Nikon 70-200 Review

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The Nikon 70-200mm has performed flawlessly

Why I love my Nikon 70-200mm Lens

The actual name of the lens is the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II AF-S NIKKOR Lens. I mean, who names these things? You gotta be kidding me. How they they expect non-photo-nerds to figure this stuff out? I guess they are counting on plain-speakin’ dudes like me to boil it all down for you.

In short, this is a wonderful lens that will take care of most of your slight zoom and distance needs.  Below is a description of the various aspects of the camera:

  • 70-200 means that you have a very good lens that will take care of 90% of most of your zoom-needs. To give you something to hang your hat on, this means you can fill up a frame with a human that is 15 feet away (70mm) or 150 feet away (200mm).
  • The “VR” bit means “Vibration Reduction”. That means that when you press the shutter halfway down, the image stabilizes. It quite amazing and I am always impressed by it. I feel like a sniper. It gets so steady, in fact, that I feel like I’m cheating! I have no idea how the technology behind this works, but its quite remarkable. This VR is very important when zooming, because the further away you are aiming, the more shake there will be. This may go without saying, but if you have not shot with a big zoom lens before, then it will quickly become apparent.
    • The VR has recently been upgraded to “VRII”, which just means it’s much better at what it already did well.
  • The f/2.8 means that the lens lets in a lot of light, which lets you take quick, sharp photos. This 2.8 is a really big deal, actually. Lesser lenses have a higher number here, which makes them slower. Speed is extra-important with a long zoom lens like this because you need the subject to be sharp. The f/2.8 also creates a very nice bokeh, which is simply another word for “blur”. It keeps the subject sharp and blurs out everything else. It always looks cool.

Now, I could go on and on about all sorts of technical details on the product, none of which matter as much as just getting out there and shooting with the dang thing. You want the best zoom lens for most situations? This is it.

So, the three lenses that meet the triumvirate are the Nikon 14-24 Review, the Nikon 24-70 Review, and the Nikon 70-200. With these three lenses, you can take care of 90% of photography situations!

However, in recent years, I use my 70-200mm less and less. I’ve began using the Nikon 28-300 quite a bit. For more information on that, see my Nikon 28-300 review. I shoot most of my shots on a tripod, so I don’t mind that this 28-300 is a “slower” lens and can’t hit that nice f/2.8.

The Nikon 70-200 is a very large and long lens.  When this thing is attached to your camera, you will feel like a rock star.  That is sort of a nice tangential thing, I suppose, since something photographers like to impress other photographers by carrying around a lot of stuff.  I don’t know why this is, but, if this is the case with you, then you will certainly turn some heads with this long cannon attached to your camera body.

What do I use the lens for?  Photographing people from a distance, school plays, animals, the details of landscapes, and a myriad of other unexpected things.  The f2.8 also lets me shoot inside with no fear of not having enough light for a quick and sharp photo.

The HDR Tutorial

Below are a few shots that I have taken with this lens. many of these utilize a special post-processing technique that I review in my HDR Tutorial.

Video of the Nikon 70-200mm Lens

Here is a behind-the-scenes video I shot while in New Zealand that shows how I use the 70-200mm lens.

And here is the resulting shot!

Sample shots with the Nikon 70-200mm Lens

Here is a random collection of a few of my published images taken with this lens.

This is Secret

The Wild Side of Yellowstone

Entering the Forest Alone

I Get the Feeling This Guy is Up To Somethin

The American Bald Eagle

Attack of the Summer!

The Sheep, and we Twitter Sheep can follow these 10 great photographers!

Any questions about the nature of these reviews? Visit my Ethics Statement. It’s all quite simple!

  • Zim

    Interesting. Though I don’t own a reflex camera, I learned something about lenses here and that’s very nice! 🙂

  • Trey, I love this lens as well. Have had it since back in the D70 days, and am not too concerned with the slight vignetting others seem to attribute to its use with the FX bodies. Quick question for you – how often do you actually travel with this. Reason I ask is that it does add some weight/inconvenience to the bag, especially when I find myself traveling with family. Still, I find that, more often than not, it is in my bag on trips, though I often find myself leaving it in the hotel when trekking about some of the places we have traveled. So, in short, just curious to see how often you travel with it. I’d still love to hear a bit more about what kind of gear you take with you on your out of USA jaunts. I tend to pack all my stuff into a Kata 103 GDC pack, and carry the D700, the triumvirate you mentioned above, the 50mm Sigma 1.4 (love it), my Macbook Pro (recent convert from PC), and a back up pocket camera (previously G9 and G10, most recently the Leica Dlux 4). Great review and pics, my friend! Cheers.

