Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Review
This looks the part on the Nikon D810, weighing a hefty 1430g, but balancing well so that in use it does not feel too much of a burden. The large and efficient lens hood bayonets securely onto the front of the lens, remaining secure thanks to a well made locking catch. There is a 77mm filter thread.
The zoom ring is wide, clearly marked and absolutely gorgeous to use. The feel is perfect, allowing smooth selection of focal length whilst not being so light in action that it could be moved accidentally. Behind this, four focus lock buttons are placed around the lens barrel, giving a choice of grip. The buttons can be programmed to one of two functions, which we will come to later.
The manual focus ring lies closer to the camera body, again very well damped and placed so that accidental operation can be avoided. More of this in a moment as the thoughtful design does not end there. Focusing is internal, so the lens does not extend when focusing closer, nor does the front element rotate, which makes use of polarising filters easier.
Moving towards the camera, we find a clear window that shows the distance scales in feet and metres. At this point around the barrel there are various control switches. The AF/MF switch is a very elegant piece of thinking. The M/A setting allows the manual focus ring to override the AF setting. The A/M switch position does the same, but there is a slight delay in operation. This is intended to prevent any accidental operation should the focusing ring be inadvertently nudged. A nice touch. The M setting is for manual focus only.
The second switch is a focus range limiter, giving an option to restrict the focusing range to between 5 metres and infinity. This should speed up the AF if subjects are likely to be further than 5 metres from the camera.
The VR (Vibration Reduction) switch gives three options. The system can be switched off and that can be the option of choice if the camera is mounted on a tripod. Switching the system on is recommended if a monopod is used. VR Normal can be used in all situations, but VR Sport can be advantageous when panning. In this mode, VR is only applied to vertical movement and not to the direction of the pan.
The final switch selects the function of the four focus buttons. Off is self explanatory, AF-L selects focus lock and AF-On switches AF on when, for example, manual focus has been used.
The final ring is the tripod collar and this enables the camera / lens combination to be rotated 360 degrees. There are no click stops, but there are index marks.
The lens comprises 22 elements in 18 groups, including 6 ED (Extra Low Dispersion), 1 Fluorite and 1 HRE (High Refractive Index). The use of a fluorite element is interesting and it aims to further reduce CA (Chromatic Aberration). Fluorite elements are also lighter than glass, although more brittle and also more expensive. Nano crystal coatings are used as well at Fluorine, all intended to reduce flare and to repel contamination of the front element by dirt or grease. The lens also has weather resistant properties, being resistant to dust and water drops.
The virtually silent internal focusing is by SWM (Silent Wave Motor), down to 1.2m (3.61 feet), a maximum magnification of 0.21x. The E type electronic diaphragm offers a high degree of accuracy and smooth operation, something of especial interest to videographers. The diaphragm has 9 rounded blades to improve the bokeh qualities of the lens.
In use, there is no denying that the D810 plus lens is a heavy package, but it is also a very well balanced one. The thoughtful placement of the controls helps the handling and there is never any feeling that anything is awkward to operate. All the lens components operate precisely and smoothly, giving a reassuring impression of a high degree of manufacturing quality. In summary, a beautiful lens in use.
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