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Thread: Nikon zoom lenses - which one is best?

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    Nikon zoom lenses - which one is best?

    Can anyone that maybe has one please advise, which would be the best of the Nikon lenses out of the 70 to 200mm, the 70 to 300mm or the 80 to 400mm and why?
    D7000, 18mm to 105mm Nikon lens & 18mm to 250mm Sigma lens.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    the 70-200 is a 'pro' level lens. It has a maximum aperture of f2.8, this allows faster auto-focusing, and good control over depth of field (area in focus and area blurred - the background - in your photo). The other two lenses are kit (consumer) lenses and thus will be cheaper.

    None of the lenses is bad as such, but they also have different focal lengths, so an 80-400 will zoom twice as much as a 70-200.

    If you have plenty of money and want to buy a high quality lens that will let your photography grow with it, and last a lifetime, get a 70-200 f2.8. But if your goal is to just enjoy your photography and take some good photos, but you do not want to spend the money that a 70-200 costs, either of the other two lenses will do you well.
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    Member Tommo1965's Avatar
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    what do you want to use the lens for..once thats known we might be able to give you some help on a choice....also with the Nikon theres a F4 version of the 70-200 now...
    Cheers and my name is Steve


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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    (also assuming that the 70-200 you're referring too is the f/2.8 and not the f/4 version, as you haven't specified).
    The 70-200 ... because it's just better at aperture values of f/2.8-f/4.5 between 70-200mm's

    The 70-300 ... because it's better between 200-300mm's

    The 80-400 ... because it's better between 300-400mm's!



    seriously tho:
    already mentioned, the 70-200/4 is also (apparently) a ripper lens in terms of IQ.
    Downside is the lack of a tripod mount as standard tho. While Nikon obviously thinks it's ok to mount this lens to a camera and then mount that setup to a tripod via the camera body ... (I wouldn't be so sure over the long run) I'd say that a tripod collar should be factored into the price comparison.

    70-200/2.8 is heavy and uber fast, with top notch IQ.
    70-300(make sure you're looking at the VR model, not the non VR version) ... lightweight, portable go anywhere lens.
    80-400 ... probably the better option to get if you're thinking 400mm is what you really want. Heavy and cumbersome. I felt it was more 'front heavy' than a 70-200/2.8
    From what I've seen(only in terms of sample images usually static types), I think the 80-400 usually appears to have an edge in IQ, over a 70-200/2.8 +2x TC and both wide open at 400mm.

    Anyhow, if it were my money, and I really wanted long reach(say for birding) .. I'd go for the 80-400 over a 70-200+2x TC.


    So it really comes down to as the others said .. what you want it for.

    Is it just another focal length to have access too?
    is it for a specific purpose(birds, sports??)
    is it's simply because you won the lottery and have money to spend ... spend it on me ... I'll be a 70-400 f/2.8 .. for a price!
    Nikon D800E, D300, D70s
    {Nikon} -> 50/1.2 : 500/8(CPU'd) : 105/2.8VR Micro : 180/2.8ais : 105mm f/1.8ais : 24mm/2ais
    {Sigma}; ->10-20/4-5.6 : 50/1.4 : 12-24/4.5-5.6II : 150-600mm|S
    {Tamron}; -> 17-50/2.8 : 28-75/2.8 : 70-200/2.8 : 300/2.8 SP MF : 24-70/2.8VC


  5. #5
    Who let the rabble in? Lance B's Avatar
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    As Steve (Thommo1965) has pointed out, it would be good to know why you want to know the best so as we can hopefully assit you in the best possible way.

    If you want to stick to Nikon lenses, then this is my response:

    As Rick has pointed out also, the 70-200 f2.8 VRI or VRII are both pro spec lenses and are built and perform to pro standards, ie they are built beautifully and AF fast and accurately. It has a "fast" maximum aperture of f2.8, which basically means that it will allow for faster shutter speeds than a lens with a maximum aperture of f4 of the 70-200 f4 VRII or f4.5-5.6 of the 70-300 f4.5-5.6. Having an f2.8 maximum aperture lets more light into the lens which gives faster shutter speeds which is good for stopping action if required. The f2.8 aperture also allows for more subject isolation when required due to the shallower Depth of Field that wider/faster apertures give. The 70-200 f2.8 is an exemplary lens and is amongst the best zooms there are, especially in that particular zoom range.

