I returned my 24-120 f4 to Amazon today (D800)

Started Aug 18, 2012 | Discussions
Greg Matthews
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I returned my 24-120 f4 to Amazon today (D800)
Aug 18, 2012

I really wanted to be able to live with this lens. I wanted the range, the practicality as a walk-around lens, the VR. But, the edges were just too bad, and the halos at times @120 f4 were also terrible. The results in these tests unfortunately were spot on:

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

Especially the second review link. The edge and corner degradation in my copy almost exactly matched their copy. And I built a test target with intermediate targets as well, and that's when I found it was both very non-uniform, and started to degrade significantly less than 1/3 of the way from center. I created a test setup as here since I didn't want to buy Imatest:

http://www.bobatkins.com/photography/technical/lens_sharpness.html

The cameralabs test used the same setup it looks like, so my results were very easy to compare.

Was the lens just bad? No. It took lots of acceptable shots, but lots of shots that I noticed the poor off-center performance, and too many pictures of sailboats with flare or halos off the sails, and I take lots of pics of same.

It just doesn't seem there is a viable alternative, so I'm pretty bummed. I will likely try another sample, but since my sample and the cameralabs sample seemed almost identical, my hopes aren't high for a miracle.

I have little use for purely the 24-70 range. I would only use the wide end of that, and then want more. As well the 24-70 is simply to heavy as a primary lens IMO.

What to do?
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Greg Matthews

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Re: I returned my 24-120 f4 to Amazon today (D800)
In reply to Greg Matthews, Aug 18, 2012

Wow, that is soo interesting! Do yourself a favor and get a compact superzoom instead. It will have an 'auto' setting which will suit you.

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RBFresno
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Re: I returned my 24-120 f4 to Amazon today (D800)
In reply to Greg Matthews, Aug 18, 2012

I really wanted to be able to live with this lens. I wanted the range , the practicality as a walk-around lens, the VR. But, the edges were just too bad, and the halos at times @120 f4 were also terrible. The results in these tests unfortunately were spot on:

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

Especially the second review link. The edge and corner degradation in my copy almost exactly matched their copy. And I built a test target with intermediate targets as well, and that's when I found it was both very non-uniform, and started to degrade significantly less than 1/3 of the way from center. I created a test setup as here since I didn't want to buy Imatest:

http://www.bobatkins.com/photography/technical/lens_sharpness.html

The cameralabs test used the same setup it looks like, so my results were very easy to compare.

Was the lens just bad? No. It took lots of acceptable shots, but lots of shots that I noticed the poor off-center performance , and too many pictures of sailboats with flare or halos off the sails, and I take lots of pics of same.

It just doesn't seem there is a viable alternative, so I'm pretty bummed. I will likely try another sample, but since my sample and the cameralabs sample seemed almost identical, my hopes aren't high for a miracle.

I have little use for purely the 24-70 range . I would only use the wide end of that , and then want more. As well the 24-70 is simply to heavy as a primary lens IMO.

Hi!

Not sure how to help...

For one, you have two contradictory statements:
" I wanted the range (of the 24-120) "

" I have little use for purely the 24-70 range. I would only use the wide end of that and then want more" ,

If the last statement is true, then the 14-24 will give you the prime like performance that you suggest you want.

But then you state: " the 24-70 is simply to heavy as a primary lens ". That excludes a lot of lenses.

I'm not sure what will make you happy....but I wish you the best of luck!

Best Regards,

RB

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sfnikon
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Re: I returned my 24-120 f4 to Amazon today (D800)
In reply to Greg Matthews, Aug 18, 2012

Life is a compromise. I would also love it if the 24-120 had great optics but you can't have everything.

With the D800e I'm juggling mainly the 24G, 85/1.8G, 24-70, 14-24, 200/2. I passed on the 24-120 (not that small and not so good optically) and bought the 24-85VR for travel. It has decent center sharpness over all FL @f/5.6. The edges are soft but it is super compact and light - a compromise.
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Greg Matthews
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Re: I returned my 24-120 f4 to Amazon today (D800)
In reply to sfnikon, Aug 18, 2012

At least you were constructive, interesting that it's so easy to get flamed on this forum.

I'm likely to do that you did with the 24-85 VR. 24-120 was just too expensive for the level of performance. There were lots of folks that seemed to think it worked great or pretty well, but the few reviews that did thorough testing were what I should have paid more attention to. Honestly I was surprised at just how bad the edges and esp corners were for sharpness. Reminded me of my 50 1.8D wide open. No definition, no contrast.

Sounds like the 24-85 has a fair amount of sample to sample variation, so we'll see.
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Kvenna
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Re: I returned my 24-120 f4 to Amazon today (D800)
In reply to Greg Matthews, Aug 18, 2012

What a pity you didn't read the reviews first. That way you would have known that this wasn't going to be the lens for you, and could have avoided dumping a used lens back on the dealer.

