Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4G: Was this telephoto zoom lens worth the wait?


posted Wednesday, October 24, 2012 at 12:01 AM EDT


Nikon DSLR owners have been longing for an affordable, pro-quality, lightweight 70-200mm telephoto zoom lens -- although affordable is, of course, a relative term. The FX-format AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4G ED VR telephoto zoom lens, priced at US$1,400, sells for US$1,000 less than the much-beloved AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II. But it's not just the price that's attractive about this new lens.

Smaller and lighter than its older sibling, the AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4G VR measures 7-inches long (1.1 inch shorter than the f/2.8G) and weighs in at a sprightly 29.3 ounces (more than 1.5 pounds lighter). Equally compelling, Nikon has integrated into the lens a new (third) generation of its Vibration Reduction technology, which the company says provides up to a whopping five stops of image stabilization. So while its constant fixed aperture isn't as large and bright as the f/2.8G, the AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4G ostensibly makes up for some of the gap by reducing camera shake and blur.

As an FX-format lens, the AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4G was built to take full advantage of Nikon's full-frame professional and enthusiast DLSRs such as the D4, D800 and new D600. And when mounted on any of these full-frame models, the lens can be used with a Nikon teleconverter to increase focal length to 400mm (via the cameras' cross-type focus points at f/8 and below) without sacrificing AF and VR capabilities, the company claims. The AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm is also completely compatible with Nikon's DX-format (APS-C) consumer and enthusiast DSLRs such as the D7000, D5100 and D3200; the cropped formats, of course, alter the effective zoom range of the lens accordingly.

Constructed from 20 optical elements in 14 groups, the lens includes a Nano Crystal Coat designed to reduce ghosting and flare and improve clarity and contrast. The optics include three ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements to minimize chromatic aberration and one HRI (High Refractive Index) element, and the lens features a nine-bladed diaphragm. The AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4G employs Silent Wave Motor technology that, according to Nikon, delivers quiet and responsive autofocus operation. The lens operates in two focus modes at the toggle of a switch -- A/M (autofocus with manual override) and M (manual focus) --  and also utilizes internal focus, which allows you to focus on subjects without changing the length of the lens.

Nikon expects the AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4G ED VR to ship in late November at the MSRP of US$1,400. A Tripod Collar -- the RT-1, not included with the lens -- will be available at a yet-to-be-determined date for an MSRP of US$224.

Finally, it appears, Nikon owners no longer have to be jealous of their Canon counterparts who have enjoyed a similar lens -- the Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS USM -- for more than six years. Suffice it to say, we can't wait to get the AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4G ED VR  into the SLRgear lab!


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