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Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm 1:2.8G ED VR II review

February 2010 | By Andy Westlake

The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm 1:2.8G ED VR II was announced in July 2009, as the second iteration of the company's professional stabilized fast telezoom. It's the successor to the AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm 1:2.8G ED VR which first appeared in 2003, and brings to the table an entirely remastered optical system designed to match the demands of the latest high resolution FX format cameras such as the D3X, accompanied by an improved vibration reduction system which Nikon claims offers up to four stops stabilization.

The optics, as we'd expect for this kind of lens, are pretty exotic, with 21 elements in 16 groups. No fewer than 7 of these are fashioned from Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) glass to minimize aberrations, and Nikon's latest Nano Crystal Coating is employed to combat flare. One handling improvement is the addition of a new A/M focus mode, which prevents accidental movements of the focus ring from overriding the autofocus while it's operating. The build quality is appropriate for a professional workhorse lens, with a barrel that's made from magnesium alloy like the bodies of Nikon's pro-level DSLRs, and extensive sealing against dust and moisture.

The 'VR II' has a high expectations to live up to, as its predecessor was considered pretty well best-in-class on DX format bodies. But with the shift to full-frame 'FX' sensors, its shortcomings towards the edge of the image field at longer focal lengths became somewhat exposed, with unusually soft corners even at small apertures, and heavy vignetting wide open. So the Nikon faithful (and more importantly its professional user base) will be hoping that the new model can address these issues on full frame, without significantly compromising performance on the smaller sensor format. So let's see if Nikon has achieved this goal.

Headline features

  • 70-200mm focal length range; fast f/2.8 constant maximum aperture
  • Optical image stabilization – 4 stops with automatic panning detection and 'active' mode
  • Ring-type ultrasonic focusing with full-time manual override
  • F mount for Nikon and Fuji DX and FX format DSLRS

Angle of view

The pictures below illustrate the focal length range from wide to telephoto, on FX (35mm full-frame) and DX (APS-C) camera bodies:

70mm (full frame) 200mm (full frame)
70mm (DX; 105mm equivalent) 200mm (DX; 300mm equivalent)

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm 1:2.8G ED VR II specifications

Street price • US: $2330
• UK: £1700
Date introduced July 2009
Maximum format size 35mm full frame
Focal length 70-200mm
35mm equivalent focal length (APS-C) 105-300mm
Diagonal Angle of view (FF) 34º - 12º
Diagonal Angle of view (APS-C) 23º - 8º
Maximum aperture F2.8
Minimum aperture F22
Lens Construction • 21 elements / 16 groups
• 7 ED elements
Number of diaphragm blades 9, rounded
Minimum focus 1.4m
Maximum magnification 0.12x at 200mm
AF motor type • Ring-type ultrasonic
• Full-time manual focus - A/M and M/A modes
Focus method Internal
Zoom method Internal
Image stabilization • 4 stops claimed
• Auto panning detection
• Active mode
Filter thread • 77mm
• Does not rotate on focus
Supplied accessories Front and rear caps
• HB-48 Hood
• CL-M4 Lens Pouch
Weight 1540g (3.4 lb)
Dimensions 87mm diameter x 209mm length
(3.4 x 8.2 in)
Lens Mount Nikon F only
Other • Dust and moisture sealing
• Reports focus distance information to camera body

* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X, Y, and Z and ideally A, B, and C.

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Total comments: 7

Can anyone help me to find a suitable lens for my Nikon camera? I use the camera mainly for video and looking for a wide angle lens which is good in low light with VR option and also which can cover wide area in focus. I already have a 18-105 lens.
Thanks in advance.

1 upvote

I like it. Very good lens


If u have body like D800E . This lens is pointless . U will achieve better result with Nikkor 85mm F1.4 or other sharp prime lens and doing crop.Save money , save space ...

Seek Studios

Do you own the 70-200 vr 2? Im curious because I shoot with D800 as well and am considering this lens. What makes it pointless?


That doesn't make sense. Shoot at 85mm and then crop, thus turning an expensive 36MP camera into a 15MP? (whatever) camera. People buy 36MP to print BIG. No point if you're cropping.

1 upvote

Not all of us can afford a D8xx so "pointless" is just ignorant. This is one fantastic lens, on DX and FX


Then what if you want to shoot at 200mm? Are you going to break out your 200mm f/2? How about 135mm? May as well bring along a few other bags of lenses while you're at it. Never know when you might want a 50, or a 35, or a 24, or maybe a 300 or something.

Total comments: 7