Oh, hang on, you say you will probably try another one. Great.........

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Operator
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Re: I returned my 24-120 f4 to Amazon today (D800)
In reply to Greg Matthews, Aug 18, 2012
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RBFresno
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Really nice 24-120 pics!
In reply to Operator, Aug 18, 2012
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Greg Matthews
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Re: Really nice 24-120 pics!
In reply to RBFresno, Aug 18, 2012

Nice pics.

Yes, stopped down it's a decent lens. But you are paying for a constant aperture f4, but you don't get a lens you can use much wider than f5.6 even at the better FLs. At least that was my experience.

It was one of those gut things, as well it was the last day I could return it and I just couldn't get my self to spend $1300 on a lens with that level of overall performance.

Possibly I'll go for the 24-85 VR, similar performance to 24-120 but at least it's priced for that level of performance. And use the diff to trade my 70-200 VR1 up to a VR2.
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user_name
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16-35 f/4 VR
In reply to Greg Matthews, Aug 18, 2012

Your needs seem to contradict each other, but if the wider end is where you want performance, the 16-35 f/4 VR may please you a lot more.

Corner performance is exemplary. It distorts at 16 mm, but it can be corrected in post processing.

Greg Matthews wrote:

I have little use for purely the 24-70 range. I would only use the wide end of that, and then want more. As well the 24-70 is simply to heavy as a primary lens IMO.

What to do?
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lightmagic
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Re: I returned my 24-120 f4 to Amazon today (D800)
In reply to Greg Matthews, Aug 18, 2012

i have been shooting D3 since the very beginning, Yet when I got the D4, for few days I thought something was wrong withthe camera. It didn'd focus right, the LCD was off. When I shot BIF, the focus kept hunting and I didn't get the shot I wanted.

Get what,\? even I thought I was familiar with Nikon's big cameras, it took some time for me to get acquainted with the new one.

i have the 24-120/4 that is "glued" to D4. The 24-70/2.8 was sold. Also it took me sometime to learn to use the new one.
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InTheMist
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Re: I returned my 24-120 f4 to Amazon today (D800)
In reply to lightmagic, Aug 18, 2012

I have to say, I also wasn't impressed with the 24-120 and got rid of it. Sample variation?
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Brev00
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Re: I returned my 24-120 f4 to Amazon today (D800)
In reply to Greg Matthews, Aug 18, 2012

Have you thought about going with a prime or two on the wide side and then upgrading your telephoto? If you don't really need the middle of the range and then want long, that might make sense.
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Operator
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Re: Really nice 24-120 pics!
In reply to Greg Matthews, Aug 18, 2012

Greg Matthews wrote:

Nice pics.

Yes, stopped down it's a decent lens. But you are paying for a constant aperture f4, but you don't get a lens you can use much wider than f5.6 even at the better FLs. At least that was my experience.

It was one of those gut things, as well it was the last day I could return it and I just couldn't get my self to spend $1300 on a lens with that level of overall performance.

True very unusable D800, 92mm @ f/4, 1/50s VR on

Sorry you got simply a bad copy ...

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chipmaster
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Re: I returned my 24-120 f4 to Amazon today (D800)
In reply to Greg Matthews, Aug 18, 2012

Better shoot primes if you can't compromise, maybe even manual focus too.

Every zoom is a compromise of many kinds.

Personally I take the 24-120F4 on vacation or when I know I want lots of flexibility, it has never dissapointed in real world shooting. Yeah all its weakness do show up if I peep, but getting the picture it has never dissapointed. I've taken some spectacular scenery, portraits and street pictures with it, I'd say get out and shoot. Read multiple reviews to get a range of opinion, too many peepers trying to make a name for themselves by pointing out weakness of every lense, camera etc.

I have it right now on my D4, is the 24-70 or 70-200 better yeah, but if you can't handle the size and want the IQ you got to decide, hit the gym and carry a bigger bag, or be happy with a mirrorless or maybe a P&S

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Greg Matthews
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Re: I returned my 24-120 f4 to Amazon today (D800)
In reply to Greg Matthews, Aug 18, 2012

I wrote this out of frustration. Not getting a lot of sympathy.

I wasn't apparently clear in one comment at least. I tend to use a walk around lens at one end or the other. Close to 24 or close to 120. The middle ranges are a lot less useful for street and out and about shooting typically. This lens falls down at the long end, so it's not a very good fit when 50% of the use is a whole lot of compromise (the long end). I guess that's just my opinion as few seemed to get where I was coming from.

