One of the biggest changes in photography since its metamorphosis into a digital medium is the never ending carousel of equipment. New Cameras, lenses, and ancillary devices hit the shelves every three to six months. This creates a pleasurable problem for photo enthusiasts – too much equipment. Even the most disciplined of us will eventually end up with a closet full of once useful digital camera equipment or even better a closet full of still useful camera equipment. I considered myself a member of the latter group.
So when it came time to pack my equipment for a trip to Ireland that would take me all over the countryside in nine days, I had to decide what I really needed. Airline and airport security being what it is prevents me from loading up with all my camera equipment. To do that would require sending fragile and expensive equipment as checked luggage – not a wise move. So it had to be what I could carry with me, in the overhead compartment. My camera backpack had to be able to hold my cameras, lens, my laptop and a few other items. This meant I had to think long and hard about what equipment I can bring, it had to be what I was most likely to use and nothing more. My final decision? – One camera and one lens. The one camera was my Nikon D800 fitted with a brand new Nikon 24mm -85mm VR II lens. The D800 with its 37 MP full frame sensor made it an easy choice for all my expected Irish landscape images. The lens, just released by Nikon, was chosen because of it’s versatile focal lengths – 24 mm for those vast landscapes and 85mm for those tight close up shots. Consider the rest of my comments from this point on as a review of this new lens.
This was not my first go-round with a Nikon 24 -85 lens having purchased one years ago and I continue to use it to this day, it is a perfect all-in-one lens for a FX format DSLR. So when Nikon updated the lens with second generation vibration reduction technologically it immediately grabbed my attention. With a street price of $599 it is also an affordable option (note: Nikon is now offering a $100 discount on the lens making the price $499). Nikon now includes this lens as the kit lens for the just announced D600 FX format DSLR (camera and lens are priced at $2,600). The only negative on this lens is that it is not fast glass with a maximum aperture of 3.5 at 24mm and 4.5 at 85mm, then again if landscapes are your thing fast glass is not that important and can I mention again that it is only $600. If you need faster glass you can always buy Nikon’s popular 24mm – 70mm 2.8 lens for $1,500.
Weighing a tad over one pound and three and a quarter inches long this lens is easy to pack and not to heavy on the camera. The physical specs and the second generation Vibration reduction system make this a good choice for a travel lens. You can usually use this lens without a tripod, even in low light situations, using the newer cameras excellent high ISO performance to account for the lens lack of wider available apertures. The auto-focus was a bit slower in low light situations and on verticals but nothing that prevent getting any image.
It was refreshing only using on camera and one lens when traveling. This new lens gives a good zoom range for landscape and excellent image quality at its optimum apertures (f8 – f10) at a very affordable price.