High Falls, Pigeon River

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I am planning to buy a AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, but I saw a second hand 35-70 f/2.8 AF in a store nearby. I did some research and I stumbled upon Ken Rockwell's 35-70 review, in which he states:

This 35-70mm f/2.8 AF-D was Nikon's flagship professional midrange zoom of the 1990s, and has pretty much the same optical performance as the newest 24-70mm f/2.8 AFS, with a lot less size, weight and cost.

As some people here have noted, Ken Rockwell's reviews are sometimes not that accurate, so before investing on that 35-70, I want to get some more professional opinion. I plan to get either the 24-70 or 35-70 for studio shots, because my 18-105 does not yield the sharpness I want without post-processing.

Is the 35-70 AF at par or at least close to 24-70's sharpness or image quality? I'm primarily concerned with that, although it would also be nice to know about AF speed.

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2 Answers 2

If you believe Bjorn Rorslett archive page here the AF-Nikkor 35-70 mm f/2.8 D is an extremely good lens, and the AFS-Nikkor 24-70 mm f/2.8 ED G FX is utterly stunningly gloriously marvellous. ie the old lens is extremely good, but the new lens is about incomparable. This is possibly the most glowing technically well supported lens review I have ever seen. Reading t makes you absolutely sure that you want to own the lens :-).

His summary specifically answers your question , provided that you believe him.
He says:

  • I have used several randomly acquired samples of this lens and they all have behaved in a very similar fashion. However, some users complain about severe light fall-off or field curvature. Since these reports are at variance with what I could observe, there is always the possibility of QC issues.

    But personally I consider the new 24-70/2.8 Nikkor to be the reference for all other midrange zoom lenses.

    There is absolutely no doubt that the new lens trounces the old favourite, the 28-70 AFS, in terms of sheer image quality.

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Application dependent, the "economist" appraises the added utility for every dollar of added cost as per the Law of Diminishing Returns, and you should never, moreover, neglect to factor the deferred compounding, and likely re-sale or depreciation, again, depending on what you're doing and how bad you need those features that push the diminishing returns envelope.

So that's the long way of saying I'd personally be more likely to pick up the 35-70 f2.8.

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