Nikkor Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR lens
While the Nikkor Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR isn’t particularly fast at longer focal lengths, it’s an impressive lens for its type. And while it may not please perfectionists, it’s a good match for the Nikon Z5 camera and caters very well for travellers and family photographers who want a single lens that can be used for a wide range of subject types.
Relatively light and easy to operate as well as being protected by basic weatherproofing, it has the longest zoom range of Nikon’s FX Z-mount lens range so far. (The Nikkor Z 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 is DX mount only.)
The Nikkor Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR is one of two kit lenses currently offered with Nikon’s latest full-frame mirrorless camera, the Z5. Spanning an 8.3x zoom range, it weighs only 570 grams and features a dust- and drip-resistant design. This lens can also be used on the DX-format Z 50 camera, where its range extends to a 35mm equivalent 300mm focal length. Built-in optical vibration reduction provides up to five stops of shake correction and can work in tandem with the camera’s IBIS.
Side view of the Nikkor Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR without the bundled lens hood. (Source: Nikon.)
The optical design of this lens consists of 19 elements in 15 groups and includes two aspherical lens elements, two ED glass lens elements and one aspherical ED glass element with Nikon’s ARNEO (anti-reflective) coating. A fluorine coating has been applied to the front element to repel dust, water droplets, grease or dirt and make the lens easy to keep clean.
This diagram shows the positions of the exotic elements in the optical design of the lens. (Source: Nikon.)
Autofocusing is driven by a stepping motor (STM), which means it’s fast and quiet enough to ensure minimal noise intrusion while video is being recorded and focus breathing is very low. Focusing accuracy is also better than AF-S lenses.
This lens also has an electromagnetic diaphragm mechanism which provides highly accurate adjustments of diaphragm blades during auto exposure measurements. It’s particularly useful during continuous shooting.
This diagram shows the positions of the weatherproof seals in the lens. (Source: Nikon.)
Weather-resistant sealing has been installed at all places where moisture or dust might gain entry and the lens has a rubber ring around the edge where the end of the barrel connects with the mounting plate. The lens is supplied with the LC-67B Lens Cap (front cap), LF-N1 Lens Cap (rear cap), HB-93 Lens Hood and CL-C1 Lens Case.
Who’s it For?
Light and compact and encompassing an 8.3x zoom range, the Nikkor Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR lens is ideal for travellers and makes a great choice for anyone who wants a single ‘walkaround’, all purpose lens. This is one of the reasons it is offered as a kit lens with the Z5 entry-level ‘full frame’ camera.
With the ability to cover a wide range of focal length settings, from wide-angle to telephoto, users can tackle subjects as diverse as landscapes and cityscapes, individual and group portraits, street photography and sports and wildlife. VR stabilisation offers up to five stops of shake correction and a weather resistant design makes the lens ideal for outdoor use.
It may be worth noting that there’s no ‘S’ in the lens designation, indicating this is a consumer lens, rather than a professional one. But from a practical viewpoint and performance-wise, it rises above expectations and fully justifies our ‘Recommended’ award.
Build and Ergonomics
For a kit lens, the Nikkor Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR lens is solidly built with a metal mounting plate and tough polycarbonate barrels. A large zoom ring is located at the front of the outer barrel. It’s almost 65 mm wide and carries a broad (40 mm wide) collar of rubber-like ribbing which is moderately thick and provides an excellent grip.
Zooming requires a rotary motion and going from the 24mm position to 200mm extends two inner barrels, adding approximately 65 mm to the overall length. It’s a smooth motion with no wobbling. The outer barrel carries index marks for the 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 70mm, 105mm, 135mm and 200mm positions, which are lined up against a white mark on the 7 mm wide fixed section of the lens immediately behind the zoom ring.
Extended-range zoom lenses are seldom fast and you quickly lose lens speed as you zoom in, as shown in the table below. Why apertures beyond f/22 are available is puzzling, since diffraction is likely to have compromised resolution enough to make smaller apertures inadvisable.
|Maximum aperture||Minimum aperture|
Behind the fixed section of the outer barrel is a multi-function control ring, which by default is set for manual focus adjustment. It can be re-programmed to control another function, assigned by the camera, such as aperture, ISO or exposure compensation.
Re-programming the ring will make manual over-ride during AF impossible. And since there’s no mechanical coupling between the focus ring and the internal focus elements, manual focusing is sometimes challenging.
The only other control on the outer barrel is a zoom lock, which is located just beyond the 200mm focal length mark on the fixed section of the barrel. We didn’t need to use it during our tests since there was no slippage when the lens was carried facing downwards. But it could be handy as the lens changes with additional use.
One nice feature of this lens is the inclusion of a lens hood, which is often an optional extra with kit lenses. The petal-shaped hood is easy to fit and can be reversed on the lens for transport.
