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Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S Photos and Discussions

Joe Colson

Well-known member
Dave, I believe that it's a combination of two factors. First, the Z 70-200mm f/2.8 lens is better than the earlier Nikon F-mount versions. It's optically superior, proven both in MTF charts and in real world testing. Second, I believe, but have no hard proof, that the Z 1.4X and 2.0X TCs are better than the earlier Nikon F-mount TCs. Like you, I've used TCs in the past with mixed results. When I was into photographing birds in flight, I'd use a Nikon 500mm or 600mm lens, sometimes with a TC. The TC results were inferior to those shot without a TC. I never got usable results with a 2.0X TC. The 1.4X and 1.7X TCs were usable but there was some image degradation compared to the photos using a bare prime lens. Now with the Z 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, I feel comfortable using either the 1.4X or 2.0X TC, even hand-held. Color me impressed.

Joe
 
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Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
Dave, exactly why initially I was thinking the 1.4x. But 100% crops I've seen from both combos over the Z7 are impressively good to say the least. I for the most part could not distinguish between them, and about the only real detrement to 70-200 IQ is either seems to add a slight business to the bokeh. With high ISO so good, I decided the 120mm focal-length gain was worth the extra stop of loss for my needs.
 
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D&A

Well-known member
Dave, I believe that it's a combination of two factors. First, the Z 70-200mm f/2.8 lens is better than the earlier Nikon F-mount versions. It's optically superior, proven both in MTF charts and in real world testing. Second, I believe, but have no hard proof, that the Z 1.4X and 2.0X TCs are better than the earlier Nikon F-mount TCs. Like you, I've used TCs in the past with mixed results. When I was into photographing birds in flight, I'd use a Nikon 500mm or 600mm lens, sometimes with a TC. The TC results were inferior to those shot without a TC. I never got usable results with a 2.0X TC. The 1.4X and 1.7X TCs were usable but there was some image degradation compared to the photos using a bare prime lens. Now with the Z 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, I feel comfortable using either the 1.4X or 2.0X TC, even hand-held. Color me impressed.

Joe
Joe, your explanations and experiences regarding use of Nikon's f series 1.4x, 1.7x and 2.0x F series converters mirrors mine as well as those from other 3rd party lenses with their converters and other systems outside of Nikon's. (have no experience with Leica's). I almost always saw image degradation with the 1.4x but it varied from decent/good to minimal & acceptable. The 1.7x was pushing it except for being a necessity in some select situations and the 2.0x was a no-go for me personally after trying it on a number of lenses and varied situations. This was even when used on some single focal length lenses. That's why I was both shocked and pleasantly surprised by your posted image and feedback.

I wonder then if its just optical development/advancement in general for Nikon or it has something to do with the system being mirrorless and that the advantage of this system is not only about smaller size of certain components but as an advantage to optical performance?

For a variety of subjects it (this leap in performance, esp. with the 2x), really becomes a game changer, not only in reach but with cameras reaching ever higher higher numbers of pixels allowing some cropping (and still have a large enough file for large format prints), ones gain is two fold. Now this all has me thinking and I'm not sure that all good news for me :). Thanks!

Dave (D&A)
 

D&A

Well-known member
Dave, exactly why initially I was thinking the 1.4x. But 100% crops I've seen from both combos over the Z7 are impressively good to say the least. I for the most part could not distinguish between them, and about the only real detriment to 70-200 IQ is either seems to add a slight business to the bokeh. With high ISO so good, I decided the 120mm focal-length gain was worth the extra stop of loss for my needs.
You know Jack, when you first mentioned (posted) you were undecided between the 1.4x & 2x and eventually went with the 2x, I was going to post why, since I was perplexed by your decision. I know your innate knowledge and experience using Nikon gear and couldn't understand why your choice was the 2x, knowing incorporating its usage in the optical path at best, is generally a fairly steep loss of optical performance and that's generally under the best of shooting situations. Now between yours and Joe's explanations, I have a new found view of one important aspect of the Z system and optics, especially my being a loyal proponent of the Nikon F system. All very interesting.

Dave (D&A)
 

Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
Basically just headed out with the lens and 2x on my Z7 to see what it would do. These are just grabs, about 20 minutes total with the lens and as-shot other than sized for web.

First thing I see is this trio of geese overhead, so attempt a "birds in flight" with the Z7 LOL! Z7 and 70-200+2x at 400mm, wide open at f5.6, cropped to about Dx size, and handheld of course:



I had just taken the 2x off, and of course then this guy decided to pop out! Also shows a bit of the bokeh character... Z7 and 70-200 at 200 f2.8:



Crop of above -- if you look closely, you can just make out my reflection in his eye.

