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Review Nikon 70-200mm 2.8 VR II (DX)

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We have already published a Nikon 70-200 2.8 VR II review, carried out with the full-frame Nikon D800E as a test camera. Given the size and weight of this Nikon 70-200 mm 2.8 VR II lens, the large Nikon D800E camera is a more obvious combination than the much smaller Nikon D3200. Yet the crop factor of 1.5 of a Nikon DX camera like the Nikon D3200 makes such a lens an attractive partner. You will have a fast f/2.8 lens with a field of view which is equal to that of a 300 mm f/2.8 lens at a full frame camera, but at a lower price and vibration reduction included.
In terms of resolution, the Nikon D3200 camera is even more demanding on a lens than a Nikon D800E, due to the larger number of pixels per mm2. The number of pixels per mm 2 of the Nikon D3200 corresponds to an FX sensor containing 58 megapixels. Clearly, such a camera has extremely high demands on the resolution of a lens.

Nikon-70-200-28-test

Sensor-size

Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VR II review @ Nikon D3200

Nikon 70-200 mm 2.8 VR II test , Nikon lens review
Nikon 70-200 mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Nikkor @ 200mm, f/2.8
Thanks to the fast constant f/2.8 aperture, combined with a long focal length and crop factor of 1.5, this lens in combination with a Nikon DX camera is well suited to bring subjects close to you and to isolate their environment. The 3x zoom range of this lens on a DX camera offers the same field of view as a 105-300mm f/2.8 zoom lens on a camera with an FX sensor.

Construction and autofocus

 
The lens body is built very solid, and mostly of metal. The lens mount has a rubber seal against moisture. The lens design consists of 21 lens elements in 16 groups. A number of these lens elements are of ED-glass, in order to prevent chromatic aberration. The front lens element is pretty close behind the front of the lens, which has a rubber coating so you can rest the lens upright. This is useful when changing lenses. There is a large tulip shaped lens hood included, which you can put on the lens reversed. We found the confirmation and release of the lens hood not really easy. Because of the shape of the hood, the camera does not remain firmly when you rest the lens upright, but that applies to most lenses with this type lens hood. Both zooming and focusing is done internally, so the front lens does not rotate and the lens will not be shorter or longer. This prevents the sucking in of dust. Of course the constant f/2.8 aperture to a considerable diameter of the front lens, the filter size is 77 mm. There is a removable tripod mount included.
Specifications
Nikon 70-200 mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Nikkor
Image Stabilization:+
lenses/ groups:21 / 15
length x diameter:216 / 86
filter size:77
Weight:0
Lens hood:+

Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II Image Stabilization

 
We have tested the image stabilization / vibration reduction of this lens in combination with the Nikon D800E, at a focal length of 70 mm. The results are shown here. With a 70 mm focal length we realized an actual gain of 3 - 4 stops, depending on the shutter speed. Which is very good. Due to the crop factor of 1.5 of the Nikon D3200, you must use  a 1.5 x faster shutter speed to obtain similar results when using this lens on a camera with a DX sensor. IS NIKON70-200FF2p8

Vignetting

 
This lens is designed for a FX sensor. If this Nikon 70-200mm zoom lens is used on a camera with a smaller APS-C / DX sensor, you use only the center of the lens. Therefore you will not see any vignetting in the jpg files, regardless of aperture or focal length. In terms of vignetting, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 on a camera with a DX sensor at a 200 mm focal length will be just as good as a much more expensive Nikon 300mm f/2.8 telephoto lens on a camera with a full frame sensor. Vignet-Nikon-70-200-VR-II

Distortion

 

As with almost all zoom lenses, there's a light barrel distortion at wide angle and a pincushion distortion in the telephoto range. We found that the distortion at the telephoto range in JPEG is somewhat larger than in RAW. An explanation for this observation we can not yet imagine. But in both cases you will practically never have the need to improve distortion by correcting it with software.

 

Move your mouse over the image to the Imatest results for distortion in RAW files.

Distortion-Nikon-70-200-VR-II

Nikon70-200f8at70mmNikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II @ 70mm, f/16

Flare

 
This lens is supplied standard with a lens hood, but you can virtually unpunished leave the hood at home as you would like. There's almost no flare. Even if you are shooting in the dark right up against a light source. Here comes the advantage of various nano-coatings (also behind the lens!). It makes the Nikon 70-200mm 2.8 VR II an ideal lens for concert photography. flare

Resolution Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II

 

The resolution of this lens using the 24 megapixel Nikon D3200 is lower than in combination with the 36 megapixel Nikon D800E, but still stunning. The corners remain at f/2.8 a bit behind (but a 1500 LW/PH is still a good result), but after stopping down one stop you get over 2000 LW/PH. This zoom lens draws sharper than many professional fixed focus lens!

 

Click the chart for measurements at different focal distances.

