Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR lens review in real life


Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR lens real-life review by Luka Esenko (website | photo spots sharing website):

This is a practical, real-life Nikon Z 24-200mm lens review. You will not find technical performance information here but a real-life use by a long time professional photographer. This review focuses on three main case scenarios where this lens comes handy, as a travel / walk-around lens, a hiking trip where minimal gear is desired, and an all-around lens for family time.

I tested this lens with both of my Nikon Z cameras, Z6 and Z7. You will find the original size, unedited JPEG files later on in this article. The photos here were not taken for the purpose of a test but rather real-life shots, from my photo outings, hikes, and family days. In other words – the lens was used for the intended purpose, not for theoretical tests.

If you are interested in more technical reviews I recommend checking out Nikon Z 24-200mm lens review by Ricci Talks on Youtube. Very informative.

Why have I purchased Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR lens?

The main reason is its size and weight. I wanted a light and versatile lens for the above-mentioned scenarios (travel, hiking, family). From the beginning, I knew that this lens is not gonna replace my other lenses but rather complement my setup. 24-200mm Nikon Z lens is also the first available native telephoto Z lens – this is very important for video use, where one needs silent, smooth focus and minimal focus breathing.

THE SIZE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NIKON 24-70 F4 Z + NIKON 70-200MM 4F F VS NIKON Z 24-200MM LENS

Nikon Z 24-200mm lens for hiking and mountaineering

I wanted something small and light for my mountaineering adventures. When carrying a heavy and stuffed backpack for long hours the weight and size(!) becomes increasingly important. Replacing my current setup of Nikon Z 24-70 f4 + Nikon F 70-200mm f4 with a single, light, and small Nikon Z 24-200mm is a huge difference! See the photo above. My new setup consists of only two (!!!) lenses – I usually bring Nikon Z 14-30mm f4 along.

ISLAND PRVIĆ FROM STRAŽICE HILL ON KRK ISLAND, CROATIA. NIKON Z7 WITH 24-200MM LENS (ISO 64, @200MM, F8, 1/10S)

Nikon Z 24-200mm lens for as a walk-around lens

This lens was made for this purpose. Its versatility and light weight make it perfect for the job. My DSLRs go-to walkaround lens was Nikon 24-120mm f4 and now on mirrorless, Nikon Z 24-200mm lens has replaced it. I am genuinely happy with it. I wish I had it on my recent trip to Oman.

KRK TOWN HARBOUR, CROATIA. NIKON Z7 WITH 24-200MM LENS (ISO 200, @85MM, F8, 1/250S)

Nikon Z 24-200mm lens for family photography

This is another good case where this lens comes very handy. When you need something for very diverse shooting situations, where changing lenses is not an option and where you don’t have the luxury of carrying multiple lenses. I must admit that I very much enjoy Nikon Z prime lenses for my family portraits. So I will bring either 50mm 1.8 or 85mm 1.8 lens with me if possible.

HAVING FUN WITH WAVES, CROATIA. NIKON Z7 WITH 24-200MM LENS (ISO 200, @52MM, F6.3, 1/400S)

Nikon Z 24-200mm lens review – Performance and issues

Build quality and feel

An important aspect when considering a lens is the build quality and how it fits on the camera. I must say that this lens looks just as sturdy as 24-70mm f/4 S lens even though it is not classified as “S”. It is more plastic but it seems high quality. Weather sealing seems as good as other zoom Z lenses I have but I haven’t put it to a real test yet. Time will tell if it is as durable as other Nikon lenses I owned. The lock button seems unnecessary but I guess with use, the zoom movement might get looser and the button will come handy. I wish it had a focus button too as I like to switch to manual/AF on the lens when doing video. With 570g this lens is not too heavy and is well balanced on camera, even when fully extended. When in camera backpack, it doesn’t take much space.

SUNRISE FROM MT SNEŽNIK (SLOVENIA). THE ISLANDS OF CROATIA ARE VISIBLE IN THE DISTANCE. NIKON Z7 WITH 24-200MM LENS (ISO 64, @86MM, F11, 1/4S)

Image sharpness

This is the first all-in-one lens where I am happy with image quality. The lens is sharp and is comparable with both lenses it replaces in my backpack, the 24-70mm f/4 S, and 70-200mm f4. This said – corners are noticeably less sharp and if I was doing large prints I would consider cropping about 10% off into the frame. For 95% of uses however, this lens is as sharp as one needs. Period.

A RIVER MILL, SLOVENIA. NIKON Z7 WITH 24-200MM LENS (ISO 64, @38MM, F16, 1/3S)

Lens performance

Here I talk about AF and image stabilisation. These two factors are very important for everyday use of the lens. The image stabilisation works very well – I had no trouble getting sharp photos at 200mm and shutter speed around 1/10s. I prefer to increase ISO than shooting at these “border” shutter speeds.

