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Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S Review

John Riley reviews the Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S telephoto zoom lens, Z-Mount lens for Nikon's full-frame (and APS-C) mirrorless cameras.


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Nikkor Z 70 200mm On Nikon Z5

Most marques offer a premium quality 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, put a lot of effort into making it as good as it possibly can be and charge a pretty high price for it. Nikon now join the fray with this offering for their already known to be outstanding Z system, so expectations are very high. Will the other fine lenses in the range be a hard act to follow? We find out, using the 24.3MP Nikon Z5 body.

Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S Handling and Features

Nikkor Z 70 200mm Front Oblique View

There is no escaping the fact that any 70-200mm f/2.8 full-frame lens is going to be fairly hefty, but the new Nikkor weighs in at a reasonable 1360g without the tripod collar, or 1440g with. It fits well size-wise with the Z5 body provided for the review and balance-wise the lens is where the natural centre of gravity lies. This works well.

Starting our tour of the lens at the front, a large petal lens hood is provided. This bayonets securely into place and is held firmly by a locking catch that is secure and has no tendency to be accidentally released. Within the bayonet fitting is a standard 77mm filter thread.

The zoom ring is wide, does not change the length of the lens, and is smooth in operation. It is clearly marked with focal lengths of 70, 85, 105, 135 and 200mm. Behind this is the bank of L-Fn2 buttons, equally spaced around the barrel, and pressing one of these will perform an action assigned from the camera menus.

Behind this lies the manual focusing ring, which is active during AF, so small tweaks can be made as desired. Minimum focusing distance depends upon the focal length. Maximum magnification is 0.2x, or 1:5.

70mm 0.5m 1.64 feet
85mm 0.63m 2.07 feet
105mm 0.68m 2.23 feet
135mm 0.8m 2.62 feet
200mm 1.0m 3.28 feet



Nikkor Z 70 200mm With Hood On Nikon Z5

Immediately behind this is the OLED information panel, which can be set to indicate aperture, focus distance, depth of field, focal length or ISO. Also at this point is the L-Fn1 button, also able to be assigned various functions from the camera menus.

Moving closer to the camera body, the rotating tripod collar can be removed if desired, but is very useful on a tripod for moving the camera easily from landscape to portrait orientation. Behind this is the control ring, which can be assigned different functions such as aperture control or exposure compensation. Again, these are set via the camera menus. When set to aperture control the aperture change is totally silent and totally smooth, ideal for videographers.

Finally, closest to the lens mount, is the AF/MF switch and the focus limiter. Focus can be set to full range, or limited to infinity to 5m. There is no VR switch as this is controlled from the camera menus. The lens is moisture and dust resistant and the front element also has a Fluorine coating to repel dust, water and grease.

Optical construction is 21 elements in 18 groups. There are 6 ED (Extra Low Dispersion), 2 Aspherical, 1 Fluorite and 1 SR (Short wavelength refraction) elements. The diaphragm comprises 9 rounded blades for improved bokeh.

In terms of handling, the lens cannot be faulted. Fast and accurate AF locks on every time. The VR system promises 5 stops advantage, and certainly, 4 stops can be secured reliably and sometimes 5 stops. Of course, this does nothing to address subject movement such as wildlife, but it is still a huge benefit in reducing camera shake.


Nikkor Z 70 200mm Rear Oblique View
 


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Comments


Ilamoga 2 3 Romania
3 Sep 2020 12:01AM
Man, you say that this lens is outstanding at 2.8 at all FL and you only put ONE 2.8 shot of a duck? Are you serious? And you have plenty of F/22 shots... shots that I could get with a 50 years old lens at f22. I'm done with ephotozine!
joshwa Plus
10 923 1 United Kingdom
3 Sep 2020 9:49AM
Hi llamoga,

We've uploaded additional shots taken at f/2.8

Thanks
Josh
ChrisV Plus
13 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
3 Sep 2020 1:18PM
You donít mention the Tamron 75-180 for mirrorless (Sony) In the alternatives. A surprising omission as youíve reviewed it relatively recently and itís there to give a bit of perspective on third party pricing.

