Nikkor AF-S 70–200mm f/4G ED VR: It’s Here, Finally

 
Nikkor AF-S 70–200mm f/4G ED VR

Nikkor AF-S 70–200mm f/4G ED VR

Canon has had a similar lens for the longest time, and Nikon now has released its own AF-S 70–200mm f/4G ED VR lens. Shridhar Kunte puts it to the test.

Canon has always had one significant advantage over Nikon in their lens lineup, and that is the presence of high quality f/4 zoom lenses. These lenses have had optics and build quality that is as good as the more expensive f/2.8 lenses, but in a lighter, more accessible package. Nikon users can now heave a sigh of relief as the company has announced its very own 70–200mm f/4 VR lens.

Features

Why is this focal length so popular? It provides a natural perspective along with a convenient workable lens-tosubject working distance. This is what makes any 70–200mm lens a natural choice for wedding photographers and travellers who want a bit of extra reach. Also, though this lens does not have f/2.8, at 200mm, it offers a pleasing, shallow depth-of-field for portraits.

The lens has as many as 3 special elements out of 20 and these are arranged in 14 groups. These elements are coated with a special coating that improves light transmission and offers superior colour consistency and reduced flare. To achieve fast, accurate and noiseless focus, this lens is equipped with a Silent Wave Motor (SWM).

This is the first Nikkor lens that claims to give a five-stop VR advantage. This means that one can, in theory, shoot at shutterspeeds that are five stops slower than usual, without any camera shake.

Handling

I used this lens on a D7100 as well as D800. On both the cameras, the lens balances very well. If you compare the weight with a 70–200/f2.8 lens, this one is lighter by approximately 700g, which is a huge advantage for landscape and travel photographers, who hike long distances.

It also makes it much easier to carry around with the lens permanently attached to the body, and also to handhold the lens for lengthy shooting periods. I found that with the D800, the centre of gravity lies where your left hand grip should be while capturing images.

The focus ring has an angle of rotation of approximately 70 degrees, in which the lens covers entire focusing range. The SWM design allows for instant manual override. While using the lens in full manual focus mode the focus ring offers just enough resistance, which is required to fine tune the focus. The focusing and DOF scale is cramped in a single small window; this makes it difficult to read.

Performance

The f/2.8 big brother of this lens has a very good reputation when it comes to performance. This new lens is not far behind. It exhibits very good sharpness when used wide open, even on the D800. This improves when the lens is stopped down. It gives optimum sharpness at f/5.6.

The focusing speed is fairly fast and the AF operation is very quiet. The chromatic aberrations are kept well under control. There is hardly any amount of distortion that is noticeable. The corner light falloff is visible at f/4 but it disappears at f/8.

With VR on I was able to shoot consistent sharp images at a shutter speed of 1/20 sec. But at 200mm I was more comfortable with a shutter speed of around 1/50 sec. On most of the against-the-light shooting, the lens performed well but I found that it produces a fair amount of flare at times.

The quality of bokeh is quite pleasing and the autofocus, near silent. Exposure: 1/320sec at f/11 (ISO 800) Photograph/ Shridhar Kunte

The quality of bokeh is quite pleasing and the autofocus, near silent. Exposure: 1/320sec at f/11
(ISO 800) Photograph/ Shridhar Kunte

Conclusion

The Nikkor 70–200mm f/4G ED VR performs very well in all the departments. This lens is priced at an MRP of Rs. 86,950. While the lens offers tremendous value, one wishes that a tripod collar was included.

By spending few thousand rupees more, one can buy f/2.8 optics from Sigma or Tamron. But here one must ask the question… is it really necessary to go for f/2.8? Considering how good full frame cameras are at high ISOs, f/4 is enough for most lighting situations. It is only if you need the shallower DOF that one should consider f/2.8. And besides price, there is a significant weight and portability advantage with this lens. The lesser 700g will help you stay fresh for a longer time in your photography stint, and that will only help your pictures.

FINAL RATINGS
Features
Five-stop VR, first f/4 zoom of its kind from the company, no tripod collar included
15/20
Performance
Excellent sharpness, high quality bokeh, sporadic flare, slight vignetting
31/35
Build Quality
Completely weather sealed
22/25
Ergonomics
Fulltime MF override, cramped DOF scale
13/15
Warranty & Support
Two-year warranty, limited service centres
4/5

 

MRP Rs. 86,950
OVERALL 85%
VALUE FOR MONEY 3/5 Stars
Who should buy it? Travel and landscape photographers who need reach, but value portability.
Why? Despite the lack of f/2.8, this is an extremely sharp lens that offers a good balance of a not-too expensive price tag and convenience.
Tags: Shridhar Kunte, nikon, better photography, may, interchangeable lens, 2013, Nikkor AF-S 70–200mm f/4G ED VR, f/4 zoom lenses