Edit: IDK why, but it seems this site has upped my crop to about a 200% view, at least it appears so compared to the output file in C1 on my MBP -- may be a Retina display translation issue, IDK for certain, but suspect that's it (and I'm not in charge of that anymore LOL!) Anyway, it is laser sharp at proper mag:

 
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Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
My main nit with the lens so far is the bokeh seems a bit nervous in a lot of situations, especially higher contrast. Closer in shots it seems to tame itself and smooth out a bit, and also seems decent with further away and/or lower contrast backgrounds. But that just behind subject in higher contrast are kind of ugly, almost to the point of being distracting. Maybe what I really want is a 200 f2 LOL!!! Verdict on whether I keep it is definitely not in yet...
 

Darin Marcus

Well-known member
I wonder then if its just optical development/advancement in general for Nikon or it has something to do with the system being mirrorless and that the advantage of this system is not only about smaller size of certain components but as an advantage to optical performance?
If I remember correctly, getting more light onto the sensor (by improving/reducing its path) was one of the goals of the Z mount design.

I took a look today at the optical design of the F mount & Z mount TCs on Nikon's global website. The difference is greater between the 2X TCs - while the F mount version has some empty space in the rear, which adds to the empty space in the mirror chamber, the Z version is "full" inside, with the rear glass element as close as possible to the sensor. Perhaps this reduces light scattering at the end of the path to the sensor...
 
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Darin Marcus

Well-known member
My main nit with the lens so far is the bokeh seems a bit nervous in a lot of situations, especially higher contrast. Closer in shots it seems to tame itself and smooth out a bit, and also seems decent with further away and/or lower contrast backgrounds. But that just behind subject in higher contrast are kind of ugly, almost to the point of being distracting. Maybe what I really want is a 200 f2 LOL!!! Verdict on whether I keep it is definitely not in yet...
I wonder if the SR element has anything to do with the bokeh issue...
 

Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
I wonder if the SR element has anything to do with the bokeh issue...
Maybe, but IDK -- the SR element is reportedly there to control ultra-short wave blue as a way to better control CA. Maybe not having the CA fringing somehow roughens up the bokeh in higher contrast situations? What's weird, is it isn't there in lower contrast light, or at least I don't notice it and bokeh seems quite nicely smooth...

And yes, OOF speculars are wonderful, near perfectly smooth disks with only a subtle onion ring. But get some higher contrast texture at the right distance behind the subject and it gets pretty busy. Very weird. Even just looking at my squirrel snap above, the speculars off the distant green bush are quite pleasant, while the bark on the sunlit tree behind the squirrel seem busy... Maybe I'm being too persnickety?
 

Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
My other issue with it is its weight, at least relative to my 70-300 AF-P. Of course the build-quality, performance, focus speed and aperture all come at a cost, but I'm not sure I really want to pay it LOL. I might actually be happier with a 500P for similar money out...
 

Darin Marcus

Well-known member
But get some higher contrast texture at the right distance behind the subject and it gets pretty busy. Very weird. Even just looking at my squirrel snap above, the speculars off the distant green bush are quite pleasant, while the bark on the sunlit tree behind the squirrel seem busy...
High contrast features not far away from the focus plane generally resulted in uglier bokeh with all the telephoto zooms I previously owned - but this is my first f/2.8.
I generally tend to avoid shooting in bright light that creates high contrast situations, especially when bokeh is involved - when I do I may get something like this:


Nikon Z6, Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S VR @ 125mm, 1/320, f/8, ISO 100 (November 2020)

I resized this photo at 805 pixels for the short edge (3:2 in landscape orientation) because at about this size the forum software starts to allow people to click on the photo to see it at the posted size.

Maybe I'm being too persnickety?
People should be as persnickety as they want to be about the tools of their craft :)
 

Darin Marcus

Well-known member
Snow Day (January 31st, 2021):


Nikon Z6, Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S VR @ 200mm, 1/100, f/8, ISO 100, +1.0 EC, handheld, VR Off, slightly copped
(click on the photo to see full posted size)

It snowed during this photowalk, with moderate wind blowing snowflakes around. Had the lens hood on, and used gloves to handle the camera. After a while, a little snow accumulated inside the hood, on one side, without touching the front element, so I got a little more careful about carrying the combo against the wind. Both camera and lens body eventually got covered by a thin layer of snow/water, while the front element stayed clean - but everything continued to work fine, so I kept photographing.

I had to use the joystick to move the focus square around, because the multi-selector was hard to operate with my gloves. I had no problem with the other controls. The viewfinder sensor got covered with snow/water pretty quickly, and was hard to clean with gloves on, so I had to manually switch between the viewfinder and the (tilted) LCD for ground-level shots.

Grateful for the internal zoom!!!

At the end, I got in the car and cleaned/dried everything with a towel. Not that I plan to photograph in similar conditions again, but I am very happy with the weather sealing :)
 

D&A

Well-known member
Joe, besides both the technical aspects of the shots being handheld and use of a 2x being highly successful, the images themselves (including the previous bird postings) are simply stunning. Lovely captures!

Dave (D&A)
 
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