Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4G ED VR Review

4.5
February 4, 2013 | Mark Goldstein |

Introduction

The Nikkor 70-200mm f/4G ED VR is a new telephoto zoom lens that can be used with both full-frame FX and cropped DX Nikon DSLR cameras. Featuring a constant maximum aperture of f/4, the Nikon 70-200mmm is a relatively affordable, more compact partner for new DSLRs like the D800 and D600. Read our in-depth Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4G ED VR review to find out if it's worth considering...

The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4G ED VR is a new FX-format telephoto zoom lens with versatile 70-200mm focal range and constant f/4 aperture. Weighing in at 850 grams, the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4G ED VR features an inner focusing mechanism, with autofocus controlled by a Silent Wave Motor (SWM). The optical formula comprises 20 elements in 14 groups, including three ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements to minimize chromatic aberration and one HRI (High Refractive Index) element, while Nikon’s Nano Crystal Coat is employed to combat flare and ghosting. The Nikon 70-200mm f/4 is the first NIKKOR lens to be equipped with Nikon’s next-generation Vibration Reduction system that allows for up to 5-stop compensation. The minimum focus distance is 1m from the focal plane at all focal lengths. Also featuring an iris diaphragm with 9 rounded blades for a pleasing bokeh, the AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4G ED VR takes 67mm filters and comes with an HB-60 lens hood and a CL-1225 soft pouch as standard. The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4G ED VR lens is available now priced at £1,172.99 / €1,430.00 / $1399.95.

Ease of Use

Weighing 850g, the AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4G ED VR is significantly lighter and more compact than Nikon's other pro-level telephoto zoom lenses. We found that it balanced well on the Nikon D4 body and proved to not be too much of a burden when used all day long.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRThe Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR lens mounted to a Nikon D4 body

In terms of features, the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR has quite a lot to offer. It has an internal focus (IF) mechanism and a Silent Wave Motor, allowing you to use manual focus even when you are in auto-focus mode (denoted with the usual M/A sign on the lens barrel).

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRFront of the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR, isometric view

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRFront of the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR, isometric view

It also features Nikon's latest Vibration Reduction (VR) system, which offers a generous 5-stops of compensation. Three modes are available. Normal for everyday shooting, Active for shooting from a moving vehicle and Tripod Detection mode. There are two VR switches on the lens barrel, one for turning Vibration Reduction on and off, the other for switching between the Normal and Active modes.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRThe Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR alongside the D4

Build quality is similar to the majority of Nikon lenses we have tested so far. Most exterior parts are made of plastic, but that doesn't stop the lens from feeling solid and substantial in the hand.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRFront of the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRFront of the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR

Zooming is internal, so the front doesn't extend when zooming from 70mm to 200mm or back again. The ribbed zoom ring is sufficiently wide and neither too stiff nor too loose.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRFront of the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRRear of the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR

The lens accepts filters via a standard 67mm thread around the – non-rotating – front lens element, which is great news for those who like to use polarisers or ND grads.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRIsometric view of the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRIsometric view of the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR

The Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR ships with the plastic HB-60 bayonet hood. Note that there is a a dedicated tripod collar ring, the RT-1, but it's an optional accessory rather than included with the lens.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRThe Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR with the HB-60 lens hood fitted

There is a distance scale sheltered behind a window, but there are no depth-of-field marks and no infrared focus index either.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRThe Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR in-hand

The lens is not claimed to be weatherproof, but there is a rubber seal around the lens mount that should provide basic dust protection.

Focal Range

One of the main attractions of this lens is the versatile focal range that goes from moderate to close-up telephoto.

At the 70mm end of the zoom range, the angle of view is 34° 20'.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRField of view at 70mm

At the 200mm end, the angle of view narrows to 12° 20'.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRField of view at 200mm

Focusing

In Spot AF mode, the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR lens focuses very quickly, and if you switch your camera to Continuous AF you'll also be surprised at how well it copes with fast-moving subjects. Thanks to a Silent Wave Motor, the auto focus operation is very quiet, and instant manual-focus override is available at all times. The ridged focus ring is quite wide and more than adequate for the job. It requires an approximately 180° turn to get from the close-focus point to infinity. Note that there is a hard stop at both ends of the range. There's a switch on the lens barrel for changing the focusing distance between Full (1m-Infinity) and 3m-Infinity.

Distortion

The Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR didn't suffer from distortion at either end of the zoom range

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRDistortion at 70mm

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRDistortion at 200mm

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, can be noticed in photos taken at maximum aperture but they aren't too excessive, and tend to go away upon stopping down.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR

Macro

The Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR lens has a close-focus point of 1m throughout its zoom range (measured from the sensor plane rather than the front lens element). Nikon claims a maximum magnification of 0.274x at the telephoto end.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VRClose-up performance

Bokeh

Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. In the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR lens, Nikon employed an iris diaphragm with 9 rounded blades for a more pleasing rendering of the out-of-focus areas. Based on what we have seen, we can say that they largely succeeded. Below you'll find some examples, but you are also encouraged to check out our sample images.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR
   
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following pages.

Entry Tags

lens, nikon, zoom, nikkor, f4, aperture, 200mm, 70mm, 70-200mm, constant, Nikkor 70-200mm, nikon 70-200mm, telephoto review, Nikkor 70-200mm f4G ED VR

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