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New AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II

Nikon announced the new AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II, a good thing since the existing model shows poor performance on full frame FX cameras in the edge and corner areas, as discussed in Mush in the Corners, and elaborated upon in DAP. DAP also includes a report on 180mm lenses on the full-frame Nikon D3x.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II

The new 21-element-16-group “II” model includes more special glass (an impressive 7 ED elements) to reduce chromatic errors, which were fairly strong on the older model. The new nano coating, the extra ED glass elements, and improved VR sound very promising. But the real question is whether the lens will cover the entire FX frame adequately at the long end, a task the original model failed at miserably.

At 54 ounces (3.4 pounds, 1.53kg), the 70-200VR II is no lightweight, and the disappointing reproduction ratio of 0.12 means that macro work or even tight face portraits are not an option. But of course this is a lens targeted more at sports and events photographers. It’s not one I’d be carrying for outdoor work where I can carry my Zeiss or Leica 100mm lenses, and my Leica R 180/2.8 APO.

Sports and event types should be aware of the t-stop factor: the existing 70-200 VR cheats on its actual f-stop equivalent, being effectively an f/3.5 lens in terms of actual light transmission and thus feasible shutter speeds, as compared to the Nikon 180/2.8D and Leica R 180/2.8 APO at f/2.8. See my DAP piece on 180mm lenses (“Light transmission: t-stop”) for details.

The new 70-200VR II will be available around November 2009, and will be a top priority for me to review in DAP.

Nikon 70-200 VR corners at f/8
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