Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S is the pro tele-zoom the Z system needed: See our in-depth Field Test
posted Friday, December 18, 2020 at 5:45 PM EDT
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Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S VR Nikkor Field Test
The 70-200mm f/2.8 lens has long proven to be a staple in many enthusiast and professional photography kits. It’s a versatile focal length, and the bright f/2.8 aperture allows it to work well in a wide variety of demanding situations. The lens type is also often reasonably lightweight, allowing it to be handheld for long periods of time. In the case of the Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S Nikkor lens, it’s not considerably different in form factor from the existing AF-S Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E lens for F mount. The native Z mount lens comes with advantages over an adapted lens, however. The Z mount’s larger diameter and shorter flange distance have benefits for optical design and performance, and the Z lens has a Control Ring and useful OLED information panel. During my time with the Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S VR lens, it proved to be an adept performer and delivered excellent image quality.
I used the lens alongside the Nikon Z5, Z6 II and Z7, really running the gamut of Nikon’s full-frame mirrorless offerings. Much of my time with the Z5 included photographing wildlife, such as small birds. The compatible 1.4x and 2x teleconverters proved useful here. The 70-200mm also performed well with respect to autofocus accuracy and speed, although using the 2x teleconverter can prove a bit challenging when in low light.
When using the Z7, I primarily focused on testing the optical performance of the lens, taking advantage of the camera’s 45.7-megapixel image sensor. The Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 excelled here. Even wide open and across the focal length range, the lens delivers impressive resolving power, especially when considering the center portion of the image area. While the lens exhibits slight vignetting at its extreme focal lengths, a relatively easy issue to correct, it also showcases excellent control of aberrations. The resulting image is sharp and clear.
Much of my testing in the field was done using the Z6 II camera. In essentially all situations, including when photographing landscapes, wildlife and portraits, the 70-200mm f/2.8 performed well. It was also here that the impressive build quality shined, with the lens working flawlessly in snowy, cold weather and when wearing gloves.
To read my full thoughts on the lens, head over to my Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S Field Test. It’s a great lens, but there are pros and cons to consider, which I discuss at length in the Field Test. You can also view and download full-size image files in the Gallery.