The fast, full-frame 70-200mm f/2.8 telephoto zoom is a very popular lens. We test five of the best proprietary and third-party versions
Nikon’s first version of the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens was announced in 2003, with its successor arriving in July 2009.
Immediately it is clear that this lens is built to a high standard. Its barrel is made from magnesium alloy with the same dappled finish as the company’s professional DSLR bodies.
A rubber ring around the lens mount is an indication that the lens is weather-sealed to prevent dust and moisture entering the rear of the lens hen it is mounted on a camera.
This is the largest and heaviest lens in the group, but any differences in size and weight are negligible. Like all the lenses ere, zooming and focusing are achieved internally, so the 209mm length of the lens remains unchanged during operation, and will not suck in dust while zooming, as is the case with some less expensive zooms.
Each lens has a ring to control focusing and one to control zooming. The Nikon model has a third ring at the front, which serves as a tactile grip but has no other function. The grip is handy for holding the lens at the front, but it is possible to confuse it temporarily with the focus ring.
Each ring has a ridged rubber finish that is easy to grip, wet or dry. The zoom and focus rings turn smoothly, and offer a satisfying resistance that aids precise control. It is possible, in one motion, to rotate the ring from 70mm to 200mm, while focusing from the minimum 1.4m to infinity requires at least two turns.
There are four switches located on the side of the barrel, including a focus limiter (to 5m), on/off control for the 4-stop Vibration Reduction, ‘normal’/‘active’ stabilisation modes and manual/auto focus (with manual focus override).
Unlike all the other lenses, the tripod collar is built into the lens. Its standout feature is that the mount on the ‘collar’ is detachable, while all the other lenses require the collar to be removed entirely.
The supplied petal-shaped lens hood is around 70mm long and handily features a lock that prevents accidental removal. The hood’s ends are curved rather than flat so, rather impractically when mounted on the lens, it cannot be placed upright without tipping over.
The refreshed optical construction comprises 21 elements in 16 groups, with seven ED elements. Nine diaphragm blades create a round aperture.
Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor is near-silent in operation and very speedy, although this is dependent on the camera and system being used. Simply put, with this lens mounted on a D300S or D4 and with the ‘right’ AF mode selected, expect the responsive AF to achieve a sharp shot.
Image: The Nikkor lens has pleasant out-of-focus areas, even at f/5.6
Nikkor AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II specifications:
Street price: Around £1,600
Filter diameter: 77mm
Lens elements: 21
Diaphragm blades: 9
Minimum focus: 1.4m
Lens mount: Nikon F FX