Nikkor AFS 70-200mm/4 VR - First impressions
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AndreasE
Registered: Dec 31, 2003
Total Posts: 851
Country: Austria

Given the high level of interest and in some ways anticipation by photographers for this new lens, I thought you might be interested if I share some very first experiences with this lens - including some pictures.

I did have the opportunity to use this lens for a few hours and shoot some pictures. As said, all is based on personal views and impressions for a few hours - so take it with a grain of salt until more comprehensive reviews will appear.

Before I start, some history: About 26 years ago, Nikon introduced the AF 70-210mm/4, which was offered for a comparatively short term. According to Roland Vink's list, about 120.00 lenses were produced in the 2 years. Since then, this "gap" existed in the Nikkor lineup, which quite a few photographers in the Canon camp seemed to enjoy. The requirements to this type of lens is manyfold: Lightweight and compact, excellent IQ, less weight than the 2.8 version, better subject isolation than the compact telezooms plus lower price than the 2.8 telezooms. Quite a lot of requirements. Curious as I am, I wanted to find this out. As said, I had the opportunity to shoot some pictures - which I am going to share in the subsequent posts.

Let's start with a family picture:
From left to right: The AFS 70-200mm/2.8 VR II, the newcomer, the AFS 70-300mm VR and the older predecessor AF 70-210mm/4. The length of the new lens fits nicely in.







regards,
Andy


NickHenderson
Registered: Sep 29, 2012
Total Posts: 190
Country: United States

Looking forward to the rest!



AndreasE
Registered: Dec 31, 2003
Total Posts: 851
Country: Austria

There won't be any unpacking videos, long tables of specifications or scientifically proven measurements. Just 2 things will be presented: photos and subjective impressions.

Recently, I did photograph a lot with the D600, so I started with this combination. Compared to the D3 combined with a AFS 70-200mm/2.8 VR, the D600 and the new lens feels like half the weight. Whatever the real difference on the scale is, the feeling is: It is significant.

The first photo was done at dawn. The red light on the right side came from lights illuminating a building.

D600, ISO 800, handheld, 175mm, f4, 1/25 sec, 2560x1700






D600, ISO 100, tripod, 112mm, f8, 1 sec, 2560x1700






BTW: The D600 has impressive ISO capabilities. Same shot at ISO 6400, 1/100 sec, 2560x1700







AndreasE
Registered: Dec 31, 2003
Total Posts: 851
Country: Austria

When I left the park, it was already dark. The image below was taken about 200 meters apart (600 ft) from my small travel tripod (Gitzo traveller QR5). I didn't have the remote with me, so I used the timer instead.

It is impressive to see the low level (or should I say absence) of CA around the lights. I did not remove them in CNX2 (there was nothing to remove)

D600, ISO 100, 200mm, f8, 1 sec, 2560xx1700






For those interested in the resolution of the lens on the D600.

center:






left:






right:






Taken from the same position, only change: 120mm. 2560x1700






regards,
Andy


AndreasE
Registered: Dec 31, 2003
Total Posts: 851
Country: Austria

For those interested in the bokeh of this lens. We had an overcast day, which is rather helpful for this type of shots by reducing the contrast.As I learned with the System 1 cameras, the best subject isolation is a combination of open aperture, longest telesetting on the zoom and close to minimum focus distance. The high resolution of the lens at f4 is an added benefit as well. Even on the D800E.

One of the images I selected from the series. My personal favorite.

D800E, 200mm, handheld, ISO 100, f5.6, 1/60 sec, 2560x1440






There is a zoo close to the park.

D800E, ISO 400, 200mm, 1/250mm, f4.5, 2560x1700






regards,
Andy


jhinkey
Registered: Jan 08, 2010
Total Posts: 5961
Country: United States

Andy -

How is it at the wide end - 70mm - where the MTF seems to indicate it is the weakest of the zoom ends?

John



jmcfadden
Registered: Oct 30, 2002
Total Posts: 30235
Country: United States

good stuff Andy , thanks! I have one on order !

J



AndreasE
Registered: Dec 31, 2003
Total Posts: 851
Country: Austria

Some photographes focus on resolution others more on the subtle and subjective way how a lens "draws". Based on my initial experience I would consider the AFS 70-200mm/4 VR as capable to serve both camps.

Example 1 on resolution:

D600, ISO 280, handheld, 200mm, f4, 1/60 sec, full D600 resolution







100% crop in the center (f4 & D600 resolution & handheld enabled by the VR)






Example 2 on mood & plasticity.

This shot was taken in the park.

D800E, 200mm, 1/30 sec (!), handheld, f4, ISO 100, 2560x1700







regards,
Andy


M635_Guy
Registered: Dec 22, 2010
Total Posts: 2335
Country: United States

Very nice. Looking forward to more!



AndreasE
Registered: Dec 31, 2003
Total Posts: 851
Country: Austria

As shown above, the new VR is quite effective. The number (or better, the %) of keepers in settings where you would not even consider taking a handheld shot with a high resolution body like the D600 or D800E was surprisingly high. When more photogs will have spent some time with the lens, then we will see the real impact this new VR has, but currently I would see it as better than the previous generation. Gee, I remember the many discusssion about lens techniques and reciprocal factors. They are stil valid of course for the latest and greatest result, but the ease of use to move the "average result" up is astonishing.

