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Lens review

Nikon Nikkor AF-S 200–500 mm f/5.6E ED VR

30 October 2018
Arkadiusz Olech

5. Chromatic and spherical aberration

Chromatic aberration

The presence of three low dispersion elements suggests the optics constructors working on the Nikkor 200-500 mm VR intended to fight the longitudinal chromatic aberration and win. Unfortunately something went wrong because a bit of this aberration was left uncorrected. With the lens attached to the Nikon D3x the issue is not especially bothering but remains noticeable; more problems you can encounter when the Nikkor cooperates with the D500. Of course we can’t call the level of this aberration high, it is medium at worst, but still.

Nikon Nikkor AF-S 200–500 mm f/5.6E ED VR - Chromatic and spherical aberration

Nikon Nikkor AF-S 200–500 mm f/5.6E ED VR - Chromatic and spherical aberration

Now let’s check the correction of the lateral chromatic aberration – appropriate graphs for the edge of the APS-C/DX sensor and full frame are shown below.

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Nikon Nikkor AF-S 200–500 mm f/5.6E ED VR - Chromatic and spherical aberration

Nikon Nikkor AF-S 200–500 mm f/5.6E ED VR - Chromatic and spherical aberration


At 200 mm the aberration passes unnoticed because in the vast majority of cases the results are below 0.03%. Very low level is also kept in the middle of the focal range; the aberration increases with the stopping down but never approaches values which might be even slightly problematic. The biggest chances to notice lateral aberration you get at 500 mm where its level amounts to 0.06 – 0.08%. These are low values momentarily approaching medium levels.

Nikon D3x, RAW, 200 mm, f/8.0 Nikon D3x, RAW, 500 mm, f/22.0
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 200–500 mm f/5.6E ED VR - Chromatic and spherical aberration Nikon Nikkor AF-S 200–500 mm f/5.6E ED VR - Chromatic and spherical aberration


Spherical aberration

When it comes to ‘focus shift’, at the 350 mm and 500 mm focal lengths it seems you can notice some slight shift towards greater distances, especially as you stop down the aperture from f/5.6 to f/8.0, just look at first photos of this chapter. Still the effect is so inconspicuous that you should also examine defocused circles of light in order to assess properly the correction of spherical aberration. Fortunately they don’t have any worrisome features – images obtained before and after the focus are so similar that it would be difficult to speak about any serious spherical aberration problems. The good quality of images by f/5.6 confirms that conclusion as well.

Nikon D3x, 300 mm, f/5.6, in front of Nikon D3x, 300 mm, f/5.6, behind
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 200–500 mm f/5.6E ED VR - Chromatic and spherical aberration Nikon Nikkor AF-S 200–500 mm f/5.6E ED VR - Chromatic and spherical aberration

Nikon D3x, 500 mm, f/5.6, in front of Nikon D3x, 500 mm, f/5.6, behind
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 200–500 mm f/5.6E ED VR - Chromatic and spherical aberration Nikon Nikkor AF-S 200–500 mm f/5.6E ED VR - Chromatic and spherical aberration