  • Trey, Ditto on all you said. I love my Nikon 70-200. Like all Nikon lenses, it’s not cheap. I looked at the other manufacturers 70-200’s and they just did not compare. Another case of you get what you pay for. I’m glad I purchased mine before Nikon increased their prices a few months ago. I paid about $1600 & I think the price now is over $2000. (I just wish I would have bought a Nikon 14-24 at the same time…) Although I would not mind at all if the laws of physics & technology would allow it to be a bit less obtrusive. I would call the 70-200 my people & animal lens. I tend to like the really short depth of field that the combination of a fast long lens gives you on shooting portraits whether they be of people or pets or like in your example above an occasional sheep. (My example of a Scottish sweater factory):
    Thank you again Trey for all the inspiration & information.


  • Ivan

    Sorry, but where si advertized FULL review of 70-200 ??

    … This 2.8 is a really big deal … You want the best zoom lens for most situations? This is it. … The Nikon 70-200 is a very large and long lens …

  • Cole

    Hmm now I have a hard choice to make. How do I spend my summer job money? this lens or a mac pro

  • Cole, mate, you could buy at least two of these lenses for what the Mac Pro would cost 🙂 Both worthy candidates of summer job money, tough call!

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  • Misael

    Thanks Trey! Cool lens by all means, a tad expensive, yes, but totally worth it!

    PS: How is the tripod legs, head and backpack review coming along?

  • Thanks!

    Well… those might be a while still… !

  • This is definitely my second favourite lens after the 50mm f1.4. It’s beautifully built, tack sharp and a joy to use. The only downside is the weight. I had the “pleasure” of handholding mine during a 5 hour shoot a couple of weeks ago and my left wrist is still complaining to me about it today.

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  • Caleb Kadrmas

    I just got the Canon version of this but I think that this question is universal. I have never owned a lens big enough to have trouble mounting on a tripod. How do I use the lens mount ring? I have a SILK AMT tripod. Thanks!

  • colene

    I loved my lens for what i got out of it before it broke! now i have to take it in to have it fixed..are these your photos? they are great reguardless

  • This is a lens that you get what you pay for, and Nikon has done it again. I carry four lenses when I am on a shoot in my Think Tank Bag. 14-24mm, 24-70, 70-200, 105mm for Portraits and Macro.

  • Sanz

    Could u plz suggest me a 300+ nikkor lense for bird photography in jungle. Thanks in advance. And one more thing your website is as cool as ur photography. u r genius.

  • Sanz

    Also plz tell me the 2 best lenses from Nikon for Macro Photography.
    Thanks again.

  • Eleanor Maw

    I use the AF VR Zoom Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 G-AFS ED-IF mainly for portrait & sports photography, always with great results, Landscapes are not this lens strong point on a Nikon FX body like a Nikon D700 but very good on a DX camera body like a Nikon D200, my suggestion would be for those who do landscapes use a Nikon 80-400mm VR lens and if you can’t afford that buy the Nikon 70-300mm VR lens that takes Excellent Landscapes on a Nikon FX body, all the same the Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 G-AFS ED-IF is still my favourite Telephoto zoom lens.

  • Facebook User

    This one is my baby. Loving it.

  • Robert Van Doren

    Short, concise – one of the most useful lens reviews I’ve read. I own the successor to this lens – the VR II version – bought it last November (for my D700). Everything you say about the VR version holds true for the VR II version. VR II version is incredibly sharp edge to edge (better than the VR version I previously used – with VR II I routinely shoot as low as 1/8th second at 200mm with crystal clarity. Also, works very well for nature close up work using the 77mm Canon 500D “close up lens”. Use lens for events, portraits, nature photography and occasional macro work

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  • Spodeworld

    Stunning…esp. the shot of the eagle. The sharpness and detail are breathtaking. I wish I could achieve that.

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  • just got the VRII as well.. and use it on my D700… your review is great and I will show it to everyone who asks about this fine lens!!!!

    your photos are amazing!!!!!

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  • Jai

    really good …good effort

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  • Don Moraes

    Just a quick question…! In your “triumvirate” you have mentioned the Nikon 12-24. Clicking on that links to the Nikon 14-24. Which one are you talking about?

  • hello – sorry – I meant the 14-24 – my bad!

  • I love the lens when it’s on the camera but when it’s off it’s a pain to carry.

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  • Fredrik

    Hi i have an Nikon 70-200 Vr1 on a DX,and i might buy a Nikon D700. I wonder if u can post images
    taken on the same motiv with a Dx and a Fx Nikon,so i can compare if the corner sharpness and overall performance on the lens.I have read that if u move up to Fx the 70-200 vr2 is the one to have,but i haven¨t seen any comparison pictures taken with the vr1 on Dx and FX.

