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View Full Version : 70-200 and 80-200 lenses



e_dawg
10-15-2008, 07:45 PM
Went to B&H this w/e to do a 70-200 / 80-200 f/2.8 shootout of sorts... mainly to evaluate their auto focus performance, because they are all fairly good optically and somewhat similar in reviews.

Tried 3 different 70-200/2.8 80-200/2.8 lenses on a D300. I thought I'd share my thoughts here hoping some may find it useful:

The Sigma 70-200/2.8's HSM motor on the D300 is blazing fast. It will AF instantaneously but is not as decisive as the Nikon 80-200/2.8 and will switch if there are competing targets close by.

The Tamron 70-200/2.8 is said to be optically top-notch and a real bargain for the quality of the glass (comes out at or near the top of every MTF test at 200 mm wide-open and is the cheapest 70-200 you can get), but unfortunately, the AF is extremely slow. This is one of the slowest built-in AF motors I have ever seen. It's honestly unusable for any kind of action whatsoever. It's bad enough that I would not consider this lens at all and would recommend against it to others unless Tamron releases a version II of this lens with upgraded AF motor.

The Nikon 80-200/2.8 on a D300 is a bit of a revelation. The speed and decisiveness of AF lock is in a different league. Not as fast as the Sigma with its HSM motor, but fairly good, and the best part is how decisive it is and tolerant of low edge contrast and low light. It will lock swiftly and decisively on targets other lenses will have trouble with on the same body, illustrating the difference in AF performance a lens makes.

I assume the 70-200/2.8 VR is similar, but with VR... although I didn't even try it because it's more than I am willing to pay especially given its corner performance on an FX body.

In this situation, at least, it looks like it is worth it to pay the premium for Nikon glass over third party alternatives.

K1W1
10-15-2008, 08:18 PM
I've always wondered about the Nikkor 80-200 vs 70-200VR. The 80-200 is in the region of Aus$1000 cheaper here and if somebody is going to primarily use it for sports type shooting then it's probably a better way to go for a lot of people.

ssil2000
10-15-2008, 08:33 PM
wow, thats really good to know, 80-200 and a TC would be ideal for me shooting motorcylcle meets... and a hell of a lot more affordable then a 70-200... still a ways away for me, not really going to be attending any meets until end of next year soi think the 35f2 will be my next purchase but the AF performance of the 80 is really encouraging

K1W1
10-15-2008, 08:53 PM
At the moment the 80-200 seems to be around $1400 here and the 70-200VR is close to $2500.

e_dawg
10-15-2008, 09:35 PM
Well to be clear ssil, the 80-200's AF motor isn't that fast. It's maybe a little faster than average. The Sigma HSM motor is much faster. The difference is in the decisiveness.

Why do i mention this? AF performance consists of several factors: target acquisition, locking and tracking (across the frame and farther / closer away), and physically moving the elements to focus the lens. So having only a blazing fast AF motor (Sigma HSM) to move the elements only gets you part of the way there. You need all 3. The 80-200, which does the first two well, does not excel when it comes to the 3rd factor. (if you need all 3, I would guess that the 70-200/VR is the one to get)

If you want to use the 80-200 for sports / action, the AF motor may not be fast enough to deal with objects moving towards you / away from you (esp. towards) at a high rate of speed. Certain types of sports / action shooting are very demanding on the AF motor speed. But if you don't specifically have that requirement, the 80-200 may well be the superior value.

As K1W1 mentioned, for sports, the large aperture is more important than VR so you can use a fast shutter speed to stop the action (which will also neutralize blur from camera shake). but if you need the low light hand holding benefits of VR, the 70-200/VR rises to the top again.

achuang
10-15-2008, 10:06 PM
If you're talking about the Nikon 80-200 AFD then it's slower to AF because it doesn't have an AF motor, it relies on the in body AF motor of your D300 or whatever camera body you're using. It's fairly fast on a D300, but on something older like a D80 or worse like my D70s it's even slower and less accurate. Nikon did make the 80-200 in AFS version a number of years ago but stopped making it in favour of the current 80-200 AFD version.

