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

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

Looking first at sharpness, there are very few lenses that reach this standard and so consistently as well. At 70mm, the centre is outstanding from f/2.8 to f/8 and excellent from f/11 to f/22. The edges are outstanding from f/2.8 to f/8, excellent at f/11 and f/16 and still very good at f/22.

At 105mm, the centre is outstanding from f/2.8 to f/8 and excellent from f/11 to f/22. The edges are outstanding from f/2.8 to f/5.6, excellent from f/8 to f/16 and still very good at f/22.


At 135mm, the centre is outstanding from f/2.8 to f/8 and excellent from f/11 to f/22. The edges are outstanding from f/2.8 to f/8, excellent at f/11 and f/16 and still very good at f/22.

At 200mm, the centre is excellent at f/2.8, outstanding at f/4, excellent from f/5.6 to f/16 and still very good at f/22. The edges are excellent from f/2.8 through to f/16 and very good at f/22.

 

Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S MTF Charts

How to read our MTF charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution and sharpness as LW/PH and is described in detail above. The taller the column, the better the lens performance.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon Z5 using Imatest. Want to know more about how we review lenses?


CA (Chromatic Aberration) is extremely low all throughout the range, both centre and edge, and is very unlikely to need further correction. This was measured with any accessible in-camera corrections switched off, so it is indeed a superb result.

 

Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S Chromatic Aberration Charts

How to read our CA charts

Chromatic aberration (CA) is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon Z5 using Imatest.

 

Distortion is modest for a zoom lens and at 70mm is pretty much as good as a macro lens might be. Pincushion distortion can be measured throughout the focal length range, at +0.05% (70mm), +1.25% (105mm), +1.67% (135mm) and +1.99% (200mm) – further correction could be made in software if required.

Bokeh, the quality of the out of focus areas, is beautifully smooth and could be described as “buttery” in some images. Very nice indeed.

No flare could be induced even with very strong backlighting.

Vignetting is modest and is not particularly obvious in most images.

Aperture 70mm 105mm 135mm 200mm
f/2.8 -1.6 -2 -2.5 -2.6
f/4 -1 -1.2 -1.4 -1.6
f/5.6 -0.7 -1 -1.1 -1
f/8 -0.7 -0.9 -0.9 -0.7
f/11 -0.7 -0.9 -0.9 -0.6
f/16 -0.7 -0.9 -0.9 -0.6
f/22 -0.7 -0.9 -0.9 -0.6


In summary, this is outstanding performance and the lens is right at the top in terms of quality of results and handling.


Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S Sample Photos

 

Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S Aperture range

You can view additional images in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.


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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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