Lots of complaints about QC issues. You get what you pay for.

          • fanboy fagz

            if I worked for them id be proud to say so. I have nothing to hide.

            nikon has been having much more qc issues. so I have to pay more to get the same crap problems with nikon I guess..

          • sefopo

            “They have had serious focusing problems in the 35mm and 50mm Art lens series in both Nikon and Canon mounts.”

            Is that so?
            I never had problems with my 35 A on the D800.
            Do you have any sources for your claim?

            • neversink

              Do a search?

            • sefopo

              Did

    • xrb

      agree! but i may still end up getting this lens once price normalize or get extra discount/rebate

  • HF

    This review is in line with the comparison shown at lensrentals blog tested by R. Cicala on an optical bench. Much better performance off center, close in the center. 50mm being the weak spot. Nevertheless, an expensive lens. http://www. lensrentals. com/blog/2015/10/nikon-24-70mm-f2-8-ed-af-s-vr-sharpness-optical-bench-testing

  • Larry Gerbrandt

    The 82mm filter size is the deal breaker for me. I have a small fortune invested in specialized Singh Ray and other filters. In fact I hope the 82mm is a one-off anomaly and not the new standard. Plus, as mostly a landscape and cityscape shooter I shoot 95% of my captures on a tripod and rarely use VR. My walking-around lens is either the 50mm f/1.4 or the 24-120mm f/4 VR.

    • Eric Calabros

      Many of those who don’t need VR, don’t need f/2.8 too. I mean, who shoots landscape, on tripod, at f/2.8?

      • doge

        The only response you’ll get is from the star chaser/night sky crowd.

      • Night photographers.

        • Thom Hogan

          Really? With an f/2.8 lens?

          • Nikon’s 14-24mm f/2.8 is my #1 night lens. 😉 I’d use my [now old] 24-70mm f/2.8 more often, but the coma is horrible. I wonder if the new 24-70mm has improved on that?

      • Patrick O’Connor

        It’s not the norm but sometimes you want shallow depth of field for landscape photography. It helps for simplifying complex scenes or “removing” distracting elements.

        • It would be less expensive to get a folding camera and graflok adapter with an old but sharp Fuji or Nikon lens, or better yet, an m39 Rodenstock. If you’re shooting landscape with a wide zoom and focusing at infinity, you won’t get much out of focus even at 2,8, but you will lose sharpness. Bending the optical plane with a LF camera will allow much greater freedom.

          • Patrick O’Connor

            If you already have the lenses for other purposes, as I do, it’s no extra expense. And not all landscapes are shot wide but even so, the amount of OOF area depends on the relative distances of the elements. I’m not sure I understand your point regarding sharpness.

    • Patrick O’Connor

      I can’t imagine anyone viewing this lens as a “walking-around” lens.
      Just out of curiosity, if you’re mostly working on a tripod, and especially doing landscapes, why wouldn’t you use rectangular filters rather than screw-on?

      • Aldo

        More like a “work out” lens

        • Patrick O’Connor

          Maybe you should give up your West Coast diet and add some meat!? 😉

          • Aldo

            I eat too much meat as it is… I need to eat more veggies

  • Beso

    I am in the camp that when Nikon (or any other manufacturer) brings out an “upgraded” version of a lens it should be simply better across the board. This looks like another disappointment. I have the old version without VR and have never needed it so I see no reason to purchase this new version.
    One other thought – As cameras advance Nikon should be looking to improve optics at a level that is commensurate with the improved IQ and MP of the camera sensor. Unfortunately that doesn’t appear to be the case.

    • Patrick O’Connor

      I don’t know this but, given how good lenses are these days, the cost to manufacture lenses “better across the board” might be prohibitively expensive?

      • Beso

        These zooms (14-24, 24-70, and 70-200; all f/2.8) are supposed to be Nikon’s best professional glass in zoom lenses. They are already priced substantially higher than some of the composition. They are good but not exceptional and this new version has far too many compromises in my opinion. Nikon has seen some of its best lenses outperformed by other manufacturers at lower cost. My point is Nikon is losing the competitive game in both price and image quality and that does not bode well for a company that built their reputation on optics.

