Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4G ED VR Lens review by Nick Delvin at the Luminous Landscape: This lens is very good, showing what modern optical design can achieve, it is pleasing to use and the cost is bearable, though by no means a bargain.

Even at f/4, where the f/2.8 lens should have an advantage, I have been able to detect very little difference.  At 70 and 200mm I thought I saw a teeny, eensy, teeny, weeny little advantage in contrast for the f/2.8…..at 2:1 magnification on screen.  And no, I’m not reproducing those tests here because that kind of pixel abuse is not to be promoted <grin>.   The bokeh, or out of focus rendering, of the lens was just fine.  Not anything like a 75mm AA Summicron, but totally acceptable for an f/4 zoom.

I also wouldn't hesitate to us this lens for studio portraiture. It focuses quickly and silently (as expected) and performs as well as anyone would want on a portrait-shoot, throughout its range.

The f/4 lens did seem to have a slightly  warmer colour reproduction than the f/2.8 version – though again only very slightly.

Irritating issues with autofocus seem to be the new normal. The same holds true with this lens.  The cat tails and frost photo at the top of this article is a prime example.  Using traditional TTL Phase detection AF (that is, focussing using the viewfinder and not live view), the cat tails are simply not ideally sharp.  These are very high contrast subjects, which filled the small AF frame markers in the viewfinder. But they’re just not  sharp.  It may be that my attempt at fine-tuning the AF on the lens was flawed.  But man is this irritating! While I dislike using electronic viewfinders, I have to say that the enhanced reliability of focusing off the sensor itself could convert me one day if this keeps up.

Suffice to say that this – and really all lenses – are best focused on a tripod, with live view.  Now if only the live view implementation on the D800 were better…..

Like all VR , it works.  Likely quite well.  But don’t let this fool you into thinking you will be capturing 36MPs of detail if you’re shooting hand-held at 1/60th of a second.  You won’t. You’ll get a much better, more useable image than before but, for ultra high resolution cameras, hand holding remains a major doom.  For many photographers, however, the ever-improving VR technologies are a great blessing.  My advice, though, is to dial-up the ISO to get a higher shutter-speed, even with VR on, up to about ISO 1600.  The results are so clean that the balance between stability and noise favours an ISO-cheat for a few clicks of shutter speed.

I'm simply not willing to rave about VR on this lens they way we did when it was first introduced in this focal-range.  Some form of image stabilization ought to be the norm on any lens of this price. Yes, it is a significant techincal advance and advtange, but it's time to start taking it for granted, irrespective of what the marketing people might want us to think.  Exclamation marks should be reserved for lenses without VR.

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