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Review by Markus Stamm, published August 2013
Special thanks to Michael Färber for providing the lens!
The Nikkor AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, Nikon's first stabilized fast tele zoom, was a highly regarded lens on DX cameras, but did not find that many friends on FX cameras, mainly due to its reputations of producing high vignetting and lack of border sharpness. Nikon adressed these issues with an upgraded model, the Nikkor AF-S 70-200/2.8 G ED VR II.
Even though the lens primarily targets FX customers, it is of course also an interesting choice for users of DX cameras, especially higher grade ones. So, let's have a look at how the lens performs on our current DX test camera, the Nikon D7000.
As one can expect from a professional grade lens the build quality is excellent. Most parts are made of metal alloy with a slight crinkle finish. The broad rubberized zoom and focus control rings feel very smooth. The overall length of the lens does not change during zooming or focusing. It is a G-type lens, so there is no aperture ring.
A tripod collar is part of the lens. Just like on its predecessor the collar itself is not removable (but visibly wider and a little more stable) but the tripod "foot" is. It's an easy procedure to remove or replace the supplied foot. There are several third party options available that feature an Arca-Swiss profiled foot and thus avoid the need to screw on a lens plate (for those who use tripod or monopod heads with Arca Swiss profile). The good news is that existing replacement feet for the older 70-200VR fit the new model, too.
Unfortunately this is not true for the supplied hood which is a new design with a different mount. It's shorter than on the previous model thus offering a little less protection. In addition Nikon went for a slightly curved shape. You will instantly notice this if you're the kind of photographer that occasionally rests a lens on the hood. If you try this with the 70-200 VR II, be prepared for a heart attack. :-)
Optically the lens is a quite complex design with no less than 7 ED elements as well as Nikon's Nano-Crystal coating which helps to reduce flare and ghosting.
The AF-S 70-200mm VR II features a VR II module (Vibration Reduction) for which Nikon claims an efficiency of up to 4 f-stops (it seemed more like three stops in the field to us). The lens offers two VR modes - a "normal" mode for most situations inc. static scenes, object tracking as well as monopod shots whereas the 2nd "active" mode to compensate more pronounced vibrations (e.g. when shooting from a moving vehicle).
In addition to the VR controls there is also a switch to limit the AF range. The previous model featured some AF stop buttons at the front of the lens. Instead of extending their functionality (like on the high end tele primes) Nikon unfortunately decided to remove all these buttons.
Thanks to an IF (internal focusing) design the front element does not rotate so using a polarizer is no problem. Like all modern Nikkors it features a silent-wave (ultrasonic) AF motor providing extremely fast and near-silent AF operations as well as manual focus override at any time.
The lens is compatible to and retains AF with all current Nikon tele converters.
|Equiv. focal length||105-300 mm (full format equivalent)|
|Equiv. aperture||f/4.2 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)|
|Optical construction||21 elements in 16 groups inc. 7 ED elements and Nano Crystal Coating|
|Number of aperture blades||9 (rounded)|
|min. focus distance||1.4 m (max. magnification ratio 1:8.33)|
|Dimensions||87 x 205.5 mm|
|Filter size||77 mm (non-rotating)|
|Hood||Nikon HB-48 (bayonet mount with lock, supplied), petal-shaped|
|Other features||Lens provides distance (D) information. Tripod collar with removable foot. Vibration reduction (VR II). Dust and waterproof rubber sealing|