        • Patrick O’Connor

          I think “exceptional” is usually measured through the filter of one’s priorities. If, for example, you want a 24-70 for photojournalism, you might lean toward the older “G” lens for center sharpness. But if you shoot a lot in low light, you might go for the “E” lens. But really, either is more than sharp enough for most uses.
          As for third party lenses, some of them are sharper but only theoretically so. What I mean by that is, a lot of people judge sharpness by zooming into 100% which nobody does except other photographers. I had a spare 50mm lens and gave it to a co-worker’s daughter. She shoots senior portraits with a D5100 with a kit lens and a 35 f/1.8 DX. In her email, thanking me for the lens, she included three shots she’d taken with the new lens. At their original framing, they were really sharp. Zoomed in, they were pretty soft in the eyes. I guarantee the subjects (the only ones who matter) loved them! Aside from sharpness, I haven’t seen any examples showing less expensive third party lenses as being any better than their equivalent Nikons and not as good in most cases.
          That leaves us with price. I’m definitely the wrong person to comment on that as my car cost a bit more than average while only getting me to the same destinations as less expensive ones. 😉

          • fanboy fagz

            could be she did PP like using imagenomic portraiture. and then sharpening.

            tamron and sigma have been giving nikon an ass whooping like they never got before. nikon is sweating for sure. 2016 with more art lenses and more primes from tamron is going to hurth them really hard. add to that, yongnuo pixel shanny and godox make fantastic flashes for less than $150 and you begin to realize that people dont need nikon hear (besdies camera) to get amazing IQ at low prices.

            • Eric Calabros

              The flash story is true about Canon and any camera maker. and in optics, Roger’s testing shows that this 24-70 is even better across the frame than Canon’s new expensive non-VR 24-70. Their 20mm and 35mm f/1.8 were smaller lighter cheaper alternative for Sigma art primes with equal sharpness. new arrived 200-500 surprised everyone, even those Sigma 150-600 owners. so Nope, I don’t see a Optical Armageddon for Nikon. They’re doing good. The only problem is that they don’t have capacity or desire to make CX and DX lenses.

            • fanboy fagz

              well agree to disagree regarding nikon vs 3rd party. I dont care for numbers testing like dxomark. it says nothing to me. the pictures above says a lot more than numbers or someones opinions.the way for me to judge is just to see the raw files. all the rest means nothing. I dont need someone to tell me their opinion. im experienced enough to judge for myself.

              I dont believe this lens will be successful in sales and the non vr will stick around for a long time because no one will pay that crazy price. the high price will push even more people to buy the tamron 24-70 vc. watch and see. lets talk next quarter revenue report.

            • Patrick O’Connor

              You don’t care about anyone’s opinion and yet you go on about future sales which…reflects a whole lot of someone’s opinions!?

            • fanboy fagz

              so I have to accept your opinion and thats the bottom line? why is your opinion are any bodies here more important that anyone else? why are you opinion or even rogers opinion more important than another photog? some people like looking at graphs and numbers. me personally, I want to see images. let me see the raw image untouched and ill decide. I will read what roger says and take it with a grain of salt but bottom line, I will decide.

              everyone has what they feel is legit info for a final conclusion.
              for me it isnt numbers. its images. show me raw files and let me decide. I dont need someone telling me what they think of the product, I can do that for myself. maybe people rely on others to tell them what they think. I dont need that.

            • Patrick O’Connor

              I was pointing out the irony of saying you don’t care about opinions but speculating on future sales which reflects people’s opinions. Slow down and think about what people might mean other than your first interpretation. I always regret it when I don’t do that.

            • Eric Calabros

              quarter reports never reveal how many sales lost to some 3rd party brand or things like that. they just tell you the whole market is shrinking, and its even true about 3rd party lens makers.

            • Nikonanon

              I believe that if the non VR 24-70 sells better than the VR version, nikon may just kill it faster as they have already made enough profit from the lens and to prevent internal competition, just like what happened with the 35-70 2.8

            • fanboy fagz

              You may be right. Otoh if people were deciding to buy the tamron at 1100 bucks it would be wiser to convince the person to at least get the non vr. The new E vr is a big jump up in price. You have to admit that 1300 more vs the tamron is a huge leap.

            • fanboy fagz

              you may be right. otoh, if a potential sale could dissuade someone for going to the non vr vs tamron 24-70 VC at $1100 that may be a smaller step than going to the VR which is more than double the amount the tamron costs. the non vr nikon is only $750 more vs the $1300 for the vr. the tamron is a great performer. and spending $1300 extra over the tamron is a hard sell.

