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Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Lens Review

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Lens Review
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Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Lens Review

Best Nikkor 70-200

It started back in 2014 when I was out with my dated Nikon 80-200mm push-pull zoom lens and while the 80-200 was a very good lens I did not like the push-pull for zooming. Push Pull zooms tend to move air around the lens elements and with air comes dust. Between 2014 and 2015 I started to put away some funds to upgrade to the newer VRII lens and by 2015 I made the upgrade to the 70-200 VRII. It was a nice improvement stepping up from my 80-200mm. I was very pleased with the Nikon 70-200 VRii and thought how can a lens be made better. Then Nikon was poised to release an updated model using FL glass - so I sold the VRII ponied up some more funds and did the pre-order of the New Nikon 70-200mm ED FL lens.

Now I ask myself again - how can the Nikkor 70-200mm ED FL f/2.8 be topped, in my opinion, the only way would be to reduce the weight while maintaining the extreme optical performance - maybe in a few years that will happen.  Nikon is planning to release a 70-200 for the new Z line in the next year.

Pros of the Nikkor 70-200 ED FL:  

  • By far the lens is head and shoulders above ANY zoom I have ever owned for optical performance.
  • Fills the much-needed zoom range for everything from landscapes to portraiture.
  • The lens is built with extreme craftsmanship using exceptional weather sealing and dust protection. 
  • Flourite Lens Element help reduce weight while maintaining excellent IQ

Cons of the Nikkor 70-200 ED FL:

  • The cost - an expensive lens
  • Awkward zoom ring position - I would prefer it to be at the rear not out front.
  • 200mm is not 200mm when focused close in.

An obvious consideration from the perspective of many photographers who consider buying this lens - why drop $2400.00 vs a much cheaper 3rd party lenses like a Sigma or Tamron? Price does not always equate to better but in this case, I would say yes it does. The Nikkor 70-200mm ED FL is a superior zoom lens as many of the online head to head reviews have concluded.

Focus Speed and Image Acquisition: One of the fastest focusing lenses I have ever used - on par with my Nikkor 400mm f/2.8 when mounted with a Nikon D850.  When using the lens with a Nikon Z6/7 camera body it still is very speedy and from my observations reduces the Nikon Zs focus hunt.  To put it bluntly - the lens is fast and you will not be disappointed.

Vibration Reduction: It is difficult to compare my older VRII to the new ED FL in this area since I no longer own the VRII.  I can honestly state the ED FL is as good or better than the VRII. I did notice it was much quieter in operation, with a very slight hum, you need to put your ear next to the lens to hear the VR.

Vibration Reduction with a Nikon Z: Works extremely well.  As I stated in my Z camera review you can not turn off the lens VR without turning off VR all together - The Nikon's in body stabilization cannot be used without also having the lens VR on.  

Image Sharpness and detail resolution - exceptional see the image below. 


The second image below of the squirrel you can resolve each individual hair. 

Squirrel is about 150 feet out - notice the fine hair details that were resolved and his claws. f/5.0 1/250s

Color and Contrast Rendering: Another example of excellent optical coatings and quality of glass. I consider the Nikon 70-200mm ED FL lens one of my best - the lens renders excellent color with very good contrast - see below. 


The images of the birds in the image library were all shot through a double pane glass window and thus some loss of sharpness did occur.

Thoughts: If you demand the best in optical class/performance, extreme weather/dust sealing, and can afford this Nikkor 70-200mm ED FL lens - you will have the very best lens for your Nikon Camera.

What if you do not want to spend on a Nikon Lens?  Based on my research I recommend you take a look at the Tamron G2 for your DSLR.  If you are using a Nikon Z and FTZ - PLEASE check Tamron's site for compatibility, not all Tamron lenses work with the FTZ adapter.

What I like most about the lens: Focus Speed, accuracy, and superior optical Performance.

What I like least about the lens: I wished the zoom ring was at the rear to facilitate better hand-holding and zoom operation, in the current state it is a bit awkward to reach out to zoom.

Conclusion: I would buy it again if something happened without hesitation.

Review Benchmark: In many of the reviews out there you will notice almost all other 70-200mm lenses are measured/compared against Nikon 70-200 ED FL because the Nikon 70-200mm lens is always being chased by all others.  The Nikon 70-200mm is the benchmark.

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New ED FL Version  Legacy VRII Version 

Both Versions are Excellent - the ED FL version has a slight sharpness edge.

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