Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF VR AF-S Nikkor
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March 29, 2010
by Andrew Alexander
(Note: This is the original version of this lens; it was replaced in early 2010 by the new Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II. See that review for information on the current model.)
Released in 2003, the 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 VR quickly found its way into the camera bag of the typical working pro using Nikon gear. The lens was one of the first pro-level lenses to use Vibration Reduction (VR) technology, advertised as being effective at providing up to three more stops of hand-holding steadiness.
Composed of 21 lens elements in 15 groups, including 5 extra-low dispersion elements, the lens is one of Nikon's most complicated designs. The lens uses a 35mm image circle, making it compatible with both sub-frame and full-frame digital and film camera bodies. We originally reviewed the lens in 2005, but at that time Nikon didn't have a full-frame digital body; we're rectifying that now with a companion test on a D700. On a sub-frame body such as the D200, the effective field of view is 105-300mm; the lens uses a constant ƒ/2.8 aperture.
The lens takes 77mm filters, ships with the large HB-29 lens hood and an integrated tripod mount. The lens is still available now for around $2000, despite the introduction of the upgraded (and more expensive) version 2 model of the lens.
We should note right off the bat that this lens is subject to sample variation; we tested three samples of the lens before finding what we'd call a ''good'' copy. In the other two samples, our results were quite soft and de-centered at focal lengths over 135mm. In the review copy of this lens, we found exceptional sharpness all the way out to 135mm, with slightly softer results at 200mm.
These results are applicable to both the sub-frame D200 and the full-frame D700. At its wider end, performance at ƒ/2.8 is excellent: 1 blur unit in the center, degrading only slightly as the corners are approached, or just under 1.5 blur units at the corners. At this level of performance there isn't a lot to improve upon, and stopping down to ƒ/4 and ƒ/5.6 offers only marginal gains, with the best performance noted at ƒ/5.6. Interestingly there's a marginal drop in performance at ƒ/8 (and I mean marginal - from 1.1 to 1.2 blur units overall), so from a sharpness perspective, there's no incentive to stop down to ƒ/8 if you can get away with ƒ/5.6. We don't see any meaningful degradation from diffraction until ƒ/16, where we're seeing just less than 2 blur units across the frame. It's pretty much the same story fully-stopped down at ƒ/22 - just 2 blur units across the frame.
D200 (sub-frame) performance: 135-200mm
Performance at 135mm is very similar to what we noted above between 70-105mm, but only slightly less sharp (there isn't a point of 1 blur unit, ''tack-sharp across the frame'', although ƒ/4 comes close). At 200mm though, there is a pronounced drop in sharpness, though we'd have to be pretty picky to say it's still not quite impressive. It's not very pretty wide open at ƒ/2.8, where focus is quite uneven, and in the case of the review lens, quite soft in the left corner (around 4 blur units); stopping down to ƒ/4 improves these results, bringing everything under 2 blur units, but still with the slightly uneven performance. By ƒ/5.6-ƒ/8 things have smoothed out, and we see results in the 1.5 blur unit range across the frame. Diffraction limiting starts in at ƒ/11, but even by ƒ/16 results are still smooth and lower than 2 blur units; at ƒ/22, results are just over 2 blur units.
D700 (full-frame) performance: 135-200mm
It's been noted of the Nikon 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 VR that the corners are soft when shooting in its longer range, and our results bear this out. At 135mm and ƒ/2.8, the extreme corners are definitely softer than the center; you have to stop down to at least ƒ/8 to get tack-sharp edge-to-edge performance. Fully-stopped down at ƒ/22, performance is still smooth across the frame, but just shy of 2 blur units.
The real story is at 200mm, where it's a mixed bag of performance. At ƒ/2.8, similarly to what we noted on the D200, focus is slightly uneven across the frame, and sharpness is in the 2-3 blur unit range. Stopping down improves this performance, more quickly on the D700 than on the D200; at ƒ/4, the uneven-ness has disappeared and it's sharp at 1.5 blur units, though the corners are still softer than the center, at 3 blur units. Stopping down to ƒ/8 or ƒ/11 improves corner performance, at the expense of central sharpness - we note an average of somewhere between 1.5 and 2 blur units at this aperture setting.
In summary, excellent performance, though we had to test several lenses to get these results, so your mileage may vary.
On close examination, chromatic aberration is evident with this lens. It's not surprising given the lens doesn't benefit from more recent technologies such as the Nano-Crystal coating. CA is most evident when the lens is used at ƒ/2.8, showing up in the corners, in areas of high-contrast as a red-cyan color shift. It certainly isn't the worst performance we've seen. Interestingly, the drop in sharpness at 200mm actually serves to mask any CA that might be evident. On the D700, automatic CA reduction aids the lens greatly, to the point where CA is slight indeed.
With the 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 VR mounted on the sub-frame D200, corner shading isn't much of an issue - in fact, the only time it's noticeable at all is at 200mm, where the corners are a quarter-stop darker than the center. At any other focal length / aperture setting, there's no appreciable light falloff.
