Nikon 70-200mm f/4G vs f/2.8G

In this article, I will do a comparison between the new Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR and its bigger brother, the 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II. This comparison is expanded even further in my Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR review. I have been using both lenses for the past month, along with two other similar lenses from Tamron and Sigma, so the review will include direct comparisons between all four lenses, along with bokeh and other lens feature comparisons. Let’s take a look at the detailed lens specifications, along with a side by side comparison to the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II:

Lens Specifications and Comparison to Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II

FeatureNikon 70-200mm f/4G VRNikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II
Mount TypeNikon F-BayonetNikon F-Bayonet
Focal Length Range70-200mm70-200mm
Zoom Ratio2.9x2.9x
Maximum Aperturef/4f/2.8
Minimum Aperturef/32f/22
Maximum Angle of View (DX-format)22°50′22°50′
Minimum Angle of View (DX-format)
Maximum Angle of View (FX-format)34°20′34°20′
Minimum Angle of View (FX-format)12°20′12°20′
Maximum Reproduction Ratio0.274x0.12x
Lens Elements2021
Lens Groups1416
Compatible Format(s)FX, DX, 35mm FilmFX, DX, 35mm Film
VR (Vibration Reduction)YesYes
VR Technology3rd Generation2nd Generation
Diaphragm Blades99
Distance InformationYesYes
Nano Crystal CoatYesYes
ED Glass Elements37
Super Integrated CoatingYesYes
AF-S (Silent Wave Motor)YesYes
Internal FocusingYesYes
Minimum Focus Distance3.28 ft.4.6 ft.
Focus ModeAuto, Manual, Auto/ManualAuto, Manual, Auto/Manual
Filter Size67mm77mm
Accepts Filter TypeScrew-onScrew-on
Dimensions3.1×7.0 in. (Diameter x Length), 78.0×178.5mm (Diameter x Length)3.4×8.1 in. (Diameter x Length), 87×205.5mm (Diameter x Length)
Weight30.0 oz. (850g)54.3 oz. (1540g)
Supplied AccessoriesLC-67 Snap-on Front Lens Cap 67mm, HB-60 Bayonet Hood, LF-4 Rear Lens Cap, CL-1225 Semi-Soft CaseHB-48 Bayonnet Hood, CL-M2 Case, 77mm lens cap, LF-1 Rear lens cap

There are a couple of differences worth noting here. While the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G has a maximum aperture of f/4, its minimum aperture is also smaller at f/32 (versus f/22 on the 70-200mm f/2.8G). Next, it obviously has a simpler optical design with 20 elements in 14 groups, while the 70-200mm f/2.8G has 21 elements in 16 groups. The new Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR also comes with a brand new, third generation Vibration Reduction (VR) technology, which Nikon claims can provide up to 5 stops of image stabilization. This is interesting, because while the new 70-200mm f/4 lens is one stop slower than the 70-200mm f/2.8, in some situations it regains the light loss with better VR control. After playing with the lens for sometime, I must admit that the VR on the 70-200mm f/4 is in fact better. I am sure Nikon will be using this new VR system in all future lenses, because it really works. The number of ED elements in the 70-200mm f/4G lens design is fewer: 3 versus 7 on the 70-200mm f/2.8G. A big advantage, in my opinion for the 70-200mm f/4G is its closer focusing distance of 3.28 ft versus 4.6 ft on the f/2.8G version. Because the barrel size is smaller, the filter size is also smaller – 67mm versus 77mm. And lastly, it is a smaller and significantly cheaper lens. But what about everything else? Looks like the rest of the features are pretty much exactly the same. Both lenses have a 9 blade diaphragm, both are coated with Nano Coated glass, both have Super Integrated Coating, AF-S motor and Internal Focusing.

MTF and Sharpness

Thanks to all these optical features, the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR performs extremely well compared to the f/2.8 version. Take a look at the MTF chart of the 70-200mm f/4G compared to the MTF chart of the 70-200mm f/2.8G at 70mm (wide):

Nikon 70-200mm f/4G MTF vs Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G MTF

At 70mm, the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR yields better contrast from center to corners than the 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II, which is very impressive (red line). Now take a look at the blue line, which represents resolution. The Nikon 70-200mm f/4G seems to start off a tad worse in the center, but look at how the line ends up at the far end of the graph – it is significantly higher in comparison, which means that the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G will probably yield better corner sharpness wide open. Now let’s see what happens at 200mm (telephoto):

Nikon 70-200mm f4G MTF vs Nikon 70-200mm f2.8G MTF Tele

We see even a better pattern here – the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR not only has better contrast throughout the frame wide open, but its resolution is also significantly higher throughout the frame, especially in the corners.

Imatest Results

Just like I thought, the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G turned out to be one hell of a lens. And my lab tests using Imatest fully support this data – the lens outperforms its bigger brother in a number of ways:

Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR @ 70mm:

And the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II @ 70mm:

The Nikon 70-200mm f/4G looks a little worse in the center as the 70-200mm f/2.8G (which is razor sharp stopped down), but take a look at the corners – it clearly resolves more details in comparison.

Zoomed in to 105mm, we get the following results from the 70-200mm f/4G:

And the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II @ 105mm:

Once again, the 70-200mm f/4 shows excellent performance throughout the frame that outresolves the 70-200mm f/2.8 in the mid frame and the corners.

Lastly, here is what 200mm looks like on the 70-200mm f/4G VR:

And the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II @ 200mm:

And it gets even better at 200mm, with excellent all around performance. The 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II seems to resolve more details in the center, but its sharpness falls off quickly in mid-frame and extreme corners.

Autofocus speed is excellent, very close to the AF motor on the 70-200mm f/2.8G. At almost half the weight and cost, the 70-200mm f/4G is showing unbelievable value. The only bummer with the 70-200mm f/4G, is the $223.95 price tag attached to the lens collar. The Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ships without a lens collar, so if you want to mount your lens on a tripod directly, then you will have to pay this ridiculous price. A lens collar would be nice on lightweight DSLR bodies, but if you are planning to use it with any of the semi-pro and pro bodies, then you do not have to worry about getting one – the lens relatively lightweight for the mount and it balances quite well. Compared to the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II that weighs 1540 grams, the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR is almost twice lighter, weighing only 850 grams. This, I am sure will make many event and travel photographers happy. Having shot a number of long weddings with the 70-200mm f/2.8G hanging off my neck and feeling the pain, I know the weight difference will be a major factor for many photographers out there. Just make sure that you use a good tripod plate that won’t break or come off easily, if you are planning to mount the setup on a tripod.

Lens Breathing and Depth of Field

As you may already know, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II was a disappointment for some photographers, because it suffers from a “lens breathing” optical design, where the focal length of the lens varies depending on subject distance. At close distances, the 70-200mm loses quite a bit of the range, which can be a problem for those of us that like to fill the frame with small objects. The Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR does not have this problem – I measured its focal length and it was exactly 70-200mm, no matter how close or far I focused. Its optical formula is similar to that of the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 Macro, which also measured about the same. Now why is this important? If you lose some focal length at close distances, it also means that you will have to zoom in closer with the f/2.8 version to get a similar field of view. And as you may already know, longer focal length translates to shallower depth of field, which translates to better subject isolation and smoother bokeh. When comparing bokeh on the two lenses, if I focused with the 70-200mm f/4G VR at 116mm at a distance of about 5 feet between the lens and the subject, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II required me to zoom in to 200mm to get a similar field of view! That’s a pretty significant difference in focal length… If we use a depth of field calculator, we can plug what a 116mm lens at f/2.8 is like compared to a 200mm lens at f/4, both at 5 feet subject distance. The calculator says that the 70-200mm f/2.8 will yield a depth of field of 0.09 feet, while the 70-200mm f/4 will have 0.04 feet. That’s right – at close distances, the 70-200mm f/4G is actually a better lens to use for subject isolation. Now 5 feet is obviously too close, so let’s do slightly more realistic numbers. When doing my lab tests, I measured that the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II at 200mm is equivalent to the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR at 170mm, both at a distance of 13 feet. If I plug those numbers to the same calculator this time, I end up with 0.29 feet of depth of field for both lenses. What this all means, is that the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G yields shallower depth of field than the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G from the closest focusing distance to about 13 feet. Past 13 feet, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G starts to take over, because the lens breathing effect starts to wear out and the lens recovers most of its focal length. Therefore, at close distances, that one stop advantage of the 70-200mm f/2.8 is really not that of an advantage!

What about bokeh, you might ask? Let’s take a look at how the two lenses compare. First, let’s start by comparing the highlights (Left: Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR, Right: Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II):

Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR Bokeh Highlights Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II Bokeh Highlights

Both of these were shot at f/4 and different focal lengths to match the field of view. Both lenses have a defined ring around highlights, which looks about the same. However, the f/2.8 has comparably clearer highlights than the f/4 when the highlights are well-defined. If we look at the less visible highlights, I cannot see any difference between the two. Bokeh is not always about just highlights though, so let’s take a look at how the background is rendered with less visible highlights:

Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR Bokeh Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II Bokeh

In all honesty, I cannot see any differences worth noting between the two. Both produce very smooth and pleasing to look at backgrounds.


Hence, unless you really need the fast aperture of f/2.8 for low-light situations (and slightly better highlight bokeh), there is little reason to buy the heavy and expensive 70-200mm f/2.8G. Overall, there is not much to complain about on the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR. Similar to the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G and the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G lenses, I will be recommending this lens over the f/2.8 version going forward for most of our readers.

More to come in the upcoming review, so stay tuned!


  1. 1) Peng
    February 6, 2013 at 12:41 am

    Great comparison Nasim. Can’t wait to see the full review. Thanks!

    • February 6, 2013 at 12:53 am

      Thanks Peng!

    • 1.2) jay
      August 22, 2014 at 2:04 pm

      Hello Nasim

      Thanks for the review. I currently own a 80-200 f 2.8 IF-ED (non AFS, non VR) which is still being sold by Nikon. Do you have any comments about the relative IQ of that lens vs the 70-200 f4. I know the 70-200 f2.8 is a lot sharper etc. I shoot on a D700.

      – Thanks
      – Jay

    • 1.3) jay
      August 22, 2014 at 2:06 pm

      Hello Nasim

      Thanks for the review. I currently own a 80-200 f 2.8 IF-ED (non AFS, non VR) which is still being sold by Nikon. Do you have any comments about the relative IQ of that lens vs the 70-200 f4.

      – Thanks
      – Jay

  2. 2) Nivas
    February 6, 2013 at 12:52 am

    Thanks Nasim. Probably, we will stay stunned! Very tempting to switch – weight factor, closer focal distance outweighs and all others being on par!

    • February 6, 2013 at 12:57 am

      Nivas, I have the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II, which I love dearly. After spending some time with the 70-200mm f/4, I was very tempted to switch. As I was about to do it about a week ago, I managed to drop the damn thing on the floor from about over a foot, which bent the metal barrel a little. Now I can’t mount filters on it and I won’t be able to get anything good for it. Sucks! So I am now pretty much stuck with my 70-200mm f/2.8. Oh well, such is the cost of doing lens reviews I guess :)

      • 2.1.1) Nivas
        February 6, 2013 at 1:11 am

        Sorry to hear that. Hope you gained full strength with your hands by now! I think you will add rather than switch now! :-)

        I bought 2.8G based on your recommendation. Loving it – produces beautiful pictures. Weight factor means that I take it only on selected occasions (substitute it with 105 when I want to go light). Another challenge was longer closer focal distance means that I switch to 105mm again for indoor shots sometimes.

