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Nikon AF-S 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR Lens Review

Nikon 24-85mm VR FX  


February, 2013
(tested with Nikon D600, D7000)

The AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR was announced in June 2012 and made available later that month. It was also bundled as a kit lens for the Nikon D600 DSLR full frame (FX) camera, which is how I obtained mine. It will also work on DX cameras with an equivalent field of view of 36-127.5mm. I tried it out on my D7000. Although it performed very well I wouldn't recommend this lens for a DX camera. There are better choices which provide a wider angle of view for the DX format, such as the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4, or the Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 OS. The rest of this review is based on results using the D600.

The 24-85mm VR is a consumer lens, aimed at the low end FX users, specifically owners of the D600. However, it has a better build quality than most of Nikon's DX kit lenses, as indicated by the $599.95 list price. The lens is made of mostly plastic and has a nice solid feel to it. The zoom and focus rings are rubber coated. The lens mount is metal and does not have a rubber seal. The lens has a manual focus switch, an On/Off VR switch, and a distance scale. It's an AF-S lens, so focusing is fast an accurate. Autofocus can be overidden by turning the focus ring. It has internal focusing, which means the front element doesn't rotate, so using filters is no problem.

Sharpness in the center of the lens is excellent throughout the zoom range. The sweet spot seems to be f/5.6 - f/8, with the best performance at the wider end of the zoom. Diffraction starts to occur at f/11. Sharpness at the borders and corners is just good. Best performance is at f/8 at the longer end of the zoom. Chromatic aberration is visible, especially at the max. aperture at 24mm. But it's easily correctable with post processing or in camera (if available). There is lots of barrel distortion at 24mm. Pincushion distortion begins around 35mm and increases as you zoom out to 85mm. But again, the distortion can easily be corrected in post processing. Vignetting is visible wide open at 24mm. Stopping down to f/8 will eliminate it. Flare is not a problem with this lens. The bokeh is just ok, best at 85mm wide open.

Overall the Nikon AF-S 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR is a fine lens, especially for the price. Yes, the corners and borders are a little soft, and CA and distortion are higher than I would like (though easily correctable). But it's a nice mid range, all purpose lens. It's on my D600 most of the time. I use it for family gatherings, casual walks, and whenever I want to travel light. But for critical work I use the Nikon AF 35-70mm f/2.8D.



Focal length 24-85mm
Maximum aperture f/3.5
Minimum aperture f/22-29
Lens Construction 16 elements in 11 groups
Angle of view 84o - 28.30o
Closest focusing distance 1.25ft (0.38m)
Maximum reproduction ratio 0.22x
Number of diaphragm blades 7
Auto focus type AF-S (Silent Wave Motor)
Filter diameter 72mm
Macro No
Dimensions 3.1 x 3.2 in.  (78 x 82mm)(Diameter x Length)
Weight 16.4 oz. (465g)

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