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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR

nikon telephoto DX 200-500

Reviews summary

Overall rating
5.00 star(s) 1 ratings
AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR
  • Crisp images
  • Robust
  • Good close-focus distance
  • Lock button avoids zoom creep
  • Heavy
  • Not the best lens for wet conditions
I have been using this lens for three years and I still continue to be impressed by the quality of images I can capture. It is now the only lens I use for bird photography and every time I look longingly at the top-dollar Nikon pro lenses I see trade-offs in weight, size and lack of flexibility that I don't want to make.

This is a very crisp lens. Test results show that it outperforms the Tamron and Sigma equivalents, though it takes second place to the more expensive (and heavier) Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Sport.

In the real world it has proven to be robustly built, surviving years of not very gentle handling and one fairly significant drop without complaint.

The constant f/5.6 aperture means that teleconverters can be used without problems. I have started using the Nikkor TC-14E III teleconverter regularly and it gives me that extra bit of reach with no visible degradation to the images.

There are four switches on the lens body: Manual-Auto/Manual, Full range/limited range (8m and beyond), Vibration Reduction On/Off, and Sport/Normal mode.

Vibration reduction is rated at 4.5 stops, which is particularly helpful in low light situations.

This lens will work with any F-mount body, but it shines when used with the Nikon D7XXX series and the Nikon D500.

Other things I particularly like:

- the close focus distance is reasonable at 2.2m

- there is a lock button which locks the barrel at 200mm (avoids lens creep during long walks)

- the sealing does a good job of keeping out dust

- manual focus works smoothly

- autofocus is quick and accurate, though not as quick as the Nikkor pro lenses

- the supplied lens hood is robust and does a good job of protecting the front lens element and keeping gunk off of it. (And of course it does reduce flare, which can be a problem with telephoto lenses)

Things I don't like so much:

- it is a heavy beast, and quite long when fully extended - about 17"/~43cm with the lens hood. The weight becomes noticeable after a long day of carrying it around, and after three years it has almost worn through the metal clasp on my BlackRapid strap. I hand-hold the camera 99% of the time and the weight of the lens and a D500 body gives me quite an upper-body workout!

- extending from 200mm to full zoom takes a 180 degree turn of the zoom ring

- this is not a waterproof lens. If you use it in steady rain moisture will get inside the lens body

Bottom line: This is an outstanding lens for the money, and for the enthusiast (non-professional) Nikon user it is arguably the best all-around bird photography lens.
3 members found this helpful.
volker sthamer
volker sthamer
Saw just now this review. Very informative and well done. One point I would like to add. For african conditions during a safari for example under dusty conditions, I dont recommend this lense. It is not dust proof. Several of my birding tour clients had problems with dust in the lense body.