The truth about the 24-120 f4 & D800

Started May 2, 2012 | Discussions
ianbrown
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The truth about the 24-120 f4 & D800
May 2, 2012

I am really confused about this lens! Some people say its excellent on the D800 others say it just satisfactory.

Please can anyone who has or has had both these lenses give their opinion on the IQ only. I appreciate there will be limitations but between 24-70 on both lenses which gives the best sharpness across the whole of the frame?

If you could only choose one lens for your D800 would it be the 24-120

I have twice almost pressed the button to order the 24-120 but refrained at the last second because I am unsure that the 24-120 will maximise the D800's capability.

Owners views appreciated, just how sharp is this lens?

Thanks

Ian

Nikon D800
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Manny82
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Re: The truth about the 24-120 f4 & D800
In reply to ianbrown, May 2, 2012

Ian, do you want the truth or just what you 'want' to hear?

This isn't a spectacular lens and nor was it supposed to be - i mean that in relation to the 24-70. And what two lenses are you talking about btw? You only mention the 24-120.

Anyway, back on topic, if you do a search you will find this topic has been done to death and you will also also find there are conflicting review from the top websites - some rate it very well (given its price) and others just don't rate it well at all.

After all that, why didn't you just buy a D700 so that you could spend more on better glass? I don't get why so many people are buying the D800 and then coming on here asking whether the 24-120 is a good lens to bolt on it.

D700 + 24-70 vs D800 + 24-120. I am pretty certain which combination will give better image quality.

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ianbrown
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Re: The truth about the 24-120 f4 & D800
In reply to Manny82, May 2, 2012

ot

Manny82 wrote:

Ian, do you want the truth or just what you 'want' to hear?

This isn't a spectacular lens and nor was it supposed to be - i mean that in relation to the 24-70. And what two lenses are you talking about btw? You only mention the 24-120.

Anyway, back on topic, if you do a search you will find this topic has been done to death and you will also also find there are conflicting review from the top websites - some rate it very well (given its price) and others just don't rate it well at all.

After all that, why didn't you just buy a D700 so that you could spend more on better glass? I don't get why so many people are buying the D800 and then coming on here asking whether the 24-120 is a good lens to bolt on it.

D700 + 24-70 vs D800 + 24-120. I am pretty certain which combination will give better image quality.

It's not the money that's the issue!

I just want the best lens available to maximise what I can get out of the D800. I mainly do landscape and city stuff with the odd wildlife . But I don't want to carry more weight than I need to. However IF there is a noticeable difference in IQ between the 24-120 & 24-70 I will have no problem paying more and carrying the extra weight. however some people say to maximise IQ out of the D800 you need to step down to say f8 in which case I assume most else's are pretty sharp

Ian

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jmiller1948
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Love My 24-120 and Would Do It Again!
In reply to ianbrown, May 2, 2012

I have the 24-120 and have been very pleased. I chose it over the 24-70 for a couple reasons: (1) it is significantly less expensive and (2) it doubles the zoom range. It is my full-time walk-around lens. The image quality is quite good even though, from the reviews I've read, the 24-70 might be a bit better and has a wider max. aperture. I'd make the same choice again.

Unfortunately I don't yet have a D800 to strap it to, but I hope that defect will change soon!
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win39
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Re: The truth about the 24-120 f4 & D800
In reply to ianbrown, May 2, 2012

The 24-70/4 was the choice of Reichmann on Luminous Landscape for the same reasons and he sells prints for a living. I think I will do the same thing. Changing lenses on a trip is a pain in the butt and the less it has to be done, the better.

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Clayton1985
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Re: The truth about the 24-120 f4 & D800
In reply to ianbrown, May 2, 2012

It has been my observation that the majority of those (not all) that are critical of the 24-120 f4 don't own it and have never used it. It seems like it is somehow threatening to some that own the 24-70 f2.8.

IMO, the 24-70 probably wins the image quality battle if you have to choose, however, they are close enough that you really should choose based on which one fits your style and your needs. Do you need f2.8, build quality and better AF more than you need VR and the extra reach?

I know you asked about sharpness and comparing the two but I really don't think you will get anything that will help you that isn't already out there (just search the lens forum or one of the many reviews).

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Anthony Medici
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The 24-120 VR is a compromise.
In reply to ianbrown, May 2, 2012

ianbrown wrote:

I have twice almost pressed the button to order the 24-120 but refrained at the last second because I am unsure that the 24-120 will maximise the D800's capability.

The lens is a compromise. Usually, if a review was good, it was clarified with words like "Good for its price" or "Good for its size". With those types of qualifiers, it implies that there are better "larger" lenses or better "more expensive" lenses.