Where the VR cannot help is when the subject is moving, like with animals. Here the time of 1/125 sec was barely enough to freeze the motion. Alternatively, ISO could have gone up, but where originally kept down to accomodate the big dynamic range. Anyway, there are many solutions. I took a simple one. The resolving power at f4 (I had a D800E) is remarkable.

D800E, ISO 100, handheld, 200mm, 1/125sec, f4, 2560x1440






regards,
Andy


clmusic
Registered: Jul 28, 2009
Total Posts: 425
Country: United States

Andy, thanks for sharing. You are great! I have got bored of reading long dicussions and debates in another thread about performance of this lens vs 2.8 versions without any pictures



AndreasE
Registered: Dec 31, 2003
Total Posts: 851
Country: Austria

In another thread I've shared some D600 experiences. Combined with this lens, the D600 is able to perform in environments, which just a couple of few years ago were the domain of high-end pro gear.

Walking by this statue in late dawn, I stopped for a moment and shot this handheld. It is the combination of individual factors progressing seemingly slowly which creates this massive progress at a combined level. In this case: The lens at f4, the D600 at ISO 3200, the VR to accomodate a reasonable time.

D600, 130mm, ISO 3200, f4, 1/125 sec, 2560x1700







second example:

D600, 70mm, 1/60 sec, handheld, f4, ISO 280, full D600 resolution






For those who don't want to download the 16 MB Jpeg. 100% crop, default camera settings






regards,
Andy


AndreasE
Registered: Dec 31, 2003
Total Posts: 851
Country: Austria

Another example on the VR.

This shot was taken with 70mm and 1/13sec. This is for me Nikon V1 territory (my current favorite for slow shutter speeds handheld)

D600, ISO 800, 70mm, 1/13 sec, f7.1, 2560x1700






It is remarkable easy to to shoot 200mm with 1/20 sec. Another example.

D800E, 200mm, ISO 100, 1/20 sec, f5.6, 2560x1440







regards,
Andy


AndreasE
Registered: Dec 31, 2003
Total Posts: 851
Country: Austria

jhinkey wrote:
Andy -
How is it at the wide end - 70mm - where the MTF seems to indicate it is the weakest of the zoom ends?
John


John,
as written above, I did not do any reproducible "scientific" tests, neither did I want to, given the short opportunity with the lens.

My observation is, that the lens - in the few hundred shots - perform remarkable well on both ends. What I did see is visible distortion at the short end (nothing I would go crazy about) and less pronounced at the long end. I'm not shore if this has implications on MTF curves.

I am sure the better known review sites will do these tests more thoroughly. I can share 2 images in this regard.

Number 1 - the short end:
D800E, ISO 100, f4, 1/125 sec, 70mm, 2560x1700






Number 2 - the long(er) end:

D800E, 135mm, 1/50 sec, f6.3, ISO 100, 2560x1700






100% crop (..... of a 135mm handheld shot at 1/50sec on a D800E ....)






For me, simplicity and ease of use to get to decent results is as important as MTF curves.

regards,
Andy




AndreasE
Registered: Dec 31, 2003
Total Posts: 851
Country: Austria

To close off, some unsorted images in no particular order.

We had a dark day, with overhanging clouds, not the best weather for colorful images. But the big softbox in the sky isn't bad either.

D800E, 200mm, ISO 400, 1/200 sec, f4.5, 2560x1700






This image isn't as sharp as I intended it to be. Potentially, I was below the MFD. Whatever. Despite that, I do like the "glow"

D800E, ISO 100, 160mm, 1/100sec, f4, 2560x1700






Bokeh at 70mm isn't bad either

D800E, 70mm, f4, 2560x1700






Focus accuracy of the D600 with the lens seem to fit perfectly. NR was turned off completely.

D600, ISO 1600, 160mm, 1/77 sec, f5.6






100% crop @ ISO 1600, NR turned off






Hope you enjoyed it,
Andy


JulianDeLaRosa
Registered: Apr 14, 2007
Total Posts: 642
Country: United States

These are impressive. Thanks for sharing.



Michaelparris
Registered: Sep 15, 2008
Total Posts: 2308
Country: United States

Looks nice. As a Canon shooter I still want to see real world tests of the 6d, but the D600 and F4 seem like a dream combo.



goobers
Registered: Jan 22, 2012
Total Posts: 63
Country: N/A

Thanks for sharing. I have always been deterred from the 70-200 f/2.8 because of its weight. I will definitely be renting one of the f/4 to give it a run myself.



Invertalon
Registered: Sep 08, 2009
Total Posts: 821
Country: United States


Glad to see the Nikon people finally got the f/4 version of this excellent zoom range!



mshi
Registered: Dec 13, 2010
Total Posts: 3402
Country: United States

Thanks for sharing. Any BIF kinds of shots?



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