            • preston

              The 20mm and 35mm f/1.8 primes are fine – definitely not worth complaining about – but it’s not true to say they are as sharp as the Art primes. The Art primes are much sharper near the max aperture.

            • Patrick O’Connor

              I don’t think she even knows what PP stands for but I’m not sure.
              In any case, my original statement stands and only time will tell if Nikon is in trouble.

            • fanboy fagz

              it may be she used something and had a heavy hand. only way to tell is look through the exif if it was touched.

              lets see next financial report. there has been a lot of things offered by 3rd party companies and they are stealing a large chunk from nikon.

              look how many sale after sale after sales they need to get stock moving. nikon used to have a sale once or twice a year. today, everyday is a sale day.

            • Patrick O’Connor

              My point wasn’t what she may or may not have done but rather, what looks soft at 100% could look VERY sharp when looking at the full photo at a reasonable distance.

              And, again, you seem overly concerned with other people’s opinions (i.e. financial reports). If I were the only person to buy a particular product, it wouldn’t bother me in the least. If the manufacturer were to go out of business, due to my being their only customer, I’d find another product to meet my needs. No worries. 🙂

        • Thom Hogan

          Okay, I’ll bite. How is the 24-70mm (either version) NOT Nikon’s best professional glass in a zoom lens? And which 24-70mm from another maker exceeds what the new lens does?

          • FountainHead

            70-200/4 takes a lot of beating.
            14-24/2.8 takes a lot of beating for what it is.

            • Thom Hogan

              And the new 24-70mm won’t take a lot of beating? Explain.

            • FountainHead

              70-200/4 was a step forward. This is a step sideways with centre sharpness and focus accuracy traded for VR

    • Chip

      I had a chance to play with one. You think Nikon designed this for the now, or future with sensors with even more resolving power? From my quick play, I have NAS and will be getting this baby shortly for my D810. Yes it is big, yes it is expensive, the VR is great, the IQ is stellar, focus is amazing. Those that are throwing stones are probably the same that say who needs 36/24 meg, but secretly all end up buying as you got to pay for the IQ 😀

    • sickheadache

      Bessyo…Get smart dude. Test drive it urself…you gonna run and hide? I do read reviews also..Jared Polin says it is sharp and on his website..he can back that up. But i will wait till the pro’s get and test it..and I will rent one and come up with my own conclusions..but to be a lil baby and say negative crud , when in fact YOU aint tested nothing. Failure. Just like Canon Fan Boys…Nikon got some syssup fan gurls.

  • Aldo

    You know… I’m gonna venture to say this new lens can stand by the side of the old one in store shelves for years to come. I think it really comes down to the VR… the little optical improvement makes no case to buy it. I think the only benefit I would get… is having to skip the ocassional 2-3 shot I did on the old one to avoid motion blurrness. For video though… it’s gonna be a new found gem.

    • fanboy fagz

      if its for video, the tamrons vc is better than nikons. and resolution is not issue for either for video. and stills actually.

      the slight edge improvement is a plus to the center IQ being less than the non vr making it a wash. add bad vignetting and 82mm, price, size, and weight and its not an enticing lens.

      I think you are right and it will not sell well.

      • Aldo

        I guess we’ll have to wait and see. On the VR for video I was thinking of a handheld advantage.

  • sickheadache

    We all learned that Flip Flopwell has a son. Anyone now a days can review a dog pooping. Probably attached to a Canon 5D marksomething.

    • fanboy fagz

      years back he used to say, thisis good, thats bad. today, everthing is great. so he can get you to possibly use his sponsored links.

      he has no shame. begging for money and shooting pictures of his breitling watch and mercedes.

      • Eric Calabros

        He’s still a good source for real world samples. I don’t care he lives in what kind of real world.

        • fanboy fagz

          no he doesnt. everything is shot at f/8. thats not real world. I hardly ever use f/8. I have 2.8 lenses and use them at 2.8-5.

          • Patrick O’Connor

            This may come as a shock to you but MOST folks with DSLRs are pulling them out on special occasions and don’t know what S, A, or M stand for and their on-camera flash is open all the time. They are his primary audience and he serves them pretty well.

