>Obviously the 24-70 is going to out perform the 24-120 at the >maximum apertures of the 24-120 but unless shooting into the >light (the 24-70 has nano coating) at f8-f11 sharpness and >resolution are the near identical. >The 24-70 is less than half the price, has a wider zoom range >and has VR - but cannot be used at f2.8 >Which combination of features YOU want determines which lens >is likely to be best for you.
My 24-70mm f/2.8 is worlds sharper and more consistent at every aperture and focal length it has in common with my 24-120mm VR. I think the 24-120 is fine for casual walkabouts (shopping, visiting the relatives, etc., etc.) but for project work I think it's a big bust. Every so often I get a critically sharp image out of my 24-120, but most of the time it's just a whole lotta average. It's (from my perspective) the perfect walking around range, but Nikon did an unremarkable job on either the design or the execution. My cheap, old 28-200 AF-D is sharper and more consistent than the 24-120 VR and for me that overcomes the VR advantage. I recently picked up one of the new Tamron 28-300 XR DI VC lenses and find that it is sharper and more consistent in regular use than the 24-120 Nikkor.
My standard urban kit these days is the 24-70mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, a really nice Zeiss 35mm f/2 Distagon, and a 50mm f/1.4 Nikkor (the last two used almost exclusively for night work.
For someone on a budget, an older 35-70 or 28-70 is comparatively cheap and razor sharp. A 70-300 Nikkor VR produces amazingly good images for longer stuff and portraiture, etc., etc.
My two cents (again) because I wanted to add my disappointed comments about the 24-120 and my relatively good recent experience with the Tamron 28-300 VC.