Nikon 24-120mm f/4 vs. Tamron 35-150mm f/2.8-4: The Comprehensive Showdown for Photographic Prowess

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Are you on the lookout for a versatile and high-performance lens to elevate your photography game? Whether you’re a seasoned professional or an aspiring enthusiast, choosing the right lens can significantly impact the quality and range of your work.

In this comprehensive comparison, we put the Nikon 24-120mm f/4 and Tamron 35-150mm f/2.8-4 head-to-head, exploring their strengths and weaknesses across various photography genres.

We’ll dive into the nitty-gritty details, from optical performance and autofocus speed to bokeh quality and weather sealing.

After reading this article, you will have a thorough comprehension of which lens best suits your creative needs and can help you capture stunning images in diverse scenarios such as landscapes, portraits, and low-light situations.

So, buckle up and get ready to discover which of these two powerhouse lenses will take your photography to new heights.


Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm F4G IF-ED VRTamron 35-150mm F2.8-4 Di VC OSD Nikon F (FX)
Max ApertureF4.0F2.8-4
Aperture TypeFixedVariable
Focal Range (mm)24-12035-150
Mount TypeNikon F (FX)Nikon F (FX)
Max Format35mm FF35mm FF
Zoom Ratio (X)54.3

Comparing the Nikon 24-120mm f/4 and Tamron 35-150mm f/2.8-4, the Nikon lens has a fixed aperture of f/4.0, while the Tamron lens has a variable aperture ranging from f/2.8 to f/4.0. This means that the Tamron lens offers better low light performance and shallower depth of field at wider apertures, which can be advantageous for certain photography genres. However, the fixed aperture of the Nikon lens may provide more consistent image quality across the entire zoom range.

In terms of focal range, the Nikon lens has a 24-120mm range, offering a wider field of view at the short end and a slightly shorter telephoto reach compared to the Tamron lens, which has a focal range of 35-150mm. This makes the Nikon lens more versatile for various photography genres, such as landscapes, events, and travel. On the other hand, the Tamron lens offers a more extended telephoto reach, making it more suitable for sports, wildlife, and portraiture.

Both lenses share the same Nikon F (FX) mount type and max format of 35mm FF. The Nikon lens has a zoom ratio of 5.0, while the Tamron lens has a zoom ratio of 4.3. This means that the Nikon lens offers a greater zoom range, providing more flexibility in framing and composition.

In conclusion, the Nikon lens offers a more versatile focal range and a fixed aperture for consistent image quality, while the Tamron lens provides a larger aperture for better low light performance and shallower depth of field. If versatility and a wider field of view are more important to you, the Nikon lens may be the superior option. However, if you prioritize low light performance and a longer telephoto reach, the Tamron lens could be the better choice.

Design and Ease of Use

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm F4G IF-ED VRTamron 35-150mm F2.8-4 Di VC OSD Nikon F (FX)
Diameter x Length (mm)⌀84×103.5mm⌀84×127mm
Weight (gr)710790
Filter Thread (mm)7777
Weather SealingNoYes
Zoom MethodRotary (extending)Rotary (extending)
Distance ScaleYesNo
DoF ScaleNoNo
Hood SuppliedYesYes

Comparing the Nikon 24-120mm f/4 and Tamron 35-150mm f/2.8-4 in terms of size and weight, the Nikon lens has a diameter of 84mm and a length of 103.5mm, while the Tamron lens shares the same diameter of 84mm but is longer at 127mm. This difference in length makes the Tamron lens slightly larger, which could impact its portability and storage.

When it comes to weight, the Nikon lens is lighter at 710 grams, while the Tamron lens weighs 790 grams. The lighter weight of the Nikon lens offers advantages in terms of portability, balance, and ease of handling during lens swaps. On the other hand, the heavier Tamron lens might make the camera setup feel more front-heavy and unbalanced, potentially causing discomfort during longer shoots.

In conclusion, the Nikon lens is superior in terms of size and weight, offering a more compact and lightweight design that is easier to carry, handle, and store. This makes it an excellent choice for photographers who prioritize portability, balance, and discreetness when capturing their shots.