Mounted on the full-frame D700 however, corner shading is much more prominent. The worst case scenario is any focal length over 70mm at ƒ/2.8, where the corners are over a full-stop darker than the center. At 70mm and ƒ/2.8, this light falloff is around 3/4 of a stop. Stopping down reduces the amount of light falloff; at ƒ/4, light falloff is around 2/3 of a stop in the corners, between 80-200mm; at ƒ/5.6, it's around 1/3 of a stop. At 70mm, light falloff isn't much of an issue at ƒ/5.6 or smaller. For any focal length other than 70mm, to get images without any appreciable corner shading, you'll need to stop down to at least ƒ/8, if not ƒ/11.
The 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 VR is nicely optimized to counter distortion. At 70mm, the lens shows some barrel distortion: at 200mm, there is barrel distortion generally throughout the image, and pincushion distortion in the corners. There's a point of parity (neither pincushion nor barrel distortion) somewhere around 105mm.
On the D700, the results are more prominent than on the D200, given the image sensor is ''seeing'' more of the lens. It's the same profile as noted above, but the numbers are more significant: at 70mm, we note +0.6% barrel distortion in the corners. At 200mm, it's -0.7% pincushion distortion in the corners.
As an AF-S lens, the 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 uses Nikon's best autofocusing technology. Autofocus results are fast and near-silent, focusing from close-focus to infinity in well under a second. Autofocus results can be overridden at any time by just turning the focusing ring. As well, autofocus speed can be increased by activating the range limiter, which focuses between 2.5m to infinity (as opposed to the regular 1.5m to infinity). Attached filters won't rotate during focus operations.
The 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 is not a macro lens by any stretch: just 0.18x magnification and a minimum close-focusing distance of 1.4 meters (4.6 feet). It's worth noting that this minimum close-focusing distance is only achievable in manual focus. Left on autofocus, the lens will stop at 1.5 meters (just under 5 feet).
Build Quality and Handling
The Nikon 70-200mm ƒ/2.8G AF-S ED VR is a large and heavy lens - 216mm long (8 1/2 inches) and 1,450 grams (just over three pounds). The lens' weight comes from its all-metal construction, meaning it will serve not only as an excellent zoom lens but a capable hand-to-hand weapon should the need arise. As previously mentioned, the optical formula for this lens is particularly complicated, though no doubt this results in the formidable results for sharpness, chromatic aberration resistance and distortion control. The lens uses nine straight diaphragm blades which provide very smooth bokeh. The lens is also weather-sealed with a rubber gasket, and the front of the lens features a rubber ring to protect it in case you bump into something. There is a windowed distance scale located somewhat inconveniently at the far end of the lens, showing distance information in both meters and feet. There is no depth-of-field scale, nor is there an infrared index marker.
The lens has a number of control switches and buttons which need explaining. As a G-series lens, there is no aperture ring, so aperture must be controlled from the camera body (if your camera can't do this, you'll be shooting at ƒ/22 whether you like it or not). There are four toggle switches on the lens' side-mounted control station; the top two relate to autofocus options, and the bottom two relate to the vibration reduction system. On the top, we have the ubiquitous manual focus override switch (''M/A / M''), which disables the lens' autofocus motor. Beneath that we have the focus limiter switch (''FULL / ∞-2.5m''), which allows the user to limit the range of focus from 2.5m to infinity. For vibration reduction, the top switch (''ON / OFF'') activates or deactivates the system (it's recommended to deactivate the system when the lens is mounted on a tripod), and the bottom switch (''NORMAL / ACTIVE'') switches between the VR operation mode. In Normal mode, vibration reduction is applied in the vertical axis only, allowing for stable panning shots; in Active mode, vibration reduction is applied in all four directions.
There are three ''focus lock'' buttons. The functionality is simple, and each button does the same thing (there are three so that they're easy to find with just your fingertips). When depressed, autofocus is disabled. This is a useful functionality when you want to lock exposure results without affecting your focus point.
The zoom ring uses a rubber texture with large, raised ribs. It's about 7/8 of an inch wide and has great tactile feel. It's smooth to turn, and offers only slight resistance, taking gentle pressure from two fingers. There are about ninety degrees of turning action.
The focusing ring has a distinct cone-like shape which matches the shape of the lens, about 1 1/2 inches wide, using a rubber texture with thinner raised ribs. The ring has a generous amount of rotation room, about 160 degrees between infinity and close-focus. The ends are bordered with soft stops, so an increased amount of resistance lets you know you've reached the end. The lens will focus past infinity. Finally, attached 77mm filters will not rotate during focus operations.
The tripod mounting bracket is permanently attached to the lens, and the foot can be removed (and perhaps, replaced with a third-party option which is directly Arca-Swiss compatible). The bracket itself is exceptionally stable, and can be rotated fully 360 degrees around the lens. There are rotation points present on the lens body at 90 degree intervals, and a knob tightens the lens well into its rotated position.
The petal-shaped HB-29 lens hood is quite imposing: 3 1/4 inches long. The hood has a matte interior and does attach to the lens in a reversed configuration for easy storage, however doing so obstructs the focusing ring. The lens hood is essential in order to reduce flare, which is somewhat problematic in this lens.
