There was widespread excitement among photographers last week when Nikon announced a follow-up to the most widely-used zoom in its professional lineup – the 24-70mm.
Adding a new Vibration Reduction system to reduce image blur from camera-shake, the new Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR also incorporates a Silent Wave Motor that should give it AF speeds up to 1.5-times faster than those of its predecessor, the 24-70mm f/2.8G.
Nikon Ambassador Kate Hopewell-Smith was invited to try out the lens for a month before release, and we managed to secure some time with her for a chat about her first impressions. Scroll down for out interview and to see some more of Kate’s images taken with the new lens.
Amateur Photographer: What camera and lens have you mainly been using up until now?
Kate Hopewell-Smith: My two main bodies are a Nikon D4S and a D3S, and I have quite a bunch of lenses. Before this, in terms of portraiture, my favourite would probably be 70-200mm. I love the 85mm and I’d have probably said, to be honest, something like a 35mm prime would be the wider angle or focal length lens that I’d take out to portrait shoot.
AP: How did you get involved in testing the new 24-70mm f/2.8 VR?
KH-S: I got contacted directly from Tokyo, as they were looking for two photographers to work with the prototypes – there are only two prototypes and they chose a landscape photographer in New Zealand and me, which is pretty scary! The prototype they sent me was the D810 and the 24-70mm VR.
AP: What were your impressions of the 24-70mm while using it?
KH-S: When they first contacted me about it, I told them it’s not my favourite lens at all. But when it arrived and I got it out of the box I was like, ‘Wow!’ I wasn’t prepared for the weight and the size; it’s heavier and bigger than the original and so, in that sense alone, it’s a significantly different lens. I had it for about a month and the most important things they wanted me to test was shooting with it wide open, at f/2.8, at both the 24mm and the 70mm end and then to test the VR functionality with slow shutter speeds.
AP: And how did you find that?
KH-S: It was pretty remarkable; I’ve had a complete renaissance – and I’m not just saying this because I’m a Nikon Ambassador! I got asked in an interview on Wednesday what lens I’d take with me on a desert island, and before I’d never have said the 24-70mm. But now having spent a month with it, and having photographed everything from headshots to environmental portraiture, I think it’s an incredible lens. I’d still miss the compression that you get from longer focal lengths, but in terms of having one lens that can deliver massive versatility, I was amazed! It’s an incredibly smooth lens to work with and very sharp, with a very noticeable difference in edge-to-edge sharpness.
AP: How did you find the autofocus in terms of speed and accuracy?
KH-S: It was fantastic, but generally Nikon lenses are. It was honestly a pleasure to work with. It was heavy, although not as heavy as the 70-200mm, but it’s quite a comfortable weight. I didn’t have a problem with it.
AP: Does the electromagnetic aperture bring any obvious benefits?
KH-S: It’s not something I actively noticed. It didn’t make me shoot or feel any differently. I was able to shoot the way I shoot. At f/2.8 it was incredibly sharp. I also did some work on slow shutter speeds, shooting some horses at f/10 and it produced some incredible quality images. I was actually gutted to send it back to Japan! I shot two weddings within a week of sending the lens back and I’m now shooting wider focal lengths more frequently than I did before. I got in the habit of doing that because I had to shoot at the 24mm end a lot more, and I really enjoyed the results.
AP: It sounds like a lens you might want to invest in?
KH-S: Definitely! It’ll be an upgrade for me. Globally it’s Nikon’s best-selling lens – most pros have one and I can imagine people who’ve had their lenses and have worked them very hard for a while will definitely consider the upgrade. Also, the VR is obviously very helpful for wedding photography – if you’re a low-light photographer then it has a lot of benefits!
The AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR is due to be launched on 27 August, priced £1,849.99