Review Nikon 24-85 mm VR (DX)


If you photograph with a Nikon DX camera (D3200, D5200, D7100), but are planning to buy a Nikon FX camera at some point, then the Nikon 24-85 mm zoom lens might be an attractive option. If you then end up buying your dreamed-of Nikon FX camera, then you can use this lens as a real FX lens.
The Nikon 24-85 mm VR is the successor of the Nikon 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G IF-ED from 2002 and is designed for use in combination with full-frame/FX-format SLR cameras, with—for a full-frame lens—an attractive price tag. It would not surprise us if this became one of the most popular Nikon zoom lenses for daily use with FX-format SLR cameras. This review is for photographers who are not photographing with a DX camera, but want to make the switch to FX at some point, as well as for photographers who use both a Nikon FX and a DX camera. We reviewed the Nikon 24-85 mm lens in combination with the Nikon D3200.


The field of view of the Nikon 25-85 mm on a Nikon DX camera corresponds with the field of view of a 36-128 mm zoom lens on a camera with a full-frame sensor. With that, you have an available range that is suited for nature, documentary, wedding or portrait photography—althought you’ll sometimes want a larger aperture for portrait photography (f/2.8) so that you can better isolate a subject from a restless background.

Build and auto focus Nikon 24-85 VR

Nikon 24-85 VR

The build quality of the Nikon 24-85 mm is good, as we’re accustomed to from Nikon. The body is made from high-quality plastic, and the mount from metal. The mount is fitted with a rubber ring so that the camera and lens are better protected against dust and splash water. The Nikon 24-85 mm weighs 465 grams and is delivered including lens bag and sun cap.
Thanks to the IF focusing, the lens does not change in length when focusing, and the front lens does not turn. That’s important when using polarization or greyscale filters. Some zoom lenses become significantly longer when you zoom in, but that doesn’t happen with this lens.
This lens is equipped with a built-in AF motor, so that you have AF available even with cameras that do not have a built-in AF motor (Nikon D3200, Nikon D5200). The SWM (Silent Wave Motor) lives up to its name and does indeed provide quiet and accurate auto focus. As with practically all Nikon lenses, there’s a switch on the lens for two AF settings: M/A (auto focus with manual setting priority) and M (manual focusing).

Image stabilization Nikon 24-85 VR

The built-in image stabilization (VR) will be operated via an on/off switch on the lens. More expensive lenses in addition to the on/off switch also have an option for VR while tracking moving subjects. The Nikon 24-85 mm VR unfortunately does not have that. The vibration reduction system (VRII) makes it possible, according to Nikon, to take pictures by hand with shutter times up to four stops longer. We tested the VR in our Nikon 24-85 mm review on a Nikon D800E at a focal length of 85 mm. At that focal length and a shutter speed of 1/6 second, we only made sharp pictures when the VR was engaged. A top performance! The Nikon VR also works completely silently. Because the VR is built into the lens, we expect that this conclusion will also apply for shots made at a focal length of 85 mm (136 mm @ FF) and a shutter time of 1/10 sec on a Nikon D3200. But we didn’t check.


In practice, when using the Nikon 24-85 mm VR on a Nikon camera with a DX sensor, you will practically never have trouble with vignetting. On a camera with a full-frame sensor, it’s not unusual that you have 1 stop of vignetting or more. On a camera with a DX sensor, you don’t see any of that, because you only use the center of the image.

The Nikon D3200 camera was set for correction of vignetting (Normal) in jpg files. With that, the vignetting at full aperture is even lower than without correction. For the other apertures, the differences are negligible.


Distortion Nikon 24-85 mm VR @ DX

Like many zoom lenses, the Nikon 24-85 mm VR shows visible distortion at focal lengths below 35 mm. In RAW files without in-camera correction, at 24 and 33 mm there is barrel-shaped and at 85 mm there is pincushion-shaped distortion visible. By engaging in-camera correction for distortion, it gets better, but in particular at 24 and 33 mm, visible barrel-shaped distortion remains.
Because distortion is simple to correct with software, this point is weighted relatively lightly in the final assessment of the Nikon 24-85 mm VR. Even so, you have to take into account when taking a picture that you’re going to correct the perspective afterwards, because a part of the image on the edges drops away.



Nikon Super Integrated Coating clearly reduces ghosts and light flecks as a result of flare. Even so, the lens is not free in all situations from flare or ghosts. In the example here, there is a relatively large flared area around the sun…


Partly thanks to the use of elements of ED glass, the sharpness of the Nikon 24-85 mm lens is high. After 1 stop stopping down, the highest sharpness will be reached. At the edges and in the corners, the sharpness is measurably, but not visibly, lower than in the center.minirrezz

Chromatic aberration Nikon 24-85 mm VR

Chromatic aberration is well corrected. That is not amazing, because you’re only using the center of the lens on a DX camera, while the Nikon 24-85 mm is designed for use on FX cameras. In order to keep the chromatic aberration (any blue and red edges at sharp contrast transitions in the corners) as low as possible, the design of the Nikon 24-85 mm VR includes one lens element of ED (extra-low dispersion) glass and three aspherical lens elements. In comparison with a camera with an FX sensor, there is less CA visible, because in this case you only use the center of the image. Nikon cameras correct automatically for chromatic aberration if you store the files in the camera as jpg.{insertgrid=117}{insertgrid=118}

Conclusion Review Nikon 24-85 VR @ DX


  • High center sharpness
  • Compact, attractively priced zoom lens with a commonly used zoom range
  • Effective built-in image stabilization
  • Suited for FX and DX


  • Sensitive to ghosts
  • Big for a DX lens

The Nikon 24-85 mm is, in terms of dimensions, weight, solid build quality, built-in image stabilizationand relatively low price, an attractive lens for any DX photographer who wants to eventually switch to FX. Because on a DX camera you only use the center of the lens, the image quality of the Nikon 24-85 mm, in particular for chromatic aberration, distortion, vignetting and sharpness in the corners, comes in this test more than into its own.


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