Review Nikon AF-S 200-500 mm @ D7200
For those who photograph birds, the focal length can never be long enough. The new Nikon 200-500 mm has a constant brightness of f/5.6 and offers a very large range that can be further expanded with a 1.4x converter with the option to retain AF. That is not possible with a lens with a brightness of less than f/5.6, because for most cameras, AF is disengaged if the brightness of teleconverter and lens is less than f/8.
Nikon AF-S 200-500 mm f/5.6E ED VR, list price: €1599.-.
|The zoom lens in our test had no problems from “creeping”; the dropping of the zoom if the lens is pointed downward. The Nikon AF-S 200-500 mm f/5.6E ED VR is equipped with a zoom lock that secures the lens at the shortest focal length when it is not in use. Two buttons are for focusing: next to an AF/MF switch, there is a switch with which the focal range can be limited, which benefits the AF speed. In addition, there are two buttons for the vibration reduction (on/off and sport/normal). With the removable tripod connection, you make landscape and portrait shots without removing the camera from the tripod. A removable lens hood and a soft bag are included.|
|With a shortest setting distance of more than 2 meters, you need a big spider for a close-up shot.|
Build and auto focus
|This is a sturdily built lens, with the high quality that we are accustomed to from Nikon. It is an impressive lens to look at, with a length of 45 cm at the longest focal length and a filter size of 95 mm. There are photographers who find a lens of more than 2 kilos too heavy for shooting by hand, but I found it to work surprisingly well.
The complex lens design consists of 19 elements in 12 groups. Thanks to three elements of high-quality ED glass, chromatic aberration is limited to a minimum. As the largest zoom lens with a fixed aperture in the current NIKKOR assortment, the NIKKOR 200-500 mm also has the newest generation of Nikon’s technology for vibration reduction (VR). This impressive system makes it possible to photograph sharply with shutter times that, according to Nikon, are up to 4.5 stops longer. The VR SPORT mode is ideal for following fast actions.
Nikon's Silent Wave Motor (SWM) focuses fast and silently. That also makes this lens very suitable for video. The electromagnetic aperture (thus the addition of an E after the aperture in the name of this lens) makes more stable exposure during fast continuous shooting possible. Manual focusing—certainly interesting for videographers—goes very nicely with this lens. The zoom ring and the distance ring are nicely broad, feel nice and are pleasantly dampened. Manual focusing is just as comfortable as with the Sigma 150-600 mm Sports and more comfortable than with the narrow focus ring on the Sigma 150-600 mm Contemporary.
Little distortion, no chromatic aberration or vignetting
Like most telephoto lenses, you will not be bothered when using the Nikon 200-500 mm by visible distortion. At all focal lengths, the distortion measured with Imatest—without in-camera or software corrections—was half a percent or lower, pincushion shaped. Lateral chromatic aberration—colored edges at sharp contrast transitions in the corners—is completely absent. Because you only use the center of the image on a camera with a DX sensor, vignetting is also completely absent.
High sharpness from corner to corner
Click on the illustration above for a larger version. Sharpness is high at all focal lengths and even the sharpness in the corners barely lags behind the sharpness in the center. At the longest focal length, the contrast is lower than at other focal lengths, and it pays off to stop down 1 stop. Fantastic performance.
In order to test the vibration reduction, I took a series of 35 shots with and without image stabilization on a Nikon D7200 at 300 mm focal length and various shutter times. The sharpness of the test shots was measured with Imatest. Anyone who thinks that an experienced photographer can get equally sharp pictures by hand or from a tripod with a 300 mm lens on a camera with a DX sensor at a shutter time of 1/500 of a second or shorter is in for a disappointment.
|Click on the illustration for a larger version.
The Nikon 200-500 mm delivers a beautiful run from sharp to blur and a beautiful bokeh. Just a bit less beautiful than if you use the same lesn on a camera with a full-frame sensor, but better than many other lenses on a camera with a DX sensor. In this shot of dewdrops in a spider web, made at 500 mm f/5.6, it can be seen that the bokeh rings have a small edge without color wash.
Conclusion Nikon AF-S 200-500 mm review @ D7200
Look in our list of reviewed lenses to compare this lens with other lenses.
WYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens if you save the files in the camera as jpg, where you have applied all available in-camera lens corrections. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".