We tested this lens on the Nikon Z5 body, which is reviewed separately (INSERT LINK). Our Imatest tests were conducted with all the in-camera corrections in the camera enabled but we recorded losslessly-compressed NEF.RAW files at the same time as the JPEGs so we could check for aberrations like distortions, vignetting and chromatic aberration.
The results were quite impressive for a kit lens, showing the review lens to be capable of meeting expectations for the camera’s 24-megapixel sensor around the centre of the frame and coming acceptably close towards the peripheries, despite some softening at wider apertures with all focal length settings. The graph below shows the results of our tests.
Lateral chromatic aberration is corrected automatically in the camera – and it’s also easily corrected when raw files are converted into editable formats. The graph below shows lateral chromatic aberration remained well within the lower portion of the ‘negligible’ band for all focal length and aperture settings. (The red line marks the border between ‘negligible’ and ‘low’ CA.)
We found no obvious evidence of coloured fringing along high-contrast boundaries in JPEG images and also none when we examined uncorrected raw files recorded simultaneously. This indicates chromatic aberration isn’t an issue with this lens.
Similarly, both vignetting and rectilinear distortion are automatically corrected by the camera’s JPEG processing so we had to examine raw files to check whether either was present. Some vignetting could be seen in uncorrected raw files, especially at the 24mm focal length, where there was obvious corner darkening. It was less visible between 50mm and 105mm but could be seen by the 200mm focal length.
It’s common to see rectilinear distortion in kit zoom lenses so some degree of distortion was expected in uncorrected files. While severe barrel distortion was seen in uncorrected raw files at 24mm, it was relatively low by 35mm and by 50mm slight pincushion distortion became visible, although it didn’t increase much as the lens was zoomed in.
The review lens was quite resistant to both ghosting and flare, although at 200mm, some veiling flare appeared when shots were taken into the sun. Unlike the other aberrations, flare isn’t corrected automatically in the camera, so this is a significant tick in the lens’s favour.
Autofocusing was surprisingly fast for a consumer-level lens and also consistently accurate across the zoom range. The system even performed well through glass, despite the lack of lens speed at longer focal lengths. Focus tracking was very effective, including during burst shots.
Bokeh at the widest apertures was quite pleasing when backgrounds were evenly-lit. But bright highlights in the background were usually outlined, a common occurrence in extended-zoom lenses.
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Picture angle: 84 degrees to 12 degrees 20 minutes
Minimum aperture: f/22-f/36
Lens construction: 19 elements in 15 groups (including 2 aspherical, 2 ED, 1 aspherical ED element with an ARNEO coat plus a fluorine-coated front element)
Lens mount: Nikon Z mount
Diaphragm Blades: 7 (circular aperture)
Weather resistance: Dust and drip resistant
Focus drive: Internal focusing with stepping motor drive
Stabilisation: Lens shift using voice coil motors
Minimum focus: 50 cm at 24mm; 70 cm at 200mm
Maximum magnification: 0.28x
Filter size: 67 mm
Dimensions (Diameter x L): 76.5 x 114 mm
Weight: Approx. 570 grams
Standard Accessories: Front and end caps, HB-93 petal-shaped lens hood, soft lens pouch
Distributor: Nikon Australia,1300 366 499
Based on JPEG files captured with the Nikon Z5 camera.
Vignetting at 24mm f/4.0.
Vignetting at 50mm f/5.6.
Vignetting at 105mm f/6.3.
Vignetting at 200mm f/6.3.
Rectilinear distortion at 24mm.
Rectilinear distortion at 50mm.
Rectilinear distortion at 105mm.
Rectilinear distortion at 200mm.
24mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/500 second at f/8.
200mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/640 second at f/8.
Close-up at 24mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/160 second at f/10.
Close-up at 200mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/250 second at f/10.
Close-up at 200mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/500 second at f/6.3.
Highlight outlining in backlit close-up at 200mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/125 second at f/6.3.
Highlight outlining in close-up at 200mm focal length, ISO 360, 1/200 second at f/6.3.
Absence of flare with strong contre-jour lighting; 24mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/800 second at f/14.
Slight veiling flare at 200mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/2500 second at f/6.3.
Strong backlighting at 24mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/500 second at f/11.
200mm focal length, ISO 160, 1/200 second at f/6.3.
67mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/640 second at f/7.1.
Action shot; 200mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/500 second at f/6.3.
Action shot; 200mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/640 second at f/7.1.
Shot through glass: 200mm focal length, ISO 500, 1/640 second at f/6.3.
24mm, ISO 200, 1/25 second at f/9.
100mm focal length, ISO 220, 1/125 second at f/6.3.
32mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/100 second at f/7.1.
Close-up; 165mm focal length, ISO 1000, 1/200 second at f/6.3.
Close-up; 1650mm focal length, ISO 1600, 1/200 second at f/6.3.
Additional image samples can be found with our review of the Nikon Z5 camera.
RRP: AU$1599; US$900
- Build: 9.0
- Handling: 8.5
- Image quality: 8.5
- Autofocusing: 9.0
- Versatility: 9.0