The autofocus is indeed silent and I finally have a longer lens I can shoot video with using AF. The AF performance is the usual on Z cameras and lenses. I haven’t noticed any significant difference from let’s say 24-70mm f4 S lens.

Aperture

A zoom lens like this comes with tradeoffs. There is no magic here. The most obvious one is the aperture which is mediocre. The f4 is available only at its widest focal length. At 35mm it is already f4.8, at 50mm it is f5.6 and as soon as you get past 70mm the aperture get to f6.3. The good thing is that the lens is sharp wide open and in low light situations one needs to rely on camera high ISO performance.

Purple fringing, flare, “sunstar” effect

These are the tradeoffs of using this lens against the top of the line zooms and prime lenses. I have seen some youtube reviews that this lens has minimal purple fringing and flare but from my experience, this is the worst lens in Z lineup I have tried. This is expected. First, the zoom range comes with tradeoffs in optical terms, and second, this is obviously not an “S” lens. Here are a few examples of what I mean.

PURPLE FRINGING – OUT OF CAMERA AND CORRECTED IN CAMERA RAW – ALSO NOTICE LESS SHARPNESS IN THE CORNER

LIFTED SHADOWS TO SEE DETAILS BETTER. GOOD FLARE CONTROL, VISIBLE PURPLE FRINGING AND MEDIOCRE SUNSTAR

I didn’t expect this lens to produce a great “sunstar” and it turns out my expectations were right. Here are a couple more examples of unedited photos.

NIKON Z7 WITH 24-200MM LENS (ISO 64, @37MM, F16, 1/80S) – YES, I KNOW, DUST ON SENSOR….

NIKON Z7 WITH 24-200MM LENS (ISO 320, @42MM, F16, 8S)

Minimum focus distance test

One thing I really enjoyed with my trusted Nikon 70-200mm f4 was its close MFD – I could photograph small things like alpine flowers or even some butterflies and dragonflies. The new Nikon Z 24-200mm lens can focus even closer, at about 70 cm (2.3 ft). It can focus much closer than the old 70-200mm lens but the reproduction factor is about the same (I believe this is due to focus breathing?). Here is an example of a waterlily photographed with both lenses at their minimum focus distance.

NIKON Z7 WITH 24-200MM LENS (ISO 200, @200MM, F6.3, 1/800S) AT 70 CM DISTANCE

NIKON Z7 WITH 70-200MM LENS (ISO 200, @200MM, F6.3, 1/800S) AT 100CM DISTANCE

After I have done multiple tests like this I can confirm the results are almost identical. Yes, the 70-200mm f4 has a wider aperture and can let more light in but given that 24-200mm lens can focus closer I assume the depth of field is very similar despite shooting at f6.3.

Conclusion

The new NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR lens is surprisingly capable lens that delivers excellent image quality in most cases. I purchased it after some initial reviews about its sharpness, silent focus, size and weight. It did not disappoint. Yes, it has its flaws but honestly, this is the first Nikon all-rounder lens that I find acceptable. If you know why are you buying it and if you are using for the purposes that it is intended to do, you will love this lens and it will serve you well. Here below are the scenarios when I am going to use this lens and when not (this is also very important factor one needs to consider before buying).

I will use it for:

  • Hiking and mountaineering where size and weight matters
  • Walkaround lens on my travels
  • Family photography when I can’t bring multiple lenses
  • Difficult conditions where I can’t swap lenses (I wish I had this lens in Omani desert)

I will not use it for:

  • Portraits. In this case, I prefer to use prime lenses like 35m, 50m or 85mm 1.8
  • Landscape photography where I can carry my best, heavier and bulkier lenses and I want absolutely best image quality
  • Cityscapes and blue hour photography – I prefer to use lenses that give me nice sunstar effect and even less flare

These scenarios above are where I do most of my photography. I am not a sports or wildlife photographer where wide aperture and super-fast focus matter.

This is what I have to say about this lens. I hope this is helpful to you and you can make your decision about getting this lens or not.

Sample photos made with NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR lens

I am finishing this Nikon Z 24-200mm lens review sample photos. You can freely download these original size, unedited JPEGs. Feel free to look at them to see if this lens delivers for you but keep in mind that I am not giving away copyright for any other purposes. Thank you!

If you have an interesting idea for a guest post, you can contact me here. This review was originally published here. More sample photos are available in the original post. Check Nikkor Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR lens availability at: AdoramaB&H | Amazon | WEX | Park Camera | Calumet Germany.

Luka Esenko is a pro photo workshop leader from Slovenia. He’s been shooting Nikon for 15 years. You can check his website and his photo spots sharing website to find the best places to shoot.

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