Many people are always looking for smaller, lighter and better lenses and tend to turn to F4 lenses for that. Yes these lenses tend to be smaller and lighter but better may not always be the case. Lets take a deeper look at the Nikon 70-200 F4 VR and see where its ideal use would be and if I would have it in my own photo bag.
The first thing you notice about this lens when you take it out of the box is how much lighter it is than the 70-200 2.8 VRII model. Weight seems to be one of the main factors for people to consider an F4 over a 2.8. The build quality seems to be top noticed as you would expect from a pro lens. The zoom and focus rings seems to be nice and smooth and easy to operate.
Enough with the basic info lets jump into my true feelings about this lens. As you will see in the video I spend a lot of time trying to justify who this lens is really for. NIKON is pushing the fact that this is the first lens to offer the 5 stop VR capability. As most of you know VR helps you stabilize the image when you are not on a tripod or monopod. People also tend to confuse what VR really does do. It will not help you FREEZE motion or subjects who are moving.
Full Sample video of the VR being turned on and OFF at 200mm.
Now that we have that out of the way we have to look at what uses there are for 5 stops of VR. The one constant I keep coming back to is 5 stops of VR is best used for hand holding while shooting VIDEO. As you will see in the review the new VR is beyond amazing. It allowed me to hand hold the lens zoomed out to 200mm and get images that are beyond stable. You can see me go from VR off to VR on and the proof is in the pudding.
You can see all of the sample images captured with this lens below and make your own judgements on the quality of the lens. I like to play with new gear but I am not the guy who is going to over analyze the sample images, I can leave that to you guys if you would like.
From what I saw the still images look great though at F4 you can see some slight darkening around the edges of the images. This is something that today is easily corrected in lightroom with the lens correction options and vignette controls.
I am sure many of you would like to know if I would replace my 2.8 for this F4. My answer is no, not for stills. I personally want to have the best quality glass and fastest apertures as possible. I am willing to carry around the extra weight at this time, maybe that will change as I get older but for now I want the best of the best with honors sir.
But on the flip side if I needed to shoot VIDEO with a lens in the range of 70-200 I would hands down go with the F4 over the 2.8. One the lens is so much lighter and easier to hand hold. Two, the 5 stops of VR is just insane and would allow me to hand hold in situations that just would not be possible before. For those reasons I would consider this lens for video production use.
Now we need to look at the price vs the other options out there. The Nikon 70-200 F4 VR sells for $1,399 new which is pretty pricy for a lens. The Nikon 70-200 2.8 VRII sells for around $2,399 and the Sigma 70-200 2.8 OS sells for $1,399. If price is a major concern we have to look at F4 vs the Sigma OS. Which should you go with, is it better to have the Nikon or is it better to have the 2.8. As most of you know I favor the 2.8 over F4 any day of the week. But in this situation you have to ask yourself will you be using this lens for stills or for video. If its for video than there is no question that you go with the Nikon.
Here is where my advice will get a little dicey and possibly controversial. If you are on a DX camer and deciding between the Sigma or the F4 I would say go for the sigma and the 2.8. If you are shooting with an FX camera my advice would be neither of the previously mentioned lenses but to save up for the Nikon 70-200 2.8 unless your focus is video. I say this because of the quality you will get form the 2.8 lens.
So there you have it, my Nikon 70-200 F4 VR lens review. As you can tell I have given a vast array of options on this lens but ultimately it comes down to what you feel is best for your workflow. I have supplied you with my thoughts as well as all the samples images for you to analyze and come up with your own informed decision.
If you are interested in picking up this or any other NIKON lens please check out AllensCamera.com as they continue to support my site and I support them as a mom and pop business who competes with the big boys.