Visual Reality
10-16-2008, 04:00 AM
The only problem remaining here is the sheer weight of that metal 80-200...

VTEC_EATER
10-16-2008, 07:50 AM
The 70-200 VR is blisteringly fast to focus. Imagine the decisiveness of the 80-200 with the HSM motor in it. That's one hell of a combination.

If I were on a budget and didnt feel VR was necessary (which I feel it is an invaluable option on this lens), I would be searching every forum out there for a used 80-200/2.8 AF-S.

e_dawg
10-16-2008, 12:06 PM
The only problem remaining here is the sheer weight of that metal 80-200...

... even though it is around 5 oz or 150 g lighter than the 70-200/VR?

e_dawg
10-16-2008, 12:10 PM
The 70-200 VR is blisteringly fast to focus. Imagine the decisiveness of the 80-200 with the HSM motor in it. That's one hell of a combination.

If I were on a budget and didnt feel VR was necessary (which I feel it is an invaluable option on this lens), I would be searching every forum out there for a used 80-200/2.8 AF-S.

True, VR is valuable in a telephoto zoom. That's why they feel they can charge essentially double the price for the 70-200/VR.

But do you think it is wise to buy the 70-200/VR when it is rumoured to be replaced with an updated version that addresses the corner performance on FX bodies?

VTEC_EATER
10-16-2008, 01:12 PM
But do you think it is wise to buy the 70-200/VR when it is rumoured to be replaced with an updated version that addresses the corner performance on FX bodies?

If you are planning on upgrading to FX, then maybe. But for a cropped body, it is probably one of the best performing lenses money can buy.

Im not planning on selling mine any time soon, even if there is a replacement. Who is to say that the replacement will perform as well on a cropped body as this one does?

Take a look at DPreviews comparison of the different 70-200's that Canon has. Apparently there are a few different ones that work better with cropped, and some that are crappy on cropped bodies, but work well on a 5D.

Rooz
10-16-2008, 02:39 PM
The 70-200 VR is blisteringly fast to focus. Imagine the decisiveness of the 80-200 with the HSM motor in it. That's one hell of a combination.

If I were on a budget and didnt feel VR was necessary (which I feel it is an invaluable option on this lens), I would be searching every forum out there for a used 80-200/2.8 AF-S.

agree completely. the 70-200 is a hell of a lens in every regard on aps-c. remember that there are 2 types of focussing issues here. one is where the light is perfect and all lens' do pretty well in. but when light starts to get even moderate, like you start hitting iso400 and max SS of say 1/100s and thats where the 70-200 shines. no other zoom can keep up with its speed and accuracy when light is slightly comprimised.


But do you think it is wise to buy the 70-200/VR when it is rumoured to be replaced with an updated version that addresses the corner performance on FX bodies?

not if you're planning on FX. but then again...half the lens' in nikon's line up are slated in for replacement so you could argue not to buy anything for a while ! lol


Take a look at DPreviews comparison of the different 70-200's that Canon has. Apparently there are a few different ones that work better with cropped, and some that are crappy on cropped bodies, but work well on a 5D.

agreed. in saying all that though plenty of guys are using the 70-200 now on d700's and d3's and they are doing just fine. i suspect that the issues with the lens are visible mainly in lab tests but not so severe in the field.

Visual Reality
10-16-2008, 05:22 PM
Pick up a used 70-200 when someone dumps it for the new version - they will depreciate.

timesnaps
10-21-2008, 05:27 PM
Firstly hello everyone... I am new here, so please be patient with me. Will remember to search before asking silly questions :)

As for the current topic, I am just jumped ship from Pentax and using a D300 now. I do mainly press and reportage and hence this talk of 70/80-200mm has caught my eye. I have a Sigma 70-200mm (the original version, non macro) for the Pentax and focus was never fast (Pentax did not get a HSM version of this), but I got used to it.

