Lens review

Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200 mm f/2.8 VR S

30 September 2021
Maciej Lata≥≥o

3. Build quality and image stabilization

The following chart†presents a comparison between basic parameters of the Nikkor Z 70-200 mm f/2.8 VR S, its reflex camera predecessor, and parameters of other lenses of this class, designed for mirrorless Canon, Panasonic, and Sony cameras. The new Nikkor, along with the Canon, belong to instruments physically the lightest but also the Nikon product is the longest. Its minimum focusing distance, amounting to just 0.5 of a meter at the 70 mm focal length and to one meter at the 200 mm focal length, also makes it stick out in this group.

In the photo below the Nikkor Z†70–200†mm f/2.8†VR is positioned between the Nikkor Z†24–70†mm f/4 S and the reflex camera Nikkor 24–70†mm f/2.8G†ED model.

Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200 mm f/2.8 VR S - Build quality and image stabilization

The tested lens starts with a metal mount surrounding a contact plate and a rear element, about 28 mm in diameter. That element doesn't move and is hidden inside the inner tube about 2.5 cm deep. The edges of the tube and the area around the element are nicely blackened, with a lot of deep ribs. From this side everything looks splendid.

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Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200 mm f/2.8 VR S - Build quality and image stabilization

The first part of the proper casing is a metal, black ring, 18 mm wide, which doesn't move. On that ring you can find a white dot, making an alignment with a camera easier, an inscription with parameters of the lens, the producer's logo, an AF/MF switch, allowing you to choose the focusing mechanism mode, a plate with the 'Nikkor S' series mark, another switch, this time to choose the range of the focusing mechanism (FULL, and from 5 meters to infinity), the serial number, the range of the focusing mechanism (∞–0.5m/1.64ft) and information that the lens was produced in Thailand. It is an interesting fact because another Nikon journalistic classic, the 24-70 mm f/2.8 model, was produced in Japan.

Further on, you see a ribbed ring, as wide as 10 mm, that might be used to a clickless control of the aperture or exposition compensation, depending on your choice. It moves smoothly and is well damped.

Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200 mm f/2.8 VR S - Build quality and image stabilization

Then you see a place for attaching a metal tripod collar and, after that, there is an immobile part of the lens with an OLED panel integrated in the barrel. It allows you to check quickly the most important information like aperture, distance, precise focal length, and depth of field as they are visible straight on the lens. You can change displayed parameters with the help of the DISP. button, positioned nearby, and a bit further on you get the L-Fn function button which can be alloted one of even 21 different options.

Then you see a manual focus ring which is 26 mm wide and covered by rubber ribbing. It's a focus-by-wire construction that works smoothly and is properly damped. When you turn it quickly, you need an angle of about 180 degrees in order to cover the whole range; when you turn it slower you can reach even 240 degrees. With the parameters of the lens these are very sensible values, allowing you precise settings.

Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200 mm f/2.8 VR S - Build quality and image stabilization

Further on, there is an immobile part of the barrel with another function ring, L-Fn2, and three other plain buttons that lock the autofocus mechanism in place.

The next part is a zoom ring. It is big, as wide as 53 mm, most of its surface occupied by rubber ribbing, with focal length markings at 70, 85,105, 135, and 200 mm right under it. The ring works properly well, with an even resistance across the range.

Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200 mm f/2.8 VR S - Build quality and image stabilization

Behing the zoom ring you see another part of the barrel with rubber ribs, and an inscription stating the name and parameters of the lens.

The front element doesn't move an is 74 mm in diameter. It is surrounded by a non-roating filter thread, 77 mm in diameter, and a mount for a hood that you get in the box with the lens.

Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200 mm f/2.8 VR S - Build quality and image stabilization

When it comes to optical construction you deal here with as many as 21 elements positioned in 18 groups. Producers weren't skimpy with special elements too – inside you get as many as six elements made of low dispersion ED glass, two aspherical elements, one fluorite element, and one SR short wave lens which main task is correction of blue light. Apart from that there is also a round aperture with nine diaphragm blades which can be closed down to a value of f/22 at the maximum. The producers also boast of efficient Nano Crystal anti-reflection coatings, new ARNEO layers, and hydrophobic fluorine coatings which protect the outer optical elements.

Buyers get in the box: both caps, a soft pouch and a petal-type hood. I admit at this price-point you would expect also a solid, hard case being delivered with the lens. The soft pouch, included in the box, doesn't protect it practically at all as it is really more like a piece of cloth.

Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200 mm f/2.8 VR S - Build quality and image stabilization

Image stabilization

Producers declare that the Nikkor Z 70-200 mm f/2.8 is equipped with an image stabilization system as efficient as 4 EV. In order to check that claim we set the lens at 200 mm and took several dozen photos with exposure times ranging from 1/250 to 1/3 of a second and the stabilization switched on and off. For every set of photos we determined a percentage of out-of-focus shots; then we presented it in a form of a graph of exposure time which was expressed in EV (with 0 EV being an equivalent of 1/200 of a second).

Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200 mm f/2.8 VR S - Build quality and image stabilization

It is clear that the maximum distance between both curves indeed reaches 4 EV and such is the real efficiency of the stablization mechanism of the tested lens. It is an excellent result, in perfect accordance with the official declaration of the producers.