Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 vs. Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8: Navigating the Lenses of Power and Precision

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Embarking on the quest to find the perfect lens for your camera? Welcome, fellow photography enthusiast!

If you’ve zeroed in on the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 and the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8, you’re already ahead in the game. These two lenses, renowned for their versatility and superior optics, are like the two aces in a photographer’s deck of cards.

Whether you’re a event photographer capturing magical moments at weddings, a travel photographer documenting diverse landscapes, or a wildlife enthusiast shooting fleeting moments in the wild, understanding these two lenses can be a game-changer. Not only do these lenses cover a wide range of focal lengths, but they also offer large and constant apertures, professional-grade build quality, and compatibility with full-frame cameras. The potential for creative expression is immense!

In this comparison, we’ll help you dissect their features, from sharpness and bokeh quality to weather sealing and distortion control, with a dash of simplicity for easy understanding. As we explore their unique strengths, you’ll be empowered to make an informed choice based on your specific needs and the photography genre you’re passionate about.

So, tighten your camera straps and prepare for a deep dive into the world of these two outstanding lenses. By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear roadmap guiding you towards your ideal lens choice. Let’s get started!


Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm F2.8E ED VRNikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm F2.8E FL ED VR
Max ApertureF2.8F2.8
Aperture TypeFixedFixed
Focal Range (mm)24-7070-200
Mount TypeNikon F (FX)Nikon F (FX)
Max Format35mm FF35mm FF
Zoom Ratio (X)2.92.9

The Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 and Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 both offer fixed apertures of f/2.8, which provide wide openings for light to enter the camera, supporting low light performance, a shallow depth of field for isolating subjects, and overall improved image quality. These lenses maintain the same maximum aperture across their respective focal ranges, which contributes to better image consistency, improved low light performance, and reduced distortion or chromatic aberration.

The 24-70mm lens, with its focal range, falls under the category of a wide-angle to standard zoom lens. Its 24mm wide-angle end is suitable for capturing expansive scenes, such as landscapes, while the 70mm end serves well for portraits photography. The lens’s versatility across a range of focal lengths and its constant aperture make it a solid choice for various shooting environments and subjects.

Moving to the 70-200mm lens, this falls into the telephoto zoom range. Its long reach is ideal for isolating distant subjects, making it perfect for portrait, event, and sports photography. Here, the large f/2.8 aperture plays a significant role, allowing more light to reach the camera sensor, essential for faster shutter speeds to reduce motion blur at longer focal lengths. This lens can also create a pleasing background blur or ‘bokeh’ effect, helping to separate the subject from its surroundings. Additionally, the larger aperture can improve autofocus performance, crucial when tracking fast-moving subjects.

Both lenses mount to Nikon F (FX) cameras and are designed for a 35mm full-frame format. This means they can deliver high-quality images on both full-frame and APS-C bodies (with a 1.5x crop factor).

In summary, the 24-70mm lens offers more versatility in general shooting situations, such as street and travel photography, while the 70-200mm lens is more specialized for distant subjects or situations where a shallow depth of field is desirable. However, given their shared attributes like the large and constant aperture, professional-grade build quality, and compatibility with full-frame cameras, both lenses offer considerable value and could serve as key tools in a photographer’s kit. It’s worth considering that owning both would cover a comprehensive focal length range from wide-angle to telephoto, offering maximum flexibility for a variety of shooting scenarios.

Design and Ease of Use

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm F2.8E ED VRNikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm F2.8E FL ED VR
Diameter x Length (mm)⌀88×154.5mm⌀88.5×202.5mm
Weight (gr)10701430
Filter Thread (mm)8277
Weather SealingYesYes
Zoom MethodRotary (internal)Rotary (internal)
Distance ScaleYesYes
DoF ScaleNoNo
Hood SuppliedYesYes
Hood CodeHB-74HB-78

The Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 and the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 are both excellent choices, but they differ in terms of size, weight, and zooming method, which can influence your shooting experience and the types of photography they’re best suited for.

