Which is the 70-200mm to go for (Nikon)?

I have been craving for a 70-200mm F2.8 lens for the longest time. The last time I lost sleep over a lens is probably for the to-die-for Pentax FA 31mm (one I really missed since changing over to Nikon).

The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II is revered for its balance of image quality and versatility, not forgetting the AF speed and great build quality. From the last sentence, you probably know I want one!

However, buying decisions are sometimes less straight forward than it seems. There’s the newer year 2012 addition to the family, the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR  which shaves off a good amount of weight (approx ~ 690g) and cost (Approx ~US$1,000 based on new sets) from its bigger brother.

Now, there also a third one trying to crash into the party and that is the Tamron SP 70-200MM F/2.8 DI VC which has been receiving rave reviews (just look at the DxoMark scores below). I am currently using the Tamron SP 24-70mm Di VC (Model A007N) and I have been really happy about it. No complains except for the occasional thought of ‘What if I had gone for the Nikon?”.

It is also attractively priced near the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR but you get the wider F2.8 aperture which can be really useful to keep the noise level down from higher ISO value.

70-200mm Lenses Comparision

Questions I have been asking myself (even after reading tons of professional and real-world user reviews) :

Do I need the f2.8?

Would I been leaving home the f2.8 version more than I would if I had gotten a f4 version instead(due to the hefty weight and size)?

If I do get a f2.8 version, should I pay more for a Nikon? and why?

What if I had gotten the Nikon f2.8 instead of the Tamron? (If I am buying the Tamron for its good value)

What if I want to use a teleconverter on day (and I am having the f4 instead of the f2.8)?

I think I would be pretty happy if I had anyone of them… but I still need to decide… I’m sure I’m not the only one facing such hard choices…

Decisions… Decisions… Decisions…


UPDATES !!! Decision made!

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2 responses to “Which is the 70-200mm to go for (Nikon)?

  1. I hope the following will be able to help. Answers in the same order as your questions:

    1. Yes. There are a number of reasons for this, however the most important are that a lens such as the 70-200mm f/2.8 VR2 has a lot of versatility and you will feel comfortable both when shooting at, say, an airshow at high speed and f/8 with a teleconverter and when shooting a portrait at f/2.8. Another factor is the hugely improved optical quality at the edge of the frame – I use this on full frame (I have a D600) and the image quality the first time I tested it on a day out literally blew my socks off. I would also argue, but take this with a pinch of salt since I haven’t tried the f/4 version, that at f/4 the optical performance would be better than the 70/200mm f/4. To this I would add that apart from the f/2.8 maximum aperture, the VR2 system on this lens is nothing less than outstanding. You can still shoot reasonable portraits in the range 130-150mm at 1/30 or 1/40 sec.

    2. I doubt it. In my experience you take these lenses with you when you have something specific in mind. For example, if I know I want to go for a session of wide angle shots I take my 14-24mm f/2.8 with me and leave the 70-200mm f/2.8 at home. I put the 28-105mm and my 50mm f/1.4 (the latter never stays home) in the bag just in case I have some unexpected opportunity. The quality is not the same but you can’t have everything and if you shed some weight you have to accept some compromises.

    3. Can’t answer this as I haven’t compared the two but I can definitely vouch for the quality of the Nikon.

    4. Same as above.

    5. You will lose. If you buy, for example a TC-20, you’ll lose 2 stops. At any length beyond 200mm, having a min aperture of f/8 will limit your options.

    However, if as you say you are happy with any of them, go with the cheapest as probably even if there is a difference it probably isn’t going to be a priority.

    When I was faced with the same decision I went for the Nikon f/2.8 and I haven’t regretted it for a second.


    • Thanks for sharing. I am leaning towards the Nikon 70-200 f2.8 VR II and probably will. Juz gotta try one before I physically could no longer carry lenses like this… 😛

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