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Nikon Owner Issue 9

AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED Review
by Simon Stafford

Simon Stafford takes an exclusive first look at this long awaited lens.

AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED
AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED

It is almost a year to the day that the Nikon Corporation issued a press release announcing the development of a new class of Nikkor lens that would see AF-S and VR technology combined for the first time.

Originally scheduled for release during the autumn of last year it has finally arrived. I am extremely fortunate to have been given exclusive access to one from the first batch of full production prototype lenses to be shipped to the UK, courtesy of Nikon (UK), and have spent the past few days putting it to the test.

The new optic, to be known as the AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED, certainly has an impressively long title, but given the pedigree of Zoom-Nikkor lenses in this class of focal length range, which is second to none, does it live up to expectations?

Specification

The build quality and precision engineering of the product certainly create an immediate impression as you lift the lens out of its case for the first time. The barrel and tripod mount are constructed from a light, die-cast magnesium alloy, which is covered in a smooth ‘hammered-metal’ finish similar to other current professional grade Nikkors such as the AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8D IF-ED. The review sample was, like all standard production models, black. However, in line with some other professional grade Nikkors, it will be available in a light grey finish to special order. The lens has been designed to operate in harsh conditions and inclement weather; it has seals and ‘O’ rings to protect any point where the ingress of moisture or dust might occur, including a rubber gasket around the lens mount to protect the electrical contacts between the lens and camera body. Nikon claim it has a level of protection equivalent to that of an F5.

AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED
The array of switches that control focus and VR functions

This Nikkor has a focal length range from 70mm to 200mm (effectively 105 – 300mm on Nikon D1 and D100 digital SLR cameras) with a constant maximum aperture of f/2.8, and minimum aperture of f/22. The diaphragm has nine blades to produce a near circular aperture, which improves the appearance of out-of-focus areas by giving them a more natural shape. There are twenty-one elements, of which no less than five are made from Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) glass, arranged in fifteen groups. ED glass, origi-nally invented by Nikon, is used to minimise the effects of chromatic aberration and thus improve resolution and contrast. To maintain a colour reproduction con-sistent with other Nikkors, and reduce the effects of ghosting and flare, Nikon’s Super Integrated Coating is applied throughout to the surfaces of the lens elements.

The lens’ optics provide a picture angle of 34°20’ - 12°20’ (22°50’ - 8° with Nikon digital SLR cameras), and has a minimum focus distance of 1.4m in manual focus (MF) and 1.5m in Auto Focus (AF). At the longest focal length setting, this provides a maximum reproduction ratio (RR) of 1:5.6 at 1.4m (MF), and 1:6.1 at 1.5m (AF). The lens is 87mm in diameter, 215mm long, and at 1430g (with the tripod mounting foot) is 10% lighter than the current AF-S 80-200mm f/2.8 model.

Herring Gull
This Herring gull was photographed from the deck of a small boat as I crossed from the mainland to Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire. I set the VR to Active Mode and the AF on my F5 to Dynamic

Since this is a G-type lens there is no aperture ring. The rotating tripod collar cannot be detached from the lens, despite the instruction book stating that it can! Instead, Nikon have fitted it with an innovative remo-vable foot that is attached by a dovetail shaped clamp. Immediately in front of the collar are the switches to set the focus mode, focus range and VR functions. Sadly Nikon have chosen to use transfers for the markings that indicate the position of all four switches. I know from experience with other AF Nikkor lenses that with prolonged use these will eventually rub off! The zoom ring has a broad rubberised grip, and is marked for focal lengths of 70, 80, 105, 135, and 200mm. I am pleased to see that these markings are engraved making them far more durable.

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