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AF-S VR 70-200 f/2.8G IF-ED

Simon Stafford provides an exclusive preview of the second Nikkor lens to combine AF-S and VR technology.

A little more than a week after Nikon released their long awaited AF-S VR 70-200 f/2.8G IF-ED lens they have announced the introduction of a second lens in which the AF-S and VR technology is combined.

Lens size demonstration
AF-S VR 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED, with a film cassette and compact flash card for comparison of size.

The AF-S VR 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED lens, which replaces the already discontinued ‘D’ version of this 5x zoom lens, is expected to be available in the UK from mid-April.

I am very grateful to Nikon (UK) for loaning me a very early prototype, which was issued with a caveat that the design of the optics and internal mechanisms are still being refined and, therefore, I can only offer a preview of the lens. A full review will follow as soon as a final production prototype becomes available.

Lens markings
The lens specification and serial number are shown on the underside of the barrel. The serial number (No. 200001) of this example suggests this is the first production prototype of this lens.

The lens has 15 elements arranged in 13 groups. There are two aspherical elements and two ED glass elements to control the effects of chromatic aberration. A two-ring zoom, it offers a five times zoom ratio covering a useful range of focal lengths from wide-angle to medium telephoto. At 50cm the minimum focus distance is the same as the earlier ‘D’ version. As it is a G-type lens there is no aperture ring, so aperture values are set from the camera body via one of the command dials. The diaphragm has seven blades.

Lens mount
This lens is a G-type Nikkor and therefore has no aperture ring.

In a similar design to the AF-S 24-85mm f3.5-4.5G IF-ED the zoom ring of this lens is at the front, with the focus ring closest to the camera. The use of an internal focusing mechanism means that the lens does not change length due to the focusing action, and the lens hood bayonet and filter ring do not rotate. The broad zoom ring is turned counter clockwise to reduce the focal length, however, the zoom action causes the lens to extend as the focal length is increased, with maximum extension occurring at 120mm, then as the zoom is returned to the 24mm setting two sections of the extended barrel collapse inside each other.

The full lens designation is laid out around the focus distance scale, which lacks both depth-of-field markings and an infrared focusing index point.

Immediately behind the focus ring is the focus distance scale set below a window. In common with many recent Nikkor lenses there are no depth-of-field scale markings or infrared focusing index point.

Lens extended
The lens is fully extended at 120mm. The two sections of the barrel collapse up against the zoom ring as it is shifted to 24mm.
Lens switch
The two switches that control focus and VR functions.

On the left side of the barrel (as seen from the camera) there is a focus mode and VR selector switch. The lens has two focus modes, fully manual and Nikon’s A/M mode that allows instantaneous switching between AF and manual focus control. The VR function is either on or off, as this lens does not offer the Normal and Active modes of the VR 70-200mm lens.

Mindful of the caveat concerning the unfinished optics and mechanics I tried the lens briefly on an F5. Its chunky feel complimented the weight of the F5 body and made a well-balanced pair. The Silent Wave Motor provided a very swift and positive AF response. The manual focus ring is thankfully wider than the one on the AF-S 24-85mm lens, which definitely improves the handling of this lens. Unfortunately, like its predecessor Nikon have opted for a 72mm filter thread and not the more common 77mm thread of many current professional grade Nikkors. It comes supplied with a dedicated lens hood, the HB-25.

Lens with hood
The lens is supplied with the HB-25 hood.

Specification: AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED

Focal length:24 -120mm
Maximum aperture:f/3.5-5.6
Aperture range:f/3.5-5.6 to f/22
Lens construction:15 elements/13 groups (two of ED glass)
Picture angle:84°-20°30’ (135 format)
61°-13°20’ (with D1-series /D100)
Focus distance:0.5m (at all focal length settings)
Max. reproduction ratio:1:4.7
Attachment size:72mm
Hood:HB-25 (bayonet fit)
Dimensions (D/L):77mm x 94mm

Note: A G-type Nikkor series lens does not have an aperture ring, therefore, it is compatible with all exposure modes of the Nikon F5, F100, F80, F65, F60, F55, F50, F-401 series, PRONEA 600i, PRONEA S, D1 series and D100, but only the P and S modes of the F4, F90-series, F70, F-801 series and F-601M. Other cameras are not compatible.

All text and pictures Copyright © Simon Stafford
February 2003