Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR lens tested at DxOMark

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f4G ED VR lens DxOMark tst score

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f4G ED VR lens DxOMark tst score 2

Another quick update from DxOMark - the test score for the new Nikkor 70-200mm f/4G ED VR lens ($1,396.95) is out. Unfortunately DxOMark doesn't have any test data for the new 70-200 f/2.8 VRII lens and the above comparison includes only the older 70-200 f/2.8 model. Their conclusion:

"The Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/4G ED VR shows itself to be a remarkably good performer. If you are a Nikon user and are in the market for a 70-200mm focal range lens, it makes a great case for serious consideration with high scores in all lens test metrics and a price that is much lower than expected for the performance on offer. It does seem hard to suggest a lens costing over $1000USD can show value for money, but in the case of this lens, it really does. In the battle of 70-200mm lenses, it is only out-scored by the Canon EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM that is almost double the price."

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  • CommonSense

    Not worth it imo; better to save up for the fast aperture lens (2.8G) version.

    • Dustbak

      I have both of them. both great lenses but different. In some circumstances I prefer carrying the f4 over the f2.8. Unless you need or really want to shoot at f2.8 only there is little need to save for the 2.8. Get the 4.0 instead and start shooting instead of saving…

    • RVB

      Really depends on application,weight and price are on the side of the F4,for landscape shooters that don’t need 2.8 its an attractive lens

    • Csaba Molnár

      Well, you should change your name I guess :-p Whether it’s worth it or not depends on the type of photography you do. For landscapes, the f/4 is arguably better, because you don’t normally shoot at wide aperture, and the size reduction is significant when hiking.

      I would say the same for portraiture if you work with strobes. On FX F/4 is pretty shallow already for the usual focal lengths (105-150) – in fact, it’s a bit too shallow (I use f/4 – f/5.6 for single portraits usually).

      For product work, the usual working apertures start at F/5.6 for these focal lengths, but for medium-sized objects (for example, a pair of shoes) I’m often at f8-f9 and DoF is still a bit shallow sometimes. One more thing in favour of the f4 lens that it can focus more closely – not a macro lens, but with a macro filter this lens kicks ass for macro work as well.

      So blanket statements like yours doesn’t show much common sense 🙂 The F2.8 lens has an advantage when it comes to low light events (including sports) but that’s it. I do events occasionally, but not nearly enough to justify spending $1000 more, where for 90% of the work I do the new F4 lens is a better choice – and not only because of the price. In fact, I’d probably consider this new lens even if they were at the same price…

  • Plug

    Just what I need: at my age and out in the wilds the lesser weight will be a boon.

    • Antonio

      I do understand you. The problem is that I bought the VR II one year ago and the F:4 came a bit late for me to opt. Fortunately I kept the 70-300 VR that is a bit slower and is seen as belonging to another league but is a very nice lens to take along when weight is important, You don’t have critical requirements and the advantages of a wider aperture not so much.

  • SmartMan

    Worth it in my opinion; better to use the money you save (not getting 2.8G) and get other things.

  • Dave Ingram

    And if you factor in the cost of the mount …

    Was half thinking of going with this lens for bird photography but figure the 300mm f4 would give better value (plus it’s got the mount bundled in).

    • Dave in NC

      My experience is that the Nikon tripod collar that comes with the 300 f/4 is not very good. I bought a Kirk mount that dramatically improved the sharpness of the lens.

      • Dave Ingram

        Good to know – thanks @b83e557ddeb41032e1ebdef7adf64253:disqus

        • Dave in NC

          Glad to have helped!

    • SJKartch

      The 300mm f/4 is a fantastic birding lens, especially with the TC-14E II. I also bought the Kirk mount and like it a lot. I’m looking forward to the 70-200mm f/4 that is on it’s way for the VR and lower weight.

      • SJKartch

        Primarily for purposes other than birding.

  • E

    Looks nice. I would choose it before the 2.8, due to half the weight!

  • Shame they don’t have a comparison vs. the 70-200 f2.8 VRII – or did I miss it?

    • Kessy

      I would also like to see the comparison with Sigma 70-200 f2.8 (newest one) as those are in similar price range. So would be interesting to see/hear how they look side by side performance wise.

  • Robert

    Really interesting to see how it is possible that DxO has not yet tested the Nikkor 70-200/2.8G VR II. So much for impartiality, makes the Canon look good (which it isn’t)

    • We all have preferences, but to say that this particular Canon lens isn’t good is simply nonsense.

