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Nikon 70-20 F/4G ED VR AF-S Review

Nikon 70-20 F/4G ED VR AF-S

Nikon has been building up to this lens for the past decade with their series of 70-200mm lenses. Now, with the release of a more affordable f/4 version, we get to see iterative engineering at its best. By adding to the game their 3rd generation of vibration reduction, Nikon builds on the reputation of these lenses to have incredible vibration reduction, and brings it from the elite f/2.8 versions, down to a more accessible level for those still looking for an optic as versatile as this.

The Build

Stepping down to a smaller aperture size means before anything else that the lens will be smaller and lighter. Larger telephoto lenses can be tiring after extended handheld use so this is a welcome change. The barrel is constructed of metal along the whole of its length, right to the lens mount, which is made of the same stuff. The circumference and length of the tube make it cup perfectly into your hand, and the focus and zoom rings turn smoothly. The four control switches produce a satisfying click when flipped, and this crisp actuation gives the impression that they will not wear down over time.

In shooting

To theoretically distinguish the f/4 version from its beefier f/2.8 counterparts, it is important to remember that a smaller aperture makes the lens a bit worse in low light situations, a little less suited for fast motion, and the loss of some freedom in controlling depth of field.
And after the initial downgrade, it would be hard to talk about this lens as anything but remarkable. Image stabilization becomes vital to any attempt to hand-hold a telelphoto lens, as a jitter of even half a degree translates to an image offset of nearly two feet for a subject  at two hundred feet. With this in mind, the point-and-shoot capabilities on this device  stand entirely on the Vibration Reduction III technology, and completely erase any kind of blurring due to movement of the camera, but note that this statement primarily applies to still portraits, and the lens simply cannot take in faraway objects that are also moving.
The optical quality itself is nearly flawless, with the only kind of imperfections immediately visible being the distortions exhibited at the long and wide ends of the lens’ range. Regardless, the problem could be considered minor. Those who were informed about the focus breathing issues on previous mid-telephoto models will be happy to hear that the f/4G operates absent of this issue.
When we talk about iterative design, the first thing a company does is make a product good, and then they learn how to make it cheap. Nikon’s mid-telephotos have been improving since the 90s, and now they are starting to move toward bringing the same quality down into lower price brackets. Compare $1400 for this to $2400, and see how the rule of 80/20 (80% of the result from 20% of the effort) applies when overall quality between the lenses is so close, yet the price difference so vast. If you can decide that you won’t be needing any more than it, Nikon’s 70-200mm f/4G ED VR AF-S is a fantastic choice for those looking to reach out with their photography.
Nikon 70-20 F/4G ED VR AF-S Review on May 13, 2016 rated 4.4 of 5

Release ID: 1951

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