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My Nikon Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR Review


Andrew L (gryphon1911)

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Andrew L (gryphon1911)

Background

I'm usually running 2 bodies and 2 smaller range zoom lenses when I want a full range of focal lengths.  Sometimes it is nice to have a good, competent do it all one-camera one-lens setup.

 

Reading about Nikon releasing the Z mount 24-200mm I was intrigued. Given the quality of the other z-mount lenses, I was hoping that this lens would be the answer to that craving for me of an all in one.

 

I've had my fair share of super zoom use with Nikon and other systems. I've been okay with them, but they have never really been something that I thought I could settle on. For Nikon DX, I've used the 18-140mm. 

 

On Fuji, I tried the 18-135 and only Micro Four Thirds, I gave the Olympus 14-150 and Panasonic 14-140 lenses a try.  The Olympus 12-100/4 was not available at the time I was testing the other m43 lenses.

All gave me a lot of convenience, but never satisfied my IQ needs.

 

When I got my Nikon Z 6, I got the kit with the 24-70/4.  This is a great little lens when you don't need f/2.8.  My shooting style lends itself more to the telephoto range, so being capped at 70mm, then needing to switch to my f-mount 70-300E AF-P (which is an excellent lens, by the way) is sometimes a hassle.

 

So the big question - does the 24-200/4-6.3 VR lens stand up to what I need or is it going to be another failure in the superzoom department?

 

Let's find out!

 

All images taken with the Nikon Z 6.

50345716091_95dacc7419_o.jpg?w=1024 1/1000, F/9, ISO 720 @ 130mm

Handling/Size/Weight

Compared to the 24-70/4, this lens is bigger, but not by much. The focus ring is closest to the mount and the zoom ring is a few inches forward of it. Unlike the S lenses, the lens markings are printed on the plastic exterior and not engraved in.

I did not notice any issues with weight or balance on the Z 6.

 

The lens does have a lock setting to lock the lens at 24mm, to prevent any kind of lens creep. I will say though, that the stiffness of the zoom ring prevented any lens creep during my outings.

Maybe as the lens ages that might be more of a possibility. As of now though, I've yet to use the lock switch.

There are no external controls either, so VR and manual focus only are set through menu options, but you do have full time manual focus override just by using the focus ring - or an Nikon now calls it the multi-function ring, as it can be re-programmed to do other things.

I liked the way it felt in my hands. Big enough to be able to zoom and focus comfortably, but not obnoxiously large.

50365722981_a28307b173_o.jpg?w=1024 NOVA! The White German Shepherd
1/1000, F/7.1, ISO 140 @ 200mm

Weather Sealed

Surprising to me that a lens of this level is weather sealed, but it is splash and dust resistant. Given the price tag, though it should be - coming in at release at $850.

I've used it in light drizzle with no issues, but have not had opportunity or misfortune (depending on how you look at it) to use the lens in any other harsher weather conditions.

50275597318_829e9b502e_o.jpg?w=1024 Taken through display window glass
1/200, F/6.3, ISO 2500 @ 200mm

Image Quality

This is my subjective opinion, but I do not think that the 24-200 is an equal to the 24-70/4. Straight out of camera, there is a bite that seems to be missing from the images that the 24-70 delivers.

Now, get those images into Lightroom and we can rectify that situation.  I notice that these images from the 24-200 need a slightly different working than other lenses.   I have to use vastly different sharpening settings (increase by 10-20 points from my usual baseline of 50) and sharp mask settings in Lightroom (reduce the masking from my usual 75 to 35-40).

 

There are other reviews out there that compared the IQ head to head between those 2 lenses and they stated that the center IQ is basically identical and that the 24-70 is slightly, but pixel peepingly better at the edges.

As we do here, there are sample images for you to review and you can decide if the quality coming out of this lens is sufficient for you.  I don't do lab tests and it is possible that there is lens quality variations that we have to factor in.

50283468178_674a80b5f8_o.jpg?w=1024 1/200, F/8, ISO 125 @ 160mm

 

50365026398_f0f5938908_o.jpg?w=681 interior handheld
125, F/4, ISO 200 @ 24mm

Focusing

I find the Z mount lenses good to excellent in AF speed. The Z 24-200mm is excellent, but not the best out there in speed. When shooting street, I have never missed a shot because the lens was too slow to acquire.