    The 70-300 is more of a consumer grade zoom and it's build quality is not up to the standard of the 70-200 f2.8 VRI and VRII and it's AF is not quite as fast as that of the 70-200 either. Also, the f4.5-5.6 maximum aperture means that you will have slower maximum shutter speeds which may result in camera shake or the inability to stop fast action. However, these lenses do have VR which can assist with stopping camera shake, but not stopping subject movement. Having an f4.5-5.6 does not have the subject isolation, or shallow Depth of Field that an f2.8 lens can exhibit at f2.8.

    The 70-200 f4 VR is a cut above the consumer grade 70-300 f4.5-5.6 and sits in between the 70-200 f2.8 VRI and VRII and the 70-300 f4.5-5.6 for quality and maximum aperture. It is much closer to the 70-200 f2.8 as far as build quality is concerned and resultant IQ.

    The other option is the 80-400 f4.5-5.6G VR (latest version). I have both the 70-20 f2.8 VRII and the 80-400 f4.5-5.6G VR and they are used for different purposes. I will use the 70-200 f2.8 where I need a fast aperture zoom (obviously in that range) where I want subject isolation, ie narrow Depth of Field, and for use in low light where I can open the lens up to f2.8 which results in a faster shutter speed. At f2.8, the 70-200 will have a 1.5 shutter speed faster than the 80-400 f4.5-5.6 which might be handy in some lower light situations for stopping action. I will use the 80-400 where I need more "reach" as it goes to 400mm whereas the 70-200 obviously only goes to 200mm, but the downside is that the 80-400 is at f5.6 at 400mm, so a "slower" maximum aperture which means I need to keep an eye on shutter speeds.

    There are two excellent 70-200 f2.8 lenses from Sigma and Tamron, with the Tamron having a slight edge from the reports I have read. They are two cheaper alternatives to the Nikon 70-200 f2.8 VRII.

    You can use higher ISO's to get the faster shutter speeds required, but this does result in more noise and less Dynamic Range etc. However, the D7000 is actually very good up to ISO3200 and with good noise reduction software is very good up to ISO6400.

    Pro's and Con's of the lenses above:

    Pro's for the 70-200 f2.8 VRII:
    Superb sharpness and overall Image Quality.
    Fast f2.8 maximum aperture for stopping action and subject isolation (ie narrow DOF)
    Fast accurate AF
    Superb build quality
    VR

    Con's for the 70-200 f2.8 VRII:
    Heavy in comparison to the 70-300
    Expensive!
    "Only" 70-200, not 70-300 or 80-400

    Pro's 70-200 f4 VR
    Excellent sharpness and overall IQ
    Quite a bit cheaper than the 70-200 f2.8 VRII
    Lighter than the 70-200 f2.8 VRII
    Slightly faster maximum aperture than the 70-300 f4.5-5.6 or 80-400 f4.5-5.6
    VR

    Con's of 70-200 f4 VR:
    "Only" an f4 maximum aperture
    "Only" 70-200, not 70-300 or 80-400

    Pro's 70-300 f4.5-5.6 VR:
    Good zoom range
    Light
    Cheap
    Relatively small
    VR

    Con's of 70-300 f4.5-5.6 VR:
    Slow maximum aperture of f4.5-5.6 which means low light issues for shutter speed and the need for high ISO, which has the resultant image degredation
    Slower AF than the 70-200 f2.8 VRII
    Over 200mm the IQ drops off a tad.

    Pro's of 80-400 f4.5-5.6G VR
    Great zoom range
    Very good build quality
    Sharp and superb IQ throughout the zoom range
    Excellent AF, fast and accurate
    Same weight as the 70-200 f2.8 VRII
    VR

    Con's of 80-400 f4.5-5.6G VR:
    Expensive!
    Slow maximum aperture at the shorter zoom range, although at 400mm f5.6 is not all that slow.

    My take on all of the above:
    For me, the 80-400 f4.5-5.6 is the best as I use it for birding, animals and other action. I rarely use the 70-200 f2.8 VRII now that I have the 80-400. However, if I was mainly shooting portraits and weddings, the 70-200 f2.8 VRII would be the lens of choice as I wouldn't need the extra "reach" of the 80-400 and the f2.8 maximum aperture means netter subject isolation and for use as a creative effect of narrow DOF.

    If you want to do portraits and weddings but you can't afford the 70-200 f2.8 VRII, then you could get the 70-200 f4 VR or the Tamron 70-200 f2.8, both excellent choices as well.