The vibration reduction system in the lens is very capable, and while we haven't conducted comprehensive tests with this lens, we can say that in casual use there is definitely an improvement at slower shutter speeds when the system is employed.
Nikon 70-200mm ƒ/2.8G AF-S ED VR II ~$2,300
Sharper - especially at 200mm - is the bottom line on the new lens, although there are also improvements in CA resistance and corner shading. The new lens is also slightly shorter, the focus stop buttons are gone, the distance scale is relocated to a more convenient place. If you're not bothered by the ''close-focusing'' controversy, then there isn't much of a reason to buy the old version of the lens.
Nikon 80-200mm ƒ/2.8D ED AF ~$1,100
If you don't need vibration reduction, the older 80-200mm Nikkor is an excellent alternative. For sharpness, the 80-200mm is quite similar to the 70-200mm, perhaps not as sharp at 80mm, but CA performance is slightly better and distortion isn't as prominent.
Sigma 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 EX DG OS HSM APO ~$?
Sigma's options in the 70-200mm categories are extremely competitive: Sigma has released three versions of its 70-200mm lens over the past years, each with significant improvements over the previous model. The latest iteration includes Sigma's stabilization technology (''OS''). We haven't yet tested this version of the lens, but the original HSM version was extremely competitive to the Nikon, not quite as sharp wide open at ƒ/2.8, but much sharper at 200mm. Other characteristics - chromatic aberration, light falloff, and distortion - are comparable.
Tamron 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 Di LD IF Macro SP AF ~$750
Tamron's 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 isn't optically stabilized, but provides comparable, and in some cases better, performance for sharpness than the Nikon 70-200mm. At ƒ/4, it's tack-sharp across the frame between 70-100mm, and is generally much better at 200mm than the Nikon (though by ƒ/8, they become quite similar).
For Nikon shooters, the 70-200mm lens has been the de facto pro lens, and until the version 2 of the lens came along, it was the optical king of the hill. There was always the lingering question of corner performance, and while in our review lens there are some soft corners, it's not the worst we've seen. What's worth noting is the number of lenses we had to test before we found a good copy - three - meaning that if you find a good copy of this lens, treasure it and don't let go. Otherwise, if sharp corners are important to you, look no further than the updated version of this lens.
The VFA target should give you a good idea of sharpness in the center and corners, as well as some idea of the extent of barrel or pincushion distortion and chromatic aberration, while the Still Life subject may help in judging contrast and color. We shoot both images using the default JPEG settings and manual white balance of our test bodies, so the images should be quite consistent from lens to lens.
As appropriate, we shoot these with both full-frame and sub-frame bodies, at a range of focal lengths, and at both maximum aperture and ƒ/8. For the ''VFA'' target (the viewfinder accuracy target from Imaging Resource), we also provide sample crops from the center and upper-left corner of each shot, so you can quickly get a sense of relative sharpness, without having to download and inspect the full-res images. To avoid space limitations with the layout of our review pages, indexes to the test shots launch in separate windows.
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF VR AF-S Nikkor User Reviews
10 out of 10 points and recommended by shrikrishna (4 reviews)Super sharp, Benchmark focus, killer bokehHeavy, large :)
Nikon should continue producing this and sell at lower than VR2 version. Because, it is outstanding for its price. I use it on d300, so vignetting is not a big issue for me (+ I mostly shoot portraits)reviewed May 28th, 2012
This is the bench mark lens for testing focus aquisition speed.
I wish these lenses to be smaller and lighter, but yes material engineering is something I can expect to evolve over-time!
10 out of 10 points and recommended by shock (2 reviews)sharp, fast, precise, durablenot have any
Hello to all,reviewed January 5th, 2010 (purchased for $1,700)
I have no say to much here. Worth of every penny... hehe....
Here is some full-res. sample images with winter landscapes maded with Nikon D3x, Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 and some with nikon 24-70mm f2.8...
Working templerature -15c to -5c... heheh
sharpness 3-7 (0-9)
saturation, contrast, brightness - default
capture nx 2
exposure, curves, saturation, dust spots (not to much)
10 out of 10 points and recommended by newenglandscene (1 reviews)sharpness, focus speed, DX performanceFX performance
This lens smokes on my D90! The clarity of the images is jaw-dropping. It feels like the lens was made to go with the camera. Fast, accruate, silent focus. True to life color. Stunning action shots and portraits. Now... take the same lens and put it on my full frame D700, and I grit my teeth. I shoot in low light, open aperture setting, and the vignetting is agonizing. Such a phenomenal performer on the D90 is a loser for me on the D700. That said, I was warned. I read every review I could, and I knew what to expect. I am content to use the D90 for my distance shots. My advice to full frame shooters who need a telephoto is to check out the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8. The Sigma was very good on the D90, but the Nikon lens stole the contest for sharpness, and that is what I need. I attribute it to a combination of the optics and the VR. I don't use tripods, since the unpredictable actions of a border collie are what I am usually following, so I have to judge based on my hand-held experience. If I were only shooting full frame, I would buy the Sigma, for a whole lot less money, and I would live with the very good images without vignetting. The Sigma even performed a bit better on the D700 that the D90 when I tried them side by side. My overall 10 rating is for the out of the park performance of this lens on the D90. If you shoot DX and you can afford it, what a lens!! If you use FX, there are other (arguably better) choices.reviewed May 24th, 2009 (purchased for $1,900)
9 out of 10 points and recommended by Cliff Beard (12 reviews)Excellent build and handling, image quality generally outstandingSome types of image suffer on full frame cameras, heavy
This is a stunning lens to look at and handle on the camera. Images generally have that lovely, well-saturated and contrasty look you get from pro-glass. The bokeh is top notch.reviewed May 15th, 2009
On a D300 it is sharp across the frame and there is no vignetting of relevance.
