The new AF-S NIKKOR 200–500 mm 1:5,6E ED VR is an interesting choice for all wildlife photographers: zoom range from 200 mm to 500 mm, VR reduction, constant aperture, lightweight and a reasonable price.
We tested the AF-S NIKKOR 200–500 mm 1:5,6E ED VR on a trip to the Great Bear Rainforest in Canada for shooting bears, eagles, whales, wolves and other wildlife. The Great Bear Rainforest is a great place for testing lenses and cameras: frequently really wet and low light conditions and challenging animals.
The Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED is known for its image quality. But this is not the topic of this short review, we focus on some practical considerations.
What we found:
- Fast and accurate autofocus (but not comparable with the professionell prime lenses from Nikon).
- Effective image stabilisation.
- Combination of VR, size and weight allows hand holding even at low-light conditions.
- Good weather sealing (survived the Great Bear Rainforest).
- Works reasonable well with the TC-14E II (but slow minimum aperture f / 8.0)(see gallery).
- Zooming from 500 mm to 200 mm (or reverse) makes the lens slow for fast shootings, the zoom ring needs nearly 180° of rotation.
- The plastic lens hood is PITA! When using the Nikkor with a ThinkTank Hydrophobia rain cover the hood can snap out of the bayonet, resulting in missing shots. A solution is fixing the lens hood with duct tape!
- Sometimes a wider zoom range is missed, especially down to 100 mm. A 2nd camera with an attached AF-S NIKKOR 70–200 MM 1:4G ED VR (or similar) should be ready.
- The foot of the tripod-collar is not Arca-Style, so attaching an extra lens plate makes sense (e.g. the LP-62 from Kirk). But the foot has only one threaded insert attachment point, this might cause twisting of the lens plate.
- The tested lens is affected by the autofocus issue and needs a firmware upgrade by Nikon. This issue caused some missing shots!
Your Nikon 200-500 rating:
AF-S NIKKOR 200–500 mm 1:5,6E ED VR vs. AF-S NIKKOR 80–400 MM 1:4,5–5,6G ED VR
Some thoughts and experiences:
- A bit overpriced
- Nice size and weight, fits in a Think Tank digital holster with attached hood.
- Missing the extended tele range (500 mm).
- Weak at the long end.
- Slightly sharper then the 80-400 (without comparing charts)
- Missing the 80-200 zoom range of the 80-400.
- VR is more effective.
- Tripod collar is more sturdy.
Image Examples AF-S NIKKOR 200–500 mm 1:5,6E ED VR
- Hand-held from floating Zodiac.
- VR on and in sport mode.
- AF-C, matrix metering
- Lightroom: Export as 16 bit TIFF-file to Capture One.
- Capture One: Nikon D750 or Nikon D600 Generic ICC-Profile, minor exposure adjustments, sharpening and noise reduction, export as TIFF-file.
- Photoshop: After Capture One processing some exposure adjustments, sharpening and noise reduction in Photoshop, final export as JPEG-file (sRGB, 50% quality, width: 800 px and 2.400 px).