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NIKON Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S Review

NIKON Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S Review
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NIKON Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S Review

New King of Trinity

The Nikon Z 70-200 f/2.8 S lens is the best in this zoom range available on the market - Period. Let me repeat, the new S 70-200 is the best 70-200mm available. More than likely, you are buying this lens because it is a native Z lens and requires no FTZ adapter, which makes the lens act as one with your mirrorless camera body, no more fiddling with an FTZ adapter.

 Owning both the Legacy F mount FL VR lens and this Nikon 70-200mm Z lens, I compared overall lens sharpness to the earlier F mount 70-200, and the Z lens is the sharper lens corner to corner at all focal lengths. But I doubt you could tell much difference in images taken at the center; as you get to the corners, you can see improved sharpness, hence why a larger lens flange makes sense. The new Z 70-200 mm's biggest benefit is its close focusing and reduced breathing, meaning you have a 1:5 ratio lens at the closest focusing distance 1meter at 200mm or .5m at 70mm end.

Overall I rate this lens excellent on the overall performance and build - especially since it is a native Z lens and works with the Nikon Z cameras flawlessly. It is missing a dedicated VR on/off button, but that can be easily addressed by having VR as an option to enable/disable on the LCD screen or i menu. I am not sure why some complain there is no dedicated VR switch since you can just as easily turn it on or off in camera.

I have been shooting for many years and owned many 70-200 lenses from Nikon and other third-party lens makers, and I thought the 70-200mm ed fl f/2.8 was great - this new S lens is in a class by itself, rendering breathtaking images, a remarkable work of engineering by Nikon. Way to go, Nikon!  I currently own the ED FL f/2.8 F mount lens, but I hate jerking around with the ftz adapter; thus, I now own the Z 70-200 with no regrets, and it is a welcome upgrade to my legacy F mount version.

As far as weather sealing goes - I have not personally tested this lens in the rain, but from what the specifications state is well sealed and ready to go where you go, and knowing Nikons exceptional build standards, I have no doubt this lens can withstand the elements.

A few extras: With a newer lens for a mirrorless camera, Nikon offers a programmable collar that can be set to change aperture, shutter speed, etc.

Focusing speed and Accuracy: Mounted on the Nikon Z 6II, I was very pleased with how quick from near to far the focusing speed and accuracy were. I did spend several hours moving from subject to subject with various backgrounds from distant subjects to near, and the lens performed very well and rarely failed to find focus. A lot of the focus performance depends on the camera. While using the Nikon Z 6II, I found the focus to be very snappy and never gave me cause for concern.

Ring Neck Parrot
This Ring Neck Parrot was taken @ 104mm f/2.8 1/20s ISO 1000 Nikon Z 6II with the Nikon 70-200 Z lens Hand Held
Vibration Reduction/Image Stabilization: The Nikon 70-200mm Z F/2.8 S lens exhibits exceptional stabilization. The Parrot image was taken handheld @ 104mm 1/20s - before this new 5 axis stabilization, sharp images would not have been possible while hand-holding. Nikon's specifications indicate superior performance over the older F mount lens for optical and near focus distance + excellent support for Nikon's Z cameras: Lens read-out LCD, programmable lens control ring, and lens function buttons. Additionally, the VR supports 5 axis of VR down to 5.5 stops and weighs in a tad over 3 pounds with the lens collar, or (1,360g) without lens collar.

As promised, Nikon has updated the legacy F mount 70-200mm to include support for users of the Z mount system with the new NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S lens.  While the Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S is not cheap, it is an exceptional lens, and like most things Nikon by next year, you should find this lens available at a lower cost.

Superior Performance:

  • Minimized Focus Breathing
  • Both Nano and ARNEO coatings for exceptional anti-reflective properties
  • Near Silent Operation
  • Closer focusing - 1.64 feet at the 70mm end and 3.28 at the 200mm end.
  • Exceptional Weather Sealing (same pro-level as F mount counterpart)
  • Improved overall image quality from center to edge to edge
  • Superior Image Stabilization

On a personal note: I am still amazed that Nikon does not release these lenses with Arca Swiss mount, which to my accounting, is the industry standard.

Who is this lens for? Professionals and serious enthusiasts who demand the best in optics and performance do not want to dink around with an FTZ adapter on their legacy F mount 70-200mm lens.

The biggest question for many DSLR users who are migrating to the S lenses? If you already own the legacy F mount 70-200mm, is this really worth the upgrade? For me, I am fully moving to the S lenses when they become available because the S lenses are superior, and knowing Nikon is rumored to be working on the next iteration of a Z7 replacement having pro-level features. Hence, I want to be ready when the time comes. 

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