Lens Mount and Barrel

When comparing the Nikon 24-120mm f/4 and Tamron 35-150mm f/2.8-4 in terms of lens mount and barrel, there are noticeable differences in their construction and features.

The Nikon lens mount is made of chromed brass and has a rubber dust and moisture gasket, but the lens is not weather-sealed. On the other hand, the Tamron lens mount is made of metal and features a rubber gasket for moisture-resistant construction, providing an additional layer of protection in adverse weather conditions.

In terms of lens barrel construction, the Nikon lens uses a black polycarbonate material, resulting in a solid and well-finished design. The Tamron lens, however, uses high-quality engineered plastics with a satin finish and a Luminous Gold ring, offering an ergonomic bevel for a comfortable grip. Both lenses change their physical size when zooming, with the Nikon lens extending 4.6cm and the Tamron lens extending 4.5cm.

Taking these factors into account, the Tamron lens mount and barrel appear to be superior, offering a more durable and moisture-resistant construction. The ergonomic design of the lens barrel also provides additional comfort during use.

Weather Sealing

The Nikon 24-120mm f/4 has a rubber gasket at the lens mount for basic dust protection, but there are no internal seals present at the rings, switches, and front of the barrel, making the lens less suited for use in challenging environments.

On the other hand, the Tamron 35-150mm f/2.8-4 boasts moisture-resistant construction with seals at the lens mount and other critical locations, as well as a fluorine coating on the front element to repel water and oil, offering better protection against dirt, dust, and moisture.

Weather sealing is an important feature to consider when shooting in various conditions, as it can provide better protection, durability, and performance in adverse environments. It is particularly useful for photographers who frequently shoot outdoors or in unpredictable weather.

Considering these factors, the Tamron lens has a superior weather sealing design, making it more suitable for use in a wide range of outdoor conditions. While weather sealing may not be a top priority for every photographer, especially those who mainly shoot indoors or in controlled settings, the added protection offered by the Tamron lens can provide peace of mind and extend the longevity of your investment.


The Nikon 24-120mm f/4 has two rings: a focus ring and a zoom ring. The zoom ring is wide and features a deeply ridged rubber grip, providing a comfortable hold. However, the focus ring is made of plastic and has a less smooth rotation, resulting in imprecise manual focusing. The lens does have a windowed distance scale, but no depth-of-field indicator.

The Tamron 35-150mm f/2.8-4 also has two rings: a focus ring and a zoom ring. The focus ring is covered by rubber ribs and moves smoothly in manual focus mode, but faces some resistance in autofocus mode. The lens lacks a windowed distance scale or depth-of-field indicator. The zoom ring is wider and has focal length markings, making it easy to identify the selected focal length. It rotates smoothly, with slightly variable resistance in the middle of the focal range. Additionally, the Tamron lens features a LOCK switch to secure the lens at the 35mm focal length.

In terms of ergonomics, precision, and control, the Tamron lens offers a better overall experience, with smoother ring movement and better grip. Its LOCK switch and focal length markings add extra convenience and functionality. Although the Nikon lens has a distance scale, the imprecise manual focusing and less comfortable focus ring make it less appealing in comparison.

Taking all factors into account, the Tamron lens has superior rings, providing a more enjoyable and efficient user experience for photographers.


Positioned between the camera body and the focusing ring are three slider switches that come with the Nikon 24-120mm f/4. The top switch controls focusing with M/A (autofocus with manual focus override) and M (manual focus) positions. The second switch controls the Vibration Reduction (VR) system, helping to stabilize the lens during unintentional movement. The bottom switch allows toggling between Normal and Active VR modes. All three switches are conveniently positioned for easy access by the user’s thumb.

On the other hand, the Tamron 35-150mm f/2.8-4 features two primary switches: the AF/MF selector and the VC (Vibration Compensation) ON/OFF switch. The AF/MF switch enables the user to choose between autofocus and manual focus modes, while the VC switch turns the lens’ stabilization system on or off. These switches are conveniently located and raised at an ideal height, making them easy to locate and use.