You use the words like "maximize the D800 capabilities". You don't start with a compromising lens if you want to maximize something. You start off with a lens that is "the best in its range" or "a great, high level performer".

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orchidblooms
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Re: The truth about the 24-120 f4 & D800
In reply to ianbrown, May 3, 2012

order it LOCAL - with return policy

if you are not happy - RETURN it and buy zeiss 15mm zf2.8 this summer

that is what i am going to do...

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tashley
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Re: The truth about the 24-120 f4 & D800
In reply to win39, May 3, 2012

I quote from MR's article last Friday... Just to clarify, since you refer to a '24-70/4' which doesn't exist!

"Most people's bread-and-butter high quality mid-range zoom is a 24-70 f/2.8. But, based on my needs, and some previous experience, I chose the AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR instead. Why not the excellent Nikon 24-70 f/2.8? There are several reasons. Firstly, the 24-120 covers quite a bit more at the long end, and I tend to want to always shoot tight. Secondly, though it's an f/4, and therefore gives up a stop to the f/2.8 lens, it has VR, which gains it at least three stops of hand hold-ability.

This is the lens that I place on the camera when I walk out the door to shoot. It's the lens that sits on the camera in the car, ready for a grab shot. Independant test have shown that though it's not claimed to be one of Nikon's "pro" lenses, it is quite close in quality to both the 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8.

win39 wrote:

The 24-70/4 was the choice of Reichmann on Luminous Landscape for the same reasons and he sells prints for a living. I think I will do the same thing. Changing lenses on a trip is a pain in the butt and the less it has to be done, the better.

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Kwick1
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Re: The truth about the 24-120 f4 & D800
In reply to ianbrown, May 3, 2012

Here are lensrentals.com Imatest results for each lens on a D800:
http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2012/03/d800-lens-selection
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esophoria
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Re: The truth about the 24-120 f4 & D800
In reply to orchidblooms, May 3, 2012

If you are a pixel peeper, like many of the folks on this forum-- then they want to have the best and most expensive. Both lenses do a more than adequate job. Just remember there are so many factors that go into making a great picture....only one of them is resolution.

Buy what can afford and just take pleasure in shooting. Each picture should tell a story--that's how i evaluate my pics not which lens I shot with.

I also own a Leica M9 with very expensive glass....many people on that forum agonize on what lens to purchase. Many of the Leica lenses sell for > $5,000. Ouch.

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Antoine Palade
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Re: The truth about the 24-120 f4 & D800
In reply to ianbrown, May 3, 2012

I had both lenses - the 24-70 f2.8 and the 24-120 f4. You can't have your cake and eat it too, unfortunately... While the 24-120 is not a bad lens, it doesn't compare IQ-wise to the 24-70. But, of course, the 24-120 is more versatile because it goes to 120mm and it has image stabilisation. you gain some, you loose some...

If IQ and maximising the D800's potential is your primary concern, then the 24-70 would be my first choice, along with some primes (e.g. 35mm f1.4G, 85mm f1.4G, 50mm f1.4G etc...)

One must-have lens, though, is the Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8. Have that and the 24-70 and you're set. Add the little 50mm f1.4G for portability and that would be even better.

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Clayton1985
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Re: The 24-120 VR is a compromise.
In reply to Anthony Medici, May 3, 2012

They are both compromises unless I am missing something... does the 24-70 produce the absolute best image quality for any focal length in it's range? Is there a better lens at 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 60mm, etc?

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Jim Trainor
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Re: The truth about the 24-120 f4 & D800
In reply to ianbrown, May 3, 2012

I just got the 24-120/4 and have been using it on my D800 for a few days. In casual tests so far, it stands up well to my 17-35/2.8, 50/1.8G, and 70-200VR1. I love the range, find it's performance wide open to be quite good and will probably be using this as my walk-around lens most of the time. The tests done by Mansurovs, which I trust, pretty much sealed the deal for me. Good luck with your decision.

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Richard Spangler
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Re: The truth about the 24-120 f4 & D800
In reply to ianbrown, May 3, 2012

I went with the 24-120F4 and really like it. I wanted a walk around lens that was decent. Its definitely better then the 28-300 less the extra reach and many are buying that lens for the D800.

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Kaj E
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Re: Test results
In reply to ianbrown, May 3, 2012

There are no reliable comparison test of the 24-70 and 24-120 on the D800/E i know about. However, there is a good comparison on the D3x which will serve as a very good indication on the direction on the D800.

http://www.photozone.de/nikon_ff/456-nikkor_afs_2470_28_ff?start=1

http://www.photozone.de/nikon_ff/574-nikkorafs24120f4vrff?start=1

No question the 24-70 is the one for the D800/E.