On a D700 its still a great lens for most subjects, including portraits, action and wide aperture shooting where only the subject is sharp. There is quite noticeable and slightly uneven vignetting. The edge of the frame may also be a bit soft (writing it off for landcsapes etc) but for most uses this doesn't actually matter as it only tends to be the subject that is sharp on such a fast lens anyway.
Works great with the TC14 for extra reach.
Its certainly a lump to carry about and needs a bag like a Thinktank holster 50 or Lowepro slingshot 300 to carry it attached to a body. Not a travel lens for me.
10 out of 10 points and recommended by stonebridge (1 reviews)It's a great lens.Large and heavy to carry around, but that gives stability for handheld shooting.
Answering RawDealreviewed February 1st, 2009 (purchased for $1,600)
The essential thing to keep in mind is IMAGE SIZE.
This is determined by ONLY two things, focal length and lens-to-subject distance.
Say you mount the 70-200 lens on a D300 held for a vertical picture, set focal length at 100mm and move to a distance, D1, from your standing son such that his vertical image just fills the 23.6mm longer-dimension of the D300 sensor.
Now, without you or your son moving position or changing the lens setting, change the camera back from D300 to D700. Your son's image remains unchanged at 23.6mm, but on the D700 sensor you have more field of view above, below and around your son's image.
On the D300 your son's image would be recorded by 4288 pixels. On the D700 ,with its 36.0mm sensor dimension, your son's image would be recorded by 4256x(23.6/36.0) = 2790 pixels Actually the D700 spec sheet shows 2784 in its DX mode.
A similar proportion applies to the other dimension of the sensors. This is why. the D700 DX mode shows 5.1MP.
What to do? Zoom the lens beyond 100mm and/ or move closer until you fill the D700 sensor with your son's image. This larger image will embrace the full 4256 pixels on the D700 sensor.
Of course, the gym may restrict your lens-to-subject distance so that you cannot fill the D700 frame even at 200mm. So live with that, and don't forget that the larger individual pixel size on the D700 means lower noise, hence the opportunity to shoot at higher ISO and thus faster shutter speeds. That alone might give you sharper pics of your fast-moving son.
Stop worrying about numbers and go take pictures.
9 out of 10 points and recommended by RawDeal (1 reviews)Extremely sharp and fast.Expensive
A question actually !reviewed January 10th, 2009
This lens has served me brilliantly with my D200. However I want to upgrade to a D700 (I shoot my son who is a gymnast, in challenging conditions - gymnast is fast moving & lighting is not brilliant).
There seems to be mixed views on the 70-200VR being used with a FF camera. I can appreciate that the crop factor seen with the D200/300 is lost .... BUT does this lens with the D700 mean that the effective sensor is reduced to 5.1 Megapixels ??
Some reviews suggest that it is fantastic with the D700, some suggest that the effective resolution is reduced to 5.1 Megapixels.
Can anyone shed light on this issue ?
10 out of 10 points and recommended by johnmh (8 reviews)great lensnone
A 'must-have' lens. This will be passed down as part of my estate.reviewed January 7th, 2009 (purchased for $1,700)
I've shot indoor plays, outdoor sports, wildlife, you name it with this lens.
You can use it with a 1.4 or 1.7 TC without regrets and even with a 2.0 TC with only minor reservations. I find this a great lens for soccer with the 1.4 TC - good field coverage.
It's not cheap but you'll never regret owning this lens.
8 out of 10 points and recommended by andre_ (31 reviews)body quality, definition from f2.8, VRtoo much saturated, heavy falloff in FF, flare resistance
This lens is the best choiche for sport and action.reviewed December 8th, 2008 (purchased for $1,900)
The VR system works fine especially in panning and action photos, and the definition is extremly high from f2.8.
I don't like the color rendition (too much saturation and contrast), that has poor shadow's details and lost a lot of colors in highlights.
I know that many people like this, but with DSLRs it's a cons, because the same color rendition could be obtained by on-camera settings, without that worst shadows quality.
In FF (D700), the 70-200 vignetting is heavy, until f8 and more.
This lens is only for sport and action, not for landscape. Never.