    If you want "reach" and can't afford the 80-400 f4.5-5.6, then you may have to settle with the 70-300 f4.5-5.6.

    There is another alternative and that is to use a Teleconverter on some of the fast aperture lenses like the Nikon, or Tamron, or Sigma 70-200 f2.8. Teleconverters are generally in 1.4x (times), 1.7x (times) and 2x (times) configurations. So, a 1.4x TC (Teleconverter) with "convert" a lens by a factor of 1.4x, therefore a 70-200 f2.8 lens "becomes" a 98-280mm f4 lens. The focal length is altered by 1.4x and also the maximum aperture "loses" by 1.4x and becomes f2.8 x 1.4 = f4. The same applies for 1.7x TC = 119-340 f5 and a 2x TC + 140-400 f5.6. However, you cannot just add a TC to any lens, they need to be compatible and also the maximum aperture needs to be at a maximum of f5.6 with most cameras and with some high end cameras f8. So, you can add a 1.4x TC to the 70-200 f4 to have a 98-280 f5.6, but with most cameras you cannot use the 1.7x TC = maximum aperture of f6.8 or 2x TC = maximum aperture of f8.

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    Member Tommo1965's Avatar
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    Great post lance

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    Moderately Underexposed I @ M's Avatar
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    Excellent post Lance.

    I reckon you have dethroned King Arthur of the pool table with that one.
    Last edited by I @ M; 26-11-2013 at 5:04am.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tommo1965 View Post
    Great post lance
    What he said - nothing further to add - except when I was looking at the same three lenses a few months back, in the end I went with the 300mm f/4 prime.
    I use a tripod mostly though so VR was not as important to me.
    Now considering a TC - or not.

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    A comment that I did not see re these lens is that they are all fx (designed for full frame cameras). The 70-200mm (both the f/2.8 and the f/4) on the D7000 the effective range is 105 - 300. Same goes for the Sigma and Tamron lens.

    The 70-200mm f/4 is at a very good price point vs quality.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by znelbok View Post
    A comment that I did not see re these lens is that they are all fx (designed for full frame cameras). The 70-200mm (both the f/2.8 and the f/4) on the D7000 the effective range is 105 - 300. Same goes for the Sigma and Tamron lens.

    The 70-200mm f/4 is at a very good price point vs quality.

    Mick
    In general, this crop factor FOV magnification is irrelevant when comparing lenses only.

    It makes a difference when comparing different lenses and camera body formats! ... but not when the discussion is about 'which lens'

    The fact that the 70-200's mentioned here are designed for full frame, has no bearing on the focal length of the lens.

    A 70-200mm lens designed for the Dx format(if one existed) would give exactly the same FOV, and hence effective focal length range(105mm-300mm)!

    ps. all the lenses mentioned so far are designed for Fx use.

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    So are you saying, that if I have a 70-200mm DX format lens and compare it to a 70-200mm lens FX format for the D7000 that the FOV will be the same for both? (I think that is what you are saying)

    Your second last line seems to echo my statement so I am unsure if I am being corrected or not.

    The reason I mentioned it is because (as I understand it) if you have say a 24-70mm DX lens and go and buy 70-200mm FX then you will have a "gap" in focal lengths where the 70-200mm will have an effective 105mm at closest zoom and a gap of 35mm. This may not be the desired outcome from the new lens

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    Focal length is focal length, regardless of whether the lens is DX or FX. The only difference is the size of the image circle that the lenses project onto the sensor. A 50mm FX lens would give exactly the same FOV as a 50mm DX lens.

    If you have a DX body then it makes no difference whether the lens is DX or FX. If you have an FX body then the DX lens will give some vignetting in FX mode.
    Last edited by davidd; 06-12-2013 at 7:53am.
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    regards, Kym Gallery Honest & Direct Constructive Critique Appreciated! ©
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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by znelbok View Post
    So are you saying, that if I have a 70-200mm DX format lens and compare it to a 70-200mm lens FX format for the D7000 that the FOV will be the same for both? (I think that is what you are saying)

    Your second last line seems to echo my statement so I am unsure if I am being corrected or not.