This does seem a superb lens (but then again this class of lens has always tended toward outstanding results). Itís a bit frustrating Nikon supplied one of their lower resolution FF bodies when surely a more revealing test of its capabilities would be with paired with a Z7?
PH56 7 5 United Kingdom
3 Sep 2020 1:28PM
I have been wondering for a while now how your lens review performance testing varies so much. In this review you state that the lens has "outstanding" sharpness with figures of just over 3500 LW/PH, yet in other reviews (for example the Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 Sport) you say that sharpness is outstanding at figures above 4500 LW/PH. How are we supposed to take these reviews seriously when trying to compare performance of different lenses in the same category? There needs to be consistency in the scoring and level at which you would describe performance as "outstanding", "excellent" etc.
Ilamoga 2 3 Romania
3 Sep 2020 1:42PM
Hi Joshwa! Thanks for the 2.8 shots! It makes much more sense to shoot this lens at 2.8 and post 2.8 shots.
3 Sep 2020 4:47PM
@PH56 - the problem lies with the inevitable use of different resolutions of camera to test the lenses. The only way to standardise this is to have the same camera body with the same resolution for all lens tests. This could be done with film, when typically Kodak Technical Pan film might be used, but obviously can't be done with digital. So the ratings are relative to the theoretical maximum possible for a given sensor. So if the maximum that might be expected was, say, 4000 LW/PH the a lens that resolved 3800 might well be considered outstanding. The wording is also designed to provide a bridge between the older reviews where figures were not given and those of the past five years or so where they are given.
Nobody claims this is perfect, but it is consistent as far as possible and should be taken along with the real world pictures and commentary.
Hope that helps!
3 Sep 2020 4:51PM
@ChrisV - Yes, I would have preferred a Z7, but we have to accept what is available at any given time and the review samples are no doubt under a lot of demand.
As regards the 75-180mm it should have arguably been included, but this time I looked purely at the 70-200mm f/2.8 options. There are also quite a few f/4 versions.
PH56 7 5 United Kingdom
4 Sep 2020 4:54PM

Quote:@PH56 - the problem lies with the inevitable use of different resolutions of camera to test the lenses. The only way to standardise this is to have the same camera body with the same resolution for all lens tests. This could be done with film, when typically Kodak Technical Pan film might be used, but obviously can't be done with digital. So the ratings are relative to the theoretical maximum possible for a given sensor. So if the maximum that might be expected was, say, 4000 LW/PH the a lens that resolved 3800 might well be considered outstanding. The wording is also designed to provide a bridge between the older reviews where figures were not given and those of the past five years or so where they are given.
Nobody claims this is perfect, but it is consistent as far as possible and should be taken along with the real world pictures and commentary.
Hope that helps!



I totally understand that the same camera body is not used for all tests and that the resolution differs between models. Perhaps the LW/PH figures should not be included, instead using a scale from say 1 to 100 based on the sharpness vs maximum resolution of the test camera. That way all of the reviews will be scored in such a way that lenses can be more accurately compared. I don't believe for one minute that the latest £2400 Nikon Z lens would resolve softer images than the Sigma equivalent, but the figures shown in the reviews do suggest that. I just think that for someone looking for say a new 70-200mm f2.8 lens (not a cheap purchase) the current scoring system is a bit misleading. I do agree that the sample photos play an important part but a performance chart based on percentage of maximum resolution would also help a lot in this decision making process.
4 Sep 2020 5:20PM
@PH56 - Thanks for that, it's an interesting idea. It used to be a bit like that in that we didn't have any figures quoted, just the descriptive words applied to a graph, so we had no idea what the actual figures were. The idea of including the figures was to increase the amount of information offered and the text describes the meaning to form a comparison between old and new methodology. Many people welcomed the figures, so removing them might cause a problem, but it certainly can be mulled over and discussed.

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