I remember it like it was yesterday. Just a few months back, Nikon announced a new version of their 24-70mm lens (the AF-S 24-70mm E VR). I use the old version of this lens all the time and I have to admit, reading the announcement got me more excited than a college girl getting a free pumpkin spice latte.

So, I ordered one right away, images of grand landscapes dancing through my head – all with perfect corner to corner sharpness of course.

When this lens arrived, I raced out to test it – I was brimming with questions that begged for answers – particularly how it stacked up against the “old” 24-70mm. Little did I know what kind of surprises I was in for – this wasn’t exactly what I thought it was going to be. Luckily, I have no affiliation with Nikon, so I can speak my mind and freely reveal the good, the bad, and the ugly about this new lens.

nikon-lens

Also, keep in mind I’m not a professional lens reviewer, and I was only able to test one copy of the new lens against my one copy of the old lens. Ideally, I would like to test a bushel basket of each lens to average out sample variation, but for this review we’ll have to settle for the glass I have at my disposal.

The first thing you’ll notice about this new 24-70 is that it seems to have been hitting the french fries a little too hard. It’s gained a bit of weight from the slimmer 2007 version (I know how it feels), as well as gathering a bit more girth and height. While you won’t need to press your spouse into service as a sherpa, you will need a bit more space in your bag to haul it around. So, if you were dreaming about a smaller, lighter optic, then you’re going to be disappointed. Also, the filter size gets bumped from 77mm to 82mm, so break out the wallet for a new set of filters.

As for the build quality itself, it feels at least as robust as the old 24-70mm. The zoom and AF rings are silky smooth and it seems almost eager to take on whatever challenges you want to throw at it. Of course, all of this is speculation on my part, only time will tell if it’s tougher than the current model – which was known to wear out with excessive use. I’m on my second copy of the first version of this lens and the zoom ring has recently been making like it’s got peanut butter stuck in there. Sigh.

This new lens also features VR and – for my shaky hands – it seems to grant another 3-4 stops of hand-hold ability. The VR seems to work exceptionally well, and I’ve been very impressed with it. As to whether or not you need it, that’s going to vary from person to person, however, I imagine if you shoot in a lot of dark venues it could come in handy.

Vr-1

vr-2

What about AF?

There has been a significant improvement in AF speed. It’s not like the old lens was sluggish, but this locks on like a teenage boy peeping into the girls locker room. Even Live View AF was much quicker than the old lens. As an added bonus, my copy needed ZERO AF fine tuning – spot on right out of the box.

This is also an “E” series lens – not to be confused with the original E series Nikkors that graced the shag camera bags in the late 70s and early 80s. The current “E” stands for “Electronic,” referring to an electronically controlled aperture rather than a mechanically controlled one.

I’ve seen Nikon offering a lot of new “E” type glass recently, and I suspect it’s for compatibility with the upcoming D5 camera. I’m speculating that the new camera will probably run 15 frames per second and I’m guessing that the old mechanical aperture can’t keep up, hence the rash of new lenses we’ve seen lately.

Now there’s a lot more to talk about with this lens and my thorough review is a little long to fit in the newsletter.  You can click here for the full review.

You can also head on over to backcountrygallery.com for great photography and editing tips and beautiful nature photographs.

~ Steve