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          February 6, 2013 at 1:21 am

          Nivas, the 70-200mm f/2.8G is still one of my most favorite lenses in my arsenal :) When I told my wife that I wanted to trade it for the f/4, she said “but 2.8 is 2.8!” She hated the idea of parting with the 70-200mm. When I dropped and damaged it, she said that it was a sign that it is the lens we won’t ever part with, LOL :)

          My biggest complaint with the 70-200mm f/2.8 has always been its weight. I took it with me a couple of times to weddings. While the pictures turned out to be stunning, my neck and my back hurt for a couple of days! Ever since, I have been taking the 85mm f/1.4G with me to weddings instead…

          • Nivas
            February 6, 2013 at 1:30 am

            True. Yes, that’s why quite keen to see your review!

            May be I will also keep mine – it performs so well with kids action. Kids are getting involved various sports activities now!

            85mm tempted me. I may get the 1.8g though.

            • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
              February 6, 2013 at 1:37 am

              Nivas, you might want to stick to the f/2.8 if you want to photograph your kids playing sports. The AF is better on the f/2.8, especially in low light conditions.

              As for the 85mm, get the f/1.8G and don’t waste your money on the f/1.4G. I bought the f/1.4G before the f/1.8G came out and I decided to keep it for testing lenses. I ended up buying the 50mm f/1.8G although I already had the f/1.4G, so I might get the 85mm f/1.8G as well. Lola won’t let me buy the 85mm now, but I think I will buy it as a birthday present to her :) I did that with the 50mm f/1.8G and it worked, so I already have a list of lenses to be gifted, LOL!

          • Stefan
            February 6, 2013 at 9:34 am

            The big question is: If you already have 70-200 2.8 does it wort it to switch to f/4?
            Besides the different purpose you may use the lenses, prise-wise it doesn’t make much sense.
            Here is a basic calculation.
            Let’s say you can sell your 2.8 version on eBay for $2100 (at best). With the 9% fee and then the 3% fee from Paypal + the shipping and eventually insurance it will all cost you about $300.
            So you left with $1800.
            The new one is $1400, but if you buy a collar – all you gain back is about $150.
            Does it worth switching?
            Of course all depends on your primary use of the lens, but what do you think?

            • Nivas
              February 6, 2013 at 11:10 am

              Thx Stefan. I agree with your comment – no incentive to switch in a financial sense. It was more tempting because of the weight and closer focus distance. both these issues acted against me few times but the love the monster. I decided to stay on with 2.8G.

            • Martin
              May 15, 2014 at 6:19 pm

              Buying the tripod collar from Nikon is pointless as you can get a functionally identical one on Amazon for $30. But thanks for subtracting the ebay/paypal fees, that makes sense. I’ve sold lenses on Amazon which works out to about 8% and no paypal fees.

          • Vu
            October 5, 2013 at 12:09 pm

            Hello Nasim!

            Thanks you very much for such a great comparison! You answered exactly all the questions I was wondering between the two lenses. I do not have either, but deciding between the two. I have a D600, so I can bump up the ISO for lowlight. Although the f/2.8 is a stop faster and has faster AF, I am not sure it is worth the extra cost for my use. Especially now that you have shown that the f/4 bokeh is comparable and has shallower depth of field at closer distances (under 13ft). The question is which lens would you buy if you had neither and somewhat limited budget? Thank you Nasim!

  3. 3) Andre Lamones
    February 6, 2013 at 12:58 am

    Please keep in mind that some of sports and racing shooters are unable to accept not having fast f/2.8 option. Also those of us wildlife and bird shooters that have TC-2.0 III telecoverters wouldn’t be keen on 70-200 lens that gives us f/8 as the largest aperture, which in most situations would be pretty much unusable.

    As far as the rest of your commentary, I tend to agree with you re 70-200 f/4 – it’s a great little performer. It appears to be a perfect candidate for landscape shooters who like from time to time shoot zoom to be able compress the background, but this is IMO unfortunatelly pretty much the only type of photography where this lens may reign over the f/2.8 version.

    • February 6, 2013 at 1:09 am

      Andre, agreed with sports and shooters that need the speed of the 70-200mm f/2.8 – for those needs, the f/2.8 version would be a better choice (plus, its metal build is excellent). However, if I were a birder, I would not want to shoot with the 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II + TC2, since the Nikon 300mm f/4G + TC 1.4 yields far better sharpness and reliability. Yes, the 300mm f/4 lacks VR, but VR is only needed when shooting at slow shutter speeds. For birding, I find my shutter speeds to be often above 1/1000, so VR is useless in those situations. In fact, VR can hurt images at very fast shutter speeds.

      I disagree that the 70-200mm f/4 is strictly a landscape lens. If you read the portion about field of view differences, you will see that the f/4 can actually be a better portrait lens at close distances. Since I use my 70-200mm f/2.8 mostly for shooting portraits, this is important to note.

      Hence, here is my conclusion for the different types of photography:
      1) Landscape Photography – Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR
      2) Portrait Photography – Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR
      3) Sports Photography – Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II
      4) Wildlife Photography – Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II

      • 3.1.1) Tim Mielke
        February 6, 2013 at 7:29 am

        I do a lot of wedding photography and find the f/2.8 option helpful over the f/4. Many ceremonies and receptions are low light even more than sporting events. Sure I can raise the ISO a stop to compensate the f/4.

        Do to the sharpness of the f/4, would it be better on image overall quality to raise the ISO on the f/4? What would you recommend?

        • James Ronaldson
          February 6, 2013 at 10:50 am

          Hi Tim,
          me to. Having the f/2.8 option available at weddings, naturally lit portraits and many indoor/outdoor portrait photography, is indispensable to me.

          f/4 while a nice lens to have in the bag, won’t do for me for this type of work.

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          February 7, 2013 at 1:37 am

          Tim, one thing to keep in mind – the 70-200mm f/4G is significantly lighter than the f/2.8G, so you might not need to compensate the smaller aperture, since your hands won’t shake as much.

          • Tim Mielke
            February 8, 2013 at 7:45 am

            Good point. I had not thought about the difference in weight. I can usually hold the f/2.8 lenses I have used pretty still but a little lens would be even easier.

      • 3.1.2) Nathan Jones
        February 6, 2013 at 12:22 pm

        Hi Nasim,
        I would have to respectfully disagree with you regarding your preference for a 70-200 f/4 to be a better choice for portrait photography, sorry.

        I do a lot of it and mostly indoors, using a combination of both natural and studio lighting. The f/2.8 option on my current 70-200 VRII is absolutely a godsend in many situations. I know that Nikon is marketing this new lens with VRIII that is supposed to be an upgrade to existing VRII, but the testers and reviewevers who tested and compared the two lenses so far were unable to concern any notable differences between them, citing an average max 3-4 stops of light gathering advantage with both. I just don’t believe that the VRIII will be able to compensate for a stop of light (and implicitly performance in low light) while hand-held.

        With other observations of yours I tend to agree. Landscape shooters while now able to resolve little more detail in corners at telephoto distances may find the 67mm filter option a little drawback. The step up rings help, but many of them use lens hoods when shooting landscapes, which will be a problem for them. I know 67mm front glass surface isn’t as big as 77mm and the effect of flaring is slightly lesser, but it’s still there and needs to be managed by either a hood or some other means.

        When you say above you will be recommending the f/4 lens over the f/2.8, I do believe you need to thread the water carefully here, as the line isn’t as clear as your post above is led people to believe. The f/4 has it’s use and applications, that’s for sure. But it sure ain’t a pro level f/2.8 version and will fall short in many other situations f/2.8 will present a better choice.

        Just a friendly observation from a fellow photographer, that’s all ;-)

        • Ronald Patterson
          February 6, 2013 at 12:31 pm

          Some good points and counter arguments there, thanks for bringing them up, Nathan.

          I agree, there will be use for both, but one won’t replace the other that’s for sure.

          • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
            February 7, 2013 at 1:34 am

            Ronald, agreed, the f/4 does not replace the f/2.8 – the latter has its uses, whether it is for sports/wildlife or for pros that need better weather sealing and lens build.

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          February 7, 2013 at 1:33 am

          Nathan, great points, but here is my take:
          I felt the VR III on the 70-200mm f/4G was better while shooting at very slow shutter speeds at home. I did a side by side comparison and I had sharper images with VR III. Now I do not know whether it has to do with VR III, or the fact that the 70-200mm f/4G is lighter. It could be both…

          Why did I like the 70-200mm f/4G for portraiture better? Mostly because of its light weight and excellent performance. I used the 70-200mm f/2.8G in weddings last year and it wore me out. After a couple of weddings, I switched to the 85mm f/1.4G and started leaving the heavy f/2.8 lens at home. It is one thing to shoot for an hour or two, and a totally different thing to shoot for 10+ hours.

          As for filters, why would you want to use a hood for landscapes? Rotating a CPL with a lens hood is a PITA and you cannot use any filter holders. Yes, 67mm is a negative, but like you pointed out, step-up rings and adapters will do the job for the most part :)

          You are right about the f/2.8 being a pro lens, no argument about that. This 70-200mm f/4 is like the 24-120mm f/4 is to 24-70mm f/2.8. The latter has a pro build and some people need f/2.8 for faster AF, shallow depth of field, better bokeh, etc. But for most people out there, the 24-120mm f/4 is the way to go, because it offers better corner performance wide open and it gives longer range. So when I said that I will be recommending the 70-200mm f/4 over the f/2.8 version, I meant to say that I will be doing so for most people out there. As you can see from my replies to some comments on this page, I do recommend the f/2.8 version quite a bit as well.

          I apologize if my post sounded too negative on the f/2.8 – that was certainly not my intent :)

  4. 4) Donz
    February 6, 2013 at 12:59 am

    Looking forward to getting one!

    • February 6, 2013 at 1:21 am

      Donz, you won’t be disappointed!

      • 4.1.1) matthew
        March 19, 2014 at 10:29 pm

        I will be getting mine in the next couple of weeks, would you still but the f4 to use this lens during airshows?

    • 4.2) Sergio Quesada
      July 28, 2014 at 3:15 pm

      As an owner of a Nikon 70-200 f4 lens, I recommend it Donz, you won´t be disappointed.

  5. 5) Greg B
    February 6, 2013 at 1:07 am

    Thanks Naim.
    Just a comment on 67mm filter size, you mentioned it as an advantage over the 77mm but I’m sure others would agree with me that it actually isn’t, especially if you own 4-5 other pro-grade lenses with 77mm filter threads and large collection of 77mm filters ;-)

    I know you could use a 67-77mm step-up ring but that doesn’t allow you to use lens hood.

    • February 6, 2013 at 1:13 am

      Greg, I never said that 67mm is better than 77mm. I would never say that, because all of my filters and filter adapters are 77mm :)

      As for the lens hood, given how small and lightweight the lens is, I never even took it out of the box. The lens does quite well against the sun (especially at short focal lengths) and in some cases can do some cool flare/ghosting effects when shooting portraits.

      • 5.1.1) Stefan
        February 6, 2013 at 9:39 am

        sorry for bringing the memories back, but don’t you think if you had the lens hood on, you wouldn’t get the front of your new f/4 lens damaged?
        Even if it doesn’t work well as a real hood, it still can protect the front from direct hits.

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          February 7, 2013 at 1:16 am

          Stefan, I know, I know…I was stupid enough to take it off while performing lens tests at home. Didn’t think I needed it, but now I regret :(

          • Aaron Priest
            February 24, 2013 at 3:12 pm

            My lens hood saved the day on my 70-200mm f/2.8 last summer when climbing a mountain and shooting a gigapixel panorama. I slipped and grabbed a tree to steady my balance, but smashed my lens into a rock face at the same time with the other hand. The hood took the blow and the lens was saved! I never shoot without a lens hood. Haha!

            • Richard D
              February 24, 2013 at 3:50 pm

              Sounds like that tree saved the day since you were able to grab ahold of it!

            • Aaron Priest
              February 24, 2013 at 5:24 pm

              Richard, absolutely! :-)

  6. 6) Peter G
    February 6, 2013 at 1:08 am


    Some-one is really profiteering on that foot.

