The must have "one-does-all"
As a professional wedding photographer I have always invested in the trio of f/2.8 zooms, but I always was frustrated by the short range offered by the 24-70mm, especially on the long end. This is why I always had tried the various 24-120mm incarnations and other mid-to-long range zooms from other manufacturers in the hope of one day finding a lens that could combine a long zoom range with a decent optical performance.
So when Nikon announced the new AFS 24-120mm f/4G VR zoom, I was excited but obviously didn’t have any high expectations. Especially since I was accustomed to a certain degree of performance from my favorite lens, the AFS 24-70mm f/2.8G. But I was curious to see what improvements Nikon had done to this new incarnation, if any! So I paid the price and got one.
A bayonet mount hood is included, and the lens is compatible with standard 77mm filters. It can focus as close as 0.45m at any focal length, which is quite useful for working tight—but it's no substitute for a real macro lens. When mounted on a DX body, the lens will provide an effective field of view of 36-180mm. Unlike pro lenses this zoom has the focus ring towards the rear and the zoom ring towards the front. Combine this with the large lens diameter and the not-so-wide zoom ring and you can start to imagine what a pain it is in use. For everyday family events or even travel photography, this may not be too much of a problem, but for the pro capturing an all day event such as a wedding, zooming in and out all day can become very tiresome. With the 24-120mm you need to extend your fingers further and then reposition your grip to re-extend again a second time if you want to go from wide to tele. This negative characteristic is the one I hate the most about this lens. And the stiffness of the zoom ring doesn't help either. Of-course, you do get used to the extra work required by this lens since the results always put a smile on your face.
I have now owned this lens for 4 months and its still as stiff as when I first got it. The downside of this is its hard to zoom and can tire you quickly. On the other hand there is no zoom creep to worry about – at-least for the time being. Overall, the build quality is very good to excellent.
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ONE LENS SOLUTION
Pictures taken with the AFS 24-120mm f/4G VR
Getting back to the lens in question, all i can say is that it's a MUST have lens for any Nikon shooter, whether hobbyist, semi-pro or pro. The 24-120mm f/4 lens has the capabilities for producing very sharp pictures with pleasing backgrounds while still offering a large zoom range from wide angle to tele! If you are an FX shooter and can only afford to invest in one lens then this is the one - albeit expensive. Its remarkably robust compared to the competition, its very sharp and its distortion is acceptable in all but the most critical applications.