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Lens review

Nikon Nikkor AF-S 500 mm f/5.6E PF ED VR

12 September 2018
Maciej Latałło

4. Image resolution

The resolution test of the Nikkor AF-S 500 mm f/5.6E PF ED VR was based on RAW files from the Nikon D3x. In that case the decency level was situated near 30-32 lpmm. High quality fixed-focal lenses can reach values of 47-49 lpmm and the record belongs to the Zeiss Otus 1.4/55 which, by f/4.0, managed to exceed slightly 50 lpmm.

Let’s check how the tested lens compares here.

Nikon Nikkor AF-S 500 mm f/5.6E PF ED VR - Image resolution

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I suppose all our Readers already know that a lens as fast as f/5.6 and designed for full frame won’t beat any resolution records. Such records might be beaten by f/2.8-4.0 and only by lenses as fast as f/1.4 or so. In the case of the tested Nikkor the optics constructors didn’t have it easy; they had to employ an inventive technology and still ensure excellent image quality by f/5.6 – 8.0, so the apertures which are closest to the maximum relative one; it’s an area where optical aberrations still make themselves felt and you also start to notice an influence of diffraction. In the case of the Nikon D3x an ideally corrected lens, working in the diffraction limit, should fare as well as about 47-48 lpmm by f/5.6. The tested Nikkor got as high as almost 43 lpmm so it should be praised. It is as close to perfection as it was possible. You should also add that its level is more or less the same as the level of the older Nikkor AF-S 300 mm f/4E PF ED VR and a bit better than the results of the Nikkor AF-S 200–500 mm f/5.6E ED VR at 500 mm (we are going to publish its test soon).

The performance on the edge of the frame should be described in superlatives only. No matter whether you examine the edge of the APS-C/DX sensor or the edge of full frame, the maximum relative aperture and its nearest area are the best. It’s the proof the new Nikkor is corrected really well.

Small, shapely, handy, lightweight, with good resolution already from the maximum relative aperture across the frame – it’s the shortest characteristic of the new Nikkor. Can you ask for more?

At the end of this chapter traditionally we present crops taken from photos of our resolution testing chart saved as JPEG files along RAW files, used for the analysis above.

Nikon D3x, JPEG, 500 mm, f/5.6
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 500 mm f/5.6E PF ED VR - Image resolution