The new Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/4G VR arrived today. As can be seen, it is significantly smaller than its f/2.8 sibling. At about $1399, it warrants serious consideration next to its about $2397 sibling if you don’t need ƒ/2.8.
The relevant distinguishing features are:
- Performance at ƒ/4 is 80% of the optical contest for this type of lens. How well it does at ƒ/5.6 and ƒ/8 is interesting, but not primary, because ƒ/5.6 crosses the “too dark, too slow” threshold in many shooting venues, at least in my experience.
- Effectiveness of the VR system (this does not substitute for a fast shutter since VR cannot freeze action).
- Illumination of the frame at ƒ/4.
- Size/weight/price, assuming it qualifies on the above basis.
My existing 2010 review of the Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II is in DAP and is worth reading for those interested in both. I’ll be adding new material for the 70-200/4, focusing on the differences between the two in terms (mainly) of optical performance.
Without the optional about $199 Nikon RT-1 tripod collar (hard to get a hold of), it’s a problem to compare the two because the f/2.8 lens mounts on its tripod collar and the camera mounts on the camera plate, causing different height and perspective. I also don't like all that weight on the lens mount of the camera; while the ƒ/4 lens is not as heavy, it is not lightweight.
As for fit and finish, I don’t know if “Made in Thailand” is responsible for the twisted rubberized grip clearly visible on the photo below. The 70-200/2.8 VR II doesn’t have this issue. I suppose it doesn’t matter optically, but it’s substandard quality that I have not seen before from Nikon.