10 out of 10 points and recommended by micael (1 reviews)sharp, fast , good bokehheavy, price
got the lens after much quibble on the price, but as i shot my 3 boys on their skateboards and bikes the next day, i never regretted buying it as i caught all their moves with this fast and sharp lens . solid built too.reviewed November 25th, 2008 (purchased for $1,821)
9 out of 10 points and recommended by David Bickle (4 reviews)Excellent build quality, sharp, Nice bokeh, VR is a plusNone
This lens delivers. Top of the class in this range.reviewed August 9th, 2008 (purchased for $1,799)
10 out of 10 points and recommended by ghamden (6 reviews)Image quality Build qualitypricey
Great lens well built and as usual with Nikon Pro glass it will hold its valuereviewed July 16th, 2008 (purchased for $1,699)
10 out of 10 points and recommended by lextalionis (82 reviews)Like the Canon version every bit as good + an ounce brand loyality!A little pricy, but you get what you pay for.
Very sharp and fast! The lens works great with the Kenko 1.4X TC! The VR is icing on the cake! Highly recommend!reviewed February 7th, 2008 (purchased for $1,630)
The first two sample shots of a Kestrel here were taken with the 1.4X TC and the rest of the shots w/o the 1.4TC, photos taken with a D80:
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Lens Photo Samples
10 out of 10 points and recommended by stopdown (3 reviews)
Highly versatile and amazing lens. I have nothing new to add above and beyond what others have stated other than the fact that if you are debating whether or not you should purchase this lens vs. the 80-200, I would highly recommend that you save a little more money and purchase the 70-200. The amount of real world benefit the VR provides, plus providing higher objective IQ (not but much, but certainly better) is well worth the additional money.reviewed June 13th, 2007 (purchased for $1,650)
10 out of 10 points and recommended by dofenbakh (1 reviews)Large aperture, excellent build, quick and immaculate focusing, very sharp, superb image quality, useful VRHeavy, especially if this is not the only lens you are carring arround
This lens is not cheap, but it is worth every single penny. From the moment you pick it up you can feel this lens is a serious peice of glass. The hood is plastic and very easy to snap on and of. I would however recomend keeping it on at all times to protect the lens. The barel is metal, with Rubber on both zoom and focus rings help for easy control.reviewed April 27th, 2007 (purchased for $1,300)
The lens is very well thought through, to the point that it has a rubber gasquet at the mount, making sure that no unnecessary dust will be introduced into the camera.
The image quality is amazing. I used this lens for sports and wild life photography, both with and without Nikon 2X Teleconverter. I used it for some portrets, and in some low light situations. The VR and good camera holding technique will take you to as low as 1/15 of a second.
For me this lens is an etalon of quality and built. And it is my favorite lens out of all that I own.
I Highly Recomend it. (Of couse if you don't need VR, you can go with Sigma 70-200 which is also an excellent lens).
9 out of 10 points and recommended by italy74 (8 reviews)Extremely fast focusingimage quality still to be thoroughly tested
Despite its many supporters, and its great overall behaviour, I'm still testing this lens because I find its sharpness not as good as I expected and this is of course a pain. I'm pointing especially moving shots which should be frozen at very fast times and they aren't. They still suffer of some kind of residual and unpleasant blur. Of course, its sweet spot is around F/8 and F/11 where it delivers outstandingly sharp images.reviewed April 23rd, 2007 (purchased for $2,630)
10 out of 10 points and recommended by jmancini (4 reviews)Atonishing IQ (even with a TC), fast AF, great VR performancevery long, weighs a ton, expensive (but you get what you pay for!)
If you can afford it, stop looking and get one; there is no better 70-200 lens anywhere at any price. This might be the best short telephoto zoom ever made by anyone, and that's not hyperbole.reviewed April 8th, 2007 (purchased for $1,650)
Performs amazingly well even with 1.7X and 2X teleconverters; exceptionally sharp and consistent.
However, it's enormous and quite heavy. It works great handheld if you're quite strong.
9 out of 10 points and recommended by ealatsis (4 reviews)Image QualityHuge, and expensive
I feel 3rd party lenses come close, but this lens is worth the extra dollars (if you have it to spend). I tested several other lenses, but this lens is slightly above the rest. Image Quality is top notch. I use this lens with the D80 and love it. The VR works very well.reviewed January 15th, 2007 (purchased for $1,400)
10 out of 10 points and recommended by MattLanham (2 reviews)Image quality, Build quality, Vibration Reduction, 2.8Like any camera gear, would be nicer if it were cheaper. Not a big one for me, but I'm sure a lot of people will not like the weight of it.
My first venture into a pro lens, and I am sold on the idea of buying quality from now on in.reviewed January 8th, 2007 (purchased for $1,950)
Optically it is fantastic, it manages to hit that sweet spot of sharpness. I found the 50mm f1.8 to be just a tad over sharp. This brings out small details without over acentuating them. While f2.8 isn't as sharp as f4 and above, It still gives wonderful results. I have absolutely no complaints about colour reproduction or contrast. Skin tones look lovely with the right WB. I have found some purple fringing at 200mm wide open when shooting brightly lit water. Other than that, it is great.
Build quality is nothing short of amasing. It really feels like it could stand a huge amount of abuse, not that I intend to put that theory to the test. The zoom ring is a little stiff, but I don't believe that is a bad thing. The focus ring is very smooth and has a great feel. The build quality does come at a price which is the size and weight. 1.3kg starts to feel it after 4 hours of shooting. Due to the size, I did need to buy a new bag to cary it around in.