The 24-70mm lens is relatively compact and lightweight, measuring 88mm in diameter and 154.5mm in length, and weighing in at 1070 grams. Its smaller size and weight make it more portable, ideal for situations where you need to move around a lot, like street or travel photography. It’s easier to carry for extended periods, making it a less tiring option. It’s also less conspicuous, helping you blend into your surroundings when capturing candid shots.

The zoom method for the 24-70mm lens is internal rotary, meaning the lens doesn’t extend when you zoom. This keeps the physical size of the lens consistent, maintains balance, and offers better weather sealing, protecting your lens from dust and moisture. However, the internal mechanics of this design can make the lens slightly heavier and potentially more complex, which could impact durability and price.

On the other hand, the 70-200mm lens is larger and heavier, with a diameter of 88.5mm, a length of 202.5mm, and a weight of 1430 grams. This may make it less suitable for situations where portability and discretion are important. The additional weight can also impact the balance of your camera setup, which may make it feel more front-heavy and potentially more difficult to handle during longer shoots. However, the increased size and weight may be worthwhile trade-offs for the superior zoom range this lens offers, making it a great option for sports or wildlife photography where you often need to shoot from a distance.

Like the 24-70mm, the 70-200mm also uses an internal rotary zoom method, offering the same benefits of consistent size, improved balance during zooming, and better weather sealing. However, the same potential downsides of increased weight and complexity apply.

In conclusion, both lenses have their advantages. The 24-70mm lens, with its compact size and lighter weight, is a versatile and portable option for a range of photography styles, particularly where mobility and discretion are key. The 70-200mm lens, though larger and heavier, offers a greater zoom range, making it a powerful tool for capturing distant subjects. If portability and ease of handling are your priorities, the 24-70mm lens might be the superior option. However, if you need a longer zoom range, the 70-200mm lens could be the superior choice.

Lens Mount and Barrel

The Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 features a metal lens mount with an O-ring seal for protection against dust and water entry. This means the lens can withstand harsh weather conditions, providing a reliable option for outdoor photographers.

In contrast, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 also sports a metal mount, but with a rubber gasket serving as a protective seal. This feature enhances its weather sealing capabilities and is compatible with Z series mirrorless cameras when used with the FTZ adapter. The detachable feature of this mount allows for flexibility, but demands caution to avoid accidental drops.

In terms of the lens barrel, the 24-70mm lens is constructed from a combination of plastic and metal, finished with a rubberized texture. This blend of materials helps balance durability and weight, providing a comfortable grip and a premium feel.

The 70-200mm lens, on the other hand, uses a magnesium alloy and plastic construction for its barrel. Magnesium alloy is renowned for its robustness and lightness, creating a sturdy yet comfortable lens to handle.

While both lenses showcase a combination of metal and plastic in their builds, their individual qualities cater to different photography needs. The 24-70mm lens, with its weather-sealed metal mount and balanced barrel construction, is a robust and versatile option that provides a reassuring feel in hand. It’s a good fit for photographers who value a blend of durability and comfort.

The 70-200mm lens, with its added compatibility feature and lightweight yet sturdy barrel, is a flexible and reliable choice, particularly for photographers in need of a durable yet lightweight lens.

In conclusion, both lenses have their own merits. If you prioritize comfort, and a professional feel, the 24-70mm lens may be the better choice. However, if you value lens versatility and a durable barrel, the 70-200mm lens could be your perfect match.

Weather Sealing

The Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 and Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 each demonstrate unique attributes concerning weather sealing, affecting their resistance to harsh conditions and overall durability.

The 24-70mm lens is engineered with various sealing measures to resist dust, water, and smudges. The lens mount houses a rubber grommet seal that thwarts dust and water from infiltrating the camera. Internally, the rings, switches, and front of the barrel are all well-secured, offering a level of fortification against adverse weather. However, it’s worth mentioning that in extreme circumstances, such as drastic temperature changes, the lens could be susceptible to condensation, leading to potential internal moisture buildup.

On the other hand, the 70-200mm lens presents a more comprehensive weather sealing. It employs a rubber grommet at the lens-mount and a rubberized front-end acting as a seal when the lens cap is attached. Beyond this, every movable section of the lens barrel boasts sealing measures involving a mix of gaskets, rubber, metal, and plastic. Further, the front and back elements come with additional fluorine coatings to repel water droplets, grease, fingerprints, and dirt. These features make this lens an ideal candidate for shooting in challenging weather conditions.

While both lenses offer admirable weather sealing, the 70-200mm lens appears to provide a more extensive level of protection. Its detailed sealing measures, along with the added fluorine coatings on the lens elements, make it more resilient against dust and moisture.

In conclusion, if you are a photographer who regularly ventures into harsh weather conditions, the 70-200mm lens might be your preferred choice given its superior weather sealing. However, if you mostly operate in moderate conditions and want a lens with solid weather resistance, the 24-70mm lens still holds up as a strong contender. It’s important to note, though, that while weather sealing adds a layer of protection, no lens is fully impervious to extreme conditions, and proper care should always be taken.


The Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 and Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 feature two main rings each: the zoom and the focus rings. Their design, placement, and functionality significantly influence the user experience and the control photographers have over their shots.

In the 24-70mm lens, the zoom ring is located at the back and the focus ring at the front. The zoom ring, adorned with a rubberized, ribbed design, offers a great tactile feel and turns smoothly with slight resistance. The focus ring shares these features, providing an equally pleasant user experience. The lens also includes a windowed distance scale, which offers useful focus distances in both feet and meters, enhancing the photographer’s control and precision. However, there are no IR or depth-of-field markings on the focus indicator, and the lens lacks an extension lock switch on the zoom ring. Despite this, the lens hood remains stable while zooming due to an internally moving barrel, which is a valuable feature.

Contrastingly, the 70-200mm lens positions its zoom ring at the front and the focus ring at the rear, a reversal from its previous model that may take some getting used to for seasoned Nikon users. The zoom ring has a smooth rotation, but some users have described the rings’ tactile experience as subpar, suggesting they feel like they’re grinding against the lens housing. The focus ring’s markings are in feet and meters, yet there’s an absence of depth-of-field markers on the focus indicator, similar to the 24-70mm lens.


The Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 and Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 incorporate different designs and functionalities when it comes to switches and buttons, impacting ease of use and photographic flexibility.

The 24-70mm lens features two switches on the barrel side: the AF/MF switch and the Vibration Reduction (VR) switch. The AF/MF switch enables a swift manual override of autofocus, providing virtually zero lag time, a feature that is valuable for photographers who need to switch between autofocus and manual focus rapidly.

The VR switch, on the other hand, has Off, Normal, and Active VR modes, allowing photographers to adjust image stabilization based on shooting conditions. However, a potential drawback of this lens is that the switches feel identical, making it challenging to distinguish between them when you’re operating quickly and relying solely on touch.

The 70-200mm lens, on the other hand, comes equipped with a host of switches and buttons, including an AF/MF switch, a focus limiter, an Image Stabilization (IS) switch with Normal, Sport, and Off modes, and four customizable function buttons. Similar to the 24-70mm lens, the AF/MF switch allows for quick toggling between autofocus and manual focus. The focus limiter offers the flexibility to restrict autofocus to a limited distance or across the entire range, a feature that can enhance focus speed in specific scenarios.

The IS switch provides options for Normal, Sport, and Off modes, similar to the VR switch on the 24-70mm lens but with an added Sport mode for tracking moving subjects. The unique feature of this lens is the four customizable function buttons, which can be programmed according to your needs or used with any DSLR in AF-L, AF-On, or Off modes, thus providing a high degree of customizability and control.

In summary, the 70-200mm lens has a clear edge over the 24-70mm lens in terms of switches and buttons due to its focus limiter and four customizable function buttons, offering greater control and flexibility to the photographer.

Filter Thread

The Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens features an 82mm filter thread size, a departure from the smaller thread sizes of its predecessors, necessitating larger filters. This might increase the cost of purchasing filters, given that larger filters often come at a higher price.

However, an advantage of this lens is its internal focusing mechanism, which keeps the filter position fixed while focusing. This is especially beneficial when using filters such as circular polarizers or graduated neutral density filters, which require precise positioning to achieve the desired effect.

On the other hand, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 boasts a filter thread size of 77mm, a common size for professional lenses. This makes it more likely that photographers may already have compatible filters, potentially reducing additional costs.

Moreover, the filter thread is made from metal, a significant upgrade from prior plastic versions. This upgrade enhances the durability of the filter thread, ensuring that it can withstand the frequent attaching and detaching of filters without succumbing to wear and tear. It also reduces the risk of cross-threading, thereby simplifying the process of using standard filters like rotating polarizers and graduated filters.

In conclusion, the 70-200mm lens offers broader filter compatibility. This makes the 70-200mm lens superior in terms of filter thread design, particularly for photographers who frequently use filters or already own a collection of 77mm filters.

Lens Hood

The Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens features an included petal-style plastic hood, model number HB-74. This hood has a secure lock mechanism that prevents it from dislodging, providing an advantage over those that may loosen over time. Its design allows for reverse storage on the lens, contributing to convenience and portability.

Furthermore, the hood’s deep structure is instrumental in minimizing lens flare and safeguarding the front element. Its attachment point is not at the lens’s very front, but forward of the barrel’s gold stripe, accommodating an inner barrel that adjusts with zooming. This design means that although the lens hood’s coverage at 24mm might seem limited, it doesn’t require readjustment as you zoom, thanks to the moving inner barrel.

On the contrary, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens’s hood is made of plastic, offering a balance of durability and lightness. It has a flatter top in comparison to its rounded predecessor, which simplifies lens changes. This hood remains firmly attached to the lens, eliminating worries about it coming loose.

Its inclusion in the package is valuable, as replacing such a hood might be costly. The manufacturer recommends keeping the hood attached consistently to diminish ghosting and flare, particularly when shooting in overhead sunlight.

In conclusion, while the 24-70mm lens hood offers a unique locking mechanism and allows for reverse storage, the 70-200mm lens hood provides a durable and lightweight design with a functional shape that aids in quick lens changes. The 24-70mm’s lens hood, with its secure lock mechanism and convenience of not needing adjustment while zooming, appears superior, making the lens more user-friendly and efficient.

Focusing and Optical Stabilization

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm F2.8E ED VRNikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm F2.8E FL ED VR
AF MotorSilent Wave MotorSilent Wave Motor
Rotating Front ElementDoes not rotate on focusingDoes not rotate on focusing
Min Focus Distance0.41m(24,28,70mm);0.38m(35-50mm)1.1m
Max Magnification (X)0.270.21
Full-Time Manual FocusYesYes
Focus MethodInternalInternal

Focusing Performance

The Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 has a rapid and responsive autofocus performance, which permits the easy acquisition of subjects and shifting focus swiftly. This lens features a virtually inaudible AF-S drive, making it an ideal choice for video recording where noise can be disruptive. The autofocus accuracy of the lens is commendable, delivering sharp focus under varying light conditions, particularly when paired with the latest-generation DSLRs that have enhanced light sensitivity and improved autofocus systems.

The lens incorporates an internal focusing design, which keeps the lens length constant irrespective of the focus and zoom settings, adding to its convenience. Moreover, its front element remains stationary during focusing, eliminating focus breathing. The focus ring, devoid of any slack or play, facilitates a smooth manual focus override.

In contrast, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 boasts a rapid and ultra-quiet autofocus performance, rendering it practically instantaneous even under low-light conditions. Its focus accuracy and repeatability are top-notch, with no noticeable performance variations. The focus ring of this lens moves smoothly, devoid of any slack or play, mirroring the lens’s focusing action.

This lens also supports manual focus override and can shift focus from close range to infinity in slightly less than half a turn, demonstrating its versatility. At a 200mm focal length, this lens can focus from infinity to 2m in around 0.35 seconds, underscoring its speed.

In conclusion, both lenses offer exceptional focusing performance, with the 24-70mm lens standing out for its rapid autofocus and silent operation, making it a great choice for video recording. On the other hand, the 70-200mm lens excels with its ultra-quiet and quick autofocus performance, especially at longer focal lengths, making it particularly useful for fast-paced photography such as sports or wildlife.

Optical Stabilization

The Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 is equipped with optical stabilization (VR) that allows up to 4 stops longer exposure times. This feature is particularly beneficial when capturing images in low-light conditions or when shooting handheld at slower shutter speeds. It offers two stabilization modes: Normal and Active, catering to a range of shooting scenarios.

Further enhancing its performance, the lens’s autofocus is driven by a speedy and virtually silent AF-S drive. The VR system operates without any discernible noise, demonstrating its efficiency even in quiet settings. Remarkably, this lens can produce sharp handheld shots at shutter speeds as slow as 1/5-second when zoomed in to 70mm.

In contrast, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 also incorporates a highly effective VR system, with Nikon claiming up to 4 stops of compensation. This improved stabilization system outperforms its predecessor, featuring fine-tuning that mitigates the need to disengage stabilization when using a tripod in most instances. Its VR system comprises three settings: Off, Normal, and Sport, with the latter proving useful for tracking fast-moving subjects.

Furthermore, the sport mode minimizes vibrations, offering a stable viewfinder image. While the shutter speeds at which stabilization operates may vary across different focal lengths and situations, this lens generally provides around 3-4 stops of image stabilization, proving its worth even at lower shutter speeds.

In conclusion, both lenses offer robust optical stabilization, with the 24-70mm lens impressing with its silent operation and ability to capture sharp images at slow shutter speeds. The 70-200mm lens, however, offers a more versatile VR system, including a sport mode that is especially beneficial for tracking fast subjects. While both lenses excel in their ways, the 70-200mm lens’s superior stabilization customization and effectiveness across a range of situations give it a slight edge in terms of optical stabilization.

Image Quality

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm F2.8E ED VRNikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm F2.8E FL ED VR
Special Elements3 aspherical and 2 ED elements + nano crystal and fluorine coatings6 ED, 1 Fluorite, 1 HRI element + Nano Crystal & Fluorine coatings
Diaphragm Blades99
Circular ApertureYesYes


The Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 demonstrates a certain level of chromatic aberration. This optical phenomenon is most prominent at 35mm, where lateral chromatic aberration reaches peak values above 3 pixels at the image borders. Longitudinal chromatic aberration (loCA) is also perceptible, manifesting as a soft magenta cast in the foreground and greenish tones in the background.

Despite these aberrations, it’s important to note that they can usually be mitigated during post-production. The lens also exhibits some coma, particularly noticeable in the corner of the full-frame (FX) image during night shots at various apertures and focal lengths, although the effect is not substantial. Spherochromatism is virtually non-existent in this lens, maintaining reasonably neutral out-of-focus highlights.

Contrastingly, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 fares better in terms of aberration control. It showcases extremely low levels of loCA, while lateral chromatic aberration remains relatively mild, only slightly noticeable at the corners of the image frame at 70mm. When it comes to coma, the lens exhibits minimal effects at f2.8, a marked improvement over its predecessor. From f4.0 onwards, coma becomes virtually irrelevant.

In conclusion, while the 24-70mm lens exhibits some degree of chromatic aberration and coma, these effects can often be corrected during post-production, making it a good option for photographers comfortable with editing. However, in terms of superior aberration control, the 70-200mm lens stands out, offering very low levels of both longitudinal and lateral chromatic aberration, as well as minimal coma. Therefore, the 70-200mm lens takes the lead in terms of superior aberration performance.


Starting with the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, it offers a varying degree of sharpness depending on the focal length and aperture in use. The center of the image is generally very sharp across the range, although at the widest aperture, results tend to be slightly softer. Notably, at 50mm and above, there’s a noticeable decline in sharpness, with the corners of the image impacted the most.

However, by narrowing the aperture to f/5.6, the lens delivers the sharpest overall results. When a teleconverter is used, the lens still performs decently, albeit with a potential slight loss in sharpness. The sharpest aperture tends to fluctuate depending on the focal length, but typically falls between f/5.6 and f/8.

In contrast, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 showcases impressive sharpness, with high levels of center sharpness and commendable edge-to-edge sharpness, even at wide-open apertures such as f/2.8. This lens’s sharpness improves as the aperture is narrowed, with the sharpest images typically captured between f/5.6 and f/16, depending on the focal length. The impact of teleconverters on the sharpness of this lens would need further testing for a definitive verdict.

In conclusion, both lenses perform well in terms of sharpness, but the 70-200mm lens edges out the 24-70mm lens. The 70-200mm lens delivers exceptional sharpness across the frame even at wide apertures and continues to improve as the aperture is stopped down. This makes it a versatile choice for a range of photography styles, including those that require capturing fine details in the subject. Meanwhile, the 24-70mm lens offers very good sharpness, particularly at narrower apertures, although it does show some decline in sharpness at higher focal lengths. While both lenses would serve photographers well, the 70-200mm lens takes the lead in terms of superior sharpness performance.

Bokeh Quality

Analyzing the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 first, it generates an acceptable bokeh, although it’s not extraordinary. It displays some inconsistencies in the transition zone and background blur, which may appear somewhat uneasy or “nervous.” Mechanical vignetting at larger apertures can cause outlining and “cat’s eye” shapes, with potential bokeh fringing at the edges.

Despite these considerations, the lens can still produce striking three-dimensional images with sharp subjects seeming to leap out of softer backgrounds. However, it’s advisable to use a dedicated portrait lens if superior bokeh quality is the main objective.

In stark contrast, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 excels in bokeh rendering. It produces pleasing and attractive bokeh with minimal vignetting. Thanks to its iris diaphragm with 9 rounded blades, it creates a more appealing out-of-focus area. The bokeh highlights are not overly active, display no onion rings, and the light distribution across the circle is even. When used wide open, the lens creates substantial bokeh balls, and the out-of-focus point-light images are evenly lit and perfectly circular with no coloration.

The lens does exhibit a “cat’s eye” effect reducing bokeh ball size towards the corners and introducing some nervousness in those out-of-focus areas. However, this lens is exceptional at separating the subject from the background and creating beautiful bokeh highlights.

In summary, while the 24-70mm lens provides a satisfactory bokeh, the 70-200mm lens significantly outperforms it. The 70-200mm lens generates pleasing bokeh with minimal imperfections, providing excellent subject-background separation, which is crucial in portrait, wildlife, and other similar photography styles. Therefore, if bokeh quality is a major factor in your photography, the 70-200mm lens is clearly the superior choice.


Starting with the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, it exhibits commendable resistance to flare and ghosting, especially when the light source is distinctly outside the image frame. However, if the light source is located near but still outside the image corner, it can induce some flare. The lens is fortified with a Nano Crystal Coat, a technology designed to curtail flares and ghosting. But, shooting directly against the sun may still result in some optical artifacts.

The degree of ghosting and flare hinges on the position of the bright light source within the frame. Careful placement of this light source may eliminate these issues entirely. Still, even with its robust resistance to flare, you may encounter some mild spots and veiling flare when dealing with exceedingly bright lights within the image area.

On the other hand, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 tends to be more susceptible to flare and ghosting, particularly at the telephoto end when a strong light source is either within or outside the frame’s corner. Nonetheless, employing a lens hood and maintaining the front element clean can mitigate these issues.

The hood design, featuring shallower sides compared to its predecessor, further decreases the likelihood of strong light rays infiltrating the lens. While the lens does produce visible flares and ghosting when the light source is within the frame, these artifacts tend to be smaller and more apparent than its predecessor’s, potentially necessitating cloning for cleanup.

In conclusion, in terms of flare and ghosting resistance, the 24-70mm lens outperforms the 70-200mm lens. Its superior resistance gives it an edge over the 70-200mm lens, which shows more susceptibility to these optical artifacts. However, both lenses can benefit from proper light source placement and accessory use to minimize these issues.


Focusing first on the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, it displays noticeable vignetting, particularly at wider apertures and shorter focal lengths. Vignetting refers to the darkening of the image corners compared to the center, a common phenomenon in photography. For this lens, the vignetting is more pronounced than its predecessor.

As the lens takes in a wider field of view at shorter focal lengths, light rays have to travel farther to reach the corners of the sensor, which leads to this decrease in brightness towards the edges. However, by narrowing down the aperture, a process known as ‘stopping down,’ vignetting can be significantly mitigated. At f/5.6, while some vignetting persists, it becomes largely negligible. If desired, further correction of vignetting can be achieved via post-processing software.

