This is part of a series where Roger Cicala (Lensrentals.com blog) and I look at some lenses we like. Roger will perform all the measurements and I write about my personal experience with those lenses.
We were quite surprised when a good friend and even Nikon recommended the Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VR for use with the high resolution Nikon D800. The old 24-120mm zooms with variable aperture were not really a recommendation.
Of course we loved the range and finally gave it a shot. Initial photos did not disappoint but once you start pixel peeping with the D800 you aim for the best, which kept the 24-120mm f/4 VR for some time on the backburner.
When we tested our new sharpening DOP Optimal Sharp V3 we also processed quite a few imaged (mainly aerials) from this zoom. In the end the results were quite impressive for a 5x zoom on a high-resolution camera. Once we balanced the convenience of such a 5x zoom vs. the image quality we came to the conclusion that this is an ideal lens for all sorts of travel shots. If we (Bettina and I) walk an area switching lenses is always a hassle and breaks concentration on the scene.
What about distortions and CA (Chromatic Aberrations)?
We correct both in Lightroom and it works fine for us. This maybe a different story for a professional architecture photographer though.
Here is an example shot from the Monterey commercial pier.
This is a 14MP crop from the original 36MP file. A 200mm focal length would have been ideal but the 24-120mm did the job. With a 200mm focal length we would have likely gotten closer and missed the jet.
For aerial shots the detail are quite good and the zoom range extremely convenient. F/4 is no problem because we photograph a lot with f/5.6-f/8.
Even photos at 24mm are quite good:
Our sharpening also improved the corners quite a bit:
The zoom maybe at its best between 30-80mm but we utilize the full range.
We complement the 24-120mm zoom with the Nikkor 70-200mm f/4 VR and feel well covered for travel in a reasonable small bag. Yes, the 24-120mm is a compromise but the alternative 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom is big, heavy and not as versatile.
Learn more about Lightroom from our e-books: