Smaller, lighter and cheaper, yet with allegedly higher image quality than the f/2.8 staple of professionals, this 70-200mm lens, when coupled with my 17-50mm zoom, covers 90% of the situations I shoot in.
It’s well built, has exceptional optics, easy to use and with great VR, there is very little to not like about this lens!
This is a ‘real world’ review, I focus (pun intended) on how the lens works for me. I don’t shoot walls, I don’t shoot test charts, and I won’t be filling the page with 100% crops from the very edge of the frame. This is my lens, I bought it full price, and I still own it.
If you are looking for a review that covers the minutiae of every single feature, then I am afraid you are in the wrong place. If you want to see some images shot by an ordinary person with this lens, in ordinary use, then read on.
I got mine from Amazon here .
Superb. It’s sharp pretty much edge to edge, has good bokeh and very little falloff. What little distortion is there can barely be noticed, and when clicking the ‘lens correction’ button in Lightroom I struggle to see any change of note.
Pointed straight into the setting sun there is no flare. In fact, I have not been able to find any optical errors. When shot back to back with my old Sigma 150-500mm this lens was in a different league. Other than my big, heavy macro lens, this is the sharpest lens I own.
This lens is only just over half the weight of the 7-200mm f/2.8 pro lens, that is a huge difference. This f/4 lens, mounted on a D7100, weighs less than the f/2.8 by itself! That is a huge difference, and means you are more likely to bring the lens with you than leave it at home because you cannot be bothered carrying 1.5kg of lens.
The f/4 lens is also slimmer and a touch shorter than the f/2.8, so it feels a lot more suited to the smaller format bodies, and on my D7100 it is a match made in heaven – well balanced, easy to handhold, and light enough for me to carry around all day easily.
It works, really works very well indeed. The VR in this lens is the second generation, and it makes a noticeable difference when shooting in less than ideal conditions. I have managed usable images handheld at 1/30s (at ISO 3200). No, they aren’t tack sharp at those sort of shutter speeds, but printed up to around A3 size they are perfectly acceptable.
It is well built, but doesn’t have the heft of the f/2.8. Will it take a decade of hard professional use? Probably not, but that’s not how I use the lens either. The zoom and focus rings are both smooth and have just the right amount of damping. AF-S gives instant autofocus override, and as nothing move externally, the insides should stay reasonably dust free for a long time.
Mine has, like the 17-50mm, been used in environments ranging from the bone dry 40°c heat of the Namib desert, in 90% humidity in the jungles of Cambodia, and well inside the Arctic circle, at -15°c when the wind chill is factored in. Not once has is skipped a beat, working well in every condition I have used it.
At around £600 less than the f/2.8 lens you have to ask yourself just how important that extra stop of light is? Do you need the pro-level build quality of the f/2.8 because you use it all day every day? Or are you the sort of person who appreciates a fantastic lens, but could do without the bulk of the f/2.8, not to mention the £600 in your back pocket!
To me, it is a no-brainer, this lens offers amazing image quality at a price that is reasonably easy to swallow.
It doesn’t come with one, which is a good thing as the frightfully expensive Nikon collar looks to be just as useless as the one included with the 80-400mm AF-S.
The lens is light enough that mounting the camera directly on a tripod is fine, although if you really wanted to mount the lens, then the Kirk replacement is only £20 more than the feeble Nikon effort, and will offer much more rigidity as it supports the lens in 2 places.
Light, fast, boasting excellent image quality, great VR and all in a package that is smaller and a significant amount of money less than the 70-200mm f/2.8 pro zoom, this lens is ideal for those looking for a high quality telephoto zoom for almost any use, other than a full time professional beating. Couple this lens with a decent wide angle zoom and you will rarely want for another lens in almost all shooting situations.
I love mine, and it comes on every trip with me, being just small enough to put into a jacket pocket or small waist pack.
You can get one for yourself from Amazon here.