Nikon ED AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm 1:3.5-4.5 G VR Lens (f/3.5-4.5)

Review of the Nikon ED AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm 1:3.5-4.5 G VR Lens (f/3.5-4.5).

Overall Rating:


This lens is 12 years old with a debut price of $500 (USD). It has replaced the 24-85mm 1:3.5-4.5 non-VR version and is a varifocal zoom in that it changes focus as it is zoomed, but only by a little bit. It features one small ED element and a whopping three aspherical elements. This is a wide-angle, modern zoom with Nikon's Vibration Reduction. At the time of the introduction of this lens, the Nikon D800/D800E — a 36MP camera — was modern.


There is color fringing on the short and long end, and there is moderate vignetting to be found which, by f/5.6, it is almost eliminated. Distortion is heavy with barrel on the short end (1%) and pincushion on the long end (1%). Distortion is normal in a zoom. Flaring is minor for this zoom.

Sharpness is decent, but not stellar. It's consistent through-out the zoom range.

The autofocus is decent and it is silent. Not going to say that it is for sports/action photography, but it is decent.

This lens does not have the same reach as the Nikon Nikkor 85mm 1:1.8 G. Apparently, it is not a true 85mm. But that is fine because it performs well/consistently through out its zoom range.

Diffraction begins before f/8.

center sharpness (crop)
corner sharpness (crop)
slight vignetting (detail)
this lens does seem to have a little trouble resolving detail. 1:1 detail from above (crop)

It's not a macro lens and its macro performance is not stellar which is as one would expect. There is color fringing. It's looks like and is probably LoCA.

macro (detail)
color fringing of the LoCA variety
corner at 24mm/3.5
corner at 24mm/5.6
corner at 50mm/4.2
corner at 50mm/6.3
corner at 85mm/4.5
corner at 85mm/7.1

Compactness Compared

For a zoom, this lens is not too large and is a good travel companion thanks to its light weight. Here is a comparison with its bigger brother the Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-120mm 1:4 G ED VR.

this is a compact zoom

This lens is often compared to the Nikon Nikkor AF-S 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED VR.


This lens is not for infrared photography. It exhibits a weak hot spot at f/18. It will be fine if shooting wide-open or nearly so.

infrared at f/16


The bokeh does exhibit some harshness, as can be seen below.

85mm, wide-open
85mm, stopped down some
50mm, wide-open
50mm, stopped down some more


Because this is a "G" lens, it is compatible with all Nikon DSLR's.


This is an all plastic lens, however, it is very sturdy feeling. The manual focusing feels good and there is no slop in either the focus or zoom collars. It does focus beyond infinity to accommodate the UV wavelength.

This lens has a focus scale but no depth of field scale because it's a zoom. The focus scale is useful as it is not too small and has more travel than a prime but it could have more travel still. For example, the greatest indicator on it is ten feet.

The 72mm filter threads do not rotate.


Focal length 24-85mm
Maximum aperture f/3.5-4.5
Minimum aperture f/22-29
Lens construction 16 elements in 11 groups (including 1 ED glass and 3 aspherical lens elements)
Angle of view 84° - 28°30' (61° - 18°50' with Nikon DX format)
Minimum focus distance 0.38m/1.25ft. (from focal plane)
Maximum reproduction ratio 1:4.5 (0.22×)
No. of diaphragm blades 7 (rounded)
Filter-attachment size ø72mm
Diameter × length Approximately 78 × 82 mm/3.1 × 3.2 in.
Weight Approximately 465 g /16.4 oz
Price $500 (USD) (2012)


Nikon lens construction legend

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