Most manufacturers have a lens that gets bundled with their cameras to make a ‘Kit’, and Nikon is no exception, but when its full frame cameras are beginning to be accessible to the consumer market, the kit lens needs both coverage and quality to be an appropriate partner to the likes of a Nikon D600.
This review is primarily about Nikon’s AF-S Nikkor 24-85mm f3.5-4.5G ED VR, throughout we will refer to it as the ‘VR lens’. We will also talk about its predecessor the AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 24-85mm f3.5-4.5G IF-ED, which we will refer to as the IFED. The IFED is now discontinued but is still available in some places and of course second hand.
A decade has elapsed between the launches of these two lenses but the specification and performance are little changed other than that the new lens has had ‘Vibration Reduction’ built into it. Both lenses are built to cover full frame 35mm, they will also work on Nikon’s APS-C (DX) bodies giving an effective focal length range of 36mm-127.5mm. The optical designs, though similar are not the same: the IFED lens had 15 elements (including one aspherical), in 12 groups while the VR lens sports 16 elements (three of which are aspherical), in 11 groups. Both include one ED (Extra-low Dispersion) element. The old lens utilized internal focusing (IF) which has not been carried on in the new lens, but it does, as we mentioned have Vibration reduction: Nikon claim a four-stop advantage for its VRII system, allowing for hand-held use in very low light.