In summary, both lenses provide convenient switch/button designs that cater to different user preferences. The Nikon lens offers an additional switch for VR mode selection, providing more flexibility in stabilization options. However, the Tamron lens has a simpler design with fewer switches, which may be more appealing to those who prefer a more streamlined setup.

Filter Thread

The Nikon 24-120mm f/4 and Tamron 35-150mm f/2.8-4 both feature a 77mm filter thread, which is a standard size commonly found in pro-lenses. This size provides compatibility with a wide range of filters, making it easier to find suitable options at a reasonable price.

The Nikon lens has a metal filter thread that does not rotate during focusing, thanks to its internal focusing system. This design is advantageous when using polarizing and other filters that depend on orientation. When using thick filters at the shortest focal lengths, some vignetting may occur in the corners. To avoid this issue, it is recommended to use slim versions of polarizing filters.

The Tamron lens also has a 77mm filter thread made of durable material. Similar to the Nikon lens, during focusing, the front element and filter thread of the lens remain stationary and do not rotate, ensuring the convenience of using polarizing or graduated filters without affecting their orientation.

In conclusion, both lenses offer comparable filter thread designs, with 77mm being a versatile and widely accepted standard. Both lenses provide non-rotating filter threads, which is essential for using polarizing and graduated filters effectively. The main difference is the potential vignetting issue in the Nikon lens when using thick filters at shorter focal lengths.

Lens Hood

The Nikon 24-120mm f/4 comes with a petal-shaped HB-53 lens hood that has a ribbed inner surface to minimize light reflections and improve image contrast. It fits around the filter thread and is optimized for wide-angle distances. The hood can be reversed onto the lens for convenient storage, and its bayonet design offers a secure attachment. The addition of the lens hood increases the lens length by 4 cm.

The Tamron 35-150mm f/2.8-4 includes a Tamron HA043 lens hood in the package. This hood features a bayonet mount without a push-button release, ensuring a quick and secure attachment. Made of semi-rigid plastic with a mold-ribbed interior, it effectively reduces light reflections. The ergonomic bevel offers a comfortable grip and smooth rotation when attaching or removing the hood. This hood provides ample protection from impact and bright light, especially at wide focal lengths.

In summary, both the Nikon and Tamron lenses come with well-designed lens hoods that offer effective protection from flare, light reflections, and impact. While the Nikon lens hood has the advantage of being reversible for storage, the Tamron lens hood’s ergonomic bevel makes it comfortable and easy to handle.

Focusing and Optical Stabilization

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm F4G IF-ED VRTamron 35-150mm F2.8-4 Di VC OSD Nikon F (FX)
AF MotorSilent Wave MotorOptimized Silent Drive
Rotating Front ElementDoes not rotate on focusingDoes not rotate on focusing
Min Focus Distance0.45m0.45m
Max Magnification (X)0.240.27
Full-Time Manual FocusYesYes
Focus MethodInternalInternal

Focusing Performance

The Nikon 24-120mm f/4 boasts a Silent Wave Motor, ensuring quiet autofocus operation. With reasonably fast focusing speeds, when focusing from infinity to 0.45m, it takes approximately 0.8 seconds, while focusing from infinity to 0.85m takes around 0.5 seconds. Initial autofocus acquisition is quick, and the lens can accurately focus in most situations. However, it might struggle with tracking fast-moving subjects.

At all times, manual focus override is available with the lens, even during autofocus, by simply grabbing the focus ring. The lens has an internally focusing design, maintaining a constant length regardless of focus and zoom settings, and the front element does not rotate during focusing. However, manual focus action is not as smooth, which may cause challenges when trying to achieve critical focus, especially in Live View. In low-light conditions, the lens may exhibit some hunting, especially with low-contrast subjects or close-ups, and the focusing speed may be slightly slower in such situations. The lens does not exhibit noticeable focus breathing.

