Nikon's Nikkor AF-S 12-24mm has a constant f/4 through the zoom range. What Digital Camera's Nikkor AF-S 12-24mm f/4 G ED IF DX lens review sees if it's as good as buy as it seems...
This is a very nicely designed and comfortable lens to use. The zoom ring is furthest forward, has a reassuring high-grip surface and offers just the right amount of resistance so that the lens can be zoomed with a light fingertip touch.
The manual-focusing ring is rearward and narrower, which makes sense given that it is likely to be less commonly used. Once again the resistance is just enough to avoid any suggestion of floppiness but not so much as to hamper fingertip control. Focusing takes place internally so there is no extension of the barrel and no rotation of the front element.
Although it sounds relatively modest, the fact that the aperture maintains a constant f/4 maximum value right through the zoom range indicates that this ought to be a high-performance design. The use of aspherical profiles and low-dispersion glass seems to support this notion but these features are virtually de rigueur in zooms of this type. For those who demand more there is the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED – but that is twice the price, making the 12-24mm f/4G ED something of a bargain. Alternatively, there is the newly-launched Nikkor 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED, which is only slightly more costly than the f/4 lens examined here.
MTF testing reveals an almost-textbook set of curves that improve slightly from maximum aperture then decline very slowly as the lens is stopped-down. Provided that the lens is used neither wide-open nor fully stopped-down its MTF figures remain comfortably above the crucial 0.25 cycles-per-pixel value.
In use, the lens sits neatly on the front of a D80 (used for this review). The AF system proved to be every bit as quick and quiet as Nikon claims but sometimes the results were a little soft, blotting an otherwise very attractive copybook. In theory this lens is looking a little long in the tooth, especially given Nikon’s two newer additions, but it is still a useful zoom that is becoming increasingly competitively priced.
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AF/M and M
Aspherical profiles, ED glass, SWM AF
11 elements in 7 groups
19 – 38mm approx
82 x 90mm
12 – 24