            • fanboy fagz

              thats great for him. hes also the laughing jester for many photogs as well. he gives good info, like specs. hes an engineer, photographer he is not. so the blind leads the blind.

            • Patrick O’Connor

              So, what makes someone a photographer?

            • fanboy fagz

              technical know how perspective know how and artistic know how. and obviously lighting know how. how many people know how to use flash well? meaning, knowing how to balance ambient light with flash. making it imperceptible to the eye. making it aesthetic. how many people manual adjust white balance by kelvin numbers? how many people know how to get the shot right in the camera 80%+ of the time and doint look for an excuse to shoot raw by using the “eh, ill fix it in PP” thats a good photog

            • Patrick O’Connor

              I’m going to have to disagree with you. While those are all qualities to be desired, a photographer is someone who takes photographs on a regular basis, much like a golfer is someone who golfs. A “good photographer” probably has some, if not all those qualities in the same way that a good golfer can still have trouble pitching out of a sand trap. You can’t possibly exclude Ken Rockwell from the first group and you’d be hard pressed to exclude him from the second.
              Would you be comfortable pointing us to your portfolio and letting NR readers judge your abilities? That isn’t to say you’re not a good photographer but, being art, it is very subjective and you, or I, might not make the cut according to everyone.

            • fanboy fagz

              I have posted before. but since everyone here is anonymous I got tons of spam to my facebook page because I have my name in the pictures on flickr. I wont post my website since its not relevant since I live overseas. shame no way to send PM. you are a pro photog who has a website? your profile is shown as private and I cant see anything about it. is mine showing as priivate when you click on my name? just curious. btw im a wedding photographer.

            • Patrick O’Connor

              It was a hypothetical question. I don’t really want to see your photos and have no interest in showing mine. I’m just saying it’s difficult to say somebody isn’t a photographer or even that someone isn’t a good photographer.
              I remember you saying something about being a wedding photographer which actually supports my point. The criteria for a good wedding photograph varies depending on the situation. Some are more akin to portraiture and others more like photojournalism. But none would be much like architectural or landscape photography.
              You just seem very critical of, well… everything and I can’t imagine you’re like that in person. Lighten up.

            • Aldo

              Over the years Ive come to realize Im not a photographer… I just take pictures for money and I love doing it. I call myself a photographer cuz I cant find a better name.

            • Patrick O’Connor

              I don’t like to call myself anything. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of volunteers to fill the void! 😉

            • Carleton Foxx

              The ability to find or create singular images that are meaningful, beautiful, and express the essence of what it is to be human.

            • Patrick O’Connor

              Wow! By your definition, there are only a handful (relatively speaking) of photographers in the world. Aside from that, who’s going to judge which contenders possess that ability? You? Would you let me do it?

              The following example is going to sound like Christian mumbo jumbo but it’s an excellent example of my POV:
              C.S. Lewis wrote a book, based on a series of radio broadcasts he made during WWII, entitled, Mere Christianity. Among other things, he wrote that there was no such thing as a good Christian or a bad Christian or even better or worse Christians. Since none of us are perfect, we’re all merely trying and therefore equal.
              I would submit this exactly applies to photographers. One photo may be better than another but that will be true within everyone’s body of work.
              If anyone wishes to disagree, they need to take another look at their photos.

            • Aldo

              He is the Justin Bieber of photography… he is famous and has money… but we all know he isnt that good.

            • Patrick O’Connor

              I don’t know that…about Ken, not that other guy.

          • Eric Calabros

            the are lots of wide open shots in his website. maybe you haven’t checked his real world website.

  • TerraPhoto

    I am quite happy with my new Tokina 24-70mm f/2.8 lens… sure no VR, but half the price and very sharp.

    • fanboy fagz

      even less than half. sells for $1000, no?

    • Nikonanon

      I tried the tokina 24-70 2.8 but man does it like to flare, so much so that hollywood would be jelous

  • murdoc2009

    Old 24-70mm 2.8 wins in bang for the buck.

    You can get an excellent condition, near mint 24-70 2.8 for $1200. That’s half the price of this new lens. Pretty good for same optical quality minus the VR.

    • fanboy fagz

      or a new tamron 24-70 VC for that price. with warranty.

