Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 review
This lens interesting for me as an amateur wildlife bird photographer and I had a chance to check it. What makes it interesting ? The focal length, the price (depend on country and financial ability of person), and that it is a Nikon native product, which is somehow seems better regarding with compatibility of new Nikon cameras, while in case of Tamron or Sigma lenses it is not guaranteed that will work on new Nikon cameras. On the other hand long term it is not guaranteed in case of Nikon neither as we saw with Af-P lenses, or newer mirrorless camera bodies. This is a full frame lens, but I think I would prefer to use it mostly on Aps-C cameras like Nikon d7200 series or the Nikon d500.
Nikon 200-500mm FL E ED VR f/5.6 specification
Minimal focus distance: 2.2m / 7,22 ft
Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 controls
There are 4 buttons : vr on – off, focus limiter, autofocus manual focus switch, Normal or sports mode. And there is one additional button to stop zoom creeping which can be set only at 200mm to fix the lens not lengthening accidentally. There is enough button to do anything you like.
Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 built quality
The lens is reasonably well built with metal mount and plastic barrell. No wobbling, unwanted movement or any irregularities can be experienced. In long term I cannot predict how durable it is, or more interestingly how it resists some kind of abuse which can occur at intensive usage like unoccidentally dropping, rain or. Compare to my full metal Canon 300mmf/4 which works perfectly even today, not as toughly built.
The lens extends a lot while zooming, and one turn is not enough to achieve the 500mm setting.
Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 stabilizer
Seems a real world the stabilizer very effective at 1/800 s f/5.6 500mm is not easy to produce a sharp shot.
Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 optical quality
500 mm f/5,6 wide open 1/800s Nikon d7000 very sharp with pleasing background blur
Most interesting question here: is it good enough for this price point ? I do pictures only on wide open aperture at 500mm setting. Other setting for me is not really interesting. It is a very sharp lens as I see.
Regarding contrast, colors I think will not match up with super expensive primes at the same range, but very close.
Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 sharpness
Very sharp even wide open at 500mm f/5.6. No complaint. Please notice that depth of field (sharp area at the picture) is very narrow at this setting. The original picture is almost 2x times wider.
Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 alternatives
Sigma 150-600mm Sports and contemporary version, Tamron 150-600mm, 100-400 and other long zooms, Nikon autofocus and manual focus primes (300,400,500,600 mm including old manual focusing ones), the older Nikon 200-400mm and Nikon 80-400mm lenses, Nikon d900,d1000 compact cameras. Starting with compact cameras the picture quality is not the same especially in not ideal weather conditions which in some places for example England or Northern countries can mean almost all year, and on the other hand we speak at the compact cameras 2000mm and 3000mm maximum focal length which is simply not possible in Dslr world even at a very high price point. In case of distant birds in bright sunlight these cameras can produce acceptable results for an amateur photographer.
Comparing the 150-600mm zooms for me the Nikor 200-500mm is sharper than the Tamron 150-600 even wide open, and I think is even sharper than the Sigmas. The Nikkor zooms (80-400,200-400) go only up to 400mm which is a big difference. The 200-400 has a reputation than cannot focus sharply at distance, which is not the case for the new 200-500mm.
Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 opinion
Simply as I see this is a very nice lens, sharper than the Tamron 150-600 or the Sigma 150-600 lenses, compare top primes much more complicated design (18/12 lens elements with 2 ED elements), more lens elements so not expect the same image quality as the big or smaller primes, but very close. The weight for me totally acceptable but it depends for a women can be heavy in longer times. If you are an amateur and likes simplicity like I like, one lens for a safari or travel can be interesting.
In price point depend on where you live, it is not a cheap lens. The zoom option gives good option for landscapes as well with a bird or animal or without.
Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 Pros
– Excellent optical quality
– Well built
– very sharp
– Not so expensive as big primes 500 f/4 or 600 f/4
– 500 mm focal length at f/5.6
Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 Cons
– Big compare to normal lenses
– Heavy compare to normal lenses
– Turning zoom ring requires more grip as it turns around 140 degree
Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 conclusion
The Nikon 200-500mm seems a very capable product optically, with its native manufacturer priced very reasonably compare to the range and optical quality. For tripod use it is ideal, if you can cope with its weight it is good for handheld usage as well. Seem Nikon produces a winner here for those who can afford, as price is almost double in Europe than in the Us.