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...
Build and handling
There are no real surprises in the design and build of the new 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 lens. It looks and handles just as you would imagine a kit lens designed for a full-frame Nikon DSLR should. It is slightly wider in diameter than an APS-C kit lens, with a filter thread size of 72mm. This is no doubt to accommodate the larger imaging circle required to cover the larger sensor.
As might be expected at this price, the lens has a largely polycarbonate construction, although it does include a metal lens mount. The fact that the lens isn’t made of metal should be of no concern because the build quality is excellent and there is no wobble between the lens barrels, even at its maximum 85mm zoom extension.
At the end of the lens barrel is the zoom control ring. This isn’t very wide, but the ridged rubber design makes it easy to grip and turn. Just a quarter turn is all that’s required to extend the zoom from 24mm to 85mm. The zoom control is quite firm, and while it is simple to position at the correct point when taking images, it may not be fluid enough for those hoping to zoom while shooting video.
Closer to the lens mount is a thin focus-control ring. I always find these smaller focus ring grips on cheaper Nikkor lenses a little fiddly to use, but that said it is only on rare occasions they will ever be used, particularly on a general-purpose lens such as this. Flicking between manual and automatic focus is simple thanks to a switch on the side of the lens. When in M/A mode the lens will autofocus, but you can manually override this should you wish to fine-tune the focus further.
Below the focus switch sits the Vibration Reduction (VR) control switch, which can be simply turned on or off. I was impressed with the image stabilisation on this lens as it allowed me to shoot as slow as 1/15sec at the 85mm setting and get images that were acceptably sharp, though not perfect. When the stabilisation turns on, it can be seen working through the viewfinder, at which point there is a noticeable difference.
Image: The 24-85mm focal length of the lens is ideal for everyday situations