Nikkor Z 24-200mm F/4-6.3 VR Lens Review: The Best Ultrazoom Lens

Nikkor Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR Review

Ultra-versatile or so-called ultrazoom has always been and will be famous among travel photographers, those who do not like or do not have the opportunity to carry a lot of camera equipment with them. These lenses can replace many lenses and cover almost all the required focal lengths.

However, everything would be fine if it were not for the weak aperture ratio of such lenses. The Nikkor Z Ultrazoom was expected by many because they wanted so much to see that very advantage of the new mount. Did it work or not? This review will test the NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR Lens in detail. So let’s get acquainted.

The NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR is the first non-S Line full-frame Nikkor Z lens. The lens body is almost entirely made of plastic. Nevertheless, the novelty has inherited some of the features of the lenses of the top line. First of all, it is a programmable electronic focusing ring, which can be assigned to control aperture, exposure compensation, or ISO. And also, the base of the mount is made of metal and has a sealing rubber insert on the flange, and the lens is protected from moisture and dust.

NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR Review

Despite the ultra-wide range of focal lengths, the lens is very compact and lightweight. It is only 114 mm long, 76.5 mm in diameter, and weighs 570 grams. The filter diameter is 67 mm.

The zoom ring has a rubberized coating; the travel is smooth and moderately tight. The lens does not unfold spontaneously; nevertheless, there is a zoom lock on the body. There are no more switches on the case.

Nikkor Z 24-200mm F/4-6.3 VR Zoom Lock
Zoom Lock of Nikkor Z 24-200mm F/4-6.3 VR

Nikon engineers equipped the NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR with optical stabilization, as evidenced by the VR abbreviation in the name. According to the manufacturer, the efficiency of the system is up to 4.5 steps. As far as you know, all Nikon Z full-frame cameras are equipped with matrix stabilization, but how effectively the two stabilizers work together is not reported. Below we will test this aspect and try to find out the actual efficiency of the system.

The optical design of the NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR consists of 19 elements in 15 groups. There are two extra-low dispersion (ED) glass elements, one aspherical extra-low dispersion (ED) glass element, two aspherical elements, ARNEO coated elements, and a fluorine-coated front element.

Optical Design of Nikkor Z 24-200mm F/4-6.3 VR
Optical Design of Nikkor Z 24-200mm F/4-6.3 VR

The minimum focusing distance is from 50 cm at the wide-angle to 70 cm at the long end. Focusing is silent; when the length is changed, the front element does not move.

focusing distance of Nikkor Z 24-200mm F/4-6.3 VR Lens
Focusing Distance

The diaphragm, as the name implies, is variable. The minimum values ​​are F/22–36. The diaphragm design has a rounded opening and consists of 7 blades.

Nikkor Z 24-200mm F/4-6.3 VR Review

NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR Review

Let’s start our testing with sharpness. For the test, we will use the standard test world. So, let’s analyze the picture quality at a wide angle of 24 mm.

24 mm:

Sharpness at 24 mm

At the maximum open aperture in the center, there is an entirely insignificant decrease in sharpness; then, up to about f/11, the center is sharp, which cannot be said about the periphery. In general, a softening of the picture is noticeable at all values; the maximum sharpness is in the range of f/8-11.

70 mm:

Sharpness at 70 mm

At a focal length of 70 mm, the center is immediately sharp; the periphery also looks a little sharper. Starting at f/16, there is a general decrease in sharpness under the influence of diffraction.

105 mm:

Sharpness at 105mm

105mm shows a similar picture in quality, but the de-sharpness due to diffraction is offset by one stop. Now softening starts at f/22.

200 mm:

Sharpness at 200 mm

The 200mm focal length gives this lens the sharpest possible peripheral sharpness. In the center, sharpness starts at the widest aperture of f/6.3. The general drop in sharpness begins after f/22.

In general, the lens does not please with detail on the periphery, and it is better to avoid shooting at the maximum closed apertures. However, one should not forget that we are dealing with a super universal. This is normal behavior for such lenses.

Geometry

Geometry

NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR is equipped with three aspherical lenses, which, among other things, are designed to reduce distortion. Nevertheless, at the widest angle of 24 mm, we can observe significant barrel distortion, almost completely corrected inside the chamber.

