A few weeks ago, I received the new Nikon 200-500 f/5.6 AFS G VR zoom Nikkor lens. My initial impressions were quite good for a lens of this design and price point. I had a chance today to take it to the local nature center and try my hand at some bird photography; something that I think that the target market for this lens is quite interested in.
Nikon has announced updates to its 500mm and 600mm f/4 VR Nikkor lenses. The new lenses replace the original VR versions, which were announced in 2007. These new big Nikkors use fluorite glass elements to significantly reduce their weight. The 500mm f/4 E FL Nikkor weighs in at 6.8 lbs, and the 600mm f/4 E FL Nikkor is 8.4 lbs. That makes them currently the lightest 500/4 and 600/4 lenses on the market for 35mm format cameras.
Nikon has also updated the VR system in these lenses to add 4-stops of effective shutter speed, and introduced a “sport” VR mode, which should theoretically improve AF tracking of moving subjects. The lenses also gain electronic aperture control, which is intended to improve exposure accuracy during high-speed shooting, such as with the D4s DSLR.
I’ve put together a simple table comparing each of these new lenses to its predecessor. Major differences are highlighted in green.
Spring is still a ways off here in the Rockies, but I did take advantage of some recent nice weather to field test my new Nikon 500mm f/4 AFS G VR Nikkor telephoto lens. In case you missed it, I switched to this lens recently after selling my 600mm f/4 VR. You can check out my podcast to hear about my rationale for switching.
Yesterday, Nikon announced a long-awaited (overdue?) replacement to its 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR lens. The the original 80–400mm VR has been around since 2000, and for as long as I can remember, enthusiasts have cried out for and AFS replacement. Why? Despite very good optics and excellent zoom range, the AF-D model of the 80-400mm was slow to focus and as such sub-par for many action and wildlife photographers. Despite its limitations it remained popular lens because it was the least expensive Nikkor with a focal length of 400mm. On a DX-format DSLR body, that translates to an effective field of view of 600mm, making the 80-400 the enthusiast’s choice for wildlife photography. The relatively compact size of this lens made it an ideal option for travel photographers or people wanting to have extra reach on a reasonable budget. Continue reading Quick Thoughts: 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 AFS G VRII Nikkor lens→
The 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 AFS G VR zoom Nikkor is one of those lenses that is often overlooked by professionals as a viable telephoto option. Why? For starters, it’s relatively slow maximum aperture (f/5.6) means that you really need to shoot it at f/8 to get maximum sharpness. For sports and wildlife shooters, who require fast shutter speeds, that meant using the lens either in bright conditions or with very high ISO settings. That equation changed with the release of the Nikon D3, which allowed very high ISO shooting with clean results. In fact, I recall Dave Black saying how he could use the 70-300mm with the D3 as a viable option. Continue reading Testing the Nikon D4: Performance with the 70-300mm VR Nikkor→