Back in the days when I had a DX camera, one lens that I really utilized a lot was the Nikkor 18-300mm. This was a good travel lens that offered a good range, was lightweight and allowed for traveling light while still having the versatility needed to capture the images that I wanted.
Upon upgrading to a FX camera, I have been in search of something that versatile in an FX series. Currently, the solution was to bring the Nikkor 24-70mm and the Nikkor 70-200mm to capture the same range. Not ideal as the additional piece of gear to pack and the additional weight was the trade off.
Both of these lenses are tack sharp and produce stunning images. I love both of them but was still longing for the portability of the DX setup that I had. With the release of the Nikon Z6 mirror-less camera, this offered the possibility of the return to the travel setup I had on the DX, but now in full frame. Marketed as an “ultra-compact telephoto zoom”, the lens is designed for Nikon’s range of full-frame mirrorless cameras, but it can also used with the recently released APS-C format Nikon Z50 camera. On the Nikon Z50 that makes the 24-200mm an equivalent of 36-300mm. You could do the same with the full-frame Z cameras in “crop” mode for extra reach – such as when shooting wildlife.
This package is lightweight and with the release of the Nikkor 24-200mm, this gave me the ideal travel bundle that even exceeded the old DX setup I grew to like so much. The Nikkor 24-200mm lens is a really sharp lens, far better than the Nikkor 18-300mm for optical quality in my humble opinion.
The specifications of this lens are impressive for a lens with such range and flexibility in a small package:
- Focal Length is 24 – 200mm
- Max Aperture f/4 to f/6.3
- Minimum Aperture f/22 to f/36
- Diameter 3.1 inches
- Length 4.5 inches
- Weight 20.2 ounces
- Minimum Focusing Distance”
- 1.64 ft. (0.5m) at 24mm zoom position
- 1.78 ft. (0.54m) at 35mm zoom position
- 1.81 ft. (0.55m) at 50mm zoom position
- 1.91 ft. (0.58m) at 70mm zoom position
- 2.14 ft. (0.65m) at 105mm zoom position
- 2.24 ft. (0.68m) at 135mm zoom position
- 2.30 ft. (0.7m) at 200mm zoom position
- Filter Size 67mm
What I like about the lens
The first thing that attracted me to the is lens is the range and the light weight. Given that, it still feels like it is engineered very well. The internal focusing is quick and responsive. The lens is sharp without only minor vignetting or distortion throughout its zoom range even with the lens shade and filter on. When the lens is extended to 200mm, the balance still feels good and it does not feel front heavy. I found the VR built into the lens along with the image stabilization of the Nikon Z6 very helpful, especially at the 200mm range.
The design of the lens is relatively simple. You’ll see the name of the lens (24-200mm / 4-6.3) as well as markings for the various focal lengths. It is marked in steps 24, 35, 50, 70, 105, 135 and 200 so you can quickly jump to those focal lengths just by glancing down at the lens.
For the landscape photographers that operate in the 24 to 70mm range this lens will fill a niche’ along with those that want to compress the background at around 100mm will find this a useful tool. There is a lock button on the lens that keeps the focal length locked at 24mm. I have not found creeping of the lens a problem so I usually just leave it unlocked so as not to interfere with having to unlock it when attempting to zoom.
Drawbacks of the lens
One drawback of this lens is that it can only be paired with the the mirror-less systems. There is no backward compatibility to a DSLR. There is also no switch on the lens for AF/Manual which I do miss. Also, what is it with Nikon and the lens shades? They are usually poly-carbonate and this one seems a bit flimsy as compared to other lenses. The level of sharpness with this lens is very good but does not compare the Nikkor S line of lenses. Wish it had the ability to leave the aperture wide open at the long end of the focal reach rather than defaulting to the f/6.3 aperture at the long end of the zoom.
Priced at $896.00 USD this lens is affordable and gives any photographer a wide range of options regardless of their genre and is something in my opinion that should be given some consideration if this type of lens would fit into your style of photography.
Here are some real world pictures from the lens that you can assess that I hope can help you make a decision on whether this will be part of your photographic tool bag. All shots were taken in Aperture priority and at the lowest native ISO 100.
Widening to 24mm seemed to have some slight vignetting in the corners. I did have the scalloped lens shade on, but I have not found this to be the cause of vignetting as I have seen it without the shade on as well. This is easily corrected in post if it occurs. Otherwise still pretty solid for the wider end of the FOV.
The weather was partly cloudy with the sun peaking in and out of the clouds all day. In this picture, the light on the scene is relatively even for a moment while taking the shot.
Standing on the boat launch, I zoomed into 200mm and included the break wall as an element.
This is a shot from the break wall that you see in the picture above. We walked about 500 to 600 yards out onto the break wall and this shot is taken at about 86mm. We did not venture up close as the waves began breaking over the wall and the coast guard issued warnings to avoid getting closer.
This is a 10 second exposure. The goal was to smooth the water out and perhaps allow for some cloud movement. This also used a 10 stop ND filter to allow for the longer exposure.
So there are some real world examples of the lens in action. Overall I am pleased with the lens quality, even when viewed 1:1 in Lightroom. If you are considering and all in one travel zoom, you may want to give this a look by renting prior to buying. I hope this helped in your photographic pursuits.
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