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 - expensive considering 3rd party lenses start new at a little over $1,000.00
- 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 is bluntly - the lens is fast and you will not be disappointed.
Vibration Reduction: It is difficult to compare between 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.
Synology NAS Warning Notice that the data will be erased during the process. This is for the NEW drive only.
The second image below of the squirrel you can resolve each individual hair.
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.
Synology NAS Notice to confirm the repair on the selected volume
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 for 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 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 to mine 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 top performer is always being chased.