However I am looking for the same range for Nikon now and find I am a little confused as to what is out there. If I understand it right there are currently the following available for Nikon - please correct me if wrong:

Sigma 70-200mm F/2.8 DG Macro HSM Mark II
Sigma 70-200mm APO-Macro-HSM EX DG F2.8
Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 AF (1988-1992)
Nikon AF-S 80-200mm f/2.8D ED-IF (1999-2004)
Nikon AF 80-200mm VR f/2.8D ED 1997-today)
Tamron 70-200mm

which one to go for...!?

erichlund
10-21-2008, 06:13 PM
If you can afford it, the Nikkor 70-200VR is the best of the bunch. If you can find it, the Nikkor AF-S 80-200 is very nice, but it will cost a significant premium over the non-AFS. The next best is the current 80-200 Nikkor. These are good if you don't need VR. The third party lenses are reported to be of decent quality. They are bargains, but along with the bargain will be issues and compromises. I can't really speak to those.

e_dawg
10-21-2008, 08:44 PM
Sigma 70-200mm F/2.8 DG Macro HSM Mark II
Sigma 70-200mm APO-Macro-HSM EX DG F2.8
Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 AF (1988-1992)
Nikon AF-S 80-200mm f/2.8D ED-IF (1999-2004)
Nikon AF 80-200mm --> VR <-- no VR on this one f/2.8D ED 1997-today)
Nikon AF-S 70-200/2.8 VR ED
Tamron 70-200mm

which one to go for...!?

IMO, the Tamron is out because the AF motor is way too slow. The current Sigma is good, but the AF, while fast, is not as decisive as it could be. That leaves 2 (not counting the used market):

Nikon 80-200/2.8
Nikon 70-200/2.8 VR AF-S

The main difference is obviously VR and AF-S, and the price, which is almost double. AF-S gives you faster focus, which may be useful if you shoot action that moves quickly towards / away from you. VR allows you to use slower shutter speeds in lower light without blur from camera shake. It does not, however prevent motion blur from fast-moving subjects. If you need these capabilities, the price will be worth it.

timesnaps
10-22-2008, 08:46 AM
Nikon 80-200/2.8
Nikon 70-200/2.8 VR AF-S


Could someone point me in the direction of where I can get these in Europe please. I am also looking at the Sigma now, as it seems quite a bit lighter - which is never a bad thing for me, lugging laptop and all other stuff around.

I thought the AF-S version is no longer available (except for a few 2nd hands).
Thank you very much

Aldor88
11-01-2008, 04:02 PM
IMO, the Tamron is out because the AF motor is way too slow. The current Sigma is good, but the AF, while fast, is not as decisive as it could be. That leaves 2 (not counting the used market):

Nikon 80-200/2.8
Nikon 70-200/2.8 VR AF-S

The main difference is obviously VR and AF-S, and the price, which is almost double. AF-S gives you faster focus, which may be useful if you shoot action that moves quickly towards / away from you. VR allows you to use slower shutter speeds in lower light without blur from camera shake. It does not, however prevent motion blur from fast-moving subjects. If you need these capabilities, the price will be worth it.

Have you tried the Tamron or are you basing your opinions on a review?

The Tamron gets mixed reviews, some say the AF is good, some ok and some say its horrible. The IQ of the lens is good enough to justify some problems but from what I've read in some reviews AF can get pretty bad.
The AF of the 80-200 is far from perfect too, some pretty bad back focusing issues have been reported, out of the box.

Im facing the same decision too, the 70-200VR would be the obvious choise, no real drawbacks if u shoot on a crop. But its out of my budget(by miles).

The 80-200 is old, heavy and has some AF issues as well. It has great IQ, price and its a Nikkor :). The AF-S version of this lens is out of my budget.