  • blp

    its sad to see that nikon cannot match the optical quality of the canon 24-70 not even the first canon 24-70 f2.8

    • JJ168

      THis is ridiculous.
      THe LensRental finding is that the new nikkor is much better in the corner compare to any other lens in the same zoom ranges. Yes, this is true including the canon 24-70 mk2.

    • Aldo

      The first canon? Damn… You the Canon version of Andrew?

  • Paul H.

    I’m still using the old “beast” (28-70 f/2.8) that is/was already sharper on the edges and less distortion, vignetting, and chromatic aberration than the newer, old standard zoom. Newer is definitely not always better.

  • Mike

    Two lens reviews is not a big enough sample size to be scientific. I’m waiting for someone to actually use this on people in a real world situation. Not sure why this would be your first lens choice if you’re a landscape shooter. The tilt/shift series is far more specific to the task. I see this lens as an event and people lens. Not landscape. Not a bolt-on-the-side-of-a-barn lens either.

    When the 70-200 II came out it didn’t impress on individual specs either. And other than the focus breathing, the sum of its incremental improvements made it a much better lens than its predecessor. Iv played with the new 24-70 at a trade show. Hardly enough time to make a scientific comment but the AF is extremely fast. Easily quadruple the speed of my Tamron 24-70. The weight is less than a 70-200 f/4. Which I find quite comfortable to lug around all day on a D750. The weight of the new 24-70 feels rear biased. So although heavier on spec, it actually feels nicely balanced with the D610/750/810 and especially on a D4 series body.

    The focus speed and accuracy easily exceeds my T 24-70. It makes me want to sell it to get the new 24-70 VR.

    • JJ168

      Agree with most of what you said. But with a much improved corner sharpness, why do you think landscapers would not want it?

    • Steve Perry

      I personally use it for a landscape lens because…

      1. Tlit-shift lenses, while fantastic, are limited to just a few focal lengths. So, in many cases you have to compromise perspective when you are forced to move forward / back. If you’re really critical about landscape framing and getting the perfect perspective, a zoom lens is a much better choice. It allows you to find the perfect perspective and than crop the shot according to what works best for it, rather than compromising by stepping forward or back to get an appropriate crop because you’re locked into a single focal length.

      2. With either version of Nikon’s 24-70, you’re getting a sharp lens – sharper than most zooms, even stopped down. So, if you want the best zoom in this range, this is it.

      3. It’s weather sealed – well, it’s weather sealed much better than the PC-E lenses are 🙂 I shoot in dusty, sandy and wet conditions all the time. In fact, a few weeks ago I had to dry out my gear every single evening because I was shooting gale force winds along Lake Superior with waves splashing up and spraying my gear. A PC-E lens would have had puddles in it, the old 24-70 didn’t really care.

      4. It’s 2.8. First, this is great for night skies, but more than that. F 2.8 lets in more light, so when you’re using a polarizer in dim conditions, you can still easily see what’s going on in the viewfinder.

      There are a lot of good theories about landscape photography that sound good on paper, but when you’re out doing it and making a living from it, the reality is that a zoom lens really saves the day – at least for the type of landscape photography I do, YMMV 🙂

    • Thom Hogan

      To me, there are two issues with the new 24-70mm. The first is size and weight. Nikon’s design is running counter to trend. While I don’t have a high need for a 24-70mm due to what I shoot, when I do need that focal range, it’s just not going to be on a D5 with the new 24-70mm. Indeed, I think it very well might be on an A7rII with the Sony 24-70mm f/4, a hypothesis I’m currently testing. But to my point, had Nikon added VR and produced better corners AND made the lens smaller, not a single person would be complaining, would they?

      My second problem is that, unless you absolutely need VR or corner sharpness, it doesn’t really move any performance bar from the current lens, and unfortunately moves some bars backwards (e.g. vignetting). I don’t really need VR, though I do want corner sharpness, so Nikon hasn’t offered up much for me. The focus shift is an issue, too. Indeed, one of the things that Nikon needs to iterate in the cameras is a fix for focus shift. It’s predictable and repeatable, so it can be easily put into a table and corrected for.

      • Wesley

        I am a Nikon & Sony user. You will be disappointed with the Sony 24-70 f4…especially the distortion and flaring. I’m still using the Nikon one instead if that tells you anything. I really do want to tell myself this new one is worth it but the price tag pill is a large one to swallow judging by all the uncertainty in the reviews.