However, due to artificial adjustments, we can follow that part of the image is cropped out. Thus, interpolation occurs, which, in turn, reduces the final image quality.

Deterioration is insignificant, and it is impossible to assess it with the naked eye, but I advise turning off the intra-camera correction when shooting at 24 mm.

24 mm:

barrel distortion at 24 mm

The focal length of 70mm already shows pincushion distortion. Distortion is relatively small:

Distortion at 70 mm

With a further increase in focal length, the effect of pincushion distortion decreases but does not disappear.

105 mm:

distortion at 105 mm

200 mm:

distortion at 200 mm

Chromatic Aberration

There are two types of chromatic aberrations – longitudinal and transverse. Longitudinal aberrations are typical only for open apertures throughout the entire field of the frame. In contrast, transverse aberrations appear at all the aperture values, as a rule, closer to the edge of the frame. For the longitudinal XA test, I use the Datacolor SpyderLENSCAL calibration target, and for the transverse ones, a special test.

Elements with ultra-low dispersion are used to reduce chromatic aberration in the optical design of lenses. There are three of them. So, let’s see. On the left – longitudinal, on the right – transverse.

24 mm:

Chromatic Aberration 24 mm

70 mm:

Chromatic Aberration 70 mm

105 mm:

Chromatic Aberration 105 mm

200 mm:

Chromatic Aberration 200 mm

Chromatic aberration is negligible but noticeable at all apertures. We can observe the same thing at other focal lengths.

Overall, the indicator is excellent. Although we observe chromatic aberration at all diaphragms, they are minimal. Plus, do not forget that such distortions are effectively corrected in-camera and manually in any RAW converter.

Vignetting

At 24mm f/4-6.3, there is a noticeable vignette that disappears completely after f/9. When shooting at a narrower angle, the vignetting effect is reduced. Starting from about 70 mm, vignetting is almost invisible even at the maximum apertures.

Glare Protection

NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR Glare Protection

And here NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR is very pleasing. The lens has excellent protection against backlight and sidelight.

It was complicated to find the conditions under which there was a decrease in contrast or a noticeable flare in the frame. Nevertheless, at a certain angle and only at the most closed apertures, you can get such glare.

50 mm:

Glare at 50 mm

200 mm:

Glare at 200 mm

Notice how well the lens handles near-direct light. Not every lens can boast this behavior.

Bokeh

Bokeh Effect

Our hero is far from the brightest representative of lenses capable of drawing beautiful bokeh. Nevertheless, let’s take a look at what he is capable of.

24 mm:

Bokeh at 24 mm

As you might expect, 24mm does not give nice bokeh.

But 70 mm looks much more interesting:

Bokeh at 70 mm

Focal lengths from about 105mm already show beautiful bokeh with large light discs.

Generally, at these focal lengths, the NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR will perform well in portrait photography, which we will test in our future reviews.

105 mm:

Bokeh at 105 mm

200 mm:

Bokeh at 200 mm

Stabilization

Let me remind you that NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR is equipped with optical stabilization. I tested the lens on a Nikon Z6 camera, which is fitted with matrix stabilization.

You cannot disable the work of optical or matrix stabilization separately. Either both stabilization systems or none of them works simultaneously. Thus, I could not find out the actual efficiency of the optical stabilization system, but we tested the overall efficiency, and it is impressive.

24 mm:

Image Stabilization at 24 mm

At a focal length of 24 mm, the stabilizer shows 4.5 stops of efficiency, which the manufacturer claims. But at the maximum focal length of 200 mm, the results are entirely different.

200 mm:

Image Stabilization at 24 mm

Here we see an incredible six stops. It seems that optical stabilization is included in the work only at a long focal length. The effectiveness of the stabilization is outstanding.

Astigmatism and Comatic Aberration

These optical aberrations are especially pronounced in the form of distortion of points of light in the frame. Coma is typical for the periphery of the frame and decreases towards the center, and is also corrected by the aperture.

Astigmatism is noticeable, as a rule, closer to the center of the frame and at all values ​​of the aperture.

Coma on the left, astigmatism on the right.

