Review: AF-S NIKKOR 200–500 mm 1:5,6E ED VR (source: Nikon)

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: 1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (70 votes, average: 3.61 out of 5)

LATEST: Landscape Sample Images NIKKOR 200–500 mm

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:

  • 80-400:
    1. A bit overpriced
    2. Nice size and weight, fits in a Think Tank digital holster with attached hood.
    3. Missing the extended tele range (500 mm).
    4. Weak at the long end.
  • 200-500:
    1. Slightly sharper then the 80-400 (without comparing charts)
    2. Missing the 80-200 zoom range of the 80-400.
    3. VR is more effective.
    4. Tripod collar is more sturdy.

Image Examples AF-S NIKKOR 200–500 mm 1:5,6E ED VR

Shooting:

  • Hand-held from floating Zodiac.
  • VR on and in sport mode.
  • AF-C, matrix metering

Processing:

  • 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).

Eagle; Nikon D600, Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f5.6E VR

Eagle; Nikon D600, Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f5.6E VR: ISO 3200, 1/200 Sek., f / 5.6, 500 mm

Full Size Image 2.400px

Seagull, Nikon D750, Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f5.6E VR

Seagull, Nikon D750, Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f5.6E VR: ISO 1250, 1/4000 Sek., f / 9.0, 500 mm

Full Size Image 2.400px

 Grizzly; Nikon D750, Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f5.6E VR: ISO 2500, 1/250 Sek., f / 8.0, 310 mm

Grizzly; Nikon D750, Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f5.6E VR: ISO 2500, 1/250 Sek., f / 8.0, 310 mm

Full Size Image 2.400px

Grizzly Mum and Cubs; Nikon D750, Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f5.6E VR

Grizzly Mum and Cubs; Nikon D750, Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f5.6E VR: ISO 4000, 1/200 Sek., f / 7.1, 360 mm

Full Size Image 2.400px

Humpback whale; Nikon D750, Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f5.6E VR

Humpback whale; Nikon D750, Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f5.6E VR: ISO 2500, 1/2500 Sek., f / 7.1, 500 mm

Full Size Image 2.400px

Bald Eagle; Nikon D750, Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f5.6E VR + TC-14E II

Bald Eagle; Nikon D750, Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f5.6E VR + TC-14E II: ISO 6400, 1/800 Sek., f / 10, 700 mm

Full Size Image 2.400px

Orca Whale; Nikon D750, Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f5.6E VR + TC-14E II

Orca Whale; Nikon D750, Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f5.6E VR + TC-14E II: ISO 12800, 1/250 Sek., f / 8.0, 700 mm

Full Size Image 2.400px

Review: AF-S NIKKOR 200–500 mm 1:5,6E ED VR was last modified: September 19th, 2018 by Joachim Bardua