    Regards fredrik in sweden

  • malik shahzad shareef

    hi,,i want to buy the lense of nikon camera model 70200 and 70300 what is the price in uk?please tell me…

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  • Beautiful shots here! Nikons are, in my opinion, the best cameras/lenses. Of course this lens is a bit out of my personal price range, but without a doubt still a great one even today.

  • I purchased the 70-200mm f/2.8G VRII last month based, in part, on your recommendation. I LOVE it. Here are some of my shots with it on my D7000: 

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  • Anonymous

    So, do I need this lens? Currently I have a Nikon AF Nikkor 80-200 1:2.8 ED circa 1990. I used it back in the days of film on my N6006. Now I use it sometimes on my D200. With the crop factor of the D200, it is comparable to a 120-300mm. Here’s my quandary: it’s heavy, non-VR, and does not have a collar for tripod mounting…it’s a heavy piece of glass weighing down the camera attached to the tripod. If I don’t crank down on the friction, the lens tends to slowly tilt the camera towards the ground! I checked with KIRK photo and several others; an aftermarket collar isn’t out there. This is the main reason I don’t use it much.  Without VR I just can’t hold it steady anymore (coffee?).
    I bought the Nikon 18-200 3.5/5.6 VRII; it’s OK, but not razor sharp, and not real fast for low light.
    Will the crop factor of the D200 also have the same effect on this lens?  Should I keep the old lens, sell it, trade it in? Anybody know what it’s worth?

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  • I want this lens. Only thing keep me away is the price.

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  • For outside portrait photography, is this lens overkill and too heavy to carry around on a photoshoot for 2 hours?

  • treyratcliff

    Yeah, it is kinda big and heavy!

  • scazmo

    How does that bracket fit onto a tripod or is there more to it..?

  • Lowhook

    The bracket has a threaded hole in it just like the base of the camera. Using the lens mount rather than the camera mount on a tripod provides a better balance. I personally avoid the screw hole and have a Swiss Arca fast attachment plate on this lens so properly equipped tripod heads will allow it to click in with one simple move.

  • Kelly Thomas Ryan

    hi there! I enjoyed the above very much. I have an emergency, anyone who is out there and can help me temporariliy. I have a brand new Nikon D610 with a brand new Nikkor 2.8f 70-200 VRII…i need the settings for a volleyball game tonight…no flash. I just pulled it out of the box and I have lessons set up, but would love to practice with it tonight at high school regional quarter-finals. I can set everything on auto and it takes some pretty awesome pics, but the flash is engaged. Does anyone know what settings I can put this treasure on, no flash, and still get my optimum shots indoors, gymnasium, volleyball? I am good at the shot, just dumb about my camera right now. Thank you for any help at all.

  • Lowhook

    I can carry this lens for hours. It is worth it for the versatility and bokeh. The 300mm f2.8 is another story. The 70-200 is big, but manageable.

  • Hey I have a question… I am very new with the Nikon ED 70-200mm 1:28G… Can someone tell me the different when using the Full and the 2.5m

  • Venkat

    hello.. I have a question on 70-200mm lens. I recently purchased this lens and tried to shoot some night lights of christmas decorations. I could see lens flare showing up on pics.

    Appreciate if anyone can guide on this – Is this common with the lens and is there anything which can be done to avoid such flares or is this an issue with the lens and need to contacted the seller / manufacturer ?

    Thanks in advance for your response.

  • venkat
  • Venkat

    I have shared some of the pics here with Flare. Appreciate your suggestions

  • Zen

    Hi, Venkat. Those are not lens flare. Those are lens ghosting, they become more visible at night scene. My 70-200mm does that too. Imagine a dot in the centre of your frame, if there are any bright object (such as car headlights) in the frame the ghosting will appear in the frame as a reflection of bright object to the imaginary centre dot. Some call it “filter flare” because most lens filters cause the anomaly.

  • kmrod

    i realize your match already happened, but in the future your best bet is to show up early and take a few hundred photos of the warmup using all different settings. look at the pictures on the LCD as you’re taking them. when you get pictures you like, leave the settings there.

    nobody answered your question because
    a) the settings depend almost entirely on the lighting, and
    b) you shouldn’t have bought a new camera/lens the day you needed to use it.

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  • king

    there is 2 option of the Auto mode, one is the Full Auto W/ Flash and the other one is Auto w/o flash. Which has the sign of Crossed Flash

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