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Old May 26th, 2013, 10:15 PM   #1
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Nikon 24-120 F4 VR Opinions?

I'm pretty well set with Nikon fixed lenses but I'm looking a mid-range zoom for run & gun journalism style video with my D800. In the past I've always gone with a pro-sumer camcorder for these type assignments but am trying to learn to get over the short coming of DSLRs for this kind of work.
I'll frequently be using a mounted Viewfinder and a monopod where possible.
Current considerations are: 24-70 AFS f2.8, older 28-70 AF-S 2.8, or this 24-120 VR f4.
At previous employment I used the latest Nikon 24-70 AF-S f2.8 for stills but it seems it would have a very short throw manual focus for video. The older 28-70 might be better in that regard. But I'm willing to sacrifice the faster aperture for VR and greater range if the manual focus ring is usable for video.
Do any of you folks use this lens?
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Old May 29th, 2013, 07:21 PM   #2
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Re: Nikon 24-120 F4 VR Opinions?

Great lens! VR is excellent. Wished it was a tad longer - 24-200 would be great (I've been spoilt by my Panasonic GH1 14-140 (28-280 equivalent). Overall very sharp lens. Looks a little chunky on the D800, and together with battery grip, can get heavy. Zoom on my lens is a little sticky, manual focus ring a little short unlike say, the 50mm f1.2 AIS lens. This lens lives on my D800.

Been having a lot of fun with this for run and gun work http://cgi.ebay.com.sg/ws/eBayISAPI....m=300903514682

Gets the job done at a hard to beat price!
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Old May 29th, 2013, 07:28 PM   #3
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Re: Nikon 24-120 F4 VR Opinions?

Mainly trying to determine how it handles in manual focus for video and how difficult the IQ corrections will be and whether VR makes a noticeable difference in video? Coming from 2.8 and faster Pro lenses that I beat the crap out of, I sort of doubt I'll be happy about the build quality but hoping to be proven wrong. Fortunately, Nikon Professional Services is going to loan me one for a week or so to evaluate.
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Old June 6th, 2013, 06:39 PM   #4
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Re: Nikon 24-120 F4 VR Opinions?

James: did you get to try the lens? If so, how did it work?
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Old June 6th, 2013, 06:52 PM   #5
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Re: Nikon 24-120 F4 VR Opinions?

Nikon Professional Services is sending me one to try for a few days. I just got the notice that it was shipped yesterday. I'll report back when I've taken it for a spin.
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Old June 26th, 2013, 10:16 AM   #6
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Re: Nikon 24-120 F4 VR Opinions?

Just a quick first impressions follow-up: I got a chance to play around with a Nikon 24-120 f4 VR for just a day due to having to leave for a trip and was unable to put it to as much use as I hoped.

I was pleasantly surprised by the build quality. I have both "pro" 2.8 or faster Nikon lenses and a "consumer" 18-200 3.5-5.6 DX zoom. I feared that the build quality would be more like the mainly plastic slow consumer DX lens but found that the 24-120 f4 VR split the difference quite well. It is really a beast of a lens, with lots of metal in the construction. I would be confident using it on a daily basis.

In photo mode: As expected, autofocus for still photography was quick and responsive and the VR offered the ability to handhold at least 2-3 stops slower than I would usually feel confident for sharp imagery.
Barrel and Pin-Cushion distortion concerns were unfounded as it is removed in camera in JPEG mode and quickly auto corrected with one click in Lightroom. I think it would make a great still photography lens with the perfect range for most of my work.

In video mode: I find the small, non-damped focusing ring at the rear of the lens problematic for focus. The throw is short, and though smooth and silent now, I could see it becoming gritty with dust and grime. I found that practicing before each shot did allow me to pull focus but it required much more concentration than with a traditional manual focus lens. Focus "breathing" was slight and likely acceptable for my purposes. I noticed no focus shift when zooming.
I did appreciate the VR when hand holding video and wide-normal focal lengths. I found the VR made a noticeable difference in removing jitter and made usable some quick handheld shots at longer focal lengths. However, it's no replacement for full sticks or even a monopod for shots longer than a few seconds meaning I would need to carry with me some type of stabilization regardless.

Overall, I'm torn over this lens. I love the range, and would be very happy with this for every day photojournalism work on a stills camera.
I'm not sure that the VR would be as useful as I hoped in video mode as I will still need to carry sticks on photo assignments, but the real drawback for me is the rudimentary manual focus for video. I'm not sure if it's something that would easily be overcome with practice.

When I was primarily a stills photography where video was secondary for a few short clips to document a scene or event for my newspaper, this would have been my go to lens. But, video has become more more important to my freelance work. My hope was that the 24-120 f4 VR would be a do it all lens that would live on my D800 for both photo/video for 90% of my work.

The verdict? The 24-120 f4 VR is a "workable" do-it-all stills/video solution, but not ideal and I'm beginning to doubt that ideal actually exists.
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