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Nikon 70-200 f/4 VR Announcement – 5 stops of stabilization!!!

By Matthew Saville on October 23rd 2012

Here’s a riddle:  What weighs ~29 ounces, has nano-crystal coating, costs $1400, and has FIVE stops of stabilization?

Nikon’s new 70-200 f/4 VR, that’s what!  (Click HERE to check and see if it is available for pre-order on Amazon yet!)



Canon users, let’s all hear you chorus: “FINALLY!  We’ve had that lens for years!”  Yeah, I think this is one of the most long-awaited lenses in the Nikon lineup.  It’s up there with an 80-400 VR replacement for sure.

If you read my thoughts on the Nikon 70-200 f/4 VR in the rumor that was posted a few days ago, you already know how excited I am about this new lens.   Usually, there are two possible reactions when a new lens is announced.

1.)  “The proof is in the pudding; I’m not buying anything until I see sharpness charts and test images…”
This is usually me, especially with wider lenses and primes.  The sharp thing to do is to at least wait and see how smart a lens is.  Wait a minute, strike that, reverse it.

2.)  “OMG I want it right now!  When can I get on a wait list?!?!”
For a change, this is my category.  I am overly confident that Nikon simply cannot mess this one up.  Maybe my confidence stems from the flawless performance of Canon’s two 70-200 f/4’s.  But overall, a medium telephoto pro zoom is going to be amazingly sharp.


…I hope the actual street price is a little lower than the $1,400 announcement price, but either way I’d still buy it.  This lens, plus the 16-35 f/4 VR, just make me want to retire right now and become a landscape photographer… :-)

So, how about those five stops, eh?  I don’t even know how that’s possible.  Counting down from the rough shutter speed rule of 1/focal length, at 200mm I should be able to shoot at 1/100, 1/50, 1/25, 1/13, and even 1/6 sec.  200mm at 1/6 sec?  That just sounds impossible!  In this respect, I’m partly in the “the proof is in the pudding” camp.  I’ve shot plenty with the 70-200 f/2.8 VR2, which is supposed to have 4 stops of stabilization, …and I know for a fact that it is pretty dang tough to shoot effectively at 1/13 sec hand-held.  I’m usually just happy if I can pull off 1/25 sec.  So if I can just pull off 1/13 sec on the 70-200 f/4 VR, I suppose I’ll have caught up with the stop of light I lost to my aperture.  Not bad.  Of course another thing to consider is subject movement.  I can shoot as steady as a rock, but if my subject is moving even just a little, anything less than 1/100 or 1/50 sec is going to start blurring pretty quick.  So there’s that issue.

But as I’ve always said, VR is no substitute for shutter speed when you need to stop action.  If I need to stop action in low light, I reach for a prime.  So if I pick up the 70-200 f/4 VR, I’ll also be packing an 85, 105, or 135 prime in order to cover the bases.

Aside from the potentially incredible new VR and being almost $1,000 cheaper and 1 lb lighter than the 70-200 f/2.8 VRII, are there any other potential advantages to this lens?  Well, whenever there is less glass in a newer lens design, there is always the potential that it focuses faster.  I’m excited to see how snappy the Nikon 70-200 f/4 is, though I’m a little worried that focus accuracy might be a little reduced due to the smaller aperture letting less light in.
What do you think?  I’m curious to hear how many others are excited about this lens, and how many couldn’t care less.  ;-)

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Matthew Saville is a full-time wedding photographer at Lin & Jirsa Photography, and a senior editor & writer at SLR Lounge.

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Q&A Discussions

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  1. Ed Rhodes

    looks like a solid lens

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  2. Luka Koprivica

    If they have managed to put in a fast AF motor, and it focuses no more than 10% slower than f2.8… it will sell like hot cakes! And if it is so, I will buy one! I own glorious 70-180 Macro, but its AF is too slow for moving subjects, and this f4 would be just great for outside/candid/landscapes/sports, and I would leave 70-180 glued to the tripod at studio.

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  3. Jeff Allen

    Typo 400mm?

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  4. Anthony Thuston

    Ive got the old version of this lens, from 1988, the 70-210mm F4. Its a great lens, sharp, focuses pretty fast for a lens so old. I picked it up for $200 used at the local shop. Works like a champ on my D7000, and for 90% of my uses(portraits included) it is sufficient. But there are obvious limitations, mainly sports photography that is done indoors or at night under lights. I can barely shoot football, since I have to crank the ISO up to compensate for the F4, and then my shutter cant be much higher than 200. So if sports, or low light is your thing, I would not recommend a constant F4, but otherwise I would say it will work great.

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    • Dngjonsantos

      Atrots tayo dyan mare! Even though you didn’t understood that. :-)

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