Does Nikon’s latest professional 70-200mm justify its price?

By Paul Carroll - Tuesday April 23 2013

Lens Review
Introduction | Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II lens performance | Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II versus competition | Conclusion

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VRII: Getting the results you’ve paid for

01-Measurement

The headline DxOMark Scores for the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II immediately bear out the phrase ‘you get what you pay for. A DxOMark Overall Score of 29 places it towards the upper end of the performance spectrum, and the DxOMark Sharpness Score of 20P-Mpix, attached to a Nikon D800, is very good for this type of zoom lens. It’s also a bright lens with a good DxOMark Transmission Score of 3.3TSto. But, as you would expect from a zoom lens covering such a large focal range, there is some barrel distortion at the wider end and pin-cushion distortion when zoomed in, but it’s well controlled and achieves a good overall DxOMark Distortion Score of 0.3%.

02-p-mpix

As well as a very good overall DxOMark Sharpness Score, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II resolution performance is consistent across both the focal range and most apertures. For wider apertures between f2.8 up to f11, resolution is excellent, which is particularly encouraging for photographers needing fast shutter speeds in low-light, and it’s only as the aperture is closed down to f16 that sharpness starts to tail off, but even at f/22 results are reasonable.

03-vignetting

Vignetting is also an issue that plagues zoom lenses. The Nikon 70-200mm f2.8G ED VR II delivers some excellent results however, with no dark orange or red areas on our Global Map. The unwelcome vignetting effect is most prominent at 200mm and f2.8 however, which is a little unfortunate as it’s one of the common settings used on a lens like this. Fully zoomed in you’ll need to stop down to f8 to remove the problem completely but if you do need a wider aperture pictures at f4 result in less vignetting than f2.8.

04-chromatic

Another problem plaguing zoom lenses is Chromatic Aberration, which displays as coloured lines along contrast edges and is the result of the lens not aligning the red, green and blue light channels perfectly. The excellent performance of this lens continues in this regard however with Chromatic Aberrations well controlled at all settings.