    The Nikon part number is RT-1 and sells in Japan for Yen 10,800.

    • February 6, 2013 at 1:16 am

      Peter, that damn collar costs nothing to make, so I can’t understand why Nikon chose not to include it :) On the other hand, if I bought the 70-200mm and it came with a collar, I would probably take it off right away…makes the lens more pleasing to hand-hold!

      I complained, because it was tough to do my lab tests without a collar ;-)

  7. 7) Joakim Ferozza
    February 6, 2013 at 1:33 am

    Hi Nasim,
    I’m currently sitting on the fence with my decision weather to go for the pro-level f/2.8 version or high-grade enthusiast f/4 version. It will ultimately come down to the type of photography I immerse myself into the most.

    So far I have evaluated and read many reviews on both lenses, including the comparison between the two. Others have also done VR comparison but you seem to be the first who noticed the actual difference between these two lenses. Could it be that you just ended up with a slightly better copy of f/4 or your f/2.8 isn’t a good one?

    Anyway, it appears the differences between the f/2.8 and f/4 versions boil to the following:

    70-200mm f/2.8 pros:
    – faster lens with f/2.8 largest apperture for action/sports photography
    – slightly faster autofocus than f/4 version
    – pro build, metal outer and inner
    – reportedly higher grade weather sealing than f/4 version
    – allows use of TC20 telecomverter with max aperture at f/5.6 (f/4 version max apperture is f/8)
    – standard 77mm filter size
    – reportedly balances better on pro-level bodies like D4 and D800/D700
    – comes with the tripod collar mount

    70-200mm f/4 pros:
    – smaller and lighter than f/2.8 version
    – focuses at closer distance than f/2.8 version
    – possibly slightly sharper in corners at larger apertures (your review is the first one I’ve come across that states this fact)
    – less expensive than f/2.8 version
    – balances better on smaller bodies like D600 and D7000
    – when mounted on pre-bodies of full magnesium build it doesn’t necessary require a tripod collar due to its lighter weight, however it would be necessary when mounted on hibrid-build and policarbonate-build bodies like D600, D7000, D5200 and lower.

    So it appears once again, horses for courses…and I’m still brewing this :-)

    • February 6, 2013 at 1:47 am

      Joakim, you got most of the stuff right. Here are my changes:
      70-200mm f/2.8 pros:
      – yes, it does balance better on the D4, but not on the D800/D700. I do not use a battery grip on the D800, so the 70-200mm f/4 balances better in comparison.
      – tripod collar mount is only useful on the 70-200mm f/2.8, because it is too heavy for the mount. The 70-200mm f/4 doesn’t need it, because the lens is as heavy as the 24-70mm.

      70-200mm f/4 pros:
      – balances great on anything but D4
      – tripod collar only necessary on entry-level DSLRs and unstable tripods. If you use a good tripod system, there is no need for the collar. Again, this lens is like the 24-70mm in terms of weight, only longer.
      – advantage over the 70-200mm f/2.8 at close distances, because of field of view differences (see above).

      So it all depends on the type of photography you want to do. For portraits and landscapes, the f/4 is what you want. For sports, wildlife and extreme weather, the f/2.8 is a better choice.

      • 7.1.1) mark
        February 6, 2013 at 10:45 am

        Is it not possible to use 70-200mm f/4 on a D3200 without tripod?
        Or to use a 70 – 200mm f/2.8 on a D3200 or a D600?
        Just be careful is not enough?

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          February 7, 2013 at 1:15 am

          Mark, of course you can use it on any camera. I was just saying that it might be a good idea to get a collar if you are planning to mount it on a tripod for stability purposes. Definitely do not let the f/2.8 version hang on cheaper camera bodies – it will break the mount!

      • 7.1.2) FrancoisR
        February 7, 2013 at 10:21 am

        I use a monopod when on the go and using a long lens. I use it collapsed (about 1.5′ all in all) when shooting airplanes or cars and moving myself. The collar comes in handy to balance the “rig” fore and aft. Also if I use a battery pack on the D800 or 5D, It feels much more secure to have the pod connected to the lens. Otherwise I feel like I could tear the pack from the body. The monopod is also useful as a walking stick, lloll.

  8. 8) Marco
    February 6, 2013 at 2:00 am

    Nasim, I am starting a wedding photography business this year. Should I buy the f/4 instead of the f/2.8? I’m really confused at the moment as to which one would suit my needs better.

    Logic tells me the faster aperture should be paramount but I am hearing so many good things about the f/4 which is only adding to my confusion.

    • February 6, 2013 at 2:06 am

      Marco, go for the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR. As stated above and in some of my comments, the 70-200mm f/4G is a better lens for portraiture. Save some money and get other important gear for your business instead (flash, etc).

      • 8.1.1) Marco
        February 6, 2013 at 2:07 am

        Thank you Nasim I really appreciate it.

  9. February 6, 2013 at 2:00 am

    Thanks Nasim. Great review and I am now thinking of selling my Mk 1 f2.8 for the f4. Just wish the mean devils at Nikon had included the tripod ring as I tripod mount my long lenses for landscapes and for carrying on a sling strap. It adds another £150 ($225) to the cost in the UK putting the lens much closer in cost to the f2.8 VR11


    • 9.1) Rocco
      February 6, 2013 at 2:05 am

      Hi Richard,
      I agree, had I owned a VR I f/2.8 version I would have most likely sold it and use funds to finance a new F/4. But since I own a VRII f/2.8 which I’m perfectly happy with, I’m fine and staying put :-))

    • February 6, 2013 at 2:08 am

      Richard, if you shoot full-frame, the f/4 is well worth the upgrade. The collar is a good idea for landscapes, but it is not necessary if you have a stable tripod system. Use that self-timer with a 2-3 second exposure delay and you won’t have to worry about camera shake :)

      • 9.2.1) Richard
        February 6, 2013 at 3:12 am

        Thanks Nasim. I have a D800 and with a long lens connected the weight is taken by the camera if there’s no tripod ring which places great stresses on the bayonet fitting. I tend to use a trip0d for landscapes and a MC-36, mUP, or take either 5 bracketed shots or two and layer stack in Photoshop. It’s the weight on the D800 when on a tripod without a tripod ring that worries me mostly. My 16-35mm and 24-70mm aren’t a problem obviously.


  10. 10) mark
    February 6, 2013 at 2:28 am

    Hope that MTF-article comes out soon ;)

    • February 6, 2013 at 2:58 am

      Mark, it turned out to be more complex than I thought, so I had to move back to the 70-200mm review. Once I am done with that, I will continue the article. Sorry for the delay!

      • 10.1.1) mark
        February 6, 2013 at 1:27 pm

        Its comforting to hear (even) from you, that it is really complex. So its not only my stupidity… ;)

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          February 7, 2013 at 12:58 am

          Mark, there is just too much information regarding MTF stuff that I want to cover – different manufacturers, different measurements, etc. Too many variables…looks like it will be a long article!

  11. February 6, 2013 at 2:57 am

    Hi Nasim, great information as well. Thank you!

    As a wedding photographer already owning the f2.8 I guess you understand it’s a tough choice whether or not I should change. Swapping means saving some money, less weight, more sharpness on the borders, and better closeups of the ring exchange.
    The downside is off course the f2.8 and possibly the build quality (which wedding photographer doesn’t regularly bash up it’s gear?)

    What I’d like to know and was kind of missing is how well the VR 3 compensates for the f2.8. I use the 70-200 quite often for outdoor the cocktails with fading sunlight, indoors, churches, and evening shots. Without flashes I’d probably stick to the f2.8, but I work very often with flashes (on camera and remotely triggered), so I get some help from the to freeze the action. Do you have any thoughts on this situation?

    Another question, I shoot a lot against bright lights, either the sun or flashes or evening disco lamps, while adding some fill light on the faces. How well does the new lens perform here? (I presume this is the contrast test you’ve done, but taken to an extreme). Flare? Ghosting?

    As a side note it may be worth pointing out to people that using something like the Optech straps to is indispensable when using heavy cameras and lenses. Gear suddenly feels half the weight and it’s made a world of difference to me during the weddings.

    • February 7, 2013 at 1:06 am

      Robin, if you already own the f/2.8 version, then it might not be worth it to trade it. You won’t get the full price for your 70-200mm and that difference might not be as big as you think. Plus, the 70-200mm f/2.8 is built like a tank and easily takes abuse. I dropped mine from 1.5 feet on wooden floor and it still works fine, although I bent the metal barrel a little. The f/4 would not survive that drop. So in your case, I do not think I would change, unless weight is your biggest concern. VR on the 70-200mm f/4 is very good, but it is hard to say if it is by a full stop (as claimed by Nikon). For me, the lighter f/4 version was easier to hand-hold and I could produce sharper images at very slow shutter speeds. I don’t know if it is due to the lighter weight, or better VR. It could be both…

      Ghosting and flare is handled quite well by the 70-200mm f/4 when compared to the f/2.8. I will post my findings in my upcoming review, which I hope to complete by the end of this week.

      As for the Optech straps, I totally agree – I cannot live without those!

  12. 12) Jason Yeap
    February 6, 2013 at 3:17 am

    Good day, Nasim! Great teaser to the upcoming review.

    I had some strong instincts about this to be reviewed soon and here it comes. Besides that I have been stuck in between both ends of the lens I should get in the coming month which is the 16-35mm f/4 or 70-200mm f/4 and the 28mm f/1.8 or 85mm f/1.8?

    Speaking of the difference, I do of course known that one group is of the zoom lens category and the other is of the prime lens category, but should I get them all? I already have with me the 24-120mm f/4 recently acquired along with my first ever FX DSLR camera after I have been playing with the aged film SLR camera for about a decade or two.

    I’m quite a portrait blend landscape person and thus I do wonder whether the 70-200mm f/4 could befriend a teleconverter of a TC-20E III or the minimum a TC-17E I? I would like to have some crazy telephoto for some very minimal animal or bird photography out of the blue instead of investing in a 300mm or more focal length prime telephoto lens. What would you suggest in that case?

    Anyway, I do look forward to your great review as I have been following your blog for a long time. May you have a wonderful 2013 ahead and also a good year of photography. Hehe. Blessed with peace, health and happiness always! :)

    Jason Yeap

    • February 7, 2013 at 1:10 am

      Jason, if you are into landscapes and portraits, I would get the 16-35mm for landscapes and the 85mm f/1.8 for portraits. You get the best of the two worlds with those two lenses. If you are not as picky for bokeh, then the 70-200mm is a great lens for portraits and landscapes as well. But personally, I would still go for the 85mm f/1.8 for portraiture…

      If you want to get the reach, do not buy the 70-200mm f/4. While it works with all TCs, focus accuracy and speed are not there with the TC-17E II and TC-20E III…

  13. 13) John Richardson
    February 6, 2013 at 3:19 am

    Excellent information and as always a fair and accurate assessment, something that is the hallmark of your reviews. Thank you!!

    Now, lets see how long it takes to get this sucker into the Ukrainian retail/internet system, as soon as it does I will happily grab one!

    • February 7, 2013 at 1:11 am

      Thank you for your feedback John, always good to hear from you! :)

  14. February 6, 2013 at 3:33 am

    I think this review will convince a lot of people to purchase the 70-200 f/4 VR3 lens. It really is a little bundle of goodness with the phenomenal VR performance, sharp image quality, lack of focus breathing, and light weight. I bought one in fact in early December for use in sports and portraiture and it performed admirably on D700, D7000 and D600 bodies. Focus was accurate and I can’t recall missing a shot at a marathon race, but for faster action like cycling it didn’t acquire as well as the f/2.8 VR2 version.

    However, all the performance in the world couldn’t make up for the flimsy build quality and the very poor sealing, which caused fogging on the internal elements during just a light sprinkle in one case and relatively constant light rain in another. Just putting it down on the ground caused my heart to race as well as it felt like it would chip on any hard surface.

