Nikon 200-500mm f5.6 E Ed VR


Nikon 200-500mm

Nikon 200-500mm

AF issues

Some copies of the lens has af issues, meaning the lens can switch to manual focus during focusing. Nikon fix this issue with a firmware.

Official name

The official name of the lens is Nikon Af-s Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR

A new super telephoto lens will be released by Nikon. It is very interesting (at least for me). The price of the new lens is 1395 USD, which is very interesting, see later.

E – Electronic diaphragm, don’t works on older Nikon cameras

ED – specialized glass, which helps many ways to get better image quality (reduce chromatic aberration, better colors and contrast).

Vr – Vibration reduction this is the same as image stabilizer in other lenses.

Market situation

Obviously no such lens ever will be created if Tamron hasn’t release the Tamron 150-600mm lens. This makes super telephoto lenses much more affordable than before. Several year before if someone wanted a 500mm lens, apart from the super expensive primes, the only option was the Sigma xx-500mm lenses which were not very serious optically at the long end, and was not 500mm but somehow less. After Tamron released the fantastic value 150-600mm, which was soon followed by the Sigma 150-600mm in Sport and Contemporary versions.

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The latest addition to the affordable higher quality super telephoto lenses is the Nikon 200-500mm. I guess if it is ok optically and has a good autofocus it will be a hot seller as was the Tamron a year ago. According to my thinking Nikon wants to produce something extraordinary as did with the Nikon P700 compact camera which is a hot seller as well with it’s 2000mm focal length. So much that it is hard to get one.

I was a little surprised how quickly Sigma released his 150-600mm versions after Tamron and managed to be even a little better.

The Nikon 200-500mm (in my thinking) will be better than the Sigma, but will not be as good as the super expensive primes. Colors, sharpness, and contrast where Nikon can be better than Sigma, especially with the 3 ED elements. The Tamron is still the most affordable, and has a very good value. The Sigma sport version has a very good build quality, the interesting if the Nikon will be as good build quality or not.

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It is very good that Nikon doesn’t do the third 150-600 f/6.3 lens, instead opt for f5.6 at 500mm. It is a big change as Nikon doesn’t offered 500mm in zoom, only offered several 400mm zooms, which will be not really interesting anymore if this 500mm will be a good enough lens.

The pricing of this lens is aggressive, especially when we speak about Nikon who usually sell everything at higher price than Canon. Seems this lens is very important for Nikon.

Many online media speak about the end of the Dslr era and predict that mirrorless cameras will rule the future. Very popular travel/HDR shooter Trey Ratcliff is also switched to Sony from Nikon. I do not fully understand the reasons why the media pushes that thing so hard, but as I see in travel / landscape photography mirrorless cameras can be more reasonable (I prefer to use live view in landscapes as well), but what about wildlife/portrait/wedding/macro/night/sky photographers ? Focus peaking (a distinct color shows the in focus area) won’t give you good enough results in bird photography for example (on the other hand this function would be very useful in Dslr cameras as well for landscapes).

Nikon 200-500mm f5.6 on Nikon 1 cameras

I am not a big fun of Nikon 1 cameras. I don’t think it worth the price for most people. But in this case we can get some really nice reach in good light with a supposedly fast af. A tripod is a must I think for this huge focal length. An additional adapter is also required. How much reach we will have ? With the 2.7x crop factor it is like 2.7/1.5=1.8x bigger reach than on Dx. It is like a 900mm on Dx or 1350mm on Fx.

Nikon 200-500mm functions

The lens has a stabilizer which is claims to have 4.5 stops gain by Nikon. The lens also has a Sports mode for panning shots. Also there is a focus limiter at 6m, so everything looks ideal here. The focus limiter is used to accelerate autofocus function (the af is usually slowest in close focus distances). Also there is a zoom lock at the 200mm setting to prevent unintended focus breathing.

Nikon 200-500mm 2

Nikon 200-500mm f/5E ED specs
Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E ED Vr
Nikon F mount
Filter size:
95 mm
Lens elements / groups:
19 elements / 12 groups
Exotic Lens elements:
3 Ed elements (Extra low dispersion element)
2.09kg (4.6 lbs. )
4.25 x 10.53″ (108 x 267.5 mm)
Close focus distance:
2.19 m (7.2′)
Yes Silent Wave Motor
Yes, 4.5 stops
Front element rotates:
Moving barrel elements during focusing:
Focus preset modes:
Manual focus – autofocus, Sports mode, focus limiter at 6m, stabilizer on-off, zoom lock at 200mm setting
Lens Mount material:
Full frame
Reproduction ratio:
Aperture blades:
9 rounded diaphragm blades
Distance scale:
Manual focus override:
Focal length:
200-500 mm
Max Aperture:
Min Aperture:
Angle of view:
5°-12° 20′ on Full frame
Focus limiter:
yes, super integrated coating (SIC)
Tripod mount ring:
Lens hood:
Tilt / shift:

Alternatives / rivals

This is a very interesting lens, the first which offers f/5.6 aperture in the 500mm focal length. At this price point the main rivals are the Sigma 150-600mm and Tamron 150-600mm lenses.

Sigma 150-600mm

The Sigma has two versions the Sports and the Contemporary version. The Sports version has a better build but much more heavy as well. Seems Nikon doesn’t make the same mistake to produce a too heavy lens. The 2kg is a usual limit for a lens to be reasonable hand-holdable for longer periods.

Tamron 150-600mm

The Tamron is the first more affordable super telephoto, but at 600mm not as sharp as the Sigma especially wide open. More affordable though. I guess the Nikon will be better than the Tamron, but still the Tamron is a very good lens, especially considered the price. This is not by chance that needs to wait half a year to get a copy a year ago.

Compared to these lenses the Nikon 200-500 has one clear advantage: compatibility with future Nikon camera bodies, which is not for granted for the other two optics. The other advantage is the closer Minimal focusing distance which is around 2.7, for the Sigma and the Tamron, 2.2m for the Nikon. The other smart move from Nikon is the f/5.6 aperture at 500mm, both other lenses are already at f/6.3 at 500mm. On the other hand 600mm is longer than 500mm which is more desirable for wildlife or bird photography.

Compared to Nikon lenses

It is more interesting how the new 200-500mm compare to the older Nikon 80-400 f/4.5-5.6 or the Nikon 200-400 f/4 lenses ? The price of these lenses 2300 USD and 7000 USD (Nikon 200-400 f/4 II version) respectively. If the new Nikon 200-500mm cannot beat the 80-400mm, the Sigma or the Tamron is a better choice. If it will be better, than the 80-400mm has no meaning anymore. Obviously the Nikon 200-400mm has a stop advantage (f/4 vs f/5.6) better build, and it is a higher grade lens.

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