Image quality is very good overall but this Nikon isn't one of the sharpest lenses in the group, especially at mid-range zoom settings.
Size and weight compared to a pro lens
Full-time focus override
Could be sharper in the middle of the zoom range
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Mounts: Nikon Format: Full frame Construction: 20 elements in 14 groups, nine diaphragm blades Closest focus distance: 100cm Filter thread: 67mm filter thread Autofocus: ultrasonic (ring) Dimensions: 78 x 179mm, 850g Tested on: Nikon D7100
Until late 2012, a 70-200mm f/4 lens had been a glaring omission from Nikon's extensive range of SLR lenses. This filled the gap, giving Nikon owners a lens to rival Canon's 70-200mm f/4. They're the same size, have the same 67mm filter thread and cost about the same. The Nikon features a weather-sealed mounting plate and similar all-round specs, although it's 90g heavier.
A switch is fitted for AM/M focussing – the AM mode enables autofocus with full-time manual override. There's also a focus limiter, which locks out autofocus distances shorter than 3m, and two Vibration Reduction switches – on/off and normal/active. Unlike the Canon lens, the Nikon has auto-detection for panning, and the active mode is designed for shooting from a vibrating platform.
The Nikon features good glass, including three Extra-low Dispersion elements and a High Refractive Index element. But while colour fringing is well controlled, sharpness is less inspiring around the middle of the zoom range. We found this to be particularly true with the lens on a D7100, although we've seen better sharpness using this lens on full-frame bodies. Autofocus speeds match the Canon lens.
Sharpness: Tested on our D7100, levels of sharpness proved merely mediocre, although we've experienced better sharpness on full-frame bodies.
Fringing: There's minimal colour fringing towards the corners of the frame, increasing only a little as you extend through the zoom range.
Distortion: Distortion is fractionally more noticeable than from the competing Canon lens at any given focal length, but still well controlled.
Verdict: Image quality is very good overall but this Nikon isn't one of the sharpest lenses in the group, especially at mid-range zoom settings.