70-200 2.8 VR + flare

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by ron_huff|2, Dec 19, 2007.

  1. I'm a medium format guy (Pentax) making the big switch to digital.

    I am interested in the 70-200 2.8 VR to use in my primarily landscape
    photography. This is an important lens choice for me as telephoto/macro are my
    two strongest areas of interest in photography.

    I have read a number of reviews for this lens, including Rorslett, Thom Hogan,
    Photozone, as well as discussions of the lens on this site, FM, and others.
    Nearly everyone agrees that this is a very sharp zoom, with beautiful bokeh.
    However, Rorslett, Hogan, and a few others discuss its tendency to flare/ghost
    in sunlit/backlit situations.

    This is troubling to me as I shoot mostly in my home state of Colorado, where
    there is bright sunlight over 300 days a year. Many of my favorite images are
    backlit, with light coming through leaves, or of reflections on creeks and
    lakes. I know how to avoid hotspots, but it is hard to avoid bright light
    sometimes reflecting off of pine needles or water, or through trees, or on the
    forest floor.

    My question is addressed to owners/users of the lens: how bad is it? When
    shooting in sunlight how much have you encountered problems with spectral
    elements/ flare/ ghosting? Can you take nice backlit shots with the sun itself
    out of the image area? Can you take ocean shots with sunlight reflecting off
    of water?

    I spend time in Santa Barbara with my brother, and that can be a pretty bright
    area as well.

    It is troubling to me that Nikon couldn't control the flare better on this
    lens- it is such a fine lens in so many other ways. Perhaps they weren't yet
    using Nano crystal coatings in 2003 when this lens was introduced. I read that
    they used Super Sprectra, but not the newest Nano crystal coatings. I know
    it's hard to keep flare out of any zoom, not to mention one with 21 sets of
    lenses, including VR.

    It seems to me that this lens has three disadvantages: weight (3.2 lbs),
    minimum focus distance (5 ft), and flare /ghosting. I can live with the first
    two, but I don't want to have to deal with too much of the latter. Like many
    of us, IQ is my number one priority with any lens I look to purchase.

    So, those of you who have used the lens in bright light- how is the flare?

  2. Ron: I love using this lens, and do so frequently under really awkward lighting scenarios (outdoors in the field, often with low-angle light, often behind subjects). I've had flare, but rarely, and indeed only when the sun is blasting right into the lens. The (enormous!) hood really does help a lot. Really, this issue is about the trade off between the risk of flare that any zoom lens introduces, and the terrific IQ/versatility offered by this lens. Here are a couple of shots taken a few minutes apart some weeks ago. The top one is the worst I could produce, shooting right into the visible sun and glare off the water. I was deliberately going for that high contrast, but got what I deserved. The lower shot, though, is also directly into an incredibly bright sun/sky, with the umbrella right in front of it. No real flare problems at all. In most cases, I'm able to shoot into low, glancing sunlight without problem. If it's really cooking, you're going to have problems with many lenses. But not many lenses can come close to delivering what the 70-200 does.
  3. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I had posted a follow up to this question earlier, but unfortunately that was all gone because of the rollback.

    Essentially, if you want to shoot in backlit and "sun in frame" conditions a lot, you are better off with primes. The many elements in zooms are not going to help, and VR lenses have yet more elements for the VR capability.
  4. >"When shooting in sunlight how much have you encountered problems with spectral elements/ flare/ ghosting?"

    No problems whatsoever.

    >"Can you take nice backlit shots with the sun itself out of the image area?"


    >"Can you take ocean shots with sunlight reflecting off of water?"

    Looking at Matt's example, I see no flare coming off of the water (just blooming there), all the flare is coming directly from the sun. Rule of thumb with this lens is if the light reflects off of the lens itself you will have a problem; otherwise it seems to performs flawlessly.
  5. I have the lens and do have some problem with ghosting. But then, I point the lens directly at on-comming trains and their super bright headlights. When photo'ing normal subjects, I don't get ghosting very often. All in all, this may be the best lens Nikon ever made.

    Kent in SD
  6. Ron,

    I've been using this lens for the last six months and have used it in similar bright situations as you refer to (although here in Scotland those days are a far fewer than 300 days a year). I've only ever had flare issues when trying to shoot too close into the sun; no problems with reflected highlights in my experience.

    One additional point is that when flare is an issue it's usually very obvious, so you're not likely to miss it and can usually simply recompose to reduce the problem.

    If you'd like to read in detail about my thoughts on this lens - have a look at my review:


    I talk about flare at the bottom of page 3.

    All the best
  7. Matt-Thanks for your images and commentary. I can see that the lens can be used in bright situations!

    Shun- I agree that primes offer the best choice in bright conditions due to the comparative simplicity of the lens design. And IQ in primes can be very high. I want the versitality of easy framing, though, along with high IQ. I shoot waterfalls and lakes, for example, and it is sometimes impossible to walk closer or step backwards with a prime (due to a cliff or the actual water).

    Anthony- thanks for your descriptions of real life use with the lens

    Kent- It's nice to hear such a high opinion of the lens

    Duncan- Thanks for your comments above on real-life use. I really enjoyed your very detailed reviews via your link. The explanation is very thorough, and the images helpful. Nice job!

    The lens looks like a real winner in many respects. I am aware that every lens has tradeoffs, and this one is no different. Your comments have taken away apprehension about my biggest concern with the lens- flaring. Thanks again!

  8. Ron: One follow-up. I actually used that lens for a bright, sunny week between 3000 and 6000 feet up in Colorado (near Loveland) shooting equine goings-on. I brought it and several other lenses, and it was by far my favorite to use. I can think of two instances out of roughly 2000 exposures where flare showed up... but the difference between the work I got done with that lens and the rest of the ones in the bag was dramatic. The 70-200 was mounted for almost all of the stuff I really liked. Second to that was the Sigma 10-20. Guess I'm not much of a middle-ground guy, it seems. If you can stand it, I'll provide two more images. The first was shot handheld with the 70-200 and a TC-17EII 1.7x teleconverter. Shun will gag when I mention this, but it really does work quite well under certain cirumstances (and it's a lot less to carry than a big prime, compromises and all, when you need the zoom's versatility). The right-hand section of the image shows a 100% crop. Yay for VR at 340mm.
  9. And then, another. This one handheld again looking down into water. It's a little celebration of how well the 70-200, its VR, the lens' AF speed, and the D200's metering all get along when you're shooting on the fly. Love that lens. You will, too.
  10. The 105/2 and 180/2.8 are very resistant to flare and ghosting. Get the zoom for those situations where framing is more important than flare resistance.

Share This Page