    So with considerable angst and pangs of uncertainty I decided to try and sell the F4 lens while supply was short here in Taiwan and the used prices remained high; I found a buyer within a few days, and went straight out and purchased the 70-200 f/2.8 VR2 classic. Yesterday I shot track athletes and it started raining very lightly, just as it had when I was out shooting a running race with the F4 that caused fogging. As expected, the f/2.8 beast didn’t fog and I was able to shoot until it was too dark to acquire focus.

    Loved the weight and image quality from the F4 upstart, but can’t say I regret moving up to the f/2.8 VR2. Just a few things to keep in mind for those of us that do not always baby our gear or cannot always control the conditions under which we photograph.

    • 14.1) Richard
      February 6, 2013 at 4:48 am

      That puts the cat amongst the pigeons so to speak. If the build quality is flimsy and no weather sealing then I’m liable to be out. I stood on a fishing boat in the pouring rain photographing seabirds with my 70-200mm f2.8 and a D700 in the middle of the Arctic Sea, everything was soaked through but everything worked. No leaks, fogging or anything.

      The question I now ask is “is the f4 man enough to take a beating as the f2.8 is?”


      • February 7, 2013 at 12:34 am

        Richard, no, the f/4 model is designed to be lightweight and smaller like all other f/4 lenses. I would not expect its build quality to match the f/2.8 “pro” version :) So if you occasionally abuse your gear, then the f/2.8 is the way to go…

    • February 7, 2013 at 12:32 am

      Thank you for your feedback! Yes, the 70-200mm f/2.8 surely has better weather sealing, which is another reason why I have not been recommending it for sports and wildlife photography. The f/4 can probably take slight rain (it took snow quite well for me), but I would not be surprised if anything heavier would cause problems.

  15. 15) Akash
    February 6, 2013 at 3:44 am

    HI Nasim,
    Can u just thankyou for your wonderful articles. I have learnt photography/learning thanks to your articles and techniques. I have a D600, 16-35mm, 24-120mm and i am now waiting to buy a 70-200mm and it seems its going to be the F4. Will wait for your final review though
    Thanks again

    • February 7, 2013 at 12:28 am

      Akash, 16-35mm, 24-120mm and 70-200mm are the new “lens trinity” from Nikon – you have a great taste! :)

      • February 7, 2013 at 3:42 am

        Almost my trinity too. I have the 16-35mm which is a far more flexible alternative to my 14-24mm. I also have the 70-200mm VR and the 24-70mm. I use mostly my 300mm f4 now for wildlife with a x1.4 TC. I have thought about the 24-120mm f4 purely for hand held landscapes.

        Of the F2.8 trinity may favourite lens remains the 24-70mm.


  16. 16) Edward Chan
    February 6, 2013 at 4:37 am

    Hey Nasim,
    Great information and review, looking forward to your more as you go into comparing the other lenses. I’m really glad of this article it helps in my next purchase.
    What I really want to say is since I had a problem with my D800 back in November about the noise in Lv doing the clicking thing I even change the f stop settings and try different lenses. I was actually playing with the camera for about half an hour in the Lv mode when it started. It seems no one had a answer to this issue out there. I even refer to page 329 about this, set the settings of the 50Hz, 60Hz, and then to the auto mode in the flicker section of the manual. This did not cure the problem and I went back to the shop complain about it . They said there is no problem with the camera we took it apart. Then they went on to say, just use it the camera and just refer to the manual and bring it back if you want to return it, and this is the Nikon people in japan. I decided I’ll bring it back after the New Year since I needed the camera for the up coming shoots in Taipei, Dansui, graduations, etc.
    This is what happen after I got back from Taipei after the New Year. So, this is what happen the after math of the situation about the noise problem on the D800. Around after about 1200 shots the problem went away, even setting the camera on the other settings either the 50Hz or 60Hz the clicking noise is now gone in the Lv mode. Nothing you put on will affects it, really hardly use this set-up only on occasions playing around with my friends. But I just want to put this out there so if anyone wants to know about your Nikon D800 making noise in the Lv position. That’s all for now if there is any questions, Later God Bless…And keep shooting

    • February 7, 2013 at 12:27 am

      Edward, can you shed some more light on this noise issue? What kind of noise is it and where does it come from? From the camera or the lens? Or both? Perhaps recording a video of this would be great.

      • 16.1.1) Edward Chan
        February 7, 2013 at 4:35 am

        The D800 since has not even have a hint of noise now. The exact noise was a constant clicking more like ticking as to the camera was trying to adjust to or focus internally. The noise would only appear when set in the Lv mode. The actions was maybe I though would be the lens or my f stop, nope none of the above any lens will still have the same results. So, as soon as I put the lens cap on the noise stop. But other than in the Lv mode switching it off, there would be no noise only back to normal functions. My conclusion it can only be the camera so I went back to the shop about this condition. I also post on line my problem and no one seem to have an answer to this situation. So in my own expense tuffing it out I got the answer, and I wanted to share this. So if anyone else happen to experience this the answer and is simple. I guess it goes like, good things happen to those who wait.
        So, in conclusion I just wanted to put this note in closing, the things we go through sometimes in these situations only to share and help others, and in the long run good things will come back. Thanks again, Nasim for your sharing. God Bless…

        • FrancoisR
          February 7, 2013 at 10:38 am

          Mine makes that noise too while recording movies, the 5D3 dont. I concluded since the Canon does not autofocus in LV, it was a the autofocus (ticking stops if lens is set to MF). I had a Canon TX-1 that made that noise also… I think.

          • Edward Chan
            February 7, 2013 at 12:50 pm

            Hey FrancoisR,
            My camera had about 1800 shots, when I started to play with the Lv mode that’s when it started. Something about playing with it in that mode for half an hour may have cause it I think. Then after another 1200 shots later of normal use it stop making the noise. Could it be a braking in period? I’m just guessing at this point, but the tech in Nikon was right it’s a new camera use it until it breaks, or just return it.
            This is my point exactly, from now on I’m going to use it to the max and don’t worry about it until it breaks then return it, but if it survives then its a keeper. I’m thinking the factory needs some kind of feed back , it’s still too new.
            Well, thinking back when I first got my lens the 70-200 mm first generation vr I years back, I was having a issue with the focusing with the VR turned on about three months after owning the lens. I brought it back and it was fix for free because it was still under warranty. I haven’t had a problem since it was fix. Anything probably needs some kind of break-in period, so from now on I wouldn’t just jump on the band wagon on anything new out there until the smoke clears. I hope this is helpful to you. God Bless You, and keep shooting, Later.

  17. 17) jafarinha
    February 6, 2013 at 5:07 am

    I suggest (again) to include in your review a comparison with the Nikkor 80-200 f/2.8 D (still available and sold today).

    I own this lens, I use it with the D800 and I like the results, especially for motorsports photos. I would like to see it compared with the 70-200 f/4 G.

    • February 7, 2013 at 12:25 am

      Thank you for your suggestion, but I simply could not obtain the 80-200mm for the test :( None of my local photographer friends had it either…

      • 17.1.1) jafarinha
        February 7, 2013 at 1:20 am

        Ok. Thank you for your reply, Nasim.
        Keep up the good work!

      • 17.1.2) massimo
        May 15, 2013 at 4:19 am

        Hi Nasim,
        awesome article as usual!

        I’m considering buying a 80-200 against the 70-200 f4.
        I am an amateur, I’ll be doing portraits and landscape with it.
        The price of the two is comparable ($900 the first $1100 the latter), but the 80-200 doesn’t have focus breathing, so it may yeald more subject insulation.
        What would you buy?
        Also, does the 70-200 make nice sunstars like these: (I took these shots with my d80 + 50mm 1.8d)


  18. 18) Rich Nagel
    February 6, 2013 at 6:22 am


    I’d like to first off, thank you for the great information you post. It is very helpful.
    I own a D7000 and I am contemplating a 70-200 of some variety, but I am not sure if I want to spend the 2300.00 on the Nikon VRII. I contemplated the I, (is it still manufacured) the Tamron with VC (or there first variety $769.00 new) or the Nikon 70-200 F4.0. I have heard time and time again that there is such a significant portion of the photo that will be the result of the photographer and not the equipment. That being said, at this level anyway, the $2300.00 lens just may not make sense, unless of course you provide me with a compelling reason to wait. I do take care of my equipment and whichever lens I purchase I plan on using a very long time, (unless of course my kids get into my gear bag). I have heard some issues with the first version on teh Tamron focusing slow in low light, this most likely will not be an issue.

    Thanks again to you and the folks there for wonderful information.


    Rich Nagel

    • February 7, 2013 at 12:23 am

      Rich, don’t get the Tamron 70-200mm Micro. It is a crappy lens, especially at longer focal lengths. It is also quite noisy. If you want f/2.8, then I would only choose between the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, Nikon 70-200mm f/4 VR, Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 (the new one) and the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 (the new one). Everything else is not worth looking at. My personal pick is the Nikon 70-200mm f/4, because it is lighter and smaller than all other f/2.8 lenses, but if you do not care for weight, then the Sigma and Tamron are definitely good alternatives. Skip the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR on full-frame cameras, it is not good enough on those. I have not handled the new Tamron yet, but the Sigma seems to be great, if it falls within your budget.

      • 18.1.1) Rich Nagel
        February 7, 2013 at 6:30 am


        I appreciate you taking the time to reply.
        I have been reading a lot of the forum posts and there are some very strong opinions.

        Perhaps I can rent the three lenses or demo them and make a decision. Do you have plans to review the Tamron 70-200 f2.8 VC? I signed up to receive every reply yesterday and had 16 or 17 throughout the day. That was just on this forum. Don’t know how you reply to so many posts, but I commend you for it and value your feedback.

        Have a geat day Nasim,

  19. 19) Paul
    February 6, 2013 at 6:35 am

    Great comparison Nasim! Thank you!
    I would like to compare the lens with Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR.

    • February 7, 2013 at 12:19 am

      Paul, I did not bother comparing the two, because the 70-300mm is just a different class lens. It would not be an apples to apples comparison. On the other hand, taking the 70-200mm f/4 with TC-14E II and comparing it to the 70-300mm @ 280mm would probably be interesting…

      • 19.1.1) Jimmy (libjim)
        March 14, 2013 at 8:30 pm

        So upgrading from the 70-300 to the 70-200 f4 would be a big treat? (on a D600)

  20. 20) Wally Kilburg
    February 6, 2013 at 7:17 am

    I hate lens comparisons. Funny, many of the lens I like which produce results my customers like as well, they aren’t the hottest, coolest, best, sharpest glass out there. They just work. And they produce.

    If the 2.8 is really such a pain there is always the gym to consider…..:)

    • February 7, 2013 at 12:17 am

      Wally, me too! I spend too much time doing these comparisons instead of being outside shooting! And I agree, it is not about lenses, it is about the person behind the camera that uses them.

      As for the gym, I work out three times a week doing Taekwondo. However, with my carpal tunnel on both hands, handling heavy gear has been a problem lately :( Normally, I have no problem shooting the 200-400mm hand-held. But those 10+ hour weddings wore me out last year. Try the 70-200mm mounted on the D3s for 10+ hours and you will see what I mean :)

      • 20.1.1) Rich Nagel
        February 7, 2013 at 6:38 am

        Nasim and Wally,

        I agree, hence the reason I dont want to spend the $2400.00 on the new VRII. There is certainly a need in my bag for a 70-200 breed of some sort, but my skill level is not par with a $2400.00 lens and my D7000 isn’t going to make me a better photographer either.

        It is funny when you think about it, I have been flying for a number of years and would hear pilots complain about the aircraft, and I would comment, “it’s not the plane my friend”. It is human nature to desire new stuff though though, luckily for the manufacturerers.

