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Archive 2005 · Nikon 24-120 VR vs. Tamron 28-105 f2.8

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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Nikon 24-120 VR vs. Tamron 28-105 f2.8

About a week ago I bought the Nikon 24-120mm VR lens, thinking it would be a decent upgrade to my old Tamron 28-105mm F2.8 lens that I always use. The salesman at B&H assured me that the Nikon lens would be better quality than the Tamron. Yesterday, I returned the Nikon 24-120mm VR lens.

Turns out overall, the Tamron is still a much better performer especially in low-light at the telephoto end. The only time the vibration reduction on the Nikon gave sharper images compared to the Tamron was at 24mm f4 in low light at less than 1/15s. Even in bright light at smaller apertures, the Tamron was still much sharper.

Here's some 100% crops of the focal point all at 1/160s, f/9, 200ISO, 70mm, Nikon D70 body, handheld.

Nikon 24-120mm VR with VR off.

Nikon 24-120mm VR with VR on.

Tamron 28-105 f2.8

In other tests even at f2.8, the Tamron was still sharper than the Nikon.
Another criticism against the Tamron that I've seen is that it's got slow AF performance. Nobody ever posts actual quantitative comparisons of AF speed, but when I timed the Tamron 28-105 side by side with the Nikon 24-120, the AF speed difference was negligible if noticable at all. Furthermore, the Tamron was more accurate in low light. The Nikon was focus hunting on numerous occasions, and even gave up a couple times.

The good things about the Nikon 24-120 VR are that it's smaller/lighter, bigger zoom range, doesn't block the on-body AF assist lamp, and it's got a quiet autofocus system. But none of those things really make up for not having sharp photos. What's the big deal with silent autofocus anyway? The only reason I can see this being an issue is when shooting wildlife or spying on movie stars.
The vibration reduction is a nice feature as well, but it did not make up for the slow apertures at all.

Most of you will probably recommend the Nikon 28-70 f2.8, which I have not tested, but I don't think it's worth sacrificing the zoom range. In looking at my crop above from the Tamron, does anything get sharper than that? Or would I need 12 megapixels to notice?

Aug 01, 2005 at 03:37 PM

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