Gear Review: Nikon 24-120 f4 Lens

Gear Review   /   Tags:

Flying and photographing with the Nikon 24-120 f4

Right after I purchased the D800 I needed the other part of the package: a lens.  After much deliberation, research, reading, and hemming and hawing, I finally decided on the 24-120 f4 as a lens. Selecting a lens is about the only thing more complex than picking a camera body. There are tomes of articles and posts, professional, informed, and otherwise on the internet- from forums/discussion boards to the scientific DxOMark type reviews- to sift through. Having been through the process- let me share some thoughts.

To start, let’s be clear, the 24-120 f4 is a great lens. It has Nikon’s new Vibration Reduction and Nano Coat technology. Nikon lists this as a recommended D800 lens that “offers excellent resolution,” and also bestowed the fancy gold (“pro”) lens ring. It is also only $1300! Still, this lens’ biggest problem is its older brother: the Nikon 24-70 f2.8 (the true “pro” lens – at $1900).

From the reviews I’ve read (pretty much everything out there), stopped down a few notches the 24-120 is (pretty much) as clear as the 24-70 2.8. Yes, it’s not as bright, but it does have VR, which also helps for it’s use as a walk around lens when I travel (the 24-120 is a little lighter too- and this new D800 set up is heavy!). Thom Hogan’s post (repost here) about D800 lenses was a great help. While he initially says the 24-70 is the choice, he comes back to that thought and says maybe the better way to go is a 24-120 and a few primes. Luckily, I have a decent 24 f2.8 lying around, so that helped push me in that direction. Further, I came across an awesome series of reviews by Tim Ashley (link), where he puts this lens through its paces at all ranges. In over a year of intense use (20k + photos), I came to similar conclusions as Tim: in everyday shooting circumstances, the 24-120 more than capable on the D800.

The VR on this lens, and the versatile range make it great for walking around and traveling light (one lens only!). As I usually shoot on a tripod at night, the f4 doesn’t matter so much either. Yes there is distortion and vignetting, but that is easily corrected in post.

Foxy field - Box is the 100% crop below

Foxy Field –  The box is the 100% crop below

Both photos above were taken from a moving balloon at about 250ft (not the most stable of platforms). Also, the shot directly above was at 120mm and f4 (not the clearest settings by far). Below is a 100% crop of the field- with no sharpening. For a 100% crop, at an unclear setting, while moving, this pretty darn good! For a travel and all around lens, the 14-120 offers great flexibility and value. What do you think?

100% crop. Foxy!

100% crop. Foxy!

The balloon above, “Incognito,” belongs to Vantage Point Ballooning– check out their page!

Buy a Print!


 likes / 0 Comments
Share this post:


> <
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec