Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR AF-S Nikkor

Lens Reviews / Nikon Lenses i Not yet tested
200-500mm $1,397
average price
image of Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR AF-S Nikkor

(From Nikon lens literature) Wherever your passion lies, this outstanding super telephoto zoom lens can bring it into focus. Capture and share stunning views of birds, wildlife, motorsports, athletes, performers, landmarks and other faraway subjects. A fast f/5.6 constant aperture gives your shots beautifully out-of-focus backgrounds across the entire zoom range. Turn fast-moving action into dazzling photo sequences -- the electromagnetic diaphragm operates in sync for the fastest subjects and shutter speeds while Vibration Reduction image stabilization keeps your shots sharp and steady. And in the rare cases when additional reach is needed, you can increase the AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR's zoom power with an optional Nikon 1.4x, 1.7x or 2x teleconverter*.

*Compatible with TC-14E series teleconverters (AF is only available when used with DSLR cameras that offer f/8 support. These include: D4, D4S, Df, D600, D610, D750, D800, D800E, D810, D7100, D7200). Compatible with TC-17E and TC-20E series teleconverters (AF not possible).

Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR AF-S Nikkor User Reviews

9.7/10 average of 3 reviews Build Quality 9.3/10 Image Quality 10.0/10
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)
    Sharp, fantastic VR, relatively inexpensive.
    Long, gets heavy after a while.

    Love the lens. I have used it for wildlife and birds and find it works well with my D800. It can easily be hand held in daylight but I prefer a monopod. The VR snaps everything in to place - surprised me the first time I used it.

    Lens has smooth autofocus and zoom although I find that you will probably need to set the focus manually to start when focusing at the minimum focus distance.

    Tripod collar is more robust than some of Nikon's offerings - I have had no issues with it.

    I've been using it lately at drag races and find it's the only lens I need. Sharp images, fast focus and great detail. It's a much better buy than the Sigma or Tamron equivalents and competitive in price point as well.

    reviewed August 23rd, 2016 (purchased for $1,091)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (3 reviews)
    Vibration reduction Sharp Low distortion Zoom range Price/Value
    Weight Zoom ring gearing No weather sealing

    Santa gave me this lens to use with my D800 for a safari to Okovango delta in October. I brought the lens with me on our winter vacation in the Florida keys and gave it a good wringing out. In my judgment this is an excellent value.

    The biggest asset of this lens is the VR. Markedly better than the VR II on my Nikon 70-200 VR II F2.8 and my Nikon 24-120 F4. When you activate it the image freezes instantly. This lens can be used hand held on daylight at any zoom setting without losing resolution. The weight of the lens does make it very desirable to use a monopod, tripod or a bean bag for extended shooting. The lens works well for birds in flight.

    The zoom range makes it a perfect complement to my zoom collection of 16-35 F2.8, 24-128 F4 and 70-200 F2.8.

    I have had less luck using teleconverters. My Tamron 1.4 and Nikon TC-17E II will both focus, but with markedly increased hunting. Definitely not usable for birds in flight, but OK for wildlife standing still.

    The bottom line is that this is a keeper and a great value.

    reviewed March 3rd, 2016 (purchased for $1,386)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (24 reviews)
    Extremely sharp; remarkable VR; excellent contrast and color rendition; reasonable price
    Heavy; long; clumsy

    I would highly recommend this lens to anyone who does what it's designed to do: wildlife photography, distant landscape and architectural detail. It's not too hard to carry, even with the neck strap, although some kind of sling would help. But hand-holding while shooting is tiring because it's so heavy and clumsy. I suppose one can get used to that.

    Zooming is very smooth, but a bit awkward, because it takes a lot of turning to zoom out and in. So I'm not sure it would be the best lens for flying birds or even some sporting events.

    The VR is so good that camera shake is minimal to absent, even in low light. From a seated position, I was able to shoot knick-knacks in my den at speeds of 1/10 second down to 1/3 second! The resulting images surprised me by their sharpness.

    Outdoors, the problem is the lens's length. It's a long, heavy cantilever. So even a fairly light breeze affects it, held out there scanning for pictures. In windy conditions, I found it particularly hard to hold, and image quality suffered.

    So carrying this lens is not the primary problem; one can get used to the weight and odd balance even on a relatively small DSLR, like my Nikon D7100 and D610, with which I tested it. But hand-holding for extended periods, especially in wind or even a fairly light breeze, is tiring.

    I don't use a tripod, but it shouldn't be necessary with this lens, as the VR is so effective. Image capture...autofocus and aperture instantaneous, as in most of this year's iteration of Nikon lenses. Because of this, I didn't have to hold it out there for long before shooting. That definitely helps.

    The tripod collar got in the way, so I quickly removed it. I'm quite sure someone will offer a collar with a semi-vertical pistol grip. That would be handy, as perhaps the cradle device that birders use with heavy binoculars and long lenses like this.

    I tested it shooting ordinary things, not test screens: Birds, distant mountains, flowers, etc. It does well on all of these subjects, except flying birds. Zooming is awkward, because of the low "gear ratio." So one would have to spot a bird, set the focal length and stick with that while following the subject.

    Out of curiosity, I tried it with the Kenko 1.4x teleconverter. I have the DGX model, which works superbly on my Nikon 70-300 and D7100: quick autofocus and negligible image softening. With the TC on this 200-500 lens autofocus is not as quick or as precise, on the D7100, and focus is not captured at all on the D610. But the latter, at least, was to be expected. There seems to be an incompatibility between the Kenko TC and this lens, however. I wouldn't recommend the combination.

    I tried using extension tubes, to see if the minimal focal distance could be reduced for extra magnification on closer subjects. Yes, they work, but it takes a lot of them, pushing the whole rig even farther out, to achieve any meaningful result. In other words, this lens is what it is, and is so good within the range of usage for which it was designed that there's no point in pushing it.

    When shooting distant mountains it appears, at first, that contrast at 500mm is sacrificed. But that's because one is shooting through atmospheric haze even on a clear day. With closer subjects, contrast is excellent. So it's just atmospheric effects, which I easily removed in post-processing.

    This lens is even sharper than the 70-300, something I noticed at all subject distances. Anyone with a 70-300, which is already a very sharp lens, will be amazed at the difference.

    I noticed no difference in any important effects...image capture, contrast, sharpness, any of the focal lengths in its range. I didn't shoot on targets, so I can't comment on distortion, but edges of buildings, stop signs, etc. seemed not to be distorted. Anyhow, distortion is easy to remove, PP.

    The lens definitely produces less chromatic aberration than the 70-300 at longer focal lengths. That I noticed many times.

    Frankly, when I rented this lens, I had no intention to buy it; I just wanted to fool around with it to see what it can do. I must say that I was so impressed that I almost changed my mind and bought it from the rental company, even though I don't often shoot the kinds of subjects it was designed for. It's so much fun to play with that I might yet buy one, as the price is very reasonable, considering what you get. Later, maybe.

    But for someone who shoots a lot of wildlife or architectural detail, who can securely pack it with other camera equipment, I recommend this lens without reservation. It's a great tool! Its sharpness, excellent contrast and color rendition, all the way out to 500mm, plus its remarkable VR...especially at such a reasonable really amazing.

    I would even recommend it to someone who might only use it on a single African or Indian wildlife park tour. It would be worth the modest extra investment to get breathtaking shots.

    reviewed December 6th, 2015