        Great posts,


      • 20.1.2) Wally Kilburg
        February 7, 2013 at 8:25 am

        Nasim, my issue with any lens comparison is really brought to light by the responses I see to your post. I mean no disrespect but your shooting style is so different from mine that nothing you posted about the f4 has any relevance to me. For instance you state its a better portrait lens. I shoot 90% of my portraits at 2.8 to 4 so 70-200/4 would be a door stop to me. But I see so many people thanking you for this review….and I suspect many have not taken the time to evaluate their needs and how that stacks up with what you state here. Is there truly any correlation? I suspect that they blindly go buy it based on your endorsement. I used to see this in forums all the time which is why I pretty much quit reading any of them. I mean someone posting to ask which lens they should buy? Really? If you don’t know, you should put the camera down and go do something else. Are we sheep following the herd?

        I have the same sort of issue with folks like Thom Hogan although Thom throttles back a lot on endorements. I think you both are very good photographers and I respect the knowledge you both have regarding photography in general but when I see these comparisons and recommendations, I cringe. I shake my head and move on. Its just something I don’t understand.

        For whats it worth, I have used the VRII pretty steady during a 14 model, roughly 12 hr shoot, and lugged it around in concert with another body sporting a 28-70. Both bodies have grips (D800 and D700). With my BR straps and Arca-Swiss clamps on the straps, it wasn’t a problem. The VR weighs something but I know that up front and for whatever reason, I just shrug it off and work with it. Same principal applies to my carry on bags when flying. Its a burden I accept because of my requirements. My son uses my old VRI on his D7000 and I have yet to hear him complain. That VRI is a stellar performer though….the IQ it produces makes you forget its even attached. Actually thats the case with my VRII as well. Ciao.

        • Richard D
          February 7, 2013 at 9:01 am


          No direspect to either you or Nasim, but I personally look a number of websites to see how different people or organizations rate and compare things. I do this with camera equipment; I do it with software of any sorts; I do it with PCs; I do it with almost anything I buy that in particular costs a lot of money. There was a photographer I used to go on workshops with…..unfortunately he passed away a couple of years ago…..I really appreciated his recommendations, but I didn’t always use them.

          I rely on input from people such as yourself who post comments on your experiences.

          I think Nasim does a great job with these comparisons, but that doesn’t mean I rely solely on what he says. It’s just another input to help me make decisions.


          Richard D

        • Rich N
          February 7, 2013 at 2:28 pm


          I echo much of what Richard D states here. There are many sites that compare lenses and equipment. I take what is written here and various other sites and weigh what is presented as pros and cons with what I plan on using the lens to shoot, rather than “blindly buying the lenses he recommends”, as you stated. Maybe others blindly buy what is recommended, I don’t know.

          Thank you for your feedback too. I thanked Nasim for his response to me, which by the way was not an infomercial for the F4.0 Nikon, in my case. He spoke highly of two other manufacturers in his reply to me and also discussed Nikon 70-2000vr as well.

          I also appreciate the work that was done on his site. There is some great information that is beneficial to people of all skil sets here and it not only takes time and energy to post the articles, but also the effort put forth to make an attempt to answer each post personally. I give much credit for this.

          Thank you for your input. That is the beauty of forums like this. We all get to express our individual points of view and allow the other people reading to use it as they wish.


        • Christopher Telvani
          June 15, 2014 at 4:43 pm

          Obvious Elitist.

  21. 21) mike
    February 6, 2013 at 7:20 am

    At almost twice the weight and cost, the 70-200mm f/4G is showing unbelievable value. The only bummer with the 70-200mm f/4G, is the $223.95 price tag attached to the lens collar. The Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ships without a lens collar, so if you

    Dont you mean HALF the weight and cost?

    • February 7, 2013 at 12:14 am

      Mike, yes, thanks for pointing it out :) I still have the Russian way of thinking when writing sentences. In Russian, it is perfectly normal to say “a is twice less expensive than b”, while in English, the proper way to say it is “a is half as expensive as b”. I fixed the sentence :)

  22. 22) Richard D
    February 6, 2013 at 7:41 am

    Hi, Nasim.

    Thanks for this review.

    Is there a technical spec that will let you compare how fast each lens actually autofocuses?

    I shoot a number of races (marathons), and I rent the f/2.8 version for these. I have been considering purchasing a 70 – 200mm, especially with this new f/4 lens.

    These races typically are 2 to 4 hours long. I hand hold the lens and have never used a monopod but am also considering getting a monopod. Sometimes, my hands do get tired, but it’s never been a major problem.

    Depending upon the light, I may shoot wide open at f/2.8, but I do like stopping down a bit, especially if there might be a group of runners holding hands and crossing the finish line, so I get better depth of field. For single runners, though, which more often is the case, f/2.8 is great.

    I just looked at my Lightroom numbers from races the past few years, and out of about 40,000 shots, here is a rough breakdown of apertures used: f/2.8 = 10,000; f/3.2 = 11,000; f/3.5 = 9100; f/4.0 = 7500; smaller apertures = much less.

    I do see in one of your responses that you do recommend the f/2.8 for sports photography, and I guess my aperture figures kind of bear that out.

    But, I am still curious if you can tell me which lens, if either, actually focuses more quickly than the other?

    Thanks, again….looking forward to your next review of this f/4 lens.

    By the way, if it makes any difference, I have been shooting with a D200, but now I’ll be shooting with a D600, starting with a race this coming Saturday….brrrr, hope it’s not too cold outside!


    • February 7, 2013 at 12:11 am

      Richard, I now regret that I did not do my usual side by side AF test, letting the lenses go from infinity to close and back. Maybe I will borrow a copy again and do it…

      If you need the fastest AF, then the f/2.8 is the way to go – it has insanely fast AF that is excellent for sports. The f/4 is very fast, but still a little inferior. Now don’t get me wrong, you certainly can photograph sports with the f/4 version. I took some pictures of a local Taekwondo tournament and the f/4 did nicely, despite all the erratic movements by the fighters. But if the AF speed and accuracy are critical, then then 70-200mm f/2.8 would certainly serve you better! Plus, judging from your numbers, it looks like you are using the lens wide open quite a bit.

      • 22.1.1) Richard D
        February 7, 2013 at 1:17 am

        Thanks, Nasim.

        I guess this is also kind of a “general” question for me. Having an electrical engineering background, I like technical specs to give me at least some idea of things compare.

        From what you said, it appears as if you actually have to do a test, rather than there being an actual Nikon (or other) spec. Is that true, that there really is no spec Nikon publishes, and that the way you get such a spec is by actual testing?

        I’d also be curious to see how you do such testing…..just more curious than anything else, being an engineer!

  23. 23) Julian Turner
    February 6, 2013 at 7:51 am


    Excellent review(as usual).

    I just wondered how the F4’s weather sealing would stand up v the 2.8? For example would it be robust enough to put in the rucksack on a wet day? I live in the UK so idyllic days like you often experience in Arizona are sadly a “dream” over here.



    • February 7, 2013 at 12:05 am

      Julian, I used the 70-200mm in very cold temperatures below zero Celsius with some snow falling on the lens and it survived well. But I have not really tried it out with rain. I think it will do just fine with some rain, but not if it pours.

    • 23.2) Bitanphoto
      February 7, 2013 at 8:25 am


      In my experience the F4 basically lacks any semblance of weather sealing, which caused mine to fog during very light drizzle (basically fog) and light rain. It’s for that reason alone that I sold the F4 and bought the f/2.8 VRII. Too bad this aspect didn’t inspire confidence, because it handles so nicely and performs so well, especially with the impressive VR3.

  24. 24) Rick
    February 6, 2013 at 8:10 am

    I wonder if Kirk Enterprises will eventually make a collar for the f4. They do make very nice collars that are about $159 if you like that tripod plate mounting system and it saves on buying the plate.

    • February 7, 2013 at 12:03 am

      Rick, I put a Kirk collar on the 300mm f/4 and I absolutely love it. I really hope they will make the same quality collar for the 70-200mm!

  25. 25) Razi
    February 6, 2013 at 8:11 am


    I am an amature photographer that do mostly landscape and portrait . I follow your reviews for a long time. Actually I did bought most of my recent equipment based on your reviews (thanks a lot)!
    I have D800 with 50 mm f/1.8G, 16-35mm f/4, 24-120mm f/4. My next purchase is a lens with higher focal length. Based on this article between these two lenses, for sure I’ll go with 70-200mm f/4.
    my question is, if you had my collection what kind of the focal length you would pick for your next purchase?

    Best regards,

    • February 7, 2013 at 12:02 am

      Razi, I guess it all depends on your needs. You have a very nice set of lenses that cover a wide range – 16-35mm for ultra wide angles, 24-120mm for wide angle to telephoto and 50mm for portraits. The 70-200mm f/4 would nicely complement your other lenses…that’s what I would personally get if I were you. But again, evaluate your needs first!

  26. 26) Rick
    February 6, 2013 at 8:15 am

    See this at RSS … iIf IU read it correctly, their collar is only $100 but on backorder

    • February 6, 2013 at 11:59 pm

      Rick, that collar requires a replacement foot, which is another $100 I believe :(

  27. 27) TomH
    February 6, 2013 at 8:36 am

    Thanks again for very useful content – this blog is one of a handful I regularly read.

    Unfortunately, you must have changed something in the way your feeds are published around January 19 (or whatever software you’re using changed their protocols or subdirectories or something). January 18 is the last post that is pushed to my Pulse reader. Please check this out as a lot of people use these sorts of feed readers. Tried deleting and re-adding to no avail. And of course I had changed it to the new URL quite a while back so I wouldn’t miss a post :-)

    • February 6, 2013 at 11:43 pm

      Tom, could you please give me the feed URL you are using? It is strange that the last post is from January 18th, because I just checked both feeds and they are showing the latest post from today.

      The correct feed address should be

  28. 28) Radu Zaharia
    February 6, 2013 at 8:38 am

    Hi Nasim,

    Great comparison, as always! But I’m not sure the part regarding lens breading and depth of field is correct: you say you compare a 116mm lens at f/2.8 to a 200mm lens at f/4, but isn’t it the other way around? I mean, the 70-200mm f/4 is at 116mm and the 70-200mm f/2.8 is at 200mm in order to obtain the same filed of view. So it looks like the f/2.8 will have an even thinner depth of field.

    Radu Zaharia

    • February 6, 2013 at 11:37 pm

      Radu, I am glad you asked this question, because I wondered if anyone would question the logic. Why did I reverse the numbers? Because the 70-200mm f/2.8 at 200mm and 5 feet distance is really a 116mm lens, not 200mm. So the first number we plug into the depth of field calculator is 116mm at f/2.8, 5 feet. Now keep in mind that we are trying to compare what both lenses would be like if they were set to 200mm focal length. The 70-200mm f/4 yields a true 200mm focal length, while the 70-200mm f/2.8 yields 116mm. So for the second number, we plug 200mm at f/4, same 5 feet distance. And that’s how we get to the results I got.

      In summary, with both lenses set to 200mm, the f/4 version yields shallower depth of field, because its real focal length is longer. This is true until about 13 feet – after that, the 70-200mm f/2.8 gets the upper hand, because of wider aperture and longer focal length.

      • 28.1.1) Radu Zaharia
        February 7, 2013 at 12:34 am

        Thanks for clarifying Nasim, now I understand how to interpret those figures.

      • 28.1.2) Abhijit
        February 15, 2013 at 2:39 pm

        I am not sure the focus breathing will cause the 2.8 vr ii to have less shallow depth of field in real life than the f4 version for portrait photography. Even if the effective focal length of the f/2.8 version may be 116mm at 5 feet – you would most likely not want to be at 200mm for portraits at 5 feet distance and most likely keep the 70-200 f4 at something like 116mm. In that case – the 2.8 version will have shallower DoF as you will be at 116mm at f/2.8 vs being at f/4. Hence the recommendation for portrait photography has to be a little more nuanced if just based on DoF – probably a toss up and the decision probably on other factors like bokeh quality, weight, handling, relative importance of that extra stop of light in one’s photography and perhaps even focus acquisition speed for fast moving candids.

  29. 29) FrancoisR
    February 6, 2013 at 9:57 am


    Excellent review(as usual). (copied from Julian lloll)

    I had mine for 6 weeks now and the day before yesterday I got a new 67mm B+W Nano MC KSM etc, the latest from B+W. I also have a couple of Fotodiox which cost 10x less. But I really can’t make much diffence out of them. Since I have the 85G 1.8 and a 70-200 L IS f4 (and a few older lenses), I’m adding this size to my 77mm filter line up. Today I shot a few pics with the B+W CPL on the 70-200 IS f4 and I noticed more light fall off with the Canon than the Nikon wide open. He he, the Nikon is the better lens! I’m very happy with it and it’s enhanced video capabilities due to the better VR. As for collar, like I said before I got one on eBay for $26.00 from China… But this really is not an issue since it’s even lighter than a 24-70 2.8G (but a bit longer). I had a 70-200 VRI and this beats it hands down on all counts (for basically the same street price).

    thank you as usual…

    • February 6, 2013 at 11:39 pm

      FrancoisR, thank you for your review – sounds like you love your 70-200mm f/4! And the lens collar for $26 sounds like a great deal, but how is the quality? Agreed, the collar is not really needed, since the lens is so lightweight.

      • 29.1.1) FrancoisR
        February 7, 2013 at 6:29 am

        Yes I do!
        I will post my impressions as soon as it gets in. Looks very similar to the Amazon link. I hope to have it before our next trip. My wife will have no reason to complain. I have the $10.00 equivalent on the Canon… My use is strictly recreational and I would hate to have to carry a 4 pound slug to weddings (je sympathise) but I understand 2.8 has it’s uses. This article has stirred a lot of very pertinent comments. My box irrupted with 48 comments this morning. This is the ransom of glory. I know of one individual in South Cal who must be very zealous… ;)


  30. February 6, 2013 at 10:24 am

    Thanks for the review.

    I see a notably difference on the bokeh between “Nikon-70-200mm-f4G-Bokeh.jpg” and “Nikon-70-200mm-f2.8G-Bokeh.jpg”. We can see a smoother “painterly” effect on the f/2.8 lens, like a better watercolor painting. It is really visible.

    Was it at a close distance ? How far ?

    I’m interested in the 70-200mm f/4 lens for portraiture at close distance and for bokeh. You said that this lens a quite good for that till 13 feet but the 2 images show some differences in bokeh.
    So I’m not too sure about getting this lens. I am afraid that I will miss the f/2.8 aperture.

    I don’t know what to do… :)

    • February 7, 2013 at 1:13 am

      Recette, it was at about 5 foot distance from the camera. Yes, the bokeh on the 70-200mm f/2.8 is better for highlights, but I cannot really see any differences in the second image.

      If you want to get a good lens for portraiture, do not buy the 70-200mm – get the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G instead. Neither the 70-200mm f/2.8, nor the f/4 have great bokeh. The 85mm f/1.8G easily outclasses both!

      • February 7, 2013 at 5:30 am

        I really see a great difference at pixel size. On the thumbnails, it is less obvious, I agree.

        I already have a 180mm f/2.8 and I use it for very close-up portrait (just the face). And I like to have a very small depth of field so that only the eyes are in focus.

        I also have an AFS 85mm f/1.8 and an AFS 105mm f/2.8 macro, but I think a longer focal is more pleasing because of compression, for very close-up portrait.

        You can see some of them here:

        For this particular type of portrait, do you think I should get the f/2.8 or f/4 version ?

        • Bitanphoto
          February 7, 2013 at 8:41 am

          Chapeau! Your work is lovely. Very artistic and impactful.

          Actually, for the type of work you’re doing your 180 f/2.8 is a lovely lens. Another good choice would be the Sigma 150 f/2.8 macro lens. But based on the quality of your work it’s not obvious that you “need” a new lens, unless you are looking for VR to shoot at slower shutter speeds. But since you are usually working in a studio, shutter speed shouldn’t be a problem for your method of working.

  31. 31) Max
    February 6, 2013 at 10:50 am

    For those people who want the tripod collar for a normal price look here:

    Also other third party producers will sell tripod collars for the 70-200mm F4 soon.

    The price that Nikon asks is completely ridiculous!

  32. 32) Chris
    February 6, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    Very interesting post, will definitely be interested to see more of this.

  33. 33) David
    February 6, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Great Review!!! Thank you!! The question i have weather or not the F4 lens will work with TC-20e-III. if it doesn’t, for quite a few people it will be a deal breaker.

    • 33.1) Papillon
      February 6, 2013 at 3:27 pm

      It will (I tested it personally), but the largest aperture available to you will be f/8.

      If that doesn’t bother you or limit your type of shooting , then go for it.

    • February 6, 2013 at 10:46 pm

      David, if you want to use the TC-20E III, then I would recommend the f/2.8 version instead. The f/4 works very well with the TC-14E, but that’s about it. The TC-17E II and the TC-20E III maintain focus, but focus accuracy and speed is just not there…

  34. 34) Terje Myller
    February 6, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    What an insanely useful review! Being a wedding photographer, working days are long and intense, and my f2.8 is a necessary burden. If the f4 delivers in this way, I might actually switch.

  35. 35) Spy Black
    February 6, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    Hey Nasim,

    If you’re up to it, I’d like to see a direct comparison between these two lenses and the new Tamron 70-200mm F/2.8. I would be very curious indeed how the Tamron stacks up to both of these lenses.

    • February 6, 2013 at 10:45 pm

      I really wanted to do it, but the new Tamron was not available for the Nikon mount at the time (I believe it still isn’t). I heard some good things about the Tamron, so hopefully I will test it later this year.

      If you are looking for an alternative, the new Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 is also pretty good. I will post a review of the Sigma later this month.

      • 35.1.1) Spy Black
        February 14, 2013 at 8:41 am

        Well then, I’d say a shootout between those four lenses would be in order, no? ;-)

  36. 36) Spy Black
    February 6, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    BTW, bokeh is clearly superior on the F/2.8 Nikkor in both of those bokeh images you’ve posted. I don’t see how you can’t see that. Not that it’s the greatest bokeh on the F/2.8, but clearly better quality.

    • February 6, 2013 at 10:42 pm

      I agree about the highlight bokeh – it looks cleaner on the f/2.8 version. However, the second bokeh example looks the same to me on both…

  37. 37) Tony Ruscitti
    February 6, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    Nasim, can teleconverters be used with the new 70-200 f4?

    • February 6, 2013 at 10:41 pm

      Tony, yes, the TC 14-E II works really well. The TC-17E II and the TC-20E III on the other hand did not do well in terms of focus speed/accuracy. If you want to use the 70-200mm with longer teleconverters, then the f/2.8 version is the way to go…

  38. 38) Ertan
    February 7, 2013 at 4:35 am

    Excellent comparison. Probably one of your best comparisons so far Nasım. Focus breathing is a big issue for me, and most recent Nikon lenses unfortunately have this to be able to focus closer. 28-300mm is also bad in this respect: You need to focus more than 10 meters to get a real 300mm!!!
    Thanks for this.

  39. 39) serge puksa
    February 7, 2013 at 9:50 am

    Thank you for the detailed comparison. I now have a dilemma, I have the Nikon 70-200 F2.8, I recently added a 1.4TC, I will be travelling to Brazil in March and was planning on taking this lens to use with my D7000 and Nikon V1 with adapter for nature photography.
    After reading your review, I am reconsidering – the Nikon 70-200 F4.0 would be much easier to travel with, do you think I would lose anything by using it with the 1.4TC, including on the V1.
    In your opinion, would you sell the Nikon 70-200 F2.8 in favour of the 70-200 F4?
    Thanks, I wanted to add that I think you web site is superb and I recommend it to all my photo enthusiast colleagues.

  40. February 7, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    “And as you may already know, longer focal length translates to shallower depth of field, which translates to better subject isolation and smoother bokeh.”

    Not quite. Longer focal length APPEAR to translate to longer focal length becausee they enlarge the background relative to the foreground (due to their narrower angle of view). This can make an out of focus background look even more out of focus because its blur has become enlarged. However, this is another concept entirely, since depth of field only describes the sharp region of a photo — not the blurred regions.

    A minor detail, but worth nothing nonetheless.

    • February 14, 2013 at 4:20 pm

      You are right, bokeh does appear better as a result of longer focal length, because the subject is enlarged relative to background. However, if the camera to subject distance remains constant and the focal length increases, it also decreases depth of field. And with shallower depth of field, out of focus regions will appear to be more out of focus. I link these concepts in such a way, because they are easier to understand. Perhaps I should have just said “longer focal length translates to better subject isolation” instead, so that the word depth of field is not there (to be more correct).

  41. 41) Sergey
    February 8, 2013 at 4:20 am


    First I’d like to thank Nasim for this detailed review.

    Second, I think the link below would be useful for many people asking about 70-200/4 performance:
    30 January 2013: The Nikkor 70-200mm f4 VR, the TC-14EII Teleconverter and Focus Tracking

    Finally, I think that current 70-200/2.8 VRII is really needed to be updated by Nikon. At 200mm it is somewhat soft at f2.8 and needed to be used at f3.2, it is soft in corners even at f8-f11, and there is no 200mm at close distances. Before switching to Nikon I used Canon 70-200/2.8 is II, and that lens has no these weakness.

    • 41.1) FrancoisR
      February 8, 2013 at 5:42 am

      @Sergey, thank you!

      Very interesting blog. Comparing the little zoom to the 200 f2 is quite something. Nasim, we need to know from you what the 70-200 f4 VR will do with all 3 TC’s from Nikon. That could make for a very portable 400 f8 with appropriate light. Even if I still have doubts…


    • 41.2) Rosco Mandrake
      February 8, 2013 at 6:59 am

      With all due respect my 70-200 f/2.8 doesn’t examine those issues, appart from not being a true 200mm at close focusing distances. I also shoot with Canon and Nikon, and have both 70-200 f/2.8 lenses.

      Maybe you ended up with a less than a good copy?

      • 41.2.1) Sergey
        February 8, 2013 at 7:10 am

        Please note, that imagetest scores provided in this review for Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII at 200 mm are quite in line with my experience. The sharpness of this lens goes up significantly from f2.8 to f4. It is just at f2.8 that it is not quite up to my expectation for top performing 70-200 zoom lens.

  42. 42) elliot madriss
    February 8, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    thanks for the review – you left out, I believe, a very important item – that is, can the f4 version of the lens use teleconverters? – absolutely essential when using the 70-200 2.8 version of the lens


    • 42.1) Mark
      February 8, 2013 at 4:01 pm

      Scroll down to “30 January 2013: The Nikkor 70-200mm f4 VR, the TC-14EII Teleconverter and Focus Tracking”

      • 42.1.1) Mark
        February 8, 2013 at 8:33 pm

        On 24 januar, 23 januar, 15 januar, 9 januar ….. are more blog-articles about 70-200mm and different teleconverters (7 entries in total)

  43. 43) Mark
    February 8, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    Can somebody explain me, what this statement from the above table is meaning:

    “Maximum Reproduction Ratio: 0.274x 0.12x”

  44. 44) Jose Mirabal
    February 8, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    Nasim, I recently discovered your site and must congratulate the clarity and thoroughness of your reviews and tutorials. Exceptional work. I have recently caught the bug and have been photographing birds here in South Florida. On your recommendation I purchased the Nikon 300mm F4 AF-S and 1.4 tele for use on my D600. While some of the pictures are sharp, I have captured many that are soft in the center at 5.6 where the shutter speeds are above 1/640 but below 1/1250. Having read your review of the new 70-200 F4 and seen its DXOMark ratings, would you say that lens is sharper with the tele than the 300mm? Or would you recommend that I stick with the 300mm? Please respond at your convenience. Best regards.

