Please see the additional examples on the Nikon D3s— sample variation. The problem shown here is apparently sample-specific in degree, and the examples shown are from the first defective sample.
The 70-200VR2 shows a large and diffuse central hot spot at 200mm at f/2.8 when focused at longer distance, but it disappears (darkens) by f/4.
At the time this was written, it was unclear whether the hot spot issue appears at closer focusing distances, other focal lengths. It could even be peculiar to the Nikon D3x, but that seems doubtful.
I used 14-bit lossless-compressed NEF on the D3x, processed in Capture NX 2 version 2.2.3 Mac, all adjustments off, noise reduction off, Daylight, Picture Control = Standard. All images processed into 16-bit TIF.
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