Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Ken Rockwell Reviews and the Nikon AF-S 24-120mm f3.5-5.6 VR

If you are around the photography community for the little while, no doubt you would have heard of Ken Rockwell.  Some of us remember the controversial "reviews" that he did and had some good laughs.  Ken back then (not sure if he still does now), would write reviews without actually having any of the products he reviewed on hand, and did it basically from spec sheets.  For this reason, many people do not trust his "reviews" or take them seriously.

The other day I was searching for information on the Nikkor AF-S 24-120mm f3.5-5.6 VR lens, and found Ken has a review for this lens, and he listed it as one of the 10 worst lenses.  Basically, as he puts it, this lens is so soft it's good for only 4x6 prints.  There are no real images from this lens on his review (I mean, can you really review a lens without providing sample pictures, especially when it's so bad?)  On the other hand, he praised the Nikkor 18-200mm VR lens as "life changing", and we all know that the 18-200mm VR lens does not win any awards in the sharpness department.

I shot with this lens today on the ancient D70, and I could not disagree with him more. For sure, it's a slow lens, just like the 18-200mm VR is, and is meant to be a convenience lens that you take with you on vacations, casual shooting, family pictures, etc.  I am not saying this is the best and sharpest lens is the world, but it's designed with a compromise, just like the 18-200mm VR is.  I highly doubt the optical quality is any different between the these two lenses.  From the pictures I have got from the AF-S 24-120mm f3.5-5.6 VR, it's a decent lens.  Nothing like it's only good for 4x6  inch prints.  In fact, I have not used any lens that bad in my life, however cheap they are.

I highly doubt Ken used this lens more than once and probably just shot a few pictures indoors, otherwise why is there no sample pictures in the review, and there are samples for the "life changing" 18-200mm VR?  If you are considering this lens, I would suggest actually borrow/rent one and decide for yourself.

Nikon D70 & AF-S 24-120mm f3.5-5.6 VR, 120mm @ f6.3. click for larger.

Nikon D70 & AF-S 24-120mm f3.5-5.6 VR, Wide Open at 120mm @ f5.6. click for larger.

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100% crop from picture above.

Nikon D70 & AF-S 24-120mm f3.5-5.6 VR, at 62mm @ f8.

100% Crop from previous picture.

9 comments:

  1. Ken Rockwell's reviews need to be taken with a large grain of salt, and I will always read a couple of other reviews before forming an opinion similar to his. His site does have some very useful information, especially for Leica, but his biggest problem is the very arrogant way in which he writes and makes him self out to be the guru he isn't.
    With regards to the Nikon lenses, ultimately the 18-200mm is a much more useful lens than the 24-120mm for DX, but now that I have gone full frame I might relook at it as they are quite cheap used. I have both a Nikon 24-85mm f2.8-4 and a Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 which are both good, but both VR and AF-S are very useful features.

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    1. Sometimes I wonder if Ken actually used the gear before the review. The 24-120 VR is a good choice for full frame. Ultimately, the 24-120mm f4 VR is a much better lens but at a much higher price. It has longer reach than the Canon 24-105mm f4. I might buy a used D700 just so that I can use this lens :)

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  2. Good to know.. I only recently started to look at lenses and his reviews are usually at the top of every Google search.

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  3. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    woww amazing tone picture
    thank you :)

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  4. OMG youre using a full frame lens on a cropped sensor.

    It's a terrible lens for FF.... but for cropped sensors (like your D70), you are only taking the sharpest center portion of the lens. The 50% portion of the image that is cropped is the blurry area ken was talking about, and distortion is a bitch to correct in postprocessing.

    A full frame third party Vivitar lens shot at f/8 in broad daylight will look just as good. Try stopping it down.

    If you have never shot primes you will not know the difference of how a sharp lens makes your image pop.

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    Replies
    1. You are implying he's comparing a full crop to a DX-crop, he's not. Rockwell implies he used it on DX-cameras as well, so the argument in this article is sound. Also you don't need a fucking prime to make your images "pop".

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  5. Guy has saved me from making lots of mistakes on lenses and camera bodies. He may not be everyone's favorite, but I find him refreshingly candid and honest with his views/opinions. People bash him for making a bit of money IF they click through his link, but other sites do it as well..namely DPreview.

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  6. Guy has saved me from making lots of mistakes on lenses and camera bodies. He may not be everyone's favorite, but I find him refreshingly candid and honest with his views/opinions. People bash him for making a bit of money IF they click through his link, but other sites do it as well..namely DPreview.

    ReplyDelete