      • Clint

        Chris, you hit the nail on the head. @Robert – Holy fanboi Batman. Regardless of your brand preference the Canon 70-200ISVer2 is widely considering as one of the best.

        • sorry, wrong post, wrong time.

    • The Canon lens is exceptional,I have used both…

  • Dave in NC

    I have this lens, and used it on a trip to Vienna for photos to illustrate the next book I am writing. The size and VR are great. I had the 2.8 VR1, but prefer the f/4 without question. It’s not for sports or portraits when f/2.8 is needed, but the bokeh at f/4 is still very pleasant. Nikon makes different lenses for different needs. For my use, the new f/4 is great. I bought the tripod mount, which releases for hand-held use quite conveniently. The is a much better collar than on the 300mm f/4. I’ll be interested to see if Kirk makes a better mount.

  • itcrashed

    A useless comparison without the 70-200 f/2.8G VR II

    • MyrddinWilt

      The test is pretty much superfluous either way.

      Its a Nikon pro lens with a gold band. So basically it is going to be pretty much as close to the state of the art as it gets. The f/4 is going to be lighter and the f/2.8 is going to allow shallower DoF.

      Now comparing the two lenses at f/4 would be kind of interesting for a giggle but the differences are going to be so minor that the chances you would ever notice in any real world situation are pretty much zero.

      • jake

        the VR2 is obviously sharper at 200mm f4 , I compared these 2 times on a solid tripod using both my D800E and D600.
        recently, actually confirmed I was right on this one.
        I was very excited to get this relatively samll tele photo zoom but as I compared it to my VR2 70-200f2.8, I was really disappointed and immediately returned this f4VR.
        so, this one is not worth the high price and I recommend any one debating this one vs the VR2 f2.8 70-200mm lens to go for the f2.8VR2 or the Tamron 70-200f2.8VC USD.

    • Andre

      This is a perfect comparison, the new f4 is in competition with a second hand VR1 and th f4 is sharper with less vignetting

      • jake

        no, it is not , it is an useless comparison (until it gets the VR2 in the set).

  • Kevin

    I think i would wait for 24 – 300 F1.4 , VR VI , in the next X years.

    • RVB

      That lens is rumoured to be soft at the edges…

      • Pat Mann

        The Sigma is a lot cheaper, and fits in a Cherokee

  • ScienceTheBear

    i’m inclined to believe that there’s a bit of nepotism going on between the lens makers and DxOMark. of course the f/4 would be better than the f/2.8 VR. $2000 says the f/2.8 VRII will be slightly better than the f/4.

  • Pat

    I have both the VR2 and this f/4 version. The f/4 is really, really good. The IQ of the two lenses are almost identical, both by itself and with the TC-14E II. AF is slightly slower (you have one less stop of light going into the AF sensor after all) but that’s a given. Only when TC-20EIII is mounted does the f/2.8 version do better.

    That said with the TC14, the difference between a [effective] 280mm f/4 and 280mm f/5.6 is huge. You can do a lot more at f/4 than at f/5.6.

    The f/4 does not have the FL breathing however. 200mm is very close to 200mm at MFD. that’s very impressive.

    • El Aura

      The phase-detect AF system has additional internal baffles (‘apertures’) that for the vast majority of (D)SLRs only let in light from the f/5.6 ring of a lens. It does not make any difference to the AF system if the lens is f/2.8 or f/4. Here is a post with links going a bit more into detail:

    • MyrddinWilt

      Does it breathe at the other end though?

      I read that this was pretty much a design constraint, you either overbuild the lens so it is quite a bit larger and costlier or you end up with breathing on the short or the long end of the zoom.

    • jake

      maybe you got lucky with this lens then . yours must be a really good copy of the f4VR..

      my copy of the F4VR was not really good, especially compared to my good copy of the f2.8VR2.
      it was sharp at 70mm even wide open but not really good at 200mm and I got it as a light weight 200mm lens(meaning , I seldom use it at 70mm).

  • GhostRider117

    Lacks the build quality of the 2.8, though… And don’t forget to include a tripod collar in your budget 😉
    That being said, if those are details for you, buy the f/4, go out, and shoot…

    • Pat Mann

      A tripod collar is much less necessary on this lens than on the f.2.8 – no real problem using the camera thread with a lens of this weight, at least on a pro body, and particularly if you’re using an L-plate (which you can get for about the same price as the tripod collar), which I suspect most of us using this lens on a tripod do.

      • Trippster

        Top of the line L-plates are around $140 new, still almost $100 cheaper than the absurdly overpriced Nikon tripod collar. And I agree, it’s not really necessary on this lens. If you say this lens needs it then the 24-70 also probably needs it (and even 14-24 with its massive front element).