I was very dubious about spending the extra on VR as I thought it would just be a marketing gimic. Is it worth it? I have been able to successfully take shots at 1/15 sec. It has really helped to save some shots I would not have been able to get otherwise. I'm sold on VR now.
If you have the money to get a lens of this quality you really wont be disapointed.
10 out of 10 points and recommended by bfischer (15 reviews)very sharp, colors, contrast, rapid AF, VR works well, nice tripod collar, ergonomicsvery slight softness at 200mm wide open, G-lens i.e. no aperture ring, very expensive
This lens is incredible. It is as good as a 70-200/2.8 can get.reviewed January 2nd, 2007
It is very sharp at any aperture and focal length and outstandingly sharp from f/4 to f/8. At 200mm there is the slightest softness when shot wide open compared to other focal lengths, which vanishes already when stopped down to f/3.5. Contrast and color are nothing short of perfect.
Bokeh is beautiful most of the time but it may become harsh at the long end stopped down to f/4 or more with specular highlights in the background.
Handling and ergonomics are perfect and the lens seems to scream "Handle Me!". AF is accurate and very fast.
This is the perfect fast tele zoom (even though it won't work on my F3 and it is very expensive).
10 out of 10 points and recommended by DaweP (4 reviews)AF-S, VR, Image quality
This is THE lens!reviewed December 31st, 2006 (purchased for $1,500)
I do not hesitate to give the highest marks to this lens. It was my first "pro calibre" lens and cost me a fortune and nerve-strain to get one (it would be a long story), but I NEVER regretted the invested money.
This lens is sharp even at f2.8 and amazing at 5.6. Although I use it on my tripod whenever I can, the VR enabled me to take many photos that would be lost without it. The size and weight makes sometimes the lens a bit uncomforteble to hold and carry, but that is the price you have to pay for constant f2.8 zoom.
This lens is no doubt THE BEST zoom in this range you can buy.
10 out of 10 points and recommended by Matthew Saville (21 reviews)build quality, image quality, fast apeture, VRprice, (but worth it) size / weight
Like the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L IS, this lens simply couldn't get any better.reviewed December 29th, 2006
It could possibly get more affordable, in my dreams, but...
Here's the break down:
The Nikon is the best option out there, but third parties come really darn close, namely the Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 EX DG HSM and now the new Macro version. There's a mean rumor going around that the Sigma is sharper than the Nikon when stopped down, and stopping down might imply that you shoot nature from a tripod and won't need VR anyway, in which case I'd recommend getting the Sigma instead. But the Nikon is decidedly much sharper wide open, so that and the VR would incline me to recommend the Nikon if you frequently shoot in low light.
The Nikon costs about twice as much as the Sigma, and maybe it's not exactly twice as good, but it's definitely worth it if you truly need that extra edge.
10 out of 10 points and recommended by Sam (2 reviews)Excellent image quality.Large and heavy
This is the best lens that I own. The image quality is excellent especially on a digital where you get to use the best part of the lens. Even though it is heavy and large I always try and carry it when I travel. For some images you just want the sharpness it provides. Would love to have a similar quality lens with VR to cover from 18 - 120 mm.reviewed December 16th, 2006 (purchased for $1,600)
10 out of 10 points and recommended by privid (5 reviews)build, af speed, bokeh, sharpness and colour/contrastweight, not enough flaws for decent review
Enough has been said about this lens above to warrant another detailed account. Suffice to say, this is the best lens in it's class for the F mount. Its aperture and clarity gives me almost instant focus, its focus locking buttons give me greater shooting options, if the tripod collar starts to bug me its removable almost instantaneously without compromising a secure attachment. The lens can be dropped, cursed, re-attached and still keeps giving. Bottom line is it gets me more shots than other lens' which makes me more money. If you never wish to be able to use you're equipment as an excuse again, start here.reviewed December 16th, 2006 (purchased for $1,600)
10 out of 10 points and recommended by mbunge (10 reviews)Very sharp images, image stabilization works great, like the extra range over the 80-200none
I sold my 80-200 f2.8 to buy this lens and have never regretted it. It focuses very quickly. I use it for most of my high school sports photography assignments (football, basketball, volleyball, wrestling). I shoot dark gyms and the 2.8 speed is great to have. The VR is very effective. I've shot plays and band concerts hand-held at 1/50 and gotten great shots. I was lucky that my subjects weren't moving fast, but I have no trouble shooting hand-held at 1/125 with this lens. I can't think of a single negative with this lens.reviewed December 13th, 2006 (purchased for $1,575)
10 out of 10 points and recommended by anabasis (9 reviews)IQ, speed, VR, BOKEHsize
This lens should be a mainstay in any working professional’s camera bag. Not only does it offer the extremely useful focal length range of 70-200mm with a wide f2.8 constant aperture, it also has the added advantages of an AF-S motor for super fast and quiet focusing, and Vibration Reduction to aid in getting sharp photos at lower then normal shutter speeds.reviewed December 10th, 2006 (purchased for $1,500)
This lens is larger and heavier then the more pedestrian lenses of its focal range, but the added weight and bulk are soon forgotten as it focusing on moving subjects almost instantaneously and offers selective focus, a creamy BOKEH and color saturation that is just stunning to look at.
