Wed 16-Sep-09 12:12 AM | edited Wed 16-Sep-09 12:26 AM by hwdx347
I've been using the excellent Nikon 35-70 f2.8D as my walk around lens on my D700. I've been wanting a lens with more flexability but didn't want the 24-70 because of the weight, size and cost. I decided to purchase a Nikon 24-120 VR and test it. This was with quite a bit of anxiety because of the wide range of comments about this lens on the net. Let's be honest the largest percentage go to the bad side. I don't shoot brick walls, newspapers or focus charts. So for what it's worth this is what I think.
My 35-70 has better color saturation, contrast and sharpness throughout the range. I expected that.
The 24-120 is a little soft wide open and at it's focal length extremes but at smaller apertures it is fine -- f9, f10, f11.
I shot it on a friend's D300 against his 16-85 VR and the results are close.
Conclusion -- If I needed critical sharpness I'd turn to the 35-70 or 105 VR but as an everyday carry around lens the 24-120 will work for most situations as long as you shoot at small aperture which of course is easy with the high ISO, low noise of the D700. Of course if you need shallow DOF and good bokeh you are stuck -- use a 35-70.
From the pictures you posted, I'd say you got a much better copy than the one I tried and returned. I ordered it and a 24-85 f/2.8-4 at the same time for a direct comparison and the 24-85 was noticeably sharper in all situations -- tripod, hand-held, with flash, test charts, walk-around shooting, etc. I really wanted the 24-120 to come out on top because of the longer range and VR, but I ended up returning it and keeping the 24-85. I wish I'd got your copy!
John "One should photograph objects not only for what they are but for what else they are." -- Minor White
You might also consider the 18-135mm or 18-105mm VR by Nikon. Both very good lenses, capable of delivering high IQ. The newer, albeit discontinued, 24-85mm F/3.5-4.5 AF-S is a favorite of mine, too. Very sharp and fast focusing, just wish it had VR.