    The reason I mentioned it is because (as I understand it) if you have say a 24-70mm DX lens and go and buy 70-200mm FX then you will have a "gap" in focal lengths where the 70-200mm will have an effective 105mm at closest zoom and a gap of 35mm. This may not be the desired outcome from the new lens
    no you won't. A lens does not magically change its focal lengths based on what body it is put on. a 70-200 is a 70-200 on an fx body, put it on a dx body and it doesn't go abracadabra and become something else. What changes is the field of view..see Kym's link ^^^. DX and FX are nomenclature to signify what sensor size is. On a lens it simply states which sensor size the lens is designed for, not a change in focal length.
    Last edited by ricktas; 06-12-2013 at 9:05am.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by znelbok View Post
    So are you saying, that if I have a 70-200mm DX format lens and compare it to a 70-200mm lens FX format for the D7000 that the FOV will be the same for both? (I think that is what you are saying)

    ......
    I don't think you are understanding the subtlety of your own wording here.

    If you have a 70-200mm Dx lens(which doesn't actually exist) and a 70-200mm Fx lens .. the FOV on a Dx camera is exactly the same!
    The major difference will be that if you could get a 70-200mm Dx lens, then if you mount this non existent lens on an Fx body, you would get severe vignetting.

    As a comparison with real lenses:

    You can get an 85mm f/3.5VR Dx lens, or you could get an 85mm f/1.8 Fx lens .. both have the same focal length, and (apart from some other minor differences) the major difference is the crop factor of the Dx lens.

    Both lenses will give exactly the same magnification and FOV on Dx format bodies, and on Fx format bodies the same mgnification on the imaged area, but this imaged area(of meaningful substance) is going to be much less due to the vignetting.
    The vignetting of the Dx lens on an Fx body is still an image of some sort .. but all that it is, is the internals of the lens(basically) .. just blackness(so the natural tendency is to crop it out.

    My second last line in my previous reply doesn't strictly confirm your comments actually.

    What you seem to be implying is that a lens of a specific focal length designed for Fx has some magical focal length powers compared to a lens with the same focal length designed for Dx.


    ..... if you have say a 24-70mm DX lens and go and buy 70-200mm FX then you will have a "gap" in focal lengths where the 70-200mm will have an effective 105mm at closest zoom and a gap of 35mm. This may not be the desired outcome from the new lens .....
    As long as you use them on the same format camera, then NO! .. you don't have any gap in focal length between 24mm and 200mm.

    if you use the 24-70mm Dx lens on a Dx camera, and the 70-200mm Fx lens on an Fx camera, then you have a fair amount of focal length overlap(in terms of FOV only!!).

    In terms of FOV, with the 24-70 on Dx, you get an equivalent FOV of 35-ish to 105-ish mm .... so in essence, an apparent focal length overlap between 70mm and 105mm.
    But for any given aperture value, your images will look different in that overlap range from the two different camera formats.
    In the 70-105mm range, the Fx camera will have noticeably more background blur


    So .. just to be sure you understand correctly.

    If a lens is marked as Dx: on a Dx camera you will see no real difference between this Dx lens and an Fx equivalent lens(ie. as per the 85mm comparison above)
    But, if you mount this lens to an Fx camera, either part or all of that lenses focal length range will have severe vignetting up to a certain point.

  16. #16
    Ausphotography Veteran MattNQ's Avatar
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    I stumbled across these images that may help understanding the FX vs DX image circle. I have posted the links only as they are not my photos.

    DX lenses project a smaller circle onto the sensor area (because a DX sensor only needs a smaller image circle.)
    This means the lens can be made smaller to match the smaller DX bodies, & also less expensive (usually )

    Note that the strawberry is the same size whether you have a DX or FX lens, as both lens' physical focal length (eg. lets say 35mm), is identical.
    But if you look at the full size DX image, the strawberry will seem bigger as it takes up more of the frame. So compared to the FX image, it appears that you have used a focal length 1.5 times longer. An optical illusion...for want of a better word

    This is what we normally refer to as the 'crop factor' of the sensor and it occurs independently of whether the lens used is DX or FX.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/pva1964...n/photostream/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/pva1964...n/photostream/

    The first image also shows that you can happily use DX lenses on FX bodies, but the corners will vignette. On the newer high megapickle bodies, cropping the corners will still leave you with a perfectly good image.

    Note that there is also some value in using FX lenses on DX bodies. The weak spot of most lenses is in the corners. The smaller DX sensor effectively crops out the weaker edges, using the sharper centre area.
    If you have the $$, it is ultimately a better investment to buy FX lens. That way if you decide to go full frame in the future, you'll have the lenses you need already. There is also way more choice in FX lenses. Nikon has put a lot more effort into developing their FX lenses than DX lenses

    Hope that helps.
    Last edited by MattNQ; 07-12-2013 at 9:52am.
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