Accuracy is also there. No complaints from me, even wide open.

50284148286_8f874a930e_o.jpg?w=681 1/320, F/11, ISO 100 @ 79mm

VR

This is where things get a little testy for me. I'm not sure if some of the IQ issues I have are because the lens is not as good optically as the 24-70, or if the compromises made to make the 24-200 with VR and IBIS in camera are at fault.

I have a feeling that the VR on the 24-200, especially at the 100mm and longer is not quite as good as I would want it to be.

 

Again, this is a gut feeling I'm getting and not a quantitative thing. I have no metrics and I'm not a metrics guy. I'm a real world use person and I base all my decisions on how something actually works and what it produces in actual scenarios, not controlled environments and lab tests.

50356980437_9cfb626338_o.jpg?w=1024 The Princess Kylo
1/500, F/6.3, ISO 100 @ 200mm

Bottom Line

To be 100% honest with you, I really like what I see coming out of Tamron in the 28-200mm f/2.8-5.6 lens that they released for Sony e-mount. Yes, the f/2.8-5.6 aperture range is enticing to some, but the sample images seem to be even better than the Z 24-200.

 

I was looking at that hard and thinking that if the Tamron were out at the same time as the Nikon version, I would probably have picked up the Tamron instead. Some people think that 28mm is not wide enough, but I love 28mm. When I was shooting old legacy f-mount D lenses - the zooms all started at 28mm or 35mm...so no heartburn from me there. On top of that, I also have the Tamron 17-35/2.8-4 if/when I need wider than 28 - which is a rare occasion.

 

Now, listen though - this is the best superzoom that Nikon has ever made and some may dare say one of the best superzooms ever made. I'm not going to take that leap...but for convenience it is hard to beat and IQ can be coaxed out of it in post processing.

If a one lens solution for street and general photography is what you are looking for, this Nikon Z24-200mm might be your ticket.

 

I'm not much of a landscape photographer, so I found that the quality I was getting was not something I liked. remember, though...take my advice on landscape photography with a grain of salt. That is not my expertise/fortay...and I probably should not be trusted in that arena.

 

Even with all this, I'm still not 100% sure that this lens is a keeper for me.  With the state of the world - with COVID and all - it is not like there are events that I normally shoot going on that I can run this lens through.  I just need to be content with the subject matter that I have.

 

Some may balk at the aperture range and constant f/2.8 or f/4 might be what you need.    I'm looking to the primes in those low light situations.   Where the light is good, I wind that the f/4-6.3 is just fine.

As always, if you have an opportunity to test one out before purchase, do so.  This is just my one opinion from my use and may not fit your use cases.

Edited by Andrew L (gryphon1911)
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Background I'm usually running 2 bodies and 2 smaller range zoom lenses when I want a full range of focal lengths.  Sometimes it is nice to have a good, competent do it all one-camera one-lens se

Great review! Thanks for posting this, Andrew. 

Very nice - real life - review, Andrew. Your findings concur with others I've read on the web. Initially I was interested in this lens for a one-lens solution for holidays. But I'm spoilt by the quali

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Luc de Schepper

Very nice - real life - review, Andrew. Your findings concur with others I've read on the web. Initially I was interested in this lens for a one-lens solution for holidays. But I'm spoilt by the quality of the excellent Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 and Nikkor Z 24-70mm f4 S which imo are optically equally good. I've read and seen other reviews of the 24-200mm which clearly show corner weakness and aberrations. Of course it is not to be expected this lens to be (almost) perfect). Btw; to me it looks the markings on my two S-lenses 24-70mm f4 and 50mm f1.8 are also printed not engraved. Thanks for posting, I hope to see more content posted here by you.

Edited by Luc de Schepper
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Andrew L (gryphon1911)

Some additional images with the Z 6 and 24-200.

 

50382643061_5e4dc9af6b_k.thumb.jpg.553a7b72b3f80b5d884fae8c3f294f52.jpg

 

50520199833_e2e7886ad7_k.thumb.jpg.23c87efb7475e6ff930ca6f35f2354b3.jpg

 

50576680753_dcaa102086_k.thumb.jpg.81179e8a7d8e60829bb97b0dac911097.jpg

 

50577544377_92fddeebac_k.thumb.jpg.d69edf33fb0b01c90392003758ed299e.jpg

 

 

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