I was given the opportunity to test drive the Nikkor 24-120mm f4 VR2 (thank to Ben Walton of Team Digital) – just in time for the weekend’s surf rowing carnival at Scarborough Beach. Having heard of the sub-par performance of this len’s variable aperture cousin (the f3.5-5.6 mid-range zoom), I was expecting similar limitations. Thankfully, it proved me wrong.
This lens makes for a terrific general walk-around lens, giving punters much joy in photographing life in 24-50mm. It’s quiet (thanks to the Silent Wave Motor) and the constant f4.0 aperture and mid-range zoom also makes it a pretty ideal portrait lens.
Its 24-120mm zoom gives much flexibility for shooting action near and far. I usually shoot surf sports with a 24-70mm for close and wide and 80-200mm for telephoto; having the additional reach to 120mm makes this lens a blessing. Image-wise, it’s sharp, even at f4.0, and it translates colours very nicely. On the downside, it vignettes something bad on full polarisation, all the way to 120mm (noticeably worse than the 24-70mm f2.8 at 24mm) — landscape photographers may not be too happy with this aspect.
Physically, it’s a solid lens, a little lighter than, say, the 24-70mm. The zoom ring feels quite tight initially but not enough to prove an impediment to using it intuitively.
All in all – a great lens if you don’t already have the 24-70mm f2.8 and are looking for something with a good range, which can also double up as a nifty portrait lens and a serviceable lens for action.
Here are some shots from the surf rowing carnival:
Pretty severe vignetting on full polarisation.