Nikon-70-200-VR-II-resolution

Chromatic aberration Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II

 

A few of ED glass lens elements are included in the Nikon 70-300 mm lens design, in order to prevent chromatic aberration. The Nikon D3200 also corrects any residual chromatic aberration in jpg files. However, that is not necessary in this case. Lateral chromatic aberration by the Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II is virtually absent. This applies to all focal lengths and apertures.

 

Click the chart for measurements at different focal distances.

Nikon-70-200-VR-II-chromatic aberration

Conclusion Nikon 70-200 mm 2.8 VR II review

Nikon-70-200

See our list of tested lenses or the lenses with a Nikon mount tested by us to compare the performance of this lens to other lenses.

ECWYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens when you store the files in the camera as jpg, with all available in-camera lens corrections applied. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".
70
105
8.1
7.0
9.3
9.4
9.4
85
135
8.3
7.3
9.1
9.4
9.7
135
200
8.7
7.7
9.5
9.4
9.3
200
300
8.5
7.4
9.6
8.9
9.8
Overall
Overall
8.5
7.5
9.3
9.3
9.6
ECPure RAW score: This table shows the performance of this lens when the file is stored in the camera in RAW format. This score approaches the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera.
70
105
8.5
8.0
9.2
9.7
9.2
85
135
8.5
8.3
9.2
9.7
8.1
135
200
8.3
7.8
9.2
9.7
8.9
200
300
8.4
8.1
9.2
9.4
8.1
Overall
Overall
8.4
8.0
9.2
9.6
8.7

Pros

  • Excellent image quality
  • Ruggedly built
  • Effective image stabilization
  • Fast and accurate autofocus
  • Internal zoom and autofocus

Cons

  • Large and heavy
  • Costly
Our conclusion is almost equal to that of our previous Nikon 70-200 2.8 VR II review, carried out with the full-frame Nikon D800E. This lens is an absolute winner, whether you'll use it on a camera with a FX or DX sensor. It is a mechanically very solid lens, which meets the highest optical standards at all focal lengths and apertures, with good autofocus and effective Vibration Reduction. If a 300mm f/2.8 and a full-frame camera is too expensive for you, this lens is a cheaper alternative without ever compromising visibly to (image) quality.
Ivo Freriks
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.

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Comments (4)

  1. Joris

Nice review. I can confirm that a DX camera such as D3200 or D5200 requires a good/excellent quality lens because of the demanding APS-C sensor. The standard kit lens does not completely stands to this requirement.

 
  1. Adriano Santos    Joris

Joris don't forget to crop factor the aperture as well, that lens wont behave the same ,regarding background blur, on a cropped sensor.

 
  1. Adriano Santos

Hello i stumbled on this review and this information is not entirely correct, "Yet the crop factor of 1.5 of a Nikon DX camera like the Nikon D3200 makes such a lens an attractive partner. You will have a fast f/2.8 lens with a field of view...

Hello i stumbled on this review and this information is not entirely correct, "Yet the crop factor of 1.5 of a Nikon DX camera like the Nikon D3200 makes such a lens an attractive partner. You will have a fast f/2.8 lens with a field of view which is equal to that of a 300 mm f/2.8 lens at a full frame camera, but at a lower price and vibration reduction included."
Crop factor aplies to focal distance and aperture, you cannot change one without the other, in this case, this lens will be equivalent to a 300mm with a f/4.2 so in the end taking a picture with a APS-C at the maximum focal lenght won't produce the same background blur as it does on the full sensor, regarding lightness, well it will work cause the lens is letting all light in regardless the sensor used, but since sensors are physicaly larger or smaller the total amount of light is not the same but you can get bright pictures cause the lens has a big aperture, hope i made any sense whatsoever :P

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  1. Ivo    Adriano Santos

If bokeh is the only thing in life, your consideration is entirely correct and makes a lot of sense: you can not change focal length without the aperture.

Is bokeh the only thing in the life of a photograper?
Many photographers buy a fast lens,...

If bokeh is the only thing in life, your consideration is entirely correct and makes a lot of sense: you can not change focal length without the aperture.

Is bokeh the only thing in the life of a photograper?
Many photographers buy a fast lens, since they need faster shutter speeds. For a totally blurred image it doesn't matter to them whether the bokeh or depth of field could have been more beautiful. Maybe a fast shutter speed is the first essential feature for them and a preference for either depth of field or a nice bokeh comes second.

On the other hand, a lot of beautifull telephoto lens images are shot with full-frame camera's set @ f/8- when the amount of light permits - since these photographers like to have some extra depth of field.

That's why I still believe this is a very nice lens for a photographer with a DX sensor camera. They will get sharper images, more depth of field and a more beautifull bokeh than they ever had with their camera. And yes, if they want an even more creamier bokeh and they don't mind a larger field of view and a decrease in depth of field, they can buy a full frame camera any time they want!

Ivo

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