Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S Review for Mirrorless Cameras
With advanced vibration reduction and a constant f/2.8 aperture, this Z series mirrorless lens is perfect for capturing sharp, detailed shots in any lighting.
By Steve Vansak
The Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S lens is the latest Z series mirrorless lens in a long heritage of telephoto zooms from the famed imaging company.
This workhorse lens is used in many photography genres including landscape photography, sports photography, wildlife photography and more.
It’s a premium-priced zoom lens, but for many professional and serious enthusiast photographers, it’s worth every cent.
In this review, I will be looking at the Nikon Z 70-200mm from my experience as a wedding and portrait photographer.
Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S Specs
- The VR S lens image stabilization pairs perfectly with IBIS of certain bodies
- Internal focusing ensures great weather sealing
- Image quality is best of any Nikon 70-200 lens
- No chromatic aberrations
- Extremely fast autofocusing
- Beautiful background rendering
- No focus breathing
- Zoom ring and focus ring are on outside and inside respectively
- Heavy and bulky
- Focal Length – 70 to 200mm
- Maximum Aperture – f/2.8
- Minimum Aperture – f/22
- Minimum Focus Distance – 1.64′ / 50 cm
- Maximum Magnification – 0.2x
- Optical Design – 21 Elements in 18 Groups
- Diaphragm Blades – 9, Rounded
- Focus Type – Autofocus
- Image Stabilization – Yes
- Filter Size – 77 mm (Front)
- Dimensions (ø x L) – 3.5 x 8.66″ / 89 x 220 mm
- Length at Maximum Extension – 8.65″ / 219.8 mm
- Weight – 2.99 lb / 1360 g
Build & Ergonomics
There is no question the Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S lens has incredible build quality.
I have owned two previous F-mount versions of this telephoto zoom and I’m confident that it will survive the usual bumping and jostling a photographer may put it through.
I’d also have no qualms about taking it into the rain and the modern features such as the OLED display and lens control ring appear to be sealed from the elements very well.
I hoped that the telephoto zoom lenses for the Nikon Z System would be a bit smaller and lighter in weight than the DSLR lenses of the past, but alas this Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S lens is close in weight and a bit longer in length than the previous F mount lens version.
Nikon seems committed to having the zoom ring toward the front and the manual focus ring near the lens mount which still takes some getting used to.
Since I’m always handholding the Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S for portrait shooting or wedding ceremonies, it can be tiring to hold your arm out toward the front of the barrel to operate the zoom ring.
You may want to detach the tripod foot for this style of shooting.
While I do use the Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S for portraits and other still objects, I find the fast focusing and focal range a must for wedding ceremonies.
I can’t guarantee a bride what kind of reaction her groom may have as she walks down the aisle, but I can (almost) guarantee this often-requested action shot due to the lightning-quick autofocus.
The low light autofocus is quick on any Nikon Z series mirrorless camera but especially good on the Nikon Z 6 II and Nikon Z9.
A fairly new lens such as this Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S is expected to have the latest technology and you will find this in features such as the OLED display for a quick glance at current focal length and a focus scale.
This can be changed via a button on the lens.
Another special feature is the control ring which is great for changing ISO, aperture and more. The lens also has function buttons all around it. All of these can be set within the menu of the camera body.
Truthfully, I have all of these buttons and rings set to off as I tend to be clumsy and accidentally make unwanted setting changes in the fast-paced events that I photograph.
I think the vibration reduction built into this lens along with a camera with IBIS should be pointed out as a special feature.
This enables shooting at the longest focal length at a much slower shutter speed easier than ever before.
- Read more: What is the best Nikon lens?
Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S Image Quality
The Nikon S line lenses are all very sharp, but this Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S lens could be their sharpest to date.
If sharp images with pleasing bokeh are what you are seeking, this lens delivers.
I do not see any chromatic aberration and distortion is non-existent unless you really look for a bit of pincushion distortion at the 200mm maximum focal length.
In Adobe software, built-in lens profiles take care of this.
Images really pop with this lens more so than just compression with telephoto lenses bringing backgrounds forward.
There is something about the overall picture that hits you right away as super high quality.
- Read more: Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8 lens review
Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S Sample Images
Here are some sample images taken with the Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S, using a Nikon Z 6 II and Nikon Z 9.
At the time of writing, there are no mirrorless lenses for Z cameras in this focal range.
One could adapt any of the f-mount versions of this lens or the Sigma or Tamron counterparts using the Nikon FTZ 2.
A slower aperture, but longer focal length option would be the Tamron 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III RXD Lens for Nikon Z.
- Read more: Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 review
Value for Money
If you want a pro-quality 700-200mm f/2.8 lens for any mirrorless system, you will be paying in the same range as this lens which sells for around $2,500.
Seeing as this is the type of lens which is going to see a lot of use, I see it as a fair value.
While the size and weight are often off-putting for me on long wedding days, it is invaluable at church ceremonies and those times I need its reach for stills and video as well.
For working professionals, this is one of those must-have lenses and it will also make you money in return.
Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S Review | Conclusion
All camera brands have a fast 70-200mm lens in their line up and all are very good.
However, Nikon has been known to produce these with incredible image quality over the years.
I’m happy to report that this telephoto lens especially for the z mount is on par and may even exceed their venerable workhorse zooms of the past.
Always remember, lenses will elevate your photography game more than anything else.
So if you are not quite ready for a flagship body such as the Nikon z9, this lens will pair well with their other cameras such as the Nikon Z6 II or Nikon Z7 II.
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