I reported a hot spot problem with the first sample of the 70-200/2.8G VR II on Dec 14, revoking my recommendation of it “ ”.
I have now tested a replacement sample of the 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II alongside the original sample, and I am glad to report that the replacement all but eliminates the hot spot problem seen with the original sample. For full details, see my new hotspot page in DAP, where I provide three examples at 200mm from both samples.
The hot spot I observed occurs on both the D3x and the D3, so it is not specific to one model of camera, and most likely is a pure optical design issue, but one sensitive to assembly tolerances.
Several readers tested their own samples of the 70-200VR2, and stated that they could not reproduce the problem that I showed with my sample, or at least the hot spot was much less pronounced. Indeed, that is my finding with the replacement sample, which neither shows the right-edge blur nor the pronounced hot spot ergo the problem is related to poor assembly quality, which might thrust an otherwise minor optical issue into prominence. It is certainly not unheard of (even with Leica), for some optical designs to show sensitivity to assembly tolerances. Which makes one wonder about long-term performance of such a complex lens— handle gently.
Consistent with my findings for the replacement sample, I deem the 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II “highly recommended”, since it performs admirably in so many ways. In fact, the Nikon 70-200VR2 might well be the best 70-200 design yet to come from Nikon or Canon. But do be sure to perform the tedious exercise of validating your own sample, something which should not be required of a US$2400 lens, but nonetheless is sensible before trusting the lens.
You can get the 70-200mm f/2.8G VR III at B&H Photo, it was in stock as I wrote this.