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Nikon AF-D 35-70mm / 2.8 vs. AF-S 24-85 / 3.5-4.5 G

Jacob Ha , Jul 25, 2005; 11:15 a.m.

Trying to decide between these two standard zooms. They are to be used on both an F100 and a D70. I know about the main differences but I am still unsure. The 35-70 is about Euro 600, the 24-85 is a little more than half that (new and imported).

35-70: - one stop faster - sharper (significantly so?) - less reach - better built - heavier - noisier and slower AF

24-85: - more distortion (even in 35-70 range?) - how much faster AF ??

Would be thankful for some comments and experiences.

How do the two lenses compare with regard to BOKEH and overall PICTURE QUALITY?

Responses

Adam Maas , Jul 25, 2005; 11:42 a.m.

The 35-70 is better built, optically much better and faster. AF should be about the same speed on an F100, courtesy of the powerful AF motor and the 35-70's wider aperture. On the D70, the 24-85 will be faster in decent light, but the 35-70 will perform better in low light (The Multi-CAM900 AF module has poor low-light performance, which the 35-70's larger aperture would alleviate).

The 35-70 will perform better wide-open, and should have somewhat better bokeh. I'd get it unless you need the extra reach of the 24-85.

Shun Cheung , Jul 25, 2005; 11:56 a.m.

Jacob, you already know the pro and cons between the two. I have both and for a "general purpose" lens when it is not that important to get the best optics on a film body, I would use the 24-85 AF-S G. If you prefer better optics and don't mind the limited zoom range, get the 35-70mm/f2.8. IMO neither focal length range works well on a DSLR, so those are for film bodies only in my book.

BTW, on the 24-85, barrel distortion is kind of bad at 24mm but it is mostly gone by 28mm and longer.

B Diamond , Jul 25, 2005; 01:01 p.m.

I use my 35-70 2.8 on both my film (FM2's/FE2's) and digital (D70) bodies, and I'm very happy with it. Razor sharp at all aperatures, great contrast, and pleasing bokeh. I disagree with the above poster about useful range on a DSLR, I find the 52-100mm range on the DSLR to make for a perfect "walk around lens" especially with the 2.8 f-stop all the way through for low light situations. The 35-70 2.8 is built like a tank, the AF is not lightening fast but plenty fast for my use, and the aperature ring (not found on the 24-85 AFS) makes the 35-70 compatible with ALL Nikon film and digital bodies. I bought mine in like new condition for $300.

Michael R. Freeman , Jul 25, 2005; 03:08 p.m.

Cameta has been selling Nikon factory demos (new, for all practical purposes) of the 24~85 AF-S on eBay for USD$220 with hood, caps, paperwork, 90 day Nikon USA and 12 month Cameta warranty. For that price this lens represents incredible value for a variable aperture AF-S zoom in this range. I bought one for my F100 a few months ago. While not up to the pro build quality of the 35~70/2.8, it is still very nicely made - definitely not cheap. AF is lightning quick (and quiet) on the F100 in good light. I have never used the 35~70, but would expect it to be a fair bit slower (relatively speaking) than the 24~85.

As Shun noted, the 24~85 has barrel distortion that will be noticeable in certain photos (architecture, straight lines at frame edges), but it disappears quickly beyond 28mm. For photos at 24mm where distortion would a critical issue, a prime like the 24/2.8 would probably be preferable to a 24~tele zoom anyway. As too overall picture quality, I have been very pleased but again haven't used the 35~70 so can't offer a direct comparison.

Michael R. Freeman , Jul 25, 2005; 03:10 p.m.

http://www.naturfotograf.com/lens_zoom_02.html#AF35-70D

http://www.naturfotograf.com/lens_zoom_01.html#AFS24-85G

Jerry Litynski , Jul 25, 2005; 05:46 p.m.

...the only "catch" is if you have to have f2.8, the AF-S Nikkor means not quite enough lens. Plus if you stop down two stops, the 'sharper' f2.8 lens works well at f5.6, where you are near f8 (or f11 at 85mm) with the AF-S zoom.

Your money, you have to pick between the two lenses.

Vasilis Apostolopoulos , Jul 26, 2005; 04:12 a.m.

I would go with the 24-85, I would be much happier with it. The 35-70 although I do not forget that it is a sharp lens etc. I do not understand which use one can find for the range. Especially on a nikon d70 the 35-70 will be 50-100.... which is completely useless. Better with a 50 1.8 that will be 75mm.... and the 24-85 which will be 35-130....

Stuart Moxham - Finland , Jul 27, 2005; 05:58 a.m.

The 35-70 is sharper and will give better quality images within its focal lengths. It is also faster and so is more useful in low light. On the D70 it will make a nice portait zoom (50-100mm) and the wide apeture will help you get a shallower DOF. As the 35-70 has a more limited focal length you will be forced to zoom with you feet more which can often be a good thing. The down side is that it is heavier sometimes you can't zoom with your feet. I often find 70mm to short for a portrait lens especialy with small children on a film body and 35mm may not always enable you to fit everything in the picture in limited spaces. For low light a fast 50mm f1.8 or even better a 1.4 is often more useful as 2.8 is not really that fast. What ever you choose it will be a compromise and if possible try to get at least a 50mm 1.8 as well as you will find it useful for available light work. As you have both film and digital bodies you also get more options from one lens.

Charles Higgins , Aug 14, 2005; 11:16 p.m.

I own and use the 24-85 and the 35-70. Both have made me a lot of money. For film, the 35-70 is a little sharper, with a useably wider aperture, less distortion, and less flexibility zoom wise. I prefer the 35-70 for film work. For digital, the 24-85 is adequately solid in construction, as sharp and contrasty as the 35-70, lighter and more compact, less prone to flare, with a wider zoom range. The 24-85's slower max./variable aperture don't affect my shooting in digital. Also, the 24-85 is spot-on focus wise, particularly in digital, and can be used MF/AF more easily than my 35-70.

Film: 35-70. Digital: 24-85.

Film +digital: 24-85.

My 2 cents.

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