    • ToastyFlake

      This lens doesn’t need a tripod collar because it’s not a tank. I took some night shots on a tripod last night and everything felt balanced and secure. No signs of any shake even with 30 second exposures.

  • Tabazan

    Well … quite good. Just like is the 70-200 Canon F4 vs F2.8 but it’s not the same category and use anyway. F4 is not enough for indoor sports. And DxO is just a lab. Real life situations test will prove right/wrong.

  • Sole Prop

    The f 2.8 makes the difference for my kind of shooting, where blowing out the background is important, but it’s nice to see the f 4 rated so well.

  • joseph

    Meh. If I really wanted that range I’d rather simply have an older 80-200mm f/4.5 AI lens. I have the 80-200 AFS and I never use it.

    Or more likely, I’ll take an 85/1.8 and 135/2 for about the same price and get 2 stops more light and better performance.

    • Depending on what 85/1,8 you are talking about. I have the Pre-Ai K lens, which has wonderful, swirly bokeh for when you want it, but is never 100% sharp even at centre and small apertures. The new 85/1,8 AFS is a different lens altogether, so is the AFD version.

      Character? 85/1,8K. Performance? All the others.

  • shivaswrath

    this is stupid with a comparison to the VR2, which would more than likely blow it out of the water…

  • jack yell

    Choose D800E as the camera and the score will jump to 31

  • Brent
  • Richard

    wow, nikkors have great lenses. I see plenty of nikon in the lens ranking and 85mm 1.4G is the first! too bad nikkor super telephotos are not tested in there, just the canon ones

  • neonspark

    canon leadership is not what it used to be, if any remains.

    • Leadership as judged by Japanese companies is this: many many products, no image, low price. Here in Japan, companies like Toyota (undisputed worlwide ‘leader’) release up to 40 car models a year, differing by as little as the placement of fenders.

      Japan is a nation of commodities. It makes and makes and makes with no regard for image or detail or ergonomics. I spent four days in the back seat of a Prius unable to figure out what the displays meant. Here, things drastically from generation to generation without regard for the tradition set out within a preceding product line. It’s been this way since German and American products lost their spiritual leadership in any major product category.

      Canon, like Nikon, are Japanese. They will make a million products from top to bottom and saturate the market mostly with crap. If Nikon feel they want to be the best seller around the world, get ready for more hardware problems, less attention to detail, and a lot more useless products.

      Japanese companies should not be out front leading. They should be doing what they do best and copying other, better companies until they can undercut on price. Right now, the Japanese market of cameras has stagnated to a mire of myopia. They no longer look outside.

      Until they do again, we will have a yearly: which is better, canon or nikon? It doesn’t matter: they are the same. One makes EF mount, one F. That is the difference.

      • A. Lurker

        I don’t think I’ve ever seen the situation stated quite like this. It partially answers my question to myself of why, after leaving my Nikon Fs after forty years, did I buy not a new Nikon, but a Leica.

  • Jorge

    I have the 70-200 F2.8 VR and I absolutely love it! I wouldn’t trade it for anything but a VRII. I use my 70-200 on both my D700 and D800 and it’s just amazing.

  • The Contrarian

    I fail to understand all this glorification of lens sharpness. Who cares how sharp a lens is; what we think of as “sharpness” is a result of how the photographer sets up the scene vis a vis contrast between objects and colors, the hardness or softness of the light, and the way light is distributed through the frame.
    Two of the best lenses Nikon ever made are the 105 and 135 f/2 DC and neither of them is strikingly sharp, but they capture the human face with a magical realism that is breathtaking. So are they bad lenses because they don’t hit some arbitrary number of lph?
    I want to know if the lens can focus accurately and consistently, are the ergonomics such that I can hold it relatively steadily, will it maintain its calibration over years of daily use, does it delineate the planes of the scene, and does it gracefully handle gradations of color and tone.

  • Shawn

    I love how everything can be formulaically boiled down into just one number. Without these numbers I would have no way to compare two products to really know which one is the best. What would I do without these rating systems? Probably off doing something silly like taking pictures.

  • KnightPhoto

    BTW, Thanks for this lens comparison link – is fantastic!

    • Brent

      I wasn’t trying to stir the pot, more that people wanted the II Nikon version comparison. Check out the 200mm end of both lenses and how they perform.

  • I’m not sure why they can get the F/4 reviewed and not the VRII. Shouldn’t they be using the D800 to test now anyways?

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