Science

Nikkor AF-S 200-500mm f / 5.6E ED VR lens review

The Nikkor AF-S 200-500mm f / 5.6E ED VR is the longest telezoom Nikon sells in its F-mount range, and it is the mother of all Nikkor telezooms. Ideal for aviation, sports and wildlife photography, this lens takes the strain off small subjects far away, and with the added ability to zoom in and out, it means recomposing shots is a breeze.

It has a constant aperture of f / 5.6 rather than a variable aperture range that is quite common among telezooms. However, despite this, it comes at an incredible price.

Essential information:

Type: Telezoom FX

Compatibility: Nikon F mount

Focal range: 200-500mm

Aperture range: constant f / 5.6

Thread Size: 95mm

Weight: 5 pounds (includes tripod collar)

Designed as a full-frame FX lens, the Nikkor AF-S 200-500mm f / 5.6E ED VR also works with crop sensor DX camera bodies (such as the D7500) where the magnification ratio amplifies the distance range. effective focal length at 300-750mm: ideal for bird photographers.

In its construction, it has 19 elements in 12 groups (including three ED glass elements), it has a minimum focusing distance of 7.22 / 2.2 m ft from the focal plane (the focal plane can be found as a circle with a line leading to it). goes through somewhere on your Nikon camera body), and it feels incredibly sturdy with its metal / plastic / rubber body.

Four switches on the side of the lens allow manual and automatic focus switching, restrictive autofocus distance, on / off for Vibration Reduction, and a normal / sport mode for VR. There is an additional switch (LOCK 200) that locks the lens in its shortest position (when the lens is enlarged to 200mm) to shorten it during transport and stop unwanted extension.

Today’s Best Nikkor AF-S FX 200-500mm f / 5.6E ED VR Deals

Nikkor AF-S 200-500mm f / 5.6E ED VR: Design

  • Smooth zoom ring
  • Great virtual reality performance
  • Zoom lock switch

If there is something that is this goal, it is heavy. Sure, it’s nothing compared to long telephoto prime lenses that are as thick as your thigh, but 5 pounds is nothing to tinker with. If you’re shooting handheld, you’ll need to start hitting the gym, as the Nikkor AF-S 200-500mm f / 5.6E ED VR lens is almost 10.6 inches (27cm) long. That said, most shooters will likely use a monopod, gimbal, or tripod as a support base because it lends itself perfectly to sports, wildlife, and aviation photography, where standing still with a large piece of glass is the accepted norm.

Image shows front view of AF-S 200-500mm f / 5.6E ED VR Nikkor lens

(Image credit: Jason Parnell-Brookes)

Although the AF-S 200-500mm f / 5.6E ED VR Nikkor lens is quite heavy, the zoom ring is surprisingly smooth and light. A slight twist with your finger or thumb is all it takes to turn it. Compare that to the older Nikkor AF-S 70-200mm f / 2.8G ED VRII, which feels a lot heavier, makes recomposing a breeze. However, if you want to quickly change from 200mm to 500mm, you will need a half turn of the focus ring. It might not sound like much, but when you consider that the lens barrel is about 4.2 inches (10.8 cm) in diameter, it can easily take three or four turns with your left hand to get there. That means more time spent shooting and less time shooting, resulting in missed shots – something that can’t really be allowed in sports photography or any of the other appropriate disciplines this lens is designed for.

Image shows close-up side view of AF-S 200-500mm f / 5.6E ED VR Nikkor lens

(Image credit: Jason Parnell-Brookes)

Nikkor AF-S 200-500mm f / 5.6E ED VR: Performance

Focusing can take a while on this beast, especially when the AF point fails and the camera searches to find its target. That’s why one of the four switches on the side of the Nikkor AF-S 200-500mm f / 5.6E ED VR lens can restrict the autofocus distance, with options of FULL (which will automatically focus the entire range from your distance focus to infinity) or infinity – 6 meters. This dramatically shortens AF seek time, which can make the difference between taking a shot or not when working with distant and fast-moving subjects.

