Nikon's latest pro-spec standard zoom promises to be its best yet – on paper, at least. Phil Hall finds out whether it lives up to expectations
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR – Image quality
With a just under 3x focal range running from wideangle to telephoto, there’s not quite the same demands placed on the optics as other lenses, but nonetheless, to deliver results that will meet the demands of professionals, results have to be spot on.
Looking at the real-world shots I took with this lens, centre sharpness in images taken at 24mm wide open at f/2.8 are very good, though it does tend render the edges of the frame a little soft. Stop the lens down and the sweet spot for those wanting to shoot at the wide end of the lens seems to be around f/8, when sharpness across the image is very impressive indeed.
At 35mm and wide open, results are a tad sharper still and while edge sharpness does drop off a touch, it’s still a very strong performance, with best results overall seeming to come at f/5.6. It still performs very well at f/8 and while sharpness does tail off after that, it’s still very strong at f/11. It doesn’t quite deliver the same levels of sharpness at 70mm, with the centre at f/2.8 only just matching those of the edges at 35mm. That said, there’s a big improvement when the lens is stopped down to f/5.6, with the centre matching results at 24 and 35mm.
As you’d perhaps expect to find with a zoom of this nature, vignetting was most pronounced at f/2.8. This was noticeable throughout, with more than a stop of exposure difference between the centre and edge of the frame at the extremes of the focal range, so you need to be prepared to correct this in Lightroom or similar. You’ll also have to make corrections for slight barrel distortion at 24mm and pincushion distortion from 35mm onwards.