70-200 VRII vs. new Sigma 70-200 EX?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by commtrd, May 3, 2011.

  1. Has anyone here used or purchased the new Sigma 70-200 EX? Very curious as to how it compares to the Nikkor 70-200 VRII. I have a VRI and would like to sell it due to the vignetting on full frame. If anyone has some experience, especially with both of these lenses, would appreciate some feedback on this. Thanks.
     
  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I have both Nikon versions and have used the Sigma; in fact, I reviewed the Sigma for photo.net: http://www.photo.net/equipment/sigma/70-200/review/
    The new Sigma is a well built lens and performs well. However, I seriously dislike its tripod collar design. I am sure if I use that lens on a tripod, it is a matter of time that I'll drop it on the ground with the camera attatched. It is also unfortunate that one cannot use Nikon TC-nnE teleconverters on that Sigma lens (unless you file off the tab on the TC).
    If you can afford it, the 70-200mm/f2.8 VR ii is a wonderful lens. It is even sharper than version 1 and does not have the soft corner issues @ 200mm on the full FX frame. It also works well with TCs, which is unusual for a zoom. I have used it quite a bit with the D7000; even at 200mm, f2.8; it is still excellent on the demanding D7000. Unfortunately, its price is sky high now after the Japan earthquake and the subsequent supply shortage.
     
  3. Does your VR 1 really vignette that much? Photoshop has an extremely fast and effective tool for vignetting. For the price difference between the VR 1 and VR 2 you have many lenses to choose from to add to your system.
     
  4. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    All of these lenses are going to have some vignetting. Personally, I never have any problems with the vignetting of version 1 on FX, but that is just me. I bought version 2 mainly because it is a considerably better lens overall.
     
  5. Yes it really does have severe light fall-of on FX. A stellar lens on DX to be sure. Soft corners on FX.
    Even though I do have most of the focal range afforded by the 70-200 covered with fast primes, I still need the fast pro-quality zoom for when I travel and for events where the primes are just not practical (where a zoom is of course the tool of choice). I have also visited with others on other forums who have claimed that the new zoom eliminated the need for the 200/2! Strong words indeed because that lens is just over the top as far as IQ goes. I would have a really hard time selling my 200/2. That being said, if I had a really awesome 70-200 (like the new lens) and it really was all that, I might have to think harder about that. Although the 70-200 will never go to an aperture of f2...
    Whatever. I am now fully FX and that VRI is just driving me nuts and it has to go. Someone who still shoots DX deserves to have that lens. I much appreciate Shun dispensing with his experience and advice on the new Sigma 70-200 EX. And yes they are quite proud of that lens - well, really all glass has skyrocketed in price. Makes me aware that I need to re-visit my insurance to see if it will replace at current values or what I need to do to re-adjust so that my gear is adequately covered. All my Nikkor glass seems to have appreciated substantially in price over the time I have owned it. Wish the US dollar could say the same...
     
  6. I have the 70-200mm f/2.8 VR I and have no vignetting issues on my D700...and I use the lens hood nearly 100% of the time.
    Soft corners, yes, but nothing to worry about 99% of the time since the corners are generally OOF anyways.
    The VRII version is excellent from my brief experience with it and out does the VRI version in many ways. Personally, I can't justfy the price difference between selling my current 70-200mm and the price of the new VRII version. There's far better uses for my cash, (like money towards a 14-24mm f/2.8 or 24mm f/1.4)
    I have no experience with the Sigma, so I won't comment on it.
    BTW, if you could post a shot of the 70-200mm VRI Vignetting on FF, I'd appreciate it. Maybe there's something wrong with your lens.
    RS
     
  7. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Vignetting and soft corners on the 70-200mm/f2.8 AF-S VR version 1 was thoroughly discussed in this 2008 thread: http://www.photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00Rdrl with several images samples. It is obvious if you have a uniform background such as a blue sky; IMO, in real-life situations, the vignetting is not a big deal; moreover, it should disappear by f5.6 or so; the soft corners can be a problem for landscape. For portraits, party and event images, at least I don't care about corner sharpness.
    Keep in mind that was a 2008 thread. At that time VR ii did not exist. Version 2 wasn't announced until the second half of 2009.
     