The image is an image of a bird of prey in flight taken with the Nikkor AF-S 200-500mm f / 5.6E ED VR lens

With the autofocus distance lock switch on at infinity, the 6-meter AF locks quickly on subjects even when moving with speed (Image credit: Jason Parnell-Brookes)

The vibration reduction (image stabilization) on the lens means a whopping 4.5 stops, which is considerable even compared to modern mirrorless lenses and bodies. The Sport VR switch turns virtual reality into the lens to make it easy to follow the action in the field. You have more reliable exposure control when using Nikon’s electromagnetic iris control, which makes still image bursts much more consistent than the old mechanical link technology Nikon used to work with.

Image 1 of 3

Nikkor AF-S FX 200-500mm f / 5.6E ED VR review - Picture shows a paraglider

(Image credit: Jason Parnell-Brookes)

As you can see, there is minimal chromatic aberration at the extremely contrasting edges, even at 200% crop it is difficult to find areas with colored fringes

Image 2 of 3

Nikkor AF-S FX 200-500mm f / 5.6E ED VR review - Picture shows a paraglider

(Image credit: Jason Parnell-Brookes)

As you can see, there is minimal chromatic aberration at the extremely contrasting edges, even at 200% crop it is difficult to find areas with colored fringes

Image 3 of 3

Nikkor AF-S FX 200-500mm f / 5.6E ED VR review: iimage shows paragliding

(Image credit: Jason Parnell-Brookes)

There is minimal chromatic aberration on the extremely contrasting edges; Even at 200% crop, it is difficult to find areas with colored fringes in photos taken with the Nikkor AF-S 200-500mm f / 5.6E ED VR.

With 19 glass elements inside the lens, you’ll be forgiven for assuming there is likely a lot of chromatic aberration (stripes of color) around the contrasting edges of the frame. That’s what we assumed before testing, but looking at the results, we’re pleasantly surprised by how proficient he handled it. In some cases we had to clip to 200% before we noticed any chromatic aberration, and even then it was just a small green section right at the point of some intersecting lines. Although the lens does suffer a bit of vignetting around the edge, this adds charm to photos and can be easily removed in image editing software if desired. The image remains sharp throughout the frame, but becomes slightly softer towards the edges, as you would expect from almost any lens.

The image is a photograph of a paraglider taken with the Nikkor AF-S 200-500mm f / 5.6E ED VR lens

The 4.5 stops of Vibration Reduction help alleviate camera or subject motion blur even when shooting in low light levels or slower shutter speeds, helping to keep the image sharp. (Image credit: Jason Parnell-Brookes)

Should you buy the Nikkor AF-S 200-500mm f / 5.6E ED VR?

If you like sports, wildlife or aviation photography, indeed if there is any chance that you want to capture a subject that is smaller or much further away, and you need a good range at a reasonable price, then the Nikkor AF- S 200- 500mm f / 5.6E ED VR is definitely a fantastic option. It’s good enough for professional use, but those working in low light may want to consider another telezoom with a wider maximum aperture, although the 4.5 stops of VR help a lot in that regard. This lens is probably not ideal for a beginner (although it definitely won’t stop you) because the cheaper and lighter 70-300mm lenses mentioned below are probably a safer bet to get into the world of telezoom.

If this product is not for you

Although it is the only lens in Nikon’s F-mount range to offer such a generous telephoto zoom range, the Nikkor AF-S 200-500mm f / 5.6E ED VR is not for everyone. It’s priced well considering the price of other lenses, and it costs roughly the same as the 70-200mm f / 2.8.

If budget is an issue, a better option might be the more affordable Nikon AF-P 70-300mm f / 4.5-5.6E ED or Tamron’s equivalent Tamron SP 70-300mm f / 4-5.6 Di VC USD, It offers much of the focal length range at a much lower price. But beware of the strong chromatic aberration of these lenses, it may be worth turning on Lens Corrections when editing in post-processing software.

Image shows side view of Nikkor AF-S 200-500mm f / 5.6E ED VR telezoom

(Image credit: Jason Parnell-Brookes)

However, if you want to match the 200-500mm focal length range but collect more light for low-light shots, then the Sigma 200-500mm f / 2.8 EX DG lens could be an option, at almost 6 times the price. . However, it does come with its own carry handle built into the lens.

Today’s Best Nikkor AF-S FX 200-500mm f / 5.6E ED VR Deals

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