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Alchemy2u
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Re: The truth about the 24-120 f4 & D800
In reply to ianbrown, May 3, 2012

I chose the 24-120 f4 when I picked up my D800. Go over to DxOMark and check out the graphs. They give the 24-120 45 lp/mm and the 24-70 48 lp/mm.

I first put the 24-120 f4 lens on my d800 and took a casual "snapshot" (didn't even have a memory card in the camera) of a flowering crabtree from about 20 feet away. I zoomed in on the camera screen and notice some black spots in the sky. I zoomed in further and notice the "spots" were gnats caught in flight!!! I could even see the tiny wings on the gnats!!! Now if that isn't enough resolution for you then I think you should look for just prime lenses.

Also, check out how many of the D800 example pictures on the Nikon website were taken with the 24-120mm f4. Nikon must trust the quality of the lens in order for it to be used to showcase the D800.

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Kwick1
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Re: Test results
In reply to Kaj E, May 3, 2012

Kaj E wrote:

There are no reliable comparison test of the 24-70 and 24-120 on the D800/E i know about.

Actually, that lensrentals link in my previous post was done using their Imatest gear and those exact lenses on a D800. Also shows optimum aperture for both.

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K10D
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Re: The truth about the 24-120 f4 & D800
In reply to tashley, May 3, 2012

I've owned both lenses and the below sums up my feelings perfectly. I like the VR, range and weight of the 24-120. I've configured Lightroom to clean up any vignetting and distortion so it's not an issue (I shoot RAW).

Bob

tashley wrote:

I quote from MR's article last Friday... Just to clarify, since you refer to a '24-70/4' which doesn't exist!

"Most people's bread-and-butter high quality mid-range zoom is a 24-70 f/2.8. But, based on my needs, and some previous experience, I chose the AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR instead. Why not the excellent Nikon 24-70 f/2.8? There are several reasons. Firstly, the 24-120 covers quite a bit more at the long end, and I tend to want to always shoot tight. Secondly, though it's an f/4, and therefore gives up a stop to the f/2.8 lens, it has VR, which gains it at least three stops of hand hold-ability.

This is the lens that I place on the camera when I walk out the door to shoot. It's the lens that sits on the camera in the car, ready for a grab shot. Independant test have shown that though it's not claimed to be one of Nikon's "pro" lenses, it is quite close in quality to both the 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8.

win39 wrote:

The 24-70/4 was the choice of Reichmann on Luminous Landscape for the same reasons and he sells prints for a living. I think I will do the same thing. Changing lenses on a trip is a pain in the butt and the less it has to be done, the better.

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Bob

Perth, Western Australia

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Biological_Viewfinder
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Re: The truth about the 24-120 f4 & D800
In reply to ianbrown, May 3, 2012

It would seem that the purpose of the D800/e cameras is to achieve absolutely incredible resolution detail that pushes modern 35mm lenses to their very limits!

Every mistake is magnified!

Every picture that you want to achieve the full capabililty from the D800/e cameras should be taken with patience and precision, with the use of a solid tripod and perhaps even mirror lockup and a remote. The ENTIRE IDEA about this camera is resolution. If you want to use this camera hand-held with a VR lens, then just get a D3s and you'll be able to shoot high ISO fast shutter sharp pics all day and night long. If you want resolution close to a Medium Format camera, then VR isn't it. The f/2.8 is capable of that aperture because of the clarity quality of the glass. The D800 is pushing good glass to its limits. In my opinion, you want the 24-70 or you want a different camera body.

I think way too many people are on the D800/e bandwagon that have no idea why this camera is revolutionary or useful and important to their style of photography. This camera is going to be hard work to get everything right; but the results from that effort are going to translate into a lifetime of habits that desire perfection. Yes I plan on shooting this camera handheld. I don't plan on making a 40" print from them though; and for me that's the whole idea! 36 MP!!!!

But just look at the growing stream of "average" pictures we are getting. Even so-called tests are usually not very well done. DPR will likely review it later than many of us will own it; but I sure don't expect them to denounce it at all. I'm not worried. But I think they will have to continue the Nikon Corp education process of explaining that 36 MP is really beginning to be the film analogue from which these lenses and their qualities originally emerged. And as digital finally exceeds film in all regards and challenges the lenses ability to resolve detail, then that means our dedication to proper techique becomes laborsome by comparison to the more forgiving camera MP abilities of the past.

I'm going with the 24-70, for it's sheer optical marvel. There's a reason you are comparing one lens to this lens, and that's because this is part of the Triad of Top Lenses that Nikon produces.

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