        Just read your page about Nikon VR. I realize it’s more of a niche feature now. Do you still stand true to what you said in the excerpt below now that it’s out?

        “”Does VR stabilize the autofocus system?” Yes. And this can be important in a few instances. It’s one of the reasons why I argued that not putting VR into the 24-70mm lens was one of Nikon’s bigger mistakes in the last
        decade.”

        • Thom Hogan

          Yes, I do. But VR should not be an “always on” thing as most shooters seem to use it. You have to wonder how many people will be disappointed by the results of the new 24-70mm but are leaving the VR on all the time, which will almost certainly impact edge acuity (and mid-distance bokeh, for that matter).

          Linear distortion doesn’t really bother me other than it means I’m not seeing my final crop and have to adjust my shooting for that. Flare is a different story.

          • MB

            So what is it now … do we absolutely need VR and that corner sharpness or not?
            As I recall it was you whining all these years about how important VR and better corners are … but this lens is too big for you now … or is it the price that is too big … life was so much better when Nikon was more open-handed isn’t it, and you could even pass a few inside info out for some additional publicity disregarding those NDAs and stuff … but those days are long gone now aren’t they … and I doubt Sony will hire you now no matter what you do … because you lost all credibility and integrity … FUD is different story …

  • Dave_D69

    The focus shift is inexcusable..

    • fanboy fagz

      could be a bad lens sample. but yes, not for a $2400 lens.

  • sold my beat up 24-70 (6 yrs old) for $1200 CAD 5 months ago (in anticipation of the new one), shot primes while waiting, decided new ‘features’ are not worth $2850 CAD and just bought 1 year old 24-70 in perfect condition for $1200 CAD…. clear win in my books. 🙂

  • I’ve been waiting for the VR version of this lens for 4 years. It was the most glaring gap in my lens repertoire. Over the years, I’ve had and returned 3 copies of the previous 24-70 f2.8 lens for softness or perhaps because my hands aren’t the steadiest and I could never get tic tac sharp images (in the eyes – I am a fashion photographer) to my satisfaction, a la the 70-200 f2.8 lens. The way I shoot which is handheld, VR really helps, and I consider it almost a requirement. I shot with it today for the first time, and am extremely happy with it, the first time I’ve ever been satisfied with Nikon’s 24-70 lens. It’s definitely a keeper for me.

  • Chris

    I definitely would be happy to pick up an old one for a lower price as an average user.

  • EvilTed

    Buy a copy. Try it out. If you don’t like it, send it back.
    Why does every single review of every piece of photographic equipment devolve into a childish pissing match between people these days?

  • I took a deep breath and bought the new lens, primarily because it was said to have much faster autofocus and much smoother operation in video. I have been taking a lot more video lately, mainly at very dark venues in extremely low light, so this is really important to me. Although obviously video to video comparisons are tricky since subject movement is different every time, I feel that it’s tracking subjects a lot faster and more smoothly. Also VR has definitely been significant in helping my focus, although since I am shooting fast moving human subjects most of the time, it fixes up the background but leaves the subject blurry. The pictures still look better. So overall, even though I paid a small fortune for the lens, I’m very happy with it so far. For the type of shooting I do, it’s a great lens. My camera is a Nikon D4 and I’m hoping to upgrade to the D5 when it comes out.

  • Are we all looking at the same pictures? In all the comparisons I see above, sharpness is better on the new lens. Distortion and vignetting are easily corrected in Lightroom. I don’t think this is worthy of an upgrade by any means, but for someone looking to buy a 24-70 for the first time, the new one is a no-brainer.

  • Carleton Foxx

    Does anyone want to buy an awesome set of 77 mm filters, apparently I will be buying all new 82’s.

  • MB

    It seams to me … if you need useful lens with VR … go for Tamron …
    If not … go for the old Nikon 24-70 … while you can …
    If you have money to burn and you think that it is the lens that does it all … well … Nikon loves you suckers …

  • Jeff

    @disqus_0pW4Pe1eTy:disqus, thank you for the review. What was the approximate distance to subject when you noticed the focus shift?

    • Steve Perry

      That bolt was a little over 2 feet away, although I’m sure it’s present at greater distances, but the DOF covers it up.

  • Christian Simader

    Very nice report.
    The only thing that seems very strange to me is the “focus shift” related to aperture values.
    Relevant focus shift may be seen when zooming but not when opening or closing the aperture. Such a lens would imply horrible image quality for opened apertures like 2.8.

    • That’s how it works. There’s a really good article about it here:
      https://photographylife.com/what-is-focus-shift

      And what the article describes is what I’m seeing. The 14-24 does it too – maybe they can update the 70-200 so all three have the same “feature” LOL 🙂

      • Christian Simader

        That indeed is an excellent article at photographylife.com but it says the same what I have written: “Focus shift can lead to blurry images and focus errors”. I would only state it more clearly: If you have focus shift secondary to aperture opening you must have blurry images when the aperture is open.
        I also have the 14-24 and I love this lens. But I have never noticed a focus shift when closing the aperture – and I always focus at 2.8 and most times I shoot it stopped down between 5.6 and 11. I cannot imagine how to observe such a focus shift especially with such an ultrawide lens.
        I never found this phenomenon on any of my lenses even not on my 1.4 AF-S lenses like the 24, 50 or 85. The 85 has no aspherical lens inside and also no ED glass. So together with 1.4 you might think it could be susceptible for spherical aberration. But even with that lens I never noticed focus shift secondary to aperture opening – also not for low distances: because it is super sharp already at 1.4 meaning that aberration errors are too small to cause blurry images at 1.4 and focus shift when stopped down.
        In my opinion only lenses like the manual 35/1.4 or 50/1.2 which are soft wide open due to spherical aberration could show focus shift secondary to aperture opening but not high quality lenses like both 24-70 versions or the 14-24 with maximum aperture of 2.8.

  • Steve Perry

    OK, I’m not sure I completely follow what you’re saying, but I can tell you a couple things I’ve experienced with this lens.

    The first is that if I focus in Live View at F2.8 and then stop down to F8, the photo isn’t tack sharp at the point of focus. Now, if I re-focus when I’m at F8, I get a much sharper result. At any kind of distance this goes away though, the DOF covers it up presumably.

    On the other hand, if I live view focus at F8 and then drop to 2.8, the photo is clearly out of focus.

    So, I can’t say for sure what’s going on, but as I understand focus shift, this seems to be it.

    On the other hand, I may just have a bad copy of the lens or something – although I don’t know that a bad copy of the lens would cause this kind of focus issue.

    • Christian Simader

      Focusing at f8 and opening the aperture to 2.8 may result in out of focus images due to the larger depth of field at f8.

      But focusing at f2.8 in Live View and then looking at the sharpness at f8 is definitely the correct way to investigate a phenomenon like focus shift.

      I am really surprised that images get out of focus in Live View when closing the aperture of this 2.8 Nikon lens because the theory tells us that in that case you should get blurred images or at least low contrast images at 2.8. Did you also deactivate the VR function during the whole focus shift test?

      If yes then you have convinced me that this lens does have focus shift.

      • Steve Perry

        Yes, I did it both ways. I agree that F8 and then opening up isn’t ideal, but I noticed it when I started at 2.8 and dropped down to F8. I did that multiple times and the results were always the same. And VR was off for all tests (except the VR test of course 🙂

  • This lens has been much-promoted for its improved autofocus and video prowess. I used it to film the Fantasy Fest parade in Key West and was pretty impressed by the result – I think a lot less of this would have been in focus with the old lens. The new lens did get confused a few times but it seemed substantially superior to the old one. Since I bought it mainly for the improved autofocus, I’m very pleased so far. Camera is my Nikon D4. Warning: Fantasy Fest has nearly half-naked chicks, if this is offensive, don’t click. If this makes you want to see it, click :). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EHoS2Kwm4s

  • peevee

    More vignetting with bigger filter thread? I’d love to see actual instrumented tests to prove it.

  • onthedot

    The only reason I upgraded was for the vr. I can’t say definitively, but it seems like there is some improvement in color accuracy. Other than that, I can’t tell a lot of difference. One exception is I think the zoom ring is not as smooth, but I wonder if it isn’t worn in as much as my non vr lens. I don’t think I would jump to upgrade from the non vr unless you need to hand hold in darker situations, which is why I have this lens to begin with.

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