The new Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens tested at DxOMark: “disappointing scores”

DxOMark published their test results for the new Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens and they are not good:

Nikon 24-70mm f:2.8E vs Nikon 24-70mm f:2.8G lens test review comparison

"As noted, however, sharpness is lower on the 24-70mm f/2.8E at 19 P-Mpix compared to 21 P-Mpix for the original 24-70mm f/2.8G. At 24mm, sharpness on the new 24-70mm f/2.8E is strong in the center of the frame, particularly between f/2.8 – f/11, but it doesn’t deliver the same level of resolution in the corners. At 70mm f/2.8, a popular setting for portraits on a standard zoom, results are only really good right in the center, with heavy edge softness apparent at this setting, which is a step backwards compared to its predecessor. Close down the aperture to f/5.6 or f/8 at 70mm, and edge sharpness is much better on the 24-70mm f/2.8E, but again, it’s not quite as strong as the original 24-70mm f/2.8G version at the same settings."

Nikon 24-70mm f:2.8E vs Tamron 24-70mm f:2.8 vs Sigma 24-70mm f:2.8 lens

In terms of our DxOMark sensor scores, the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 wins overall with a DxOMark Score of 31 points compared to 28 for the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E in second place, and the Sigma 24-70mm in third with 25. Lens metrics among the three for transmission, distortion and vignetting are pretty similar, so it’s down to sharpness and chromatic aberration to separate them. For sharpness, the Tamron wins with a sharpness score of 22 P-Mpix against 21 for the Sigma in second and 19 for the Nikon in third. At the maximum f/2.8 aperture the Tamron offers better edge sharpness at 24mm, and although still not great at 70mm, it’s marginally better than the Nikon and Sigma. At mid- apertures of f/5.6 or f/8, both the Tamron and the Nikon standard zooms offer good resolution in the center, but sharpness on the Tamron 24-70mm extends further into the corners of the frame. For chromatic aberration, the Tamron is in a different class, with its score of just 6µ far ahead of both the Nikon and Sigma on 30µ and 28µ, respectively. The global map indicates that while chromatic aberration at 24mm on the Tamron isn’t great between 28 – 70mm, it’s obviously superior to that of the Nikon and the Sigma.

The new Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f:2.8E ED VR lens tested at DxOMark disappointing scores
DxOMark's conclusion on the Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens - "disappointing DxOMark scores":

With the original Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G version announced in 2007 and thus over 8 years old, an updated version for the Nikkor lineup was due. The 24-70mm f/2.8E’s new features are certainly welcome additions, particularly the inclusion of a four-stop VR system, which makes this popular zoom lens even more versatile.
But what seems to be a complete redesign of the optical system has made an already bulky lens even bigger and heavier, which is a serious consideration if you’re looking for an all-in-one lens to carry around a lot. At $2,397, it’s pretty expensive, too — in fact, $600 more than the original G-type version and a whopping $1,100 over the Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 Di VC USD third-party equivalent. Perhaps all of that could be forgiven if the new Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E had raised the bar for optical performance, but as we’ve seen from its DxOMark scores, this disappointingly isn’t the case. Overall sharpness is down compared to its predecessor and slightly worse at the critical setting of f/2.8. While chromatic aberration has been improved slightly, it’s still far from good at the wider focal lengths.

More information and other reviews of the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens can be found here.

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  • EvilTed

    I read these results and comments and the CameraLabs review, so today I tested my copy on my D750 with the new firmware update.

    My copy has none of the focus issues and 99% of all my test shots were perfectly in focus.

    I shot from F2.8 – F8, from a distance to really close, from 24mm – 70mm and my copy is stellar.

    I have no issues with this lens apart from the size and weight…

  • nicolaie

    More or less Nikon lately. The 58 1.4 I tested and was a fluke, I went with Sigma primes because the equivalent Nikon I tested had worse AF !!. The original 24-70 breaks down with wear, the newer one is no better, and they plan a 30% price increase on lenses.

    Makes me regret I ordered the D750 and didn’t switch to Canon.

    • I’ll never ever regret the D750, that’s for darn sure, ESPECIALLY versus anything from Canon. Unless Canon has a 6D mk2 up their sleeve with dual SD slots, flagship AF, 1.2x and 1.6x crop modes, 12-bit and lossy raw compression options, face detection during image playback zooming, …should I go on?

      Having said that, After owning over a dozen various Nikon lenses over the years, I’m down to just two at this point. Everything else is Sigma, Tokina, Tamron, and Rokinon.

      But that doesn’t stop the D750 from being the most badass wedding / portrait camera on the market.


  • Brandon Dittsworth

    No surprise here. Let’s come to reality…Nikon sucks at QA. Others such Canon are not far behind either. I love seeing Sigma, Sony, Tamron and Tokina actually showing competition when it comes to prices and quality for the consumer. Nikon better wake the f*** up.

  • Dave_D69

    So glad I jumped ship and went with a different brand…

  • Sebastian Rasch

    Question is if they tested with VR on or off. It should be clear that you lose a bit of quality and sharpness while VR is active. Compared to the old version that didn’t have VR, that’d be an unfair comparison. They definitely should test with VR off as well but they don’t mention that. Not really sure about this test but the lens is too expensive in any way, even if it’s slightly better than the old one.

  • dbltax

    Glad I’ve got the Tamron trio.

  • Russell Ferris

    So long dramatic 35mm, I’m off to 645 where everything is awesome.

  • Allan Smith

    Did anyone take any photos with it or were they all looking at test sheets?

    • JasonsArgonauts

      Of course not, it’s all mearsurebasion. 😉

  • Rich

    Nikon might have made this lens to photograph 3d spaces rather than 2d test charts. Sure, DxO serves as statistical masturbation but beyond that it’s pretty academic. Subject sharpness is not the all-important lens trait it’s made out to be, the 3d division of subject and background is far more eye catching.

  • onthedot

    You can take all the sharpness reviews and they are nothing but numbers. I bought the new version a month ago or so. I am so ooh impressed by the lens. I believe the missing factor in these reviews is how good the vrii is. It adds more sharpness in real world shooting situations than the reviews indicate. For that kind of money, I would have shipped it right back if the results were not fantastic. The old lens was terrific too, but I think the extra vr capability is easily worth it.

    • If you’re constantly hand-holding your photos at slow shutter speeds, then yes, VR is nice. But plenty of folks do still shoot from tripods and don’t want any such compromises. Besides, if you “need” stabilization you’d still be better off with the Tamron, allegedly.

  • BrainBeat

    I am in the market for a standard full frame zoom (24-*) and on the weekend went to a shop to try some out and see which one would meet my needs best. Ultimately I am tossing up between the Tamron 24-70 f2.8 vr and the Sigma 24-105 f4 vr. I out of interest to both me and the shop assistant we got a boxed one of these new Nikon 24-70 f2.8 vr lenses out to see if I could see any noticeable differences that would make it worth the extra money. Looking at some images side by side at 70mm f2.8 I would have to say that I do actually agree with this review in that the Tamron does look sharper even near the middle. I would even say its VR looked to have worked better at slower speeds too.

    This is however just a very quick play in a store and the photos were not necessarily exactly the same but I certainly can’t see any reason to by the Nikon version.

    As for my choice then I am still not sure as I like the idea of the extra reach of the Sigma and that I can tune its focus with the dock but that extra stop could be very useful in dark situations which I am often shooting in. I personally did not get a great photo with the sigma to compare to the Tamron as most were focused on the nose or were not looking the same direction. Maybe I will see what DXO says 😉

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