If you like panning, the VR feature gives you vertical stabilization while allowing the horizontal plane to streak. With proper panning technique this feature renders sharp subjects while blurring the background. I get a much higher percentage of sharp images with this feature then with a standard lens. The VR will also allow shutter speeds 2-3 stops lower then normal, but remember that the VR will not freeze moving subjects at such low speeds.
This lens is the main tool for my sports shooting. The fast response, portability, and useful focal length make it a real winner for hand-held action shooting at moderate ranges. While this lens doesn’t have the reach of a super telephoto lens, the image quality is great, and the features make it an indispensable piece of glass.
When compared to its immediate predecessor, the 80-200 F2.8D AFS, you will find the lens much more svelte, but about the same weight. Others swear that the new lens is sharper, but I can notice little difference in side by side comparisons of general shooting. The new lens adds a bit on the wide angle side, and offers the VR features. Focusing speed is about equal however. Whether the size and VR features are worth the extra money is up to the photographer, but I would think the extra money is well spent on this lens.
10 out of 10 points and recommended by zalan (4 reviews)qualityprice and size
This is Nikon's current top of the line telephoto zoom lens and it lives up to the high expectations. The sharpness, color rendition, contrast, bokeh and autofocus are all suprisingly good, the pictures made with this lens has that special "pop" in them. VR works like magic, you can get razor sharp pictures handheld at low light levels as well. Probably the only weak point is the flare and ghosting due to it's complex design. Other than that is is hard to find problems and I expect to use mine for many years to come.reviewed December 5th, 2006 (purchased for $2,200)
10 out of 10 points and recommended by nohm (11 reviews)tack sharp; built like a tankmore consideration could have gone into the ring placements
I first rented this lens to test, and let me just say that I ended up paying late fees because I didn't want to return it back to the rental shop. This glass is quite an improvement over the already superb predecessor, the 80-200 f2.8 in all areas.reviewed November 27th, 2006 (purchased for $1,300)
I have a knack for shooting under poor lighting, and the VR on this telephoto just made shooting effortless. I got very sharp images at 1/10sec and down to 2/3 steps lower using VR and proper shooting techniques.
Now that I own a copy, I'm very pleased with the consistency the glass brings me.
This one is the breadwinner, so anyone considering this lens should stop hesitating; hurry up and save enough money to purchase...you'll thank yourself later when you look back.
10 out of 10 points and recommended by aquajon (3 reviews)Very sharp, fast focusA little heavy, some ghosting
This is a fantastic lens. The focus locks on to my subject quickly, and very smoothly. Sure, it is heavier than the 80-200, but I feel it is a better lens.reviewed November 23rd, 2006 (purchased for $1,500)
It is the only lens I own that does not have an external aperture ring (G type), and I thought I'd hate that. But in fact, it has been such a non-issue, I've enjoyed using it from the time I took it out of the box.
As for the ghosting, this lens has a lot of elements inside, so there is bound to be ghosting occasionally in a lens with 21 elements.
10 out of 10 points and recommended by colourperfect_co_uk (18 reviews)VR technology and image qualitysize and weight
An amazing bit of technology that is built to outlast most mortal beings.reviewed November 21st, 2006 (purchased for $1,600)
The VR works wonders and is probably necessary for handholding at this weight.
The AFS is quick and along with the D200 allows fast moving subjects to be acquired and tracked easily.
Image quality is excellent at f4 with no real signs of fringing or CA.
Many say this is Nikon's finest lens to date and I would have to agree.
10 out of 10 points and recommended by langier (10 reviews)One of the sharpest Nikon lensesLarger and heavier than the 80-200 2.8
No doubt about it. This is one of the sharpest lenses in the Nikon line-up.reviewed November 4th, 2005 (purchased for $1,500)
I've had many Nikon zooms, starting with the old 80-200 4.5, the second-gen 80-200 2.8 ED and the two-touch. The two-touch was my choice of zooms when I last shot film. It was nice and sharp and well built.
Then I bought the 70-200 for the VR. Wow! Even on film with an 8x loupe, you can see the snap of the 70-200. On the D2x, it is even better!
It does have a little red-cyan chromatic aberration at certain focal lengths and at wider apertures, but this is minor and is easily corrected in ACR with a slight adjustment.
Even with the TC-14e, this lens is hard to beat. Next to my 12-24, this is one of my workhorse lenses.
10 out of 10 points and recommended by wilfried (5 reviews)
The other reviewers have already said it all - this is a truly awesome lens: fast, bright, sharp, and with VR.reviewed November 4th, 2005
The one thing I would like to add is that this beast is big and heavy! It is clearly not a travel lens. The only time I managed to take it on an overseas trip was when my wife stayed at home!
So, yes, it is big and it is heavy and it makes my shoulders hurt, but oh boy, it delivers.
