Nikkor AF-S 24-85mm 1:3.5-4.5 VR review

July 7th, 2012

I needed a standard zoom, but I wanted something compact for landscape and general use. The 24-70 was out for this reason, too heavy and 2.8 aperture was low on the list of needed features. VR was more desirable to capture motion and low-light work where no tripod is at hand.

I researched a bit the Tamron 24-70, but 82mm filter size, a flimsy hood and pronounced onion patterns in highlights made me drop that thought.

The recently announced  AF-S 24-85mm 1:3.5-4.5 VR fits the bill. I would have preferred weather-sealing and a constant f/4 aperture, but for $/€600 not all wishes will come true. It has a rubber seal on the mount.

This brings me to the features:

  • Rubber seal at mount (full metal)
  • M -M/A (fulltime manual focus override)
  • VR


  • Full plastic, Made in China
  • Focus / zoom feel a bit rough, but operate precisely
  • dual cam tube, no wobbling
  • 72mm filter

Heck, why 72mm filter thread? (this went up from 67mm of the non-VR model)

AF-speed is good, slower than the 24-70. I’d say 2/3sec from close focus (38cm) to infinity. Barely audible when 1m away, very reliable, no hunting.

Vignetting, very little, less than 1 stop wide open and almost none at f/5.6

Distortion, slight barrel at 24 (12 in Lr4 correction), even slighter pincushion from 35mm upwards.

CAs need correction in Lr, but this is a one-click.

Pretty flare resistant, dead sharp in the center. Borders very good at f/5.6, some additional sharpening brings corners to center level. It seems to have some field curvature that prevents it from performing better in the corners, but not too pronounced.

Close focus, don’t expect too much, it doesn’t have near field correction, results are good, but nothing to write home about.

VR - 4 stops - no way. I’d give it 2 stops on the wide end and 3 stops on the long end. Note that this gives more handholdabilty than the 24-70.

Summary, good deal for the asked price. As I don’t shoot wide open much, this lens gives me everything I need for a third of the price of  the 24-70 (sorry for mentioning it so often, but it is simply the reference in this focal range). The small size and low weight make it preferable for landscape work: Better balance on the tripod and smaller profile in windy conditions. If you capture moving objects you would like to have a lens that is faster, but I ask if a 50/1.4 would do there an even better job

Sample images