A few of the reviews were spot on. Not all of the reviews were as consistent. Many reports by users were much more glowing, including on D800. Possibly sample to sample variation. Possibly intended use. Possibly not willing to deal with performance relative to cost of the lens. Given the situation wasn't as clear based on all that is written as some of you seem to think, I decided to try the lens myself. I found out what I found out. I thought my experience might help someone trying to make a decision. Instead, I get flamed mostly that I must be stupid. Interesting response from a forum that is supposed to be about helping people.

Simply put to me, the lens does not live up to what it costs. I may end up accepting that is the way it is, and compromising on this lens, since there really isn't a better walk-around alternative. But my time for this test was done, and I wasn't confident I wanted to live with it. So I had to send it back. I took over 2k pictures with the lens while I had it. I took over 300 specific test shots with it of test targets.

Possibly some of you leave a 24-70 on the camera all the time. I'm not going to do that. Possibly to some of you that means I'm not a serious photographer. So be it. There are many photographers like me that do a lot of 'walking around' photography. Jai Maisel is the best example that I know of. The D800 isn't the best primary camera to do that with, but this year I'm not taking enough pictures to justify two new cameras in one year. Coming from a D300, the D800 is a transition camera for me, as it allows me to use all of my lenses, and to fill in the complement over time. I was hoping the 24-120 would be a good bridge that was cheaper than buying a 16-35 f4, 24-120 VR2 trade up, a few f1.8 primes and likely one or two others as well. In the end, that's what I'll do. I actually believe that VR is a very useful feature, at least for my type of photography - I take a lot of shots at night of street scenes. So I will wait for a while on getting a 24-70 to see of it gets VR. As well, too many reports of Nikon sticking us with impact damage for what appears simply to be a defect in the lens.

To each his own I guess. I need a walk around lens for the D800. I'll either try the 24-120 again for another 30 days, or the 24-85 VR altho' that really isn't a range that's useful enough for walk around. I haven't seen any of the non-Nikon alternatives get very good reviews, but if I'm missing something please chime in. I can life with limitations that can be corrected, like distortion. But some limitations, lack of sharpness and inconsistent sharpness from side to side or overmuch flare and halos, cannot be corrected.

Honestly I wasn't trying to raise so many eyebrows with my thread. Just get some ideas in my frustration.
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Greg Matthews
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Re: I returned my 24-120 f4 to Amazon today (D800)
In reply to chipmaster, Aug 18, 2012

Actually on a D4 I'm guessing the 24-120 would perform much better. It was much better on my D300, comparing the same areas of the frame. The reality with the D800 is many Nikon lenses will not perform very well much above 15 M. Given most Nikon cameras were designed in a day when all cameras were under that resolution, it's understandable why that is. Nikon is going to have to address that if they push the MP limits up as they are with the last few cameras.

I needed a new camera. My D300 has some issues that need fixing and Nikon is going to stick me to fix it. Buttons and dials that no longer work, for instance. And I needed better pixel performance, and the low light performance and DR of the D800 are much better than my D300. Right now, there aren't many alternatives. Remember, I ordered the D800 in February, hoping to get started with a new camera then. The D7000 isn't an alternative to me, as it would lead to accepting lenses that I would likely regret getting once I did transition to FX. I think we all thought our 70-200 VR1's for instance would be fine for FX back when we bought them.

In retrospect, I could have gone with the D7000 and simply lived with my current lens complement, I get that. At the time, the D800 seemed like the right way to go. Hindsight and all of that. The main issue I have with my D800 actually is whether it will ever perform the way it is supposed to. It has the left focus issue. It has a LV issue few seem to have. The focus system tens to miss the subject and focus on the background more than any other camera I have had. Nikon doesn't seem to be addressing issues consistently. Many of us are affected by Nikon not standing behind their product today as they have in the past. If your D800 works perfectly, you will not feel the frustration of those like me that don't have great choices and it's easy to pass this frustration off.

Sorry for the rant.
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Jose Rocha
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Re: I returned my 24-120 f4 to Amazon today (D800)
In reply to Greg Matthews, Aug 18, 2012

Take a look at a used 28-105 D. Great corner to corner sharpness and lightweight. I just sold mine to a very happy new owner, and I will have to earn a lot of money to get the 24-70. I don't mind to lug a heavy lens with me

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Greg Matthews
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Re: Really nice 24-120 pics!
In reply to Operator, Aug 18, 2012

Actually, for portraiture, it's a good lens, no argument there. Sharp enough where you need it. For other purposes where the center isn't all that matters, possibly the answer is different. I'm glad you like you lens.
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Greg Matthews
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Re: I returned my 24-120 f4 to Amazon today (D800)
In reply to Jose Rocha, Aug 18, 2012

Thanks for the suggestion.
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