Now, please Nikon, could we have a DX version of this beauty?
10 out of 10 points and recommended by macpurity (4 reviews)Optics, build, AF speedWeight
I've bought this lens on June 1, 2004 as a improvement over the 80-400 f/4.5-5.6 VR lens. At first I missed the extra focal length that the 80-400 offered, but then I embraced the overall quality and AF speed.reviewed October 25th, 2005 (purchased for $1,450)
Frankly, I under-utilize this lens, but mostly because of the types of photos I generally take. My activity is fairly evenly split between landscape/macro/wildlife. But when I've worked with subjects at medium distances, this lens is a honey; both for interiors and outside.
The AF works very well with the Kenko 1.4X and 2X converters. With the 1.4X, images are very sharp; with the 2X there is a hint of softness that creeps in when used with wide apertures, but that is not due to the Nikkor, strictly due to the converter.
The VR capabilities greatly assist when shooting in lower light and handheld. It is a heavy lens to handhold, but the controls are easy to learn and operate without much confusion.
Truly, this is one of Nikon's finest lenses. Worth every penny. I just need to mount it more often.
10 out of 10 points and recommended by Anduins (1 reviews)Build quality, Picture quality, focus speedTends to attract attention
Simply stated, this lens lives on my D2X. It is the most versatile lens I have ever used.reviewed October 25th, 2005
10 out of 10 points and recommended by neticen (3 reviews)Image quality is outstanding and handling is excellentHeavy and expensive
I will be brief, but this is the lens I pull out of my bag more often than any other. The quality of the images is excellent and VR allows me to work in hand-held situations where I would be forced into shorter focal lengths otherwise.reviewed October 21st, 2005 (purchased for $1,600)
I would also point to two other elements of image quality I find to be exceptional on this lens.
First, the color and contrast provided by this lens are very pleasing to the eye. Every lens has a certain 'look' and this lens has the best look of any lens in this focal range and is perhaps one of the best in the Nikkor line.
Second, the out of focus areas (bokeh) are also quite good. You buy a fast lens to shoot it wide open, and this lens loves to pay you back with great images.
The other thing I love about this lens is that it is compatible with AF-I (and AF-S) tele-converters and retains auto-focus and VR. With your choice of TCs, you can have more lens in your bag for about the same space.
A 1.4 TC gives you about a 100-300 f/4 that is as good at 300mm as Nikon's 300mm f/4 prime lens. The 2.0 TC gives you a very workable, but slightly lower quality, 140-400. That particular combination on an APS-C dSLR is like sporting a 600mm lens on a film SLR.
10 out of 10 points and recommended by afs (4 reviews)Sharpness, Color, Bokeh, f/2.8, build, VR, tripod foot, ergonomics, EVERYTHING!lens hood is a bit small, flare can be a bit of an issue. And I didn't get one sooner.
I've owned this lens for about 5 months now. I owned the 80-200 AF-S f/2.8 before that.reviewed October 20th, 2005 (purchased for $1,300)
I will say one thing about this lens before I review it.
THIS IS THE GREATEST LENS IN THIS ZOOM RANGE IN THE HISTORY OF ALL TIME! It is a BARGAIN at its price.
This lens is sharp sharp sharp. Every now and then there will be a picture you'll be afraid to look at with 100% magnification, for fear of the picture causing you bodily harm with its sharpness.
The lens exhibits outstanding performance at all apertures. It is great at f/2.8, and just gets better and better as you stop it down to f/4 and f/5.6. It knocked the socks off the 80-200 AFS in general image feel and quality in my opinion. It has beautiful bokeh too.
The Nikon 70/80-200 series is legendary for its quality. This lens is merely the latest great leap forward in it.
But there's nothing simple.
For example, the lens includes the Vibration Reduction feature, which is a life-saver. I've gotten sharp pictures i'd never have gotten. Handheld shots at ISO 200 in the dark shade, 1/40 f/2.8 or f/4 at 200mm (300 equivalent). After letting VR stabilize for several seconds, I got a reasonably sharp shot of a door handle at 1/5 sec 200mm.
Compared to the 80-200 AFS, this lens feels lighter, and is easier to operate. The zoom ring bulges ever so slightly and the focusing ring is well contoured and is nice and large for ease of use. The reduced diameter over most of the lens compared to the 80-200 is a real plus for handling. The new construction is very nice.
The tripod collar is also a wonderful step in the right direction . The fully rotating collar is permanently fixed to the lens, with a quick release foot. This makes it easy to get a nice stable platform and remove it for handheld shooting easily. It also makes for very stable aftermarket lens QR plates for tripod heads- they simply replace the whole foot.
Flare happens...and with 21 elements the 70-200 is no exception. But it isn't too bad in my opinion. You live with it...just like you would with any zoom in this range.
The lens hood may be on the short side (though it looks great). Simple solution, the larger lens hood from the 80-200 AF-S model works on this lens!
This lens produces beautiful colors and wonderfully rendered images.
Overall, this has to have been the best spent $1300 of my life. I adore this lens and love the results I get. From nature to sports to portraits, this lens shines in every way.
Buy one today!