large image

Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Nikon AF-S 24-120mm f/4G ED-IF VR Review


rating-star rating-star rating-star rating-star rating-star


  • Impressive optical performance


  • Bigger, heavier and more expensive than the variable-aperture alternative

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £1050

Although this is not a head-to-head test, reference has to be made to Nikon’s other 24-120mm zoom; the well-established variable-aperture (f/3.5-5.6) model that was reviewed in our January 2011 issue. In comparison, the new f/4 version is bigger, heavier and more expensive but it is also a significantly better performer.

Thanks to a generous 5x zoom range, centred on the standard full-frame focal-length, this lens covers a useful range. When mounted on an APS body it becomes a slightly-wide-to-telephoto zoom but there is a good chance that price-conscious DX-format users will opt for the cheaper f/3.5-5.6 model instead.

Interestingly, the f/4 lens has a larger-diameter filter ring than is fitted to the f/3.5-5.6 zoom. This sounds wrong but the optical design of the two lenses is different and it is possible that full-frame use might reveal slight fall-off in the corners of the f/3.5-5.6 zoom’s image field (though this was not noted during testing). Both lenses use 13 groups but there are 17 elements in the new f/4 lens – two more than the older zoom. The extra two elements were very likely added for better control of chromatic aberrations because the new lens, unlike its ancestor, is totally free from this defect.

Both versions feature a Silent Wave Motor that is very quiet and also permits manual focusing intervention at any time in AF mode. As before, the reversible petal-type lens hood cannot be left stowed over the lens barrel as it severely restricts access to the zoom ring. The zooming action is heavy but not awkwardly so. The manual-focus ring (now located at the rear of the lens) is narrow but easy to use thanks to a smooth and lightweight touch.

Two-mode vibration-reduction (VR-II) technology is offered. So on the left of the lens barrel there are three sliders in place of the previous zoom’s two; as well as the uppermost MA-M switch and the VR Off/On switch there is now a VR Normal/Active switch, which is rather too low to be reached comfortably but could not sensibly have been located anywhere else.

Nikon recommends Normal mode for most situations and to reserve Active mode for ‘intense’ shaking such as might be experienced in a moving vehicle. Encouragingly, Nikon also acknowledges that Normal mode may be useful when working on a monopod or using an unsecured tripod head (as might be employed to generate a smooth panning action).

Optically, the new f/4 lens is a very strong performer. Not only do its MTF curves never drop below the critical 0.25 cycles-per-pixel level but also across the most commonly used apertures they sit above 0.30 cycles-per-pixel.


Nikon 24-120mm f/4G ED VR MTF CHART


Sample images


There is little to dislike about this lens and even its price, which is almost twice that of the older variable-aperture version, can clearly be justified in terms of superior optical performance and the addition of VR-II technology. There is still a place for the smaller, lighter and more affordable alternative but Nikon’s new f/4 is definitely the smarter cousin and is sure to be the professional’s choice

Trusted Score

rating-star rating-star rating-star rating-star rating-star

Score in detail

  • Value 9
  • Design 9
  • Image Quality 10
  • Features 10

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2004, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.