The Tamron 35-150mm f/2.8-4 features a fairly quiet autofocus system, with only a light click heard when the motor starts and stops for short focus distance changes. Long distance adjustments are a bit slower and accompanied by a low growl from the motor. Focusing speed is somewhat slow, prioritizing smooth transitions over speed. In low-light situations, the combination of large apertures and image stabilization makes it a suitable choice. Initial autofocus acquisition speed is decent, and it can focus accurately with minor tweaks using the Tap In Console.

However, manual focus override is not available, and the focus ring can be challenging to use due to its lightness and lack of damping. The lens features an internally focusing design, but the front element rotates during autofocus. Focus breathing is present and can be significant, which may be a concern for videographers or those using focus stacking techniques.

In conclusion, the Nikon lens offers a superior focusing performance with its faster focusing speeds, quick autofocus acquisition, and manual focus override availability. Although the Tamron lens is suitable for low-light situations, its slower focusing speed, lack of manual focus override, and focus breathing make it less versatile compared to the Nikon lens.

Optical Stabilization

Vibration Reduction (VR) technology is incorporated into the Nikon 24-120mm f/4, providing up to 4 stops of compensation for camera shake. The VR II image stabilizer engages upon half-pressing the camera’s shutter button and adjusts floating elements with barely-detectable buzzing.

The lens features two stabilization modes, Normal and Active, with the former compensating for quick and small vibrations and the latter compensating for all movements. The stabilizing effect can be seen through the viewfinder in both VR modes, and the lens operates quietly during autofocusing. The VR II system delivers on its promise, allowing for sharp images at slow shutter speeds, which is particularly useful for low-light photography.

The Tamron 35-150mm f/2.8-4 incorporates Tamron’s Vibration Compensation (VC) system, rated for up to 5-stops of correction. In real-world performance, the VC system impresses, enabling users to capture sharp images even at slower shutter speeds. The VC system is quiet, with only faint clicks audible during startup and shutdown, and a soft hum while active.

There are no specific mode options provided for this implementation, but the optional Tamron TAP-in Console accessory allows customization of the VC configuration. The lens performs well at various focal lengths and shutter speeds with stabilization on, enabling users to capture sharp images even in challenging conditions without a tripod.

In conclusion, the Tamron lens offers superior optical stabilization with its impressive 5-stop VC system, allowing users to capture sharp images in various conditions, even at slower shutter speeds. While the Nikon lens also provides effective stabilization with its VR II system, the Tamron lens edges it out in terms of performance and flexibility with the optional TAP-in Console accessory.

Image Quality

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm F4G IF-ED VRTamron 35-150mm F2.8-4 Di VC OSD Nikon F (FX)
Special Elements2 ED glass elements, 3 aspherical lenses, Nano Crystal coat3 low dispersion elements + Fluorine coating
Diaphragm Blades99


The Nikon 24-120mm f/4 displays noticeable lateral chromatic aberration, particularly in the 24-50mm range, appearing as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, especially in the corners. Fortunately, this chromatic aberration can be conveniently corrected in post-processing through software such as Lightroom or Photoshop.

Thanks to its non-extreme aperture, the lens does not suffer from significant axial chromatic aberration. The lens delivers good sharpness, contrast, and color reproduction, indicating that these aberrations are not major concerns. Stopping down the aperture can help reduce chromatic aberration and enhance overall image quality.

On the other hand, the Tamron 35-150mm f/2.8-4 shows impressive control over chromatic aberration, with only minor lateral chromatic aberration present at 35mm, which mostly vanishes at longer focal lengths. Longitudinal chromatic aberration is barely noticeable, even in out-of-focus areas located far away in the frame.

In terms of coma correction, the lens performs well, exhibiting minimal deformation of points of light in the corners of the full frame. Spherical aberration, though not perfectly corrected, is managed reasonably well. Stopping down one to two stops generally helps eliminate most of the aberration.

In conclusion, the Tamron lens offers superior aberration control, exhibiting impressive chromatic aberration management and minimal distortion. While the Nikon lens also provides decent performance in this aspect, the Tamron lens stands out for its exceptional handling of various types of aberration, resulting in higher overall image quality.


