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Lens Reviews

The 200mm f/2.0G ED IF AF-S VR Nikkor Review


Keywords: telephoto, lenses, nikon, nikkor, 200mm, vr, f6, d2h, d2x, hk_31, ai_s, bokeh, brussels, belgium

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This lens, released in time to be paired with the F6, D2H and D2X cameras, confirms Nikon's intention to bring AF-S and VR into all telephoto Nikkor lenses. At first glance it is an impressive lens. Later, one cannot but say that it is awesome.

Click for enlarged lens detail

AF-S VR 200mm f/2G IF-ED Nikkor 



This AF-S version is a bit heavier but more compact than the manual version.

Its hood (HK-31) is also very well designed, and although it is not a carbon one I like it a lot.

In my view a bit too heavy to handhold so I use it most of the the time on a monopod with VR active. When not on the monopod, the need for the occasional break is there and is nice to see Nikon engineers thought it had to be put down, which can be done resting it on its lens hood or front, both of which have thick rubber rims.

I try to use this lens wide open all the time as that is what it is designed for...

When there is too much light I do not hesitate to put a neutral density filter in the therefore designed filter drawer (52mm thread).

When used wide open, the contrast is great and sharpness is never an issue; of course the narrow DOF contributes to the nice "bokeh" of this marvelous tool.

The autofocus is lightning fast (AF-S) and the image in the viewfinder is very bright (f/2) for a 200mm lens.

I was already very happy with the "old" manual focus 200mm f/2 AI-S but this one is really great, more so when used on a D2H (AF-S + VR)

A new button has re-appeared on this lens: The "Memory Set" button witch allows you to come back to a pre-set focus point. I still have to play with that feature a bit to learn to use it well.

Here are a couple of samples:.

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This lens -as its predecessor- manifests it's high quality emphasizing subjects in portraits, by rendering background elements completely out of focus when wide open or close by. But the addition of lightning fast AF and VR technology for shooting in low light conditions allows photographers to use shutter speeds up to three stops slower than they would ordinarily use to get sharp, well exposed images, or from a moving platform, like from a boat or a small plane. This brings in many new opportunities not quite feasible with the previous model.

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Sample candid portrait with AF-S VR 200mm f/2G IF-ED Nikkor
Wide open at f/2 it offers a unique appearance to pictures, a pleasing background blur (boke) and a very bright viewfinder image with lightning fast AF and VR.



Although heavier by some 14% -likely due to its improved optical formula with three more elements- the AF-S VR lens can focus closer and is smaller. Details in the table below.


AF-S VR 200mm f/2G IF-ED
MF 200mm f/2 ED-IF AI-S
 Year released
 Optical formula
13 elements in 9 groups
10 elements in 8 groups
 Closest focusing
1.9m / 6.2 ft
2.5m /9 ft
 124 x 203mm / 4.9 x 8.0 in
132 x 225.5 / 5.2 x 8.8 in
2.9kg / 6.4 lb
2.55kg / 5.6 lb


AF-S VR 200mm f/2G IF-ED Nikkor at left
MF 200mm f/2 ED-IF AI-S Nikkor at right.

Click for enlarged view of lenses comparison

Both lenses have a 52mm filter drawer.

Apart from other controls already present in other VR lenses, Memory Recall reverts the lens to the previously used focusing distance. AF-L allows a desired focusing distance to be preset, AF-ON allows fine manual manipulation.


Clcik for filter drawers enlargerment


AF-S VR lens

MF AI-S lens

Controls on the AF-S VR


Controls on the AF-S VR



Ok. It is a G lens so it has no external aperture ring but by now I am very used to that. The lens is armed with ED glass and Super ED glass to deliver impressive sharpness. When compared with its extraordinary AI-S predecessor it is at par with it when not better. I cannot detect chromatic aberration even when fully closed down; not that I will use this lens much at f/22 anyway.

Click to zoom in

AF-S VR 200mm f/2G IF-ED Nikkor



It is when comparing contrast and color rendering that the new VR lens emerges further as an indisputable champion.


Lens Type G, IF, ED, AF-S, VR
Focal length 200mm
Maximum aperture f/2.0
Minimum aperture f/22
Lens construction 13 elements in 9 groups (3 ED glass lens elements, 1 Super ED glass element), 1 meniscus protective glass lens
Picture angle 12°20' / Nikon DX Format: 8°
Minimum focus range 1.9m (74.8 in/ 6.2 ft)
Maximum reproduction ratio 1/8.1 (0.12)
Attachment size 52mm (into drop-in drawer)
Dimensions approx. 124 x 203mm / 4.9 x 8.0 in.
Weight approx. 2.9kg / 6.4 lb.
Included accessories Attachment-type filter holder (with 52mm NC),
Front cap (non-interchangeable), Rear Cap (LF-1),
Strap (LN-1), Hood (HK-31), Semi soft case (CL- L1)
Optional accessories Attachment-type polarized filter (C- PL3L)
Teleconverters: TC-14E II, TC-17E II, TC-20E II


Included is a semi-soft case or pouch which is simply great: well constructed, it allows for the lens to be carried with the hood on and mounted on the camera!


Many seem to share my enthusiasm over this gem, like Moose Peterson who said about it: "Shot for a week with the 200f2VR, what a lens! ... Easy to handhold, stubby yet very well balanced. Amazingly sharp at f2 with great limited DOF. Focusing on a face, filling the frame, focused on the eye, the eye is tack sharp, the bridge of the nose is soft. If you need very limited DOF but a tack sharp, wide open lens, this is it!" Moose-news October 6, 2004.


AF-S for lightning fast autofocus despite its bulk; VR allowing for slow shutter speeds, IF for more efficient focusing and ED glass to correct possible chromatic aberrations and produce remarkable sharpness. Just remember that power needs power; carry spare batteries for your camera, always.

Click for enlargement

Sample selective focus backlit portrait with the AF-S VR 200mm f/2G IF-ED Nikkor



Extremely well built, it is a well gasket sealed and robust lens, producing a nice creamy boke, reminiscent of that of the 85mm f/1.4 Nikkor and even improving over its excellent manual AI-S predecessor. Its foot, much better than that found in the AF-S long zooms.

Contrast and color rendering is superb under all light conditions.  

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It's fast f/2 aperture allows for amazing limited depth of field, when wanted for selective focus images.
I almost always want it, now that I have this lens.

Click to zoom in

Excellent sharpness, with crisp detail even under low contrast overcast days and wide open with a TC20E. Surely outresolves any digital sensor today, with no visible chromatic aberration.

AF is always reliable and manual focusing is smooth and precise, as with all AF-S lenses, and maybe a little more.


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All of the above make this lens well worth its weight, bulk and hefty price.

Nikon 's tradition of optimal optical performance of the pro lenses is well served with this beastly beauty.

There is an indescribable exhilaration while using it. If you can, don't hesitate at all, get it!


Bellow a small gallery of sample images.

Click to zoom in

With the AF-S VR 200mm f/2G IF-ED Nikkor



Click on the images below to view bigger samples. Be patient if you are not on high-speed internet conection, they are rather big.


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You be the judge. I am ecstatic.

(4 Votes )
Show pages (5 Pages)

Originally written on September 20, 2004

Last updated on October 28, 2016

User User

1 comment

KENT M. WHITNEY (KMWHITNEY) on October 3, 2013

Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015

Has anyone done a line by line comparison of the 200mm f2 VR and the VR II ? Is the only difference 3 stops vise 4 stops or is there much more? a bit hard locating the specs for the VR these days... R/Kent