The sigma 70-200(second version) seems like a pretty good choise but the IQ gets some bashing in reviews. AF should be good tho.

The Tamron 70-200 gets great IQ reviews but the AF seems to have some serious problems. The Tamron is also the lightest.

Once i update my body one of these lenses are next, really not sure which one yet :).

e_dawg
11-03-2008, 02:25 AM
Have you tried the Tamron or are you basing your opinions on a review?

Wondering if you read my original post? I said I tried them all out head to head in a shootout and those were my results. The Nikons cleaned up when it came to how quick and confidently the AF system was to acquire lock on a target in mediocre lighting.


The AF of the 80-200 is far from perfect too, some pretty bad back focusing issues have been reported, out of the box. [...] The 80-200 is old, heavy and has some AF issues as well.

Except for the lightweight but incompetent Tamron, the 80-200 is probably the 2nd lightest f/2.8 zoom option. As for back-focus issues, half the lenses I try on my D300 have front/back focus offset. Nikon may put a little more emphasis on AF accuracy with their cornerstone pro lenses (14-24, 24-70, 70-200), but the 70-200/VR is not immune from this problem either. Very few lenses and very few bodies have perfect AF calibration against the theoretical ideal. That's why most new bodies these days have AF Fine Tune on them.

No AF Fine Tune? You'd have to send your lens in for service. However, you may not even have any problems even if there's a back-focusing issue, because maybe you body front-focuses. The two of them would cancel out. My Sigma 50-150 and D80 are like that. Their net accuracy is decent because they kinda cancel each other out with the opposite AF calibration offset.

Aldor88
11-03-2008, 06:16 AM
Wondering if you read my original post? I said I tried them all out head to head in a shootout and those were my results. The Nikons cleaned up when it came to how quick and confidently the AF system was to acquire lock on a target in mediocre lighting.



Except for the lightweight but incompetent Tamron, the 80-200 is probably the 2nd lightest f/2.8 zoom option. As for back-focus issues, half the lenses I try on my D300 have front/back focus offset. Nikon may put a little more emphasis on AF accuracy with their cornerstone pro lenses (14-24, 24-70, 70-200), but the 70-200/VR is not immune from this problem either. Very few lenses and very few bodies have perfect AF calibration against the theoretical ideal. That's why most new bodies these days have AF Fine Tune on them.

No AF Fine Tune? You'd have to send your lens in for service. However, you may not even have any problems even if there's a back-focusing issue, because maybe you body front-focuses. The two of them would cancel out. My Sigma 50-150 and D80 are like that. Their net accuracy is decent because they kinda cancel each other out with the opposite AF calibration offset.

Didn't read the original post sorry, came upon this one with search and sortof jumped on in the middle.

Did you try the Nikon version with built in motor? I think i'll still go wit the tamron, the IQ reviews it gets are just that good. Not that im planning on doing much sport shooting anyway so fast focus is a second prio.

AF fine tuning is not nomething im going to have for quite some time, D90 lacks this option.

e_dawg
11-03-2008, 07:03 AM
Did you try the Nikon version with built in motor? I think i'll still go wit the tamron, the IQ reviews it gets are just that good. Not that im planning on doing much sport shooting anyway so fast focus is a second prio.

Yep. The Tamron with built-in AF motor for Nikon mount. The AF isn't just "not very fast". It is very slow. Unacceptably slow. Even for a kit lens it would be considered too slow. Try before you buy. Maybe I tried an unusually slow copy or an initial copy and they improved things after initial complaints or maybe it's just poor quality control. Either way, I hated it. Hope you get a better copy.

hef
11-03-2008, 02:47 PM
I'll tell you i have the Sigma 70-200mm F/2.8 DG Macro HSM Mark II, and it's a fantastic lens... My copy is very sharp and your right the HSM is very quick... this is on both a D3 and a D300.