The Nikon 24-120mm f/4 offers excellent center sharpness, particularly at shorter focal lengths and when stopped down to at least f/5.6. The corner sharpness of the lens tends to improve when the aperture is stopped down, and the best performance is usually achieved between f/5.6 and f/8. However, at the longest focal length of 120mm, the lens exhibits a noticeable decrease in resolution, with the corners lacking sharpness even when stopped down.

To achieve the best overall sharpness across the frame, stopping down the aperture to f/8 or f/11 is usually recommended. However, at f/16 and f/22, diffraction may cause a slight decrease in sharpness. The sharpness at wide-open apertures varies depending on the focal length, but it typically performs well at shorter focal lengths, but its performance may weaken at longer focal lengths.

In contrast, the Tamron 35-150mm f/2.8-4 delivers impressive sharpness across most of its focal length range, with the center sharpness being particularly strong. At wide-open apertures, the center sharpness is slightly soft at the extremes (35mm and 150mm), but it improves significantly at mid focal lengths like 50mm and 85mm. Corner sharpness is generally good, though some softness can be observed, particularly at longer focal lengths. Stopping down to f/4 brings a substantial improvement in sharpness at 35mm and 50mm, matching the excellent 85mm wide-open (f/3.5) results.

The sharpest aperture seems to be between f/4 and f/11 throughout the focal length range. There is no significant increase in sharpness at f/5.6 for 105mm and wider focal lengths, and none is needed. At focal lengths of 135mm and 150mm, excellent sharpness is achieved at f/5.6, with only a very slight improvement seen at 150mm at f/8. Overall, it has a high level of sharpness and contrast, making it a suitable choice for various photography applications, including portraits and close focus work.

In conclusion, the Tamron lens is superior in terms of sharpness, offering impressive performance across its focal length range and maintaining a high level of sharpness and contrast. While the Nikon lens also provides good sharpness, the Tamron lens stands out for its consistency and adaptability to various photographic scenarios.

Bokeh Quality

At longer focal lengths, the Nikon 24-120mm f/4 produces a generally smooth and pleasing bokeh. However, some outlining can be observed in the foreground and background, resulting in a slightly nervous effect. Throughout the aperture range, the background highlights retain their circular shape but may show some outlining when the aperture is wide open. While the bokeh quality may not be exceptional, it is still sufficient for many situations, especially when using the f/4 aperture setting for close-up work.

On the other hand, the Tamron 35-150mm f/2.8-4 produces a smooth and beautiful bokeh, especially at longer focal lengths, and maintains good quality even when shooting wide-open. The defocused blur is soft and natural, making it highly sought after by portrait photographers and suitable for various other types of photography. While out-of-focus highlights may show an onion-like appearance, this does not detract from the overall pleasant bokeh.

In conclusion, the Tamron lens has a superior bokeh quality compared to the Nikon lens, offering a smooth, beautiful, and versatile bokeh that is ideal for a range of photography styles. Although the Nikon lens produces a decent bokeh, the Tamron lens stands out for its overall pleasing and natural appearance.


The Nikon 24-120mm f/4 produces mixed results in terms of flare and ghosting, even though it features a Nano Crystal Coat. Flare and ghosting are not completely eliminated, and careful positioning of the sun in the frame is necessary. Using filters may potentially introduce more flare and ghosting. However, when the lens is stopped down, ghosting and flare are well controlled, and in some cases, not present at all.

In contrast, the Tamron 35-150mm f/2.8-4 is somewhat susceptible to flare and ghosting, especially when shooting against bright light sources or when the sun is just outside the frame. This is partly due to the 14 groups of elements within the lens, resulting in as many as 28 air-to-glass surfaces where light reflections can occur.

Although Tamron’s proprietary anti-reflecting BBAR Coating significantly reduces ghosting and flare, it cannot completely eliminate them under challenging lighting conditions. In some situations, intensive reflections can be observed, covering a significant portion of the image. Stopping down the aperture can help mitigate these issues to some extent, but flare and ghosting may still be present in certain situations.