  8. All my images I have kept using the lens on FX have been cropped to remove the offending areas. Of course where I used it on the D300 there was not a problem. Not saying the VRI is a bad lens at all. Just that it was not really built (or optimized) for FX. I am in the process of really assessing my kit and deciding which lenses to keep or sell. So the 70-200 VRI is definitely going to go in favor of the new version, the 105VR may get sold (I have a Zeiss 100/2 that I just love), and may consider selling the 14-24 as I just don't hardly use it. It is a great lens but I just don't seem to "see" in ultra-wide at least on FX. Strangely enough, I used the lens A LOT more on DX. It was just perfect (for me) on DX but on FX I use it for specialty occasions just not enough to justify keeping it. Will have to think about that...
    Look I hi-jacked my own thread! Anyway thanks for the thoughtful replies.
     
  9. DXO easily corrects all of the vignetting and a reasonable amount of the softness in the corners. And it is not expensive and free to try for a month.
    But, if you are looking for improved overall IQ, the VRII gives prime lens image quality in a zoom.
     
  10. I would love to buy a lens in that focal range.
    To answer your question, after owning several third party lenses, which were all quite good, I decided to save up a little longer and buy the real thing. I can very much see the difference.
     
  11. If you have money, buy the vrii. If not, the tamron 70-200mm f/2.8's IQ is as good as the VRI, except for the slow autofocus but with half the price of VRI or 1/3 of VRII.
     
  12. If I had your Nikon lens arseal I would not be thinking about switching to a Sigma. The VR2 is the only one that will satisfy you. I know everyone says the VR2 zoom is just as good or better than the 200/2 but I highly doubt this. Even my ancient 200/2 AI was considerably sharper than my, two generations ago, 80-200/2.8 AF-S.
     
  13. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    DXO easily corrects all of the vignetting and a reasonable amount of the softness in the corners.​
    For the most part, vignetting can be corrected by software but never softness. When details are missing, you cannot recreate it afterwards. If you need corner-to-corner sharpness from the 70-200 version 1 at 200mm on FX, you can always stich multiple images together to avoid using any corners, but that is only possible if you have static subjects such as landscape.
    I know everyone says the VR2 zoom is just as good or better than the 200/2 but I highly doubt this.​
    Exactly who these "everyone" are? Bjorn Rorslett points out that the 200mm/f2 is still better. I have never done any A/B side-by-side comparison, but based on my limited experience with the 200mm/f2 AF-S VR, the fixed 200mm is better optically. However, I sure don't need that kind of weight and price on a relatively short 200mm lens, which I have much cheaper and lighter options. I would rather save my resources on a super tele such as a 500mm/f4.
     
  14. I have always believed in the axiom that if you buy the good stuff first, you spend less than if settling for 2nd best and
    then taking a loss to sell that then buying the good stuff. Plus I understand that the VRII is a seamless extension of
    the image quality from the 24-70 and have heard that the new 70-200 is even better than the 24-70! So that right
    there tells me that those two lenses comprise a fully functional and extreme quality kit which combined with a D700 or
    D3s and good support tripod/ monopod have the photographer able to generate absolute top quality work with
    basically two lenses covering 24mm to 200mm focal lengths. And if I were starting over now that is precisely what I
    would do because for the money spent it would be almost impossible to improve on the images possible with that
    basic kit. These things are only discovered by experience. So my focus is on having a lens inventory that is totally
    functional while being absolutely minimal as possible for traveling. Because face it to get the awesome shots you have
    to end up going where the photogenic shots are located and having the equipment needed to do that and not having
    what is not needed helps to optimize the experience vs. investment needed to acquire the equipment.
     
  15. The 200/2 was intended to be primarily used for portraiture as part of my photography business. I have not tried to sell
    anything yet so have not realized any payback for any of my gear. The argument could be made that the money spent
    on a 200/2 could (should?) be spent on the fully awesome 400/2.8 telephoto. And a 300/4 would then bridge the gap
    between the 70-200 VRII and the 400/2.8 and that is my plan. But looking at the images from the 200/2 it will be
    almost impossible to sell it. It is however a specialty lens but just a darned good one... I have a Sigma 150 EX macro, a Zeiss 100/2 and a Nikkor 85/1.4 for fast primes within the range of 70-200 mm but still do need the functionality of the zoom.
     
  16. I did some A/B testing when I upgraded and briefly had VI and VII at the same time. It may be hard to believe but DXO really does reasonably correct some of the corner softness. The gap in IQ between the two diminished greatly after DXