Nikon 200mm f/2G AF-S ED VR II

Telephoto lenses are excellent for sports, wildlife, and landscape photography. Not only are they good for the magnification of distant objects, but they can also produce spectacular images with their unique take on perspective and depth of field.

The Nikon 200mm f/2G AF-S ED VR II NIKKOR lens is the latest prime telephoto lens from Nikon. This lens is packed with technological advancements that enhance the photography experience and deliver amazing image quality. It has features such as a new Vibration Reduction system (VRII), Nano Crystal Coat, lens aberration correction, three focus modes, and a fast maximum aperture of f/2.

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Nikon 200mm f/2G AF-S ED VR II

Nikon 200mm f/2G AF-S ED VR II

Design and Construction

The high price you pay for this lens is justified by the quality you get. The lens is beautifully crafted. It is made up of 13 glass elements in 9 groups. Three of these are extra-low dispersion (ED) elements that help to reduce chromatic aberrations. The lens structure also includes one super ED element that has a low refractive index and produces lower dispersion. This element, which can withstand rapid temperature changes, helps to correct chromatic aberrations and eliminate secondary spectrum. The diaphragm consists of 9 rounded blades and stops range from f/2 to f/22.

The Nikon 200mm f/2G AF-S VR II lens is built to withstand the elements. It can be used in adverse shooting conditions without much problem. The lens barrel is made of die-cast magnesium, giving it a solid and tough outer protection. At the front, a protective meniscus glass shields the rest of the lens structure. Additionally, the 200mm f/2G is sealed from dust and moisture.

This lens weighs almost 6.5 pounds (3kg) and has a diameter of 4.9 inches (124mm). It looks big and imposing and does have an air of seriousness around it. The sides of the lens are lined up with buttons and switches. These control elements are placed closer to the camera and are well within reach for easy operation. They include controls for focus mode, focus lock, vibration reduction, memory, and sound signals. At the point where the lens widens is a broad manual focus ring. The large surface area makes it comfortable to use from any type of holding position. Towards the front of the lens is a tripod collar. This collar is not removable but can be rotated 360 degrees.

Features

The long focus length of telephoto lens magnifies even the tiniest bit of movement. Often, the photographer is limited to using very quick shutter speeds to avoid blurring. To counter this, the 200mm f/2 lens is equipped with an upgraded version of Nikon’s Vibration Reduction technology (VR II). There are two vibration reduction modes to choose from; ‘Normal’ and ‘Active’. Normal mode is for regular hand-held shooting while Active mode is suitable for shots to be made while on the move. VR II enables slower shutter speeds (4 shutter stops) to be used without compromising sharpness. This lens comes with Tripod Detection Mode that can automatically detect when a tripod is used and make necessary corrections to the stabilization system. Therefore, it is unnecessary to switch VR off when mounting the lens on a tripod.

Ghost and flare are effectively reduced with the help of Nano Crystal coating. This technology, which is unique to NIKKOR lenses, makes shooting towards a light source much more forgiving. This coating works on the principle that ghost and flare are caused by strong light entering diagonally through the lens. Thus by easing the light rays’ angle of entry into the lens, these unwanted elements can be eliminated. The Nano Crystal coat is made up of sub-microscopic particles that are no larger than 20 nanometers.

This lens is equipped with Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor which uses ultrasonic travelling waves to power the autofocus. As its name suggests, the motor hardly makes a sound. Thus it is ideal for situations where silence is required, such as wildlife photography. This motor is also very responsive. Autofocus targets are acquired quickly and accurately.

There are 3 focusing modes available to this lens; A/M, M/A (autofocus with manual override) and M (manual). A/M mode is a new addition. With this mode on, you can securely switch between autofocus and manual focus. By giving priority to autofocus, this mode solves the problem common to M/A mode; accidentally triggering manual focus by brushing against the focus ring.

Performance

The Nikon 200mm f/2G VR II lens is capable of producing extremely sharp and detailed images. With the aperture set at maximum (f/2), the area in focus appears sharp, and even tiny details such as reflections in the eye are captured. As the aperture gets narrower, the level of sharpness increases as well as contrast. Diffraction finally sets in at f/16. However, the effects of it are minimal and not really noticeable unless compared with an identical image shot at a larger aperture.

Even though beautifully rendered bokehs are expected of lenses this fast, the performance from this lens surpassed expectations. The bokeh produced by this lens is smooth and pleasant. It spreads out in a nice silky fashion, almost like it had been masterfully put there by a painter’s brush. Also, the transition from sharp areas to defocused areas is handled well.  It brings out the depth and dimension of the subject.

Sample picture - shutter speed: 0.001s; aperture: f/2; focal length: 200mm

Sample image - Shutter speed: 0.001s; Aperture: f/2; Focal length: 200mm Photo credit: Nikon USA

Most of the common problems that plague telephoto lenses are kept to a minimum in the 200mm f/2. Thanks to the extra-low dispersion elements in the lens, chromatic aberration is well controlled.  The fringing produced is minimal and can hardly be detected in most shots. There is a little trace of illumination falloff when a wide aperture stop is used. However, the falloff is gone at f/4 and above. Distortion is low as this is a fixed focal lens.

Conclusion

The Nikon 200mm f/2 is indeed an amazing piece of equipment. Although its price might put it far beyond the reach of some, the quality you get is well worth every penny spent on it. You will be fascinated at the capabilities of this lens. It has all the functionalities of a good telephoto lens together with features that help prevent unwanted results. Motion blur, chromatic aberrations, ghosting, and flare are no longer huge problems to this lens.

This is the lens to get if you want to take you photography to a higher level. It is suitable for many different types of photography situations such as weddings, portraits, sports, landscape, and wildlife photography. Picture quality is top notch. Subjects appear sharp with colors and tones captured beautifully. On top of that, the bokeh is close to perfect; few other lenses can produce a bokeh this good.  This is truly remarkable lens; perfect for any photographer who has the budget for it.

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