24 mm:

Coma and Astigmatism - 24 mm
Coma and Astigmatism – 24 mm

70 mm:

Coma and Astigmatism - 70 mm
Coma and Astigmatism – 70 mm

105 mm:

Coma and Astigmatism - 105 mm
Coma and Astigmatism – 105 mm

200 mm:

Coma and Astigmatism - 200 mm
Coma and Astigmatism – 200 mm

Comatic aberrations are noticeable only at a focal length of 24 mm. When you stop after about f/8, the effect almost disappears. Astigmatism is not typical for this lens, and as the focal length increases, the coma almost completely disappears.

NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR for Video

NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR for Video

Due to its compactness and wide range of focal lengths, the lens will be attractive for travel photographers and videographers.

The compactness allows the NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR to be mounted on a gimbal without having a powerful electronic stabilizer.

I tested the lens with the Z6 camera on the Zhiyun Weebil S gimbal, and it did a great job. Let’s take another look at the stabilization efficiency and compare it with the picture on the electronic stabilizer.

In the test above, I did not soften my gait; the shooting was carried out at a wide angle of 24 mm. Of course, the picture is not smooth; such a stabilization system results are pretty expected.

Now let’s look at the picture when shooting on the Weebil S Gimbal:

In addition to mounting on a Steadicam, optical and matrix stabilization worked in this example. As a result, we observe a smooth and perfect picture.

In addition, we are pleased with the satisfactory operation of optical and matrix stabilization in conjunction with the Steadicam.

Autofocus Motor Noise

An important indicator for operators is the speed and noise of the autofocus motor. If speed is more related to the camera system, then the noise is directly related to the lens.

The autofocus motor is completely silent. In the background, you can hear a constant monotonous noise – this is the noise from the cooling system of the LED device used during the shooting. If the speed of work seemed slow, let me remind you that in Nikon Z6, the refocusing speed is regulated in the settings.

Breathing Focus

Another important indicator for video production is the change in scale when refocusing.

mdf/infinity:

mdf/infinity

As you can see, the scale changes are pretty minor at only 2 percent. This is an excellent indicator for such a versatile lens.

Variofocality

When the focal length is changed, when the focus is on the subject and is fixed, the focusing distance for most lenses changes – this is called varifocal. The absence of this effect is called parfocality. This parameter is rarely paid attention to, but professional videographers very much appreciate it.

Changing the Focal Length From 24 mm to 200 mm:

Variofocality

Changing the Focal Length From 200 mm to 24 mm:

Variofocality

When changing the scale from 24 to 200 mm and vice versa, the focusing distance does not change, which pleasantly surprised me.

Photo Gallery NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR

Conclusion

It must be said that the NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR lens “does not have enough stars from the sky.” Unfortunately, we don’t see any incredible image quality here. Reduced sharpness and lower aperture are the compromises we have to make if we want to have such a versatile and compact lens in our arsenal. Nevertheless, in terms of sharpness, there is no crime here; everything is at a reasonably high level. But we always want more. 🙂 And we get more in other characteristics.

The minimal manifestation of chromatic aberrations, the almost complete absence of coma and astigmatism, excellent glare protection, and resistance to backlight were very pleasing. The noticeable barrel distortion at wide-angle brought some disappointment, but this is again a drawback of such lenses. And the excellent performance of the stabilization system is what largely compensates for our low aperture ratio.

For video shooting, the NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR is good in almost all respects. Compact, fast, quiet, and rare at all – minimal focus, breathing, and parfocality.

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Can I recommend this lens? Yes, in my opinion, the NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR is the best ultrazoom lens available in the market. This lens has an excellent balance of pros and cons and greater compactness compared to similar lenses installed through FTZ.

Unfortunately, nothing like this exists for the Z mount at the moment. The choice is limited – either we use an FTZ adapter or the native NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR.

Nikkor Z 24-200mm F/4-6.3 VR

This review will test the NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR Lens in detail. So let's get acquainted. Ultra-versatile or so-called ultrazoom has always been and will be famous among travel photographers, those who do not like or do not have the opportunity to carry a lot of camera equipment with them. These lenses can replace many lenses and cover almost all the required focal lengths.

Product SKU: NKZ24200

Product Brand: Nikon

Product Currency: USD

Product Price: 897.85

Price Valid Until: 2021-08-28

Product In-Stock: InStock

Editor's Rating:
4.8