Most marques offer a premium quality 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, put a lot of effort into making it as good as it possibly can be and charge a pretty high price for it. Nikon now join the fray with this offering for their already known to be outstanding Z system, so expectations are very high. Will the other fine lenses in the range be a hard act to follow? We find out, using the 24.3MP Nikon Z5 body.
There is no escaping the fact that any 70-200mm f/2.8 full-frame lens is going to be fairly hefty, but the new Nikkor weighs in at a reasonable 1360g without the tripod collar, or 1440g with. It fits well size-wise with the Z5 body provided for the review and balance-wise the lens is where the natural centre of gravity lies. This works well.
Starting our tour of the lens at the front, a large petal lens hood is provided. This bayonets securely into place and is held firmly by a locking catch that is secure and has no tendency to be accidentally released. Within the bayonet fitting is a standard 77mm filter thread.
The zoom ring is wide, does not change the length of the lens, and is smooth in operation. It is clearly marked with focal lengths of 70, 85, 105, 135 and 200mm. Behind this is the bank of L-Fn2 buttons, equally spaced around the barrel, and pressing one of these will perform an action assigned from the camera menus.
Behind this lies the manual focusing ring, which is active during AF, so small tweaks can be made as desired. Minimum focusing distance depends upon the focal length. Maximum magnification is 0.2x, or 1:5.
Immediately behind this is the OLED information panel, which can be set to indicate aperture, focus distance, depth of field, focal length or ISO. Also at this point is the L-Fn1 button, also able to be assigned various functions from the camera menus.
Moving closer to the camera body, the rotating tripod collar can be removed if desired, but is very useful on a tripod for moving the camera easily from landscape to portrait orientation. Behind this is the control ring, which can be assigned different functions such as aperture control or exposure compensation. Again, these are set via the camera menus. When set to aperture control the aperture change is totally silent and totally smooth, ideal for videographers.
Finally, closest to the lens mount, is the AF/MF switch and the focus limiter. Focus can be set to full range, or limited to infinity to 5m. There is no VR switch as this is controlled from the camera menus. The lens is moisture and dust resistant and the front element also has a Fluorine coating to repel dust, water and grease.
Optical construction is 21 elements in 18 groups. There are 6 ED (Extra Low Dispersion), 2 Aspherical, 1 Fluorite and 1 SR (Short wavelength refraction) elements. The diaphragm comprises 9 rounded blades for improved bokeh.
In terms of handling, the lens cannot be faulted. Fast and accurate AF locks on every time. The VR system promises 5 stops advantage, and certainly, 4 stops can be secured reliably and sometimes 5 stops. Of course, this does nothing to address subject movement such as wildlife, but it is still a huge benefit in reducing camera shake.
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