The AF-S Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6 E ED lens is an FX format powerful telephoto zoom, ideally aimed at sports and wildlife photographers. It has a constant but modest f/5.6 maximum aperture, which enables a fairly compact design for its focal length. It is a complex lens of 19 elements in 12 groups, with three ED elements.
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR Handling and Features
This is an FX format (full frame) lens. When mounted on a DX format (crop sensor) camera, the 35mm-equivalent focal length is 300-750mm. It was tested on a full frame Nikon D750.
The lens is heavy at 2300g, including the tripod collar, but fairly compact and it is possible to hand hold with ease for a considerable period if necessary. The up to 4.5 stop advantage of the built in VR system clinches the ability to use this lens without a tripod, which is a real advantage. The VR system has a normal and a sport mode, the latter being more suitable for unpredictably moving subjects such as athletes. In both cases panning is supported and VR is only applied to vertical movement in this instance.
Two focusing settings are provided. The M/A setting is for AF operation, with manual adjustment available at any time. The M setting is for manual focus. The focusing range can also be adjusted in AF, either focusing over the whole range or from 6m to infinity if subjects will be further away. This will increase the speed of AF at longer distances. In any event, the AF operates silently and swiftly and rarely refuses to lock on to a subject.
A lock button is provided so that the lens may be safely carried without extending under its own weight. This operates at the 200mm setting only. The tripod collar can be rotated, and also removed completely if desired. It provides an excellent grip to carry the lens/camera combination and a sturdy and stable connection to a tripod.
Zoom and focus rings are rubberized and afford an excellent grip. They both operate smoothly and easily, which is very important when wielding such a heavy lens. The closest focus is 2.2m (7.22 feet) from the sensor plane, which is reasonable with this type of lens. Focusing is internal, so the lens does not rotate or change dimensions when focusing. Zooming out to 500mm does extend the lens, but balance remains good.
A very substantial bayonet fit lens hood is provided and is totally effective in protecting against any possible trace of flare.
Handling the lens is a pleasure. It is smooth, responsive and impressively well built. The constant aperture is not the widest, but very usable in the field. Keeping to a modest f/5.6 has resulted in a portable lens that can be used hand-held, whereas a wider maximum aperture would have meant a very unwieldy optic.