  45. 45) Mi Deu
    February 12, 2013 at 1:13 am

    Interesting and expected.

    It is hard to design fast lenses for larger sensors, giving away what little advantage the bigger sensor yields – and make them semi-affordable.

  46. February 12, 2013 at 3:34 am

    Thanks for providing such great, interesting and insightful articles.

  47. 47) Jan Lunde
    February 14, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    I’ve swopped my 4 year old 70-200 f/2.8 with the f/4. It’s equally good or better. Ultra sharp. No problem shooting handheld with my D800. The big difference between the two is that the f/4 is being used. It stays in my camera bag all the time. The old 1.4 kg monster was just too heavy for regular use. I got some money back too which I put into a 85 mm f/1.8.

  48. 48) pj elbi
    February 14, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    thanks Nasim!
    i never thought getting a great zoom would be so soon because of the lower price of the f/4 compared to the f/2.8.

  49. 49) Leon
    February 19, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Hi Nasim,

    Thanks very much for taking time testing and writing up comparison. I especially appreciate unbiased reviews.
    My confusion was about the DOF and subject/background isolation. I couldn’t see for any setup/circumstance that the VR3 can be of advantage in this regard. For the same distance to subject and same FOV both VR3 and VR2 must have same actual focal length so VR3 can only have a disadvantage of F4 versus the F2.8 of the VR2.
    Am i missing something here? why did you compare 116mm F2.8 vs 200mm F4 since they have very different FOV and by the time you zoom the VR2 in to frame the same portrait or FOV the VR2 isolate much better.


  50. 50) Matthew
    February 21, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    One thing that was left out, and it is pretty important, is the AF in lower light. Most professionals like 2.8 or wider because it improves AF performance. VRIII over VRII will not help make up for that. I would not advise the f/4 for indoor events… especially weddings. Sure you could disturb people with an AF assist beam, but that is not really nice to do. Outside of that, I think the f/4 version will have a lot of takers.

  51. 51) Mike Brooks
    February 24, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    One thing not mentioned in this comparison is the use of teleconverter a for wildlife, especially bird, photography. With the F2.8 version, and a 1.7 or 2.0iii TC, you get a *very* nice, fast, auto focusing telephoto lens for birding. With the f4 version, you lose autofocus and an unacceptable level of sharpness. The versitility of the f2.8 version made it my choice for my D7000. With a $450 TC-20iii, I got a *better* , as sharp, nearly as fast, much lighter, replacement for a Nikon 300mm f4 AND f4 400, with zoom! Likewise, if your using a circular polarizer for photographing water, any nature photography,, the f2.8 blows the f4 completely away. It’s worth the extra money.

  52. 52) dengas
    March 9, 2013 at 4:51 am

    Merci Nassim pour ce test. Moi aussi j’hésite entre le f/2.8 et f/4. Je ne veux pas me tromper dans mon choix.Je veux un objectif qui puisse aller partout. Ce problème de buée évoqué sur le f/4 me fait peur car je veux le mettre sur mon D700 qui est tropicalisé. Tant pis pour le poids du 2.8 mais je pense l’acheter plutot que le f/4.Mon type de photos est le reportage, paysage, portraits, et j’aime beaucoup les photos en intérieur avec lumière ambiante sans flash donc le 2.8 est meilleur.

    • 52.1) Dom
      April 14, 2013 at 10:46 pm


      Je suis dans la meme situation que vous en ce qui concerne le choix entre le F4 et le f2.8.

      Je suis de retour chez Nikon apres une absence de pres de 12 ans. En 99 je possedais l’AF-S F2.8 70-200, cet un objectif particulierement lourd a trimbaler mais d’une tres bonne qualite.
      Les resultats etaient de premier ordre et faisaient oublier l’ aspect negatif de cet objectif (Poids).

      Maintenant me revoila chez Nikon en train de contempler le F4 ou le F2.8.
      Je dirais que quand on se retrouve dans des conditions de lumiere reduite, le 2.8 est a la limite indispensable.
      Le F4 est plus leger mais plus fragile.
      Personnellement je penche en faveur du 2.8 sachant pertinament que je ne vais pas voyager avec un objectif aussi lourd (J’utilise mon 28-300 pour ca…).

      Je possede deja le 14-24 F2.8, le 24-70 F2.8, le 135 F2 DC, le 50 F1.4G , le 85 F1.8G , le 60 F2.8 micro et le 28-300; mon appareil est un D800, malgres ca, je considere serieusement le 70-200 f2.8 pour sports de salle, et toute situation ou j’ai besoin de prendre des photos d’action rapidement tout en ayant des contraintes d’espace.

      De plus les chiffres montrent qu’un outil professionnel comme cet objectif ne se devalue pratiquement pas.

      Toutefois il est fort possible que Nikon sorte une nouvelle version du 2.8 d’ici un ans avec une amelioration du VR qui verait les prix du VR 2 baisser.

      Donc si on peux se l’offrir il n’y a vraiment pas beaucoup de choix.

      • 52.1.1) FrancoisR
        April 14, 2013 at 11:21 pm

        Bonjour Dom,

        J’ai opté pour le f4 à cause de son poids car je m’en sers pour voyager et je fais particulièrement attention à mes objectifs. Aussi je me sers beaucoup plus des 24-70 2.8 (Nikon et Canon). Les raisons que vous évoquez sont très légitimes et dans votre cas je serais perplexe aussi. Mon 70-200 f4 IS semble beaucoup plus à l’aise sur le 5D3 que mon 70-200VR F4 sur le D800. Le 5D3 étant beaucoup plus performant à des ISO élevés. Il y a un objectif qui me chatouille particulièrement, c’est le nouveau Sigma 120-300 2.8 OS de seconde génération dont on dit grand bien. Mais il pèse une tonne lloll.

        “Donc si on peux se l’offrir il n’y a vraiment pas beaucoup de choix.”
        J’abonde en votre sens mais une nouvelle version du 2.8 vaudrait peut-être la peine de patienter.


      • 52.1.2) FrancoisR
        April 14, 2013 at 11:50 pm

        Yes the new one avec USB.
        From down under en français, trop drôle. J’ai acheté le D800 pour mon épouse qui se plaignait d’être l’enfant pauvre et elle veut vraiment s’investir dans la photo. I like my “workhorse” 5D3 lloll…

        Tenez-nous au courant, keep in touch!

    • 52.2) Dom
      April 14, 2013 at 11:33 pm

      Tout a fait d’accord.
      C’est marrant, je viens juste de me debarasser de mon 5D mk3, superbe appareil mais je ne voulais pas investir dans 2 systemes, il etait temps de retourner chez Nikon.
      Vous parlez du nouveau Sigma qui supporte USB…?
      120-300 2.8 ???
      J’y ai pense aussi.
      En fait au depart je regardais le nouveau 80-400 de chez Nikon pour le sport mais pour pres de $3000 (Je suis en Australie) ca fait cher pour un objectif qui n’est pas vraiment trop clair (F4.5 to 5.6). A mon avis le 70-200 2.8 est un bon choix avec des teleconverteurs x2, … mais je continue a regarder ce F4 qui m’intrigue beaucoup…


      • 52.2.1) FrancoisR
        April 14, 2013 at 11:54 pm

        Le 80-400 exact faudrait qu’il fasse des miracles pour m’attirer à ce prix…

  53. 53) George Terry
    March 28, 2013 at 7:25 am

    Nasim, I would be interested in reading your thoughts as to the new Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8, especially in comparison to these 70-200mm Nikon lenses.

  54. 54) Brian
    April 15, 2013 at 8:14 am

    Nasim: Appreciate your reviews.

    I have the opportunity to purchase either a used 70-200 f/2.8 VR or a new 70-200 f/4for use with a D7000. I photograph mainly wildlife scenes and often at dusk or dawn (some low light). Weight is never an issue as my use is 2-3 hours.

    Any recommendations?


    • 54.1) FrancoisR
      April 15, 2013 at 9:11 am

      Hello Brian,

      I had the VR1 which I sold and replaced by the F4 VR3. If I were you I would not the touch first 2.8 model, IMHO the F4 is much much better. If it’s the 2.8 VR2 and price and weight are no matter, fill your boots!
      Also may I comment that the large 2.8 lense feels a bit awkward on this small body. Since it has VR, you wont use it all the time on a tripod. There is a great article about FX vs DX on this site that could be of good use for your decision.
      I have both f4 70-200 (VR and IS) and love them for size as a traveler. My good friend has a Canon 2.8 (which is as good or better than the Nikon). His portraits are unbeatable ;).

    • 54.2) Mike Brooks
      April 15, 2013 at 7:45 pm

      They’re both great lenses, but what are planning on doing with them. The f4 is just a great 70-200mm telephoto. The f2.8 with a Tc20iii is a truly first rate 400mm birding lens! There are hundreds of posts about that great surprise all over the web and it’s something to consider. If you are thinking of doing even occasional wildlife photography, get the f2.8. Eventually add a $500 Tc20iii and you’ve got a first rate wildlife lens.

      • 54.2.1) FrancoisR
        April 15, 2013 at 8:45 pm

        He says “I photograph mainly wildlife scenes and often at dusk or dawn (some low light).”
        And you say.
        “The f2.8 with a Tc20iii is a truly first rate 400mm birding lens”.
        Isnt-it streching a bit (lloll)? Why would they sell 10k lenses? Even the Nikon 200-400 is not so good with more than a 1.4x. What is the purpose of buying a first rate lense and loose 30% + of its sharpness? A 300 2.8 with a 1.4 maybe. A DX body like the D7000 could be even more demending on lens resolving power. I’m referring to the recent articles on DX vs FX sensors and TC’s on this site.

        • Mike Brooks
          April 18, 2013 at 9:04 pm

          Well, I first read about the combination of the 70-200 f2.8 vii and TC20iii in a British birding site. I couldn’t see 6k or more on an occasional birding lens and tried it. It’s really as good as the Nikon 400/4. In other words, fantastic, unbelievably good. Don’t take my word for, though. Rent that combination and try it! Rent the 400mm and compare. For about $200, it will make you a believer.

          • FrancoisR
            April 19, 2013 at 6:54 am

            Thanks for the suggestion Mike. That is a very good idea!


  55. 55) copajaus
    April 18, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    Took the plunge for the 70-200mm F2.8 VR 2. It’s big but manageable, superb quality though.
    Don’t regret anything.

  56. 56) pete
    April 22, 2013 at 2:55 am

    How come your sharpness tests are miles off the photozone analysis for these 2 lenses:

    I know they tested these on an older D3X sensor but I’ve done fairly extensive tests on my D800 and these seem much more in line with photozone than your figures. That said, the warm and very contrasting images of the F4 did have me thinking of a move but when the initial seduction is over and you properly shoot and analyse a wide range of images it’s pretty clear that the 2.8 produces a consistently higher quality. :)

  57. 57) Raj
    May 6, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Hi Nasim!

    Above all , thank you very much for your reviews and recommendations ! This is 2nd lens that I have purchased after reading your reviews. The first was 50mm prime long ago.

    I got my copy of 70-200 f4 replacing 80-200f2.8 in my battery of lenses.

    80-200 was a Pro built and IQ has been always impeccable ! But VR mattered to me and this new lens is quite sharp as you said from edge to edge !

    I shoot low light as well as wildlife at times and VR played an imp role in taking those lost images that were not sharp enough as I was trying to balance my 80-200 on D90 body and monopod. So this shift into a lighter semi-pro design of 70-200f4 is God sent and Nasim – recommended ! I am quite happy with this lens performance! Thank you again :)

    I have a question where I need some help – I have been using Kenko pro DGX 300 1.4x TC with 80-200 f2.8 version – successfully !