In conclusion, the Nikon lens performs better in terms of flare and ghosting control compared to the Tamron lens. While both lenses exhibit some level of flare and ghosting, the Nikon lens manages to control them more effectively, especially when stopped down. Although the Tamron lens has a proprietary coating to reduce flare and ghosting, it still struggles under challenging lighting conditions.


When the Nikon 24-120mm f/4 is shot wide open at 24mm, noticeable vignetting is present, with dark corners reaching over 3 EV at f/4. However, when stopped down, vignetting at all focal lengths reduces significantly. While there is some vignetting at 50mm and 85mm, it diminishes as you zoom in. The camera can correct dimmed corners when shooting JPGs, making uniformity of illumination much less of an issue. Vignetting in this lens can be easily corrected with post-processing or camera settings.

On the other hand, the Tamron 35-150mm f/2.8-4 displays noticeable vignetting, particularly at the wide end (35mm) and when shooting at the widest apertures. The vignetting is more pronounced on full-frame cameras and doesn’t completely disappear when stopping down the aperture. At 150mm and f/4.0, the vignetting is still present but becomes less noticeable at f/8.0 and f/11.0. On APS-C format cameras, the vignetting is less problematic. Vignetting can be corrected during post-processing or embraced as an artistic effect.

In conclusion, the Nikon lens performs better in terms of vignetting control compared to the Tamron lens. While both lenses exhibit some degree of vignetting, the Nikon lens manages to reduce it significantly when stopped down, and the camera can further correct it. The Tamron lens, however, still experiences vignetting even when stopping down the aperture. Depending on your preference, vignetting can be corrected during post-processing or used as an artistic effect.


At the shortest 24mm zoom setting, the Nikon 24-120mm f/4 shows noticeable barrel distortion, which then transitions to pincushion distortion within the 35-120mm range. However, this distortion is fairly uniform, which makes it relatively simple to correct during post-processing.

In contrast, the Tamron 35-150mm f/2.8-4 shows varying levels of distortion depending on the focal length. At 35mm, barrel distortion is most noticeable, ranging from 1.25% to 2.64%. As the focal length increases, the distortion transitions from barrel to pincushion, becoming less prominent yet still present. At 50mm, pincushion distortion ranges from +0.12% to +0.62%, and from 85mm to 150mm, it stabilizes around +0.68% to +1.9%. Although some distortion exists, it is generally not troublesome and can be corrected using lens correction profiles available in popular image processing software.

In summary, both lenses exhibit some degree of distortion; however, the Nikon lens appears to have a more uniform distortion pattern, which makes it easier to correct in post-processing. The Tamron lens experiences a more varied distortion profile across different focal lengths, but it can also be managed with lens correction profiles. In terms of distortion control, the Nikon lens slightly outperforms the Tamron lens due to its more uniform nature.

Final Verdict

After considering all the factors and their impact on different photography genres, the final verdict is as follows:

For landscape, architecture, and travel photography, the Nikon 24-120mm f/4 is a better choice due to its wider field of view, more versatile focal range, fixed aperture for consistent image quality, better distortion control, and superior vignetting control. Its compact and lightweight design also makes it more convenient for photographers on the go.

For portrait, wedding, and event photography, the Tamron 35-150mm f/2.8-4 stands out as the superior option due to its larger aperture for better low light performance and shallower depth of field, impressive sharpness, and beautiful bokeh quality. Additionally, the Tamron lens’ superior optical stabilization and aberration control contribute to its overall image quality in these genres.

For outdoor and nature photography, the Tamron lens offers an advantage with its more robust weather sealing and durable construction. This added protection ensures longevity and reliability in various environmental conditions.

In conclusion, the Nikon lens is a more versatile and portable option that excels in landscape, architecture, and travel photography, while the Tamron lens shines in portrait, wedding, event, and outdoor photography.

Meet the Author

Wei Mao

Wei was a cruise photographer who worked at Disney Cruise Line. He is a lucky traveler who has been to more than 20 countries with his camera while working on an around-the-world cruise. Photography has changed his view of the world forever. Now he wants more people to benefit from photography through his blog.

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