I’ll say this up front: if you picked up a Nikkor 24-85 f3.5-4.5G VR lens with one of the D600 deals, do yourself a favor and try it in everyday shooting before you sell it. There seems to be a widely spread belief, which I briefly bought into, that this lens is not worth the bother. I was all set to sell it, when, on a whim, I decided to take it for a spin on my D600. All I have to say is, wow, nice little lens. Not perfect, but it has a lot going for it, mostly tack sharp output, even wide open.
After using it for one day, I’m scratching my head as to why people seem so lukewarm to down on this lens. Is it the strong chromatic aberration or distortion, both easily corrected in-camera or in post processing (with a click in Lightroom)? Is it that it’s not f2.8, in a kit lens? Is it that it’s not as long as the 24-120?
Well, yes, it’s a kit lens, not built like a tank, which makes it light and compact, ideal as a walk-about and travel lens. It’s not super fast, but at just 1/3 less stop than the 24-120 on the long end and faster than it on the wide end, I’m just saying “bump the ISO if you have to, use VR for hand-held, and you have a virtual f4 lens here.”
It’s a compromise lens, no doubt. But all of them are: the 24-70 is f2.8, but has no VR and a short range, while the 24-120 is plenty long, but not f4, while weighing nearly as much as the 24-70 (okay, it’s lighter, but pretty heavy for walk-about use), and it has its own set of optical faults. As an everyday lens the 24-85 is hard to beat, and just eyeballing it’s output, it’s giving me images sharper than I ever got with my 16-85 on a DX body. I’d say the level of detail and sharpness is on par with the 24-120, which in my experience is very good indeed.
Here are some of the shots I took yesterday with the Nikon D600 and the Nikkor 24-85G. Actually, 2 of the shots were taken with a different lens, and I’ll let you guess which ones they are.
Eduardo Suastegui serves the Los Angeles, California are with story-telling wedding and event photography.