    Now with this new 70-200 f4 , it works quite the same except that it has noticeable humming of VR being heard and slightly felt as well in hand holding the body. Could it be some mismatch of third party TC or its just that Kenko TC is amplifying the normal humming and vibration of VR circuit to the body !! With VR off the humming stops!

    My next question is – should I still use the same TC ( as results and AF are Ok ) ? Is this safe to use it with this lens?

    Thank you for your sparing time for this answer.


  58. 58) Mike Brooks
    May 15, 2013 at 6:21 am

    I have received emails, and there are commnets on this board, about the 20-200 f4/f2.8 being “better”, or choosing an 80-200 over them. These are all geat lensese, so close together in sharpness and performance, doing what they were intended to do, that comparing them is pretty much a waste of time. If you intend to use a televconverte or want the best general purpose lens, the fastest and fastest focusing, of the lot, get the 2.8. If close in portraits is your thing, the f4 is better than the f2.8. Plus, it’s a lot lighter (30 oz. for the f4 vs 56 oz for the f2.8). If you don’t have a lot of money, but want quality glass , albeit using 1997 technology, the 80-200 is a gem (and this isn’t a put down of that great lens; it’s just a 20 year old lens). It’s a bit of a beast, weighing 44 ounces, focusing at around 70% of the speed of either 70-200, but it costs less than half the price.

  59. 59) indi
    June 23, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    hi nasim,

    how did you compare or meassure af-speed? the total time needed for bumping through the whole focal range?


  60. 60) Tan
    September 17, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Hello Nasim

    I use the 70-200 F2.8 lens a lot with the 1.7x converter but do find it heavy and have mobility problems. If I change to the F4 version will I still get the same sharpness and speed using the 1.7x converter? I use it on the d3s and d600 and mainly inside but for event work the 1,7x is crucial to use. Thank you


  61. 61) Kim
    September 25, 2013 at 6:00 am

    Now that the 70-200 mm f/4 has been out for nearly a year, does anyone have more experience on using this lens for birds-in-flight and other fast moving animal photography? I understand that the 2.8 version is reportedly faster in AF acquisition, but the f/4 is so much lighter and easier to use. I wonder how these two competing concerns balance out in real world testing and how many shots are truly lost due to the AF speed with the f/4 vs. f/2.8. Thank you.

  62. 62) Arnab Saha
    October 21, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    Hi Nasim

    I am a new comer in photography world. I’ve got a D7000 with 16-85. Now I want a shift in gear with at least 200/300mm reach. I read several reviews including yours about 80-200. It matches my pocket too. Should i go for it? I can also wait to pile up more money for 70-200 f4. And one more thing, there is another beast the new 300 f4 prime that also suited my pocket without zoom. i’m not confused just unable to take the decision. BTW thank u for ur blog. I love it.

  63. October 26, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Thank you for this great insight into the 70-200 f2.8 I have just bought one for the World Rally Championships, so the fast f2.8 is suited for catching fast cars and in low light!

  64. 64) Brian Tang
    October 27, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Hi Nasim,

    One thing you may left but interest some people — any difference between 3ED and 7ED? Many people may just pay extra money for those glasses, especially landscape photographers.

  65. 65) Mark
    December 19, 2013 at 8:31 am

    Hi Nasim,

    Love the article and it (plus comments) have helped a lot. Have you thoughts on comparing the this f4 with the Sigma f2.8 in terms of pic quality plus quality of build and weight? I’m looking to upgrade to a better lens. Liked the weight of the Sigma compared to the Nikon but accept that the quality might not be as good.


    • 65.1) Sergio Q
      December 19, 2013 at 11:40 am

      Hi Mark, I’ve bought the Nikon 70-200 F4 and I love it, its weight is very good to travel compared to its 2.8 counterpart, quality is very very good. I haven’t tried the Sigma F2.8 but lots of photographers have told me to get the Nikon because of the quality, also the V3 technology is a plus.

  66. 66) John Stewart
    December 31, 2013 at 2:00 am

    Following on from your review of this lens Nasim, which was really fantastic btw, I purchased this f4 lens a while back and have been pleased with the results, which, until now, has been limited to general photography. I am lucky enough to have the 600 f4, but its not ideal for walking around with or hand holding for bird photography. This last holiday I thought I would try the 70-200 f4 along with a TC14 and went birding and I am so disappointed with the results, the pictures were almost all very soft images which is something I am not used to with my D800, although the lighting was overcast.

    My question I guess is this, am I expecting too much from this lens to produce pin sharp bird images when coupled with a 14 converter on my D800. I would appreciate your input. The images were so poorly soft that I am seriously thinking of taking this lens into Nikon here in South Africa and having it checked, but wanted to check with you first before making a fool of myself!!

    Thank you


  67. 67) John Stewart
    December 31, 2013 at 2:10 am

    Hi there Nasim

    Thank you again for this great review of the 70=200f4 lens, as a result I went out and purchased one a while back and until now have been very pleased with the general results. I say until now, because over the holidays I used it in conjunction with a TC14 on my D800 to capture some water birds at a local sanctuary here in South Africa. I was so disappointed with the results, almost every picture was soft!! Yes, the conditions were overcast, but I still expected better results.

    I guess my question is this, am I expecting too much of this lens when using it with a TC14 to capture birds, not even BIF, but birds? It is the first time I have used this lens for such a purpose, as I am lucky to own a 600mm, but that I cannot carry around bird hides and hand hold, so I decided to experiment. The results are so bad that I am almost at the point of taking the lens to Nikon here in South Africa and asking them to check it, but thought I would ask you first, before making a fool of myself.

    Any input from you would really be appreciated.

    Thank you

    John Stewart

  68. 68) nnfotografia
    January 16, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Hello Nasim,
    I shoot basketball, I use a nikon 70-200mm 2.8 VRII, usually at f/2.8 1/500. Does VR will make a big difference for me? I don’t turn it on.
    Thank you!

  69. 69) Spank
    February 7, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    I have five (similar) questions about gear and how important they are for a fulltime pro portraiture and wedding photographer like you

    1. Nikon 85 1.4 vs. 1.8
    How important is for you the 2/3rds extra capability of gathering light for portrait ? (e.g. low light portrait situations)
    How useful and how often do you really need and use the 1.4 wide open?
    Much difference in shallower depth of field? (“creamy”)
    Would you buy the 1.8 instead of the 1.4 even as a “pro” ? (price/performance, lighter/traveling, having not the 1.4 already etc.)
    2. Please make a review of the relatively new Nikon 70-200 f4!
    I would love to see your opinions about this lens….
    There are some indications that this lens has even a lot of advantages in comparison to the 70-700 2.8 VRII (lighter/traveling, better VR III (5Stops), sharper, better resolution, fx corner performance, and especially no focus breathing at 200mm, better minimum focus distance, higher max. aperture f32 like other reviewers/reviews nasim mansurov/photographylife, cameralabs, lenstip, photozone, ephototzine already suggested etc.)

    How important is for you the 1 f stop extra capability of gathering light for portrait ? (e.g. low light portrait situations)
    How useful and how often do you really need and use the 2.8 wide open on the tele instead of stopping down to f4+ ? Is the one extra stop in terms of better bokeh, shallower DoF really important (or in low light portrait) to you? The majority of made portraitures (studio) on ff are not between f4 and f 5.6 either way having the best sharpness? Your thoughts, opinion…
    Much difference in shallower depth of field? (“creamy”)?
    Would you buy the 70-200 f4 instead of the 2.8 even as a “pro” (price/performance, lighter/traveling, having not the 2.8 already etc.)?
    3. What about the impacts of the huge focus breathing of the 70-200 2.8 VRII and your experiences in this regard?
    4. How often do you really make portraits from 5 to about 13 feet with the 70-200 2.8 VRII at 200mm? (refering to focus breathing/article/source
    5. Would you still suggest the 70-200 f4 for portraiture (low light/wedding) too?
    6. What do you think about the Nikon 70-300 4.5-5.6 in comparison to the 70-200 f4? Tough decision? Is it so much better in terms of overall performance (IQ, ~ only 1-2 f stop better etc.)? Would you still suggest buying a 70-200 f4 instead of the 70-200 2.8 if you already have a 70-300 due to the weight/size issues and the other advantages of the f4 version you lalready listed in the article above (e.g. focus breathing etc.)?

    Thank you in advance and so far! I already learned a lot on your site about photography and i really appreciate your tips!

    Keep it up and take care!

    Best regards,


    • 69.1) Sergio
      June 2, 2014 at 4:19 pm

      I own a 70-200 mm f4 and I have tried the f 2.8 V II and the weight is very important, carry that weight is very significant in a wedding, the f4 is not that lightweight but still good for giving you some stability. The zoom ring and focus ring are so smooth and soft that it´s very apreciatted. As the f4 is a very good point to focus and higher like 5.6, this f4 len has its goods in that range. You are right when shooting in a studio, you shoot at higher than f4, giving you tack sharp photos. It would be good that this lens had weather seal, it would give some more points in favor, but in general it´s an excelent len.

  70. April 15, 2014 at 6:51 am

    Thanks for your helpful review, I’m about to replace my nikon 70-300mm for my d800 and was kind of divided between the f2.8 and the f4. I was leaning towards the f4 as its lighter and more suited for my needs (“general” nature and landscape with the occasional but not that frequent wildlife shots), but your comments helped me confirm my decision. Even so I would love to have a proper weather seal on that lens…

  71. 71) KK
    July 5, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    I have been looking for 70-200 lens and have decided to get the F4 after reading your review and other comments but I found a refurbished 70-200 f/2.8 for $1779 at while a new 70-200 f/4 is about $1400 (can’t find a refurbished f4). I am just an amateur and I plan to take an Antarctic cruise in next 2-years and thinking a weather seal on 2.8 might make a difference. Any inputs are appreciated.

    • 71.1) Arnab Saha
      July 10, 2014 at 9:16 am

      I’m using my 70-200 f/4 from last 7 months. Its a beautiful lens that produces really sharp n crisp images. The most important part is that its significantly lighter than its big brother f/2.8. I found it very handy specially during travel. Save your money and get one. Believe me you will never regret. :)

  72. 72) Sermet
    July 23, 2014 at 11:06 am

    Hi, I currently use the 18-300 mm lens but at the higher range I experience loss in sharpness. I do mainly (early AM/late PM) landscapes. I also have a 300mm f4. My camera is the D7000. Because on the sharpness issues I am considering the 70-200 mm f4 as I also need the reach. I have read reviews and comments and this lens seems to be a good option. Would this be a optimal (fixed focl length) alternative? Is this “overkill” since I have the 300 mm? Any other good landscape lens I should consider? (I have the 10-24 mm). I look forward to any suggestions from you experienced photographers out there. Thank you.

  73. 73) Danny Odum
    November 18, 2014 at 10:53 am

    Mr. Mansurov,

    Firstly, thank you for operating your wonderful site and blog. Without doubt, you are dedicated to your craft and provide positive value in a world where so many do not. I appreciate your insight and integrity in presenting subjects. Secondly, you live in Denver, and that means you are fantastic, twice. Your blog has given me the encouragement to do my own thing. I just purchased the 70-200f4 partially based on your review. As I switch over from Canon (disappointed with the progress on resolution and dynamic range), this will help me with a big part of my work. My own project is – please let me know what you think. Thank you sir!

  74. 74) bh amir
    December 12, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    HI Mr Mansurov. This is my second attempt to purchase the f2.8 and my second read on this review. In the end im pretty convinced my f4 will do the trick just fine. So now I completely abandoned the idea of f2.8 and just keep the f4. Furthermore I just acquired the 300 mm f4. That too ought to fulfill all my shooting requirement. Thanks for the very useful review. — from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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