Moving to the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8, its vignetting varies based on focal length, focus distance, and aperture. At the widest aperture of f/2.8, the lens shows a noticeable light falloff towards the image corners, between 0.5 to over a stop of EV difference. The vignetting is notably reduced at close distances and can double at infinity, particularly at 200mm.

Stopping down to f/4 drastically reduces vignetting at all focal lengths. At an aperture of f/5.6, vignetting is completely eliminated and remains so at smaller apertures. As is the case with telephoto lenses, light falloff can occur as the lens elements become larger at longer focal lengths, and light has to pass through more glass to reach the sensor.

In conclusion, both lenses exhibit some level of vignetting, which can be diminished by stopping down the aperture or applying post-processing corrections. However, the 70-200mm lens shows a quicker reduction in vignetting when stopping down, and even eradicates it entirely from f/5.6 onwards. Therefore, in terms of controlling vignetting, the 70-200mm lens outperforms the 24-70mm lens. That said, some photographers might appreciate a degree of vignetting for its artistic effect or to draw attention to the center of the image.


Beginning with the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, it demonstrates a varying degree of distortion across its focal lengths. At the wider end, at 24mm, it exhibits noticeable barrel distortion, which transitions to pincushion distortion between 35-70mm. Barrel distortion is where image magnification decreases with distance from the optical axis, causing the image to appear ‘bulged’ out.

On the other hand, pincushion distortion is the opposite effect, where image magnification increases with the distance from the optical axis, giving the photo a ‘pinched’ look. However, this lens’s distortion can be readily rectified with post-processing software like Lightroom. It’s speculated that Nikon may have permitted more distortion to enhance corner sharpness. While some photographers might find this distortion disconcerting, it’s generally not a major issue due to the ease of correction.

Turning our attention to the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8, it displays some distortion, beginning with almost 1% barrel-shaped distortion at 70mm, gradually morphing into pincushion-shaped distortion, reaching approximately 1.5% at 200mm. This lens’s distortion can also be easily rectified using post-processing software such as Photoshop or Lightroom. Interestingly, at 200mm, this lens shows a higher level of barrel distortion, clocking in at 1.96%, which is a significant increase compared to its predecessor, the 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II lens. Despite this, the increased distortion can still be tackled in post-processing.

In conclusion, while both lenses exhibit some degree of distortion, the 24-70mm lens shows a more balanced profile, with its distortion levels remaining fairly consistent across its focal length range. On the other hand, the 70-200mm lens reveals a higher distortion level at its telephoto end, surpassing its predecessor. However, it’s important to note that distortion in both lenses can be effectively managed in post-processing. Consequently, the 24-70mm lens takes the lead in terms of better distortion control, but the choice between the two would ultimately depend on your specific needs and the software capabilities you have at your disposal for post-processing.

Final Verdict

In a final verdict, each lens – the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 and the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 – offers distinct strengths that align with specific photography genres.

For travel and event photography where versatility, portability, and rapid autofocus are crucial, the 24-70mm lens shines. Its lighter weight, silent operation, and balanced distortion control align well with scenarios requiring mobility and discretion. It also offers satisfactory bokeh and very good sharpness, especially at narrower apertures. The lens’ superior resistance to flare and ghosting is beneficial in varied lighting conditions typically encountered in these genres.

On the other hand, the 70-200mm lens is well-suited for genres that require capturing distant subjects or desire a shallow depth of field, such as sports, wildlife, and portrait photography. Its superior zoom range, optical stabilization, aberration control, and bokeh quality cater to these requirements effectively. Also, the lens displays exceptional sharpness across the frame, which is valuable for capturing fine details. Moreover, its strong weather sealing makes it a reliable choice for outdoor shoots in challenging weather conditions.

Despite their distinct strengths, both lenses share attributes like a large and constant aperture, professional-grade build quality, and compatibility with full-frame cameras. Both exhibit some degree of vignetting and distortion, manageable via stopping down the aperture or post-processing corrections. Additionally, they offer robust optical stabilization and impressive focusing performance, suitable for a variety of shooting scenarios.

Indeed, possessing both lenses could provide a comprehensive focal length range from wide-angle to telephoto, offering maximum flexibility across a wide spectrum of photography genres.

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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