Nikon 200-500 F5.6E VR Weight : 2300 gms
Last autumn, Nikon introduced the 200 -500 zoom at a very attractive price point. Nikon has a professional model 200-400 F4 lens which sells at around $7000 so this lens is an attractive proposition for wild life and sports shooters. It gives up one stop as compared to the pro lens but is much lighter and costs a great deal less. The competition in this range comes from Tamron and Sigma both of whom have lenses going upto 600 mm with a 6.3 aperture and are a shade lighter. On a DX body the lens becomes a super tele going upto 750mm without a tele convertor. Photographers considering this lens should also look at the combination of the new 300 F4 E VR with TC 1.4 which would be excellent for mammals but a little short for birds.
The Sigma has two lenses in the same range - S for Sports and C for Contemporary.
The Sports is designed to offer a higher level of optical precision and contains 24 elements in 16 groups, with two FLD and three SLD elements to control aberrations and distortions. It has a minimum aperture of f/22, minimum focusing distance of 8.5', and maximum magnification ratio of 1:5. The lens measures 4.8 x 11.4", and weighs 6.3 lb.
Contemporary version contains 20 elements in 14 groups, with one FLD element and three SLD elements. It has a minimum aperture of f/22, minimum focus distance of 9.2', and maximum magnification ratio of 1:5 and shaves some dimensions off the Sports version to measure 4.1 x 10.2".
The pros and cons of the Nikon as compared to the Sigma and Tamron zooms of similar range are:
The Tamron and Sigma have a greater zoom range 150-600 compared to the Nikon 200-500
Both the Tamron and the Sigma C lens are cheaper by around 20% as compared to the Nikon
The Tamron is the shortest in length of the three 258mm compared to 268mm of the other two lenses though the difference is not significant
The Nikon has a 2.5 x zoom
The Nikon has a fixed 5.6 aperture as compared to the F5-6.3 of the other two lenses
The Nikon focuses closer 2.2 m against 2.7m and 2.8m of the Tamron and Sigma respectively
The Nikon has weather sealing
The Nikon performs well with full frame cameras even wide open i.e. f 5.6
However, despite the pros and cons if you are a long term Nikon user and looking for wildlife and sports lens without breaking the bank then this may well be the lens for you!
Sigma 150-600 C $989
Sigma 150-600 S $1799
Tamron 150-600 $1069
Nikon 200-500 $1397