Shooting with the Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G lens by Villager Jim


Shooting with the Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G lens  by Villager Jim

Well how do I start this personal review of my joint favorite lens on earth? Well I think the best credit I could give it is that it matches in quality, speed and sheer ruggedness of my 400mm lens which for me is the holy grail of all lenses. That let me tell you is praise indeed. The first time I put the lens on my camera and shot outside to grab anything that you can think of to test it with (we all do that don't we lol) I realized why so many others whose reviews I read praised it without question.

And from that date years ago till right now I am still in awe of this lens. Its one of those classics that is from the era of still making things sturdy and well made before worrying too much about balance sheets and saving cost here an there, and a thing of such single minded functional beauty that makes you want to hold it and treat with the sort of respect that has you curling your lips up and smiling inwardly to what you own and how lucky you are to indeed have it in your collection. I have lost count how many times this lens has taken amazing shots milliseconds after seeing something as I travel down my local country lanes searching for my mornings catch of images which I post daily to my Facebook page. For me if I had to only ever have one lens on a camera and never be able to own another it would without doubt be this lens. The sheer scope of having a lens that acts like a prime but has the scope of 70mm - 200mm is really a major achievement in design. From taking candid street photography to wildlife shots to brilliant pet portraits this baby can do it all!

Im no technical guru so the figures and stats and specifications blur into insignificance for me, its getting out there and using something that really starts to make you realize you have something special. I have the older version of this lens and it has since been updated, with more features and shorter minimum focus distance etc, but my love affair with this first edition is so strong I cant pull myself away and warrant the upgrade. And that's a good thing.

My kind of photography is what I like to call "Country Lane Photography", a homage to street photography but from the UK countryside point of view, with the wealth of wildlife, farming life, and visual landscape beauty of the Peak District National Park being my outdoor studio. Also I find so much of my imagery comes from being outside in my garden. Living in the countryside, so much wildlife seems to be living so close by its always a pleasure to simply sit for 30 minutes and watch animals appear that if you hadn't sat down you would have never known they were so close. I like to think the magic time is around 10 minutes, of sitting down and being still, before wildlife around you although cautious starts to carry on with its daily routines of survival and food sourcing, and its this sort of time the 70-200mm just sits on my lap waiting for the next mouse to appear, or Blackbird to come and land clucking its young to come out from the shadows and learn the art of worm pulling!

So as you can gather I'm a bit of a fan for this lens. Im sure there are many other greats out there but for me one of them stands head and shoulders above its rivals and siblings and should go down in the annals of photographic history as one of those very very special pieces of engineering where everything came out just right, and you can normally only count on one hand the things in life that hit you with such overwhelming respect that you have to quietly nod and inwardly know you are a very lucky person to own one.

Please follow my daily adventures on

You can also see Jim's previous guest post on shooting with the Nikon AF-S 400mm f/2.8G ED VR lens. If you have an interesting idea for a guest post, you can contact me here.


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  • Bogdan Boeru

    Step 1: Buy sharp lens
    Step 2: Soften everything up
    Step 3: Be cool.

    • ShakyLens

      That was all a bit strange. Might as well have used a 70-300, the end results would have been the same…

      • softy

        A 70-210mm AI with a scratched front element would probably produce sharper results than these as well 🙂

        • ShakyLens

          To be fair these are mostly nice images of bucolic English country life. They make a nice essay. Just the PP technique is very left field and certainly doesn’t show off the 70-200’s capabilities by any stretch of the imagination.

          • softy

            Apart from the one with the estate in the mist, the rest look more like tourist snapshots.
            And a lot of missed opportunities as well; take the one with the birds fighting for instance, imagine what a winner would that photo be had he only shot it from a lower angle and placing the birds in front of either the road or the grass, not with a line running in between them…

            • Anthony

              Sorry, but you’re obviously arm chair critiquing without the proper education or experience. Go google “duality” and “geometric balance” for a start. Educate yourself and then come back and try to make a more sensible analysis about why this photographer may have composed the shot the way he did.

            • Me

              Please tell me you’re kidding.

            • mikeswitz

              You’re not really a photographer, are you?

        • James

          Because we all know that ultimate sharpness is what makes good photographs, right? Judging by Villager Jim’s popularity and success, I don’t think many people agree with you.

          • Anthony

            Well, judging by the likes of the first post, at least 40 agree with the notion that this is clearly poorly executed photography.
            And we don’t all have to be experts at doing something to be able to express an opinion as to whether we like that or not. Very few people can sing or play the piano, but pretty much everybody can judge whether someone is a good musician or not…

    • BVP

      Step 1: Buy weather resistant magnesium alloy camera body and #1 DXO rated lens.

      Step 2: Test sharpness, corner performance, sensor DR, and ISO on cat.

      Step 3: Place camera in soft padded bag, to protect resale value.

      Step 4: Browse multiple rumor sites and complain about every new rumor that is posted.

      Step 5: Criticize people who actually use their cameras, AKA Photographers.

      Step 6: Feed the cat.

      Step 7: Plan your next camera upgrade.

      • jvossphoto

        Bravo BVP, Well said.

      • Bogdan Boeru

        Then I have another solution for you.

        Step 1: Sell your pro (and assumably sharp) gear

        Step 2: Buy Iphone

        Step 3: Install INSTAGRAAAAAAAM!

        Step 4: Be cool

        Either way, you’ll still end up being cool.

        I shouldn’t even say that this is my opinion, and I really don’t care if you agree with me. I do respect yours on the other hand.

        In my opinion, these photos are ruined. Like when someone just discovered a OMG COOL plugin in photoshop.

        Either way, this is Art (i’m not being sarcastic) and everyone can like what they want. I for sure don’t consider these type of photos as good photos, or Pro ones.

        Take away the exaggerated filters and you’re left with (mostly) everyday, bland photos. Just like crappy, tonemapped HDRs.

        But wait, they’re shot with the 70-200 VR… so… OMG!!

        And the number of followers or “fame” don’t mean shit, it just means that the public shares the same taste as the photographer and it has a good SEO website. 🙂

        • Bogdan Boeru

          P.S. I like the castle/manor photo and the forrest road one. These are the only ones that the filter works well with, giving a fairy like atmosphere.

          For the rest though… just a day out testing the 70-200 then batch processing the end jpegs.

    • Cynog

      Personally, I think the world is better viewed through a soft focus filter, preferably rose-tinted 🙂

    • Carleton Foxx

      I am also of the opinion that most modern lenses emphasize the wrong kind of sharpness. Sometimes Nikon lenses give too much emphasis to edges at the expense of beautiful surfaces….

  • Plug

    You are an absolute star! I love your Facebook page.

  • doge

    Is your first name Villager?

    • Dominic

      No, that’s his title.

      I’m City-boy Dominic, nice to meet you.

  • jim

    Why on earth would you apply a soft effect in post???
    And what’s with the boosted saturation?
    Most of the images look like processed from a guy learning Photoshop for the first time…

  • scott800

    I like the composition, just not a big fan of the soft glow that has been added. Thanks for posting.

  • Malc

    You could buy yourself a circular polarizer…

  • Harv.

    Hi Jim,
    As you can see from a few posts some of the views on nikonrumors can be over the top and unpleasant, don’t take it to heart it just seems to be the default position for some. It would be a dull existence if we all liked the same thing, personally I’m always interested to see how other photographers look at the world through their lens so thank you for the guest post.
    I used to own the 70-200mm f/2.8G VRII, I sold it a few months ago after using it for a few years. Fantastic lens, but a lens I never felt comfortable with. In the situations I was taking images in I found it too heavy, too cumbersome and often intimidating for those I was taking images of. I can remember the exact moment when I was backstage at an event and I decided this isn’t a lens for me. I’m not some skinny weakling, I train with heavy weights 6 days a week, but after being backstage at a burlesque show shooting for 9 hours you tire. When I lifted my D3 my hand shook, I could see the shaking through the viewfinder and I decided no, not for me. I bought the 85mm f/1.8G which I love, the only thing I miss is the VR as it came in handy in some dark changing rooms.
    As I said, fantastic lens, it just wasn’t the lens for me.
    Take care,

    • Carleton Foxx

      What kind of burlesque show goes on for NINE HOURS!!!!???? I could understand 90 minutes, but that’s a lot of tassels and sequins to be shooting.

      • Hi Carleton,
        I was backstage taking images, the dancers get there 4 -5 hours before the show starts and are often still there hours after. I wasn’t taking any images of what was happening on stage.


        • Carleton Foxx

          Oh…You scared me. I thought it was some kind of Guinness World Record fan dancing kind of thing and I was worried about the women…. The times I shoot backstage it’s usually so dark I have to use a tripod, my 50mm f/1.4 at its widest aperture AND use the red focus assist beam from my SB600 to get anything usable. I’ll give the 85 a try next time.

  • Allan Smith

    One has to wonder how many actual photographers post comment here. 😀

    • Steve

      Almost none, most are DPReview transplants who always have the urge to comment about equipment but give jack shift about photography. Their reason why their pictures suck is the manufacturer, not the reflection in the mirror.

  • TxNikonChic

    What a delightful and wonderful article and photos! I loved every single image. Fabulous to sit and read and enjoy the UK countryside from my desk across the pond. Thanks, Jim, for sharing this.

  • Anthony

    What’s with all the hate? Constructive criticism is important, so feel free to voice your opinions, but you all keep repeating the same thing. Okay, we get it, you don’t like the softening that was done. He obviously does. I happened to love a lot of them. There are a few that are a little heavy handed, but maybe that was the style he was going for. What a boring world of photography we would have if everyone processed their images the same. Besides, It’s supposed to be an article of a user review of a lens. It sounds like most of you read the headline and skipped over the text.

  • Steve Griffin

    Photography is a great tool for exploring life and these pictures certainly do that. The animals are given the respect they deserve as is the landscape. Whilst I’m not a fan of softening up images I can still appreciate them and the amazing places they portray. I can imagine John Constable sitting there and painting without any trouble whatsoever.

    Counter to another post, I have to say that the diagonal in the cock fight is an imaginiative way of creating balance and dynamism at the same time.

    Thanks for this very personal essay on country life.

  • Richard K

    I wish I lived by you Jim. We could drink tea/coffee all day and make pictures. Thanks for your time.

  • Alpa Cino

    Great photographs regardless of the IQ critiquing, which I agree with.

  • Will

    What I don’t understand is why Nikon Rumors is posting this article in the first place, 70-200 F2.8 VR II has been announced for years, I don’t think this justifies a specific post

    Also the PP says nothing about the lens itself

    • Harv.

      Just because a piece of equipment has been around for years doesn’t mean you can’t write a piece about it. Look through the history of posts on nikonrumors and you can see how the site has changed over the years, yes Peter still provides you with the latest rumours and news, but it’s expanded into something more. If he had posted nothing but rumours months would pass by without any posts as rumours don’t grow on trees, and you would be on complaining about that.
      There’s nothing wrong with you not being interested in a particular post on a particular subject, but going to the trouble to post what you did is pathetic when all you have to do is not click on or read it.

      I, like many others, come here to read the views of other photographers, to see their images and have a conversation. But increasingly I see posts like yours which do nothing but bring down the tone of the whole site to a level not much higher than 5 year olds having a fight in the playground.

      If you think nikonrumors shouldn’t be posting articles like this then that’s cool you’re entitled to your opinion. Contact Peter, he’s a nice guy and I’m sure he’ll have a conversation with you explaining why he decides to post certain articles.
      I encourage you to come up with a guest post and people can read your views on a particular photographic subject, hopefully without anyone posting what you did to bellittle the piece.


  • phil

    more like “shooting with photoshop” then anything else.

    • mikeswitz

      Really, really stupid comment. Go back to your basement lair.

      • Phil

        Sry, but as great as the moments he captured are – like the fighting pheasants or the blue tit at the water – the post production totally kill the images. they just look, in my opinion, shit.

  • John_Skinner

    Variations of post work aside.

    I do really like this lens. It was the second 2.8 model I purchased on my Dx models, and it continues to deliver time after time. I can understand all the fuss. Cheers Mate.

  • Emile

    To each his own, I guess. For me, the 70-200 f/2.8G is nothing special. I prefer shooting with a 85mm f/1.4 or the Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 OS instead. better bokeh, better sharpness and more bang for my buck.

  • MichaelSNC

    Come on people, be nice. You may or may not be a “better” photographer but this is what this person wants to do.
    That does not give you the right to trash and belittle him. If you are better photographer offer to coach him, if you are not, don’t criticize him.
    Talking down about people, well, not cool
    Please play nice. It shows you took the high road not the Low Road.

  • introvert

    I love how easy it is to hate on this website. NR really need to install a decent comment feature that requires users to login either with Twitter/FB/G+ to at least reduce the amount of trolling on here.

    On topic though: This photographer is just shit, almost as bad and boring as this article it self. But thanks for putting yourself out there Jim, we all love making you feel like shit for making an effort that majority of us would never expose ourselves to.

  • I disabled posts by guests for now.

    • MichaelSNC

      This is why I stopped posting and I almost never read the posts anymore. People just ripping people to shreads. It is just not worth it anymore. I wonder how many other people have moved on due to this stuff?

      • Focuspuller

        It’s not just this site. It’s the Internet. Go to ANY site that permits comments and you will find the vilest, most vicious, willfully hateful posts that would never have seen the light of day, were it not for the enabling of anonymous venting by deeply resentful and damaged minds.

        • I disabled guests comments and things look better now.

        • MichaelSNC

          You are 100% correct

  • Idahojim

    Wow folks are harsh here. Thanks for the article Jim. I enjoyed seeing the country side through your eyes. Definitely a place I’d like to spend a bit of time.

    I feel much the same way about my 70-200 VRII. There’s a look and feel to that lens and the focal lengths it covers that just work for me and my style.

    • Guest

      Meant to link this with my post.

  • Carleton Foxx

    Fur, goat hair, and feathers are the hardest things for lenses to render properly, IMO. My 24-70 doesn’t do a very good job, the hairs come out too hashy, I’m definitely going to have to give this lens a try. I wonder how the 70-200 f/4 might fit in for these kinds of shot. Thanks for your review…

  • Focuspuller

    I am convinced that if Ansel Adams himself posted lesser-known pictures here anonymously he would be picked to pieces and trashed by the self-appointed know-it-alls on this site.

    • MichaelSNC

      Absolutely, and like you said above, this NOT the only one. I appreciate what the Admin does. He does a Great job. It is just people love to rip people to shreds.
      I have a friend that is just starting out. She has a lot of talent. I don’t like all the things she does, but it is what SHE likes to do. I encourage her and in the last year you would not believe the progress she has made.
      I still don’t care for all her subject matter, but that is her choice. Had she gotten on these sites and the Admin let her post and all these people attacked her, she would have probably sold her gear and never pursued something she has grown to Love.
      You either nurture people to do better or you destroy them. I prefer not to destroy.

  • Nathan Alexander

    Pretty pictures. The 70-200 f/2.8G VRII is a wonderful lens. Great post.

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