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AF-S Nikkor 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR

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Is Nikon attempting to ease the passage of enthusiasts into its professional DSLR system with its new budget full-frame lens? We find out whether the 24-85mm does justice to the cameras. Read the AF-S Nikkor 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR review...


Constructed from 16 elements in 11 groups, including one extra-low dispersion (ED) and three aspherical elements, the optical design of this lens is new, although the focal range isn’t. Nikon first announced a 24-85mm f/2.8-4D IF lens in 2000, and the lens is still listed on both the UK and US Nikon websites. This older 24-85mm lens doesn’t feature a built-in AF motor, so it cannot autofocus on cameras below the Nikon D7000, although it can be used manually and electronic aperture control does still work.

Image: Chromatic aberrations are visible in raw files, although they are very slight and easily removed

The short-lived Nikkor 24-85mm f/3.5-4G AF-S lens followed in 2002. While this included a built-in AF motor, as part of Nikkor’s G series it lacked an aperture ring. Strangely, this lens was discontinued after four years, presumably because the 35-128mm equivalent focal length when used on a APS-C-sized (DX-format) sensor is not really wide enough for use as an everyday lens, and because those using expensive full-frame DSLRs demanded the higher quality of Nikon’s 24-70mm f/2.8.

The new lens looks similar to the now discontinued 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5, although they are different both optically and in terms of features: the main difference is that the new lens includes Nikon’s Vibration Reduction (VR)technology. The firm claims this will allow the photographer to reduce the given shutter speed by up to 4EV when shooting handheld. This should more than help to make up the 2-3EV difference in maximum aperture between this latest 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 lens and the original f/2.8-4 version, although obviously the depth of field can’t be accounted for.

  • Construction: 16 elements in 11 groups
  • Filter size: 72mm
  • Diaphragm Blades: 7-blade aperture
  • Weight: 465g
  • Max diameter x length: 78 x 82mm
  • Min Aperture: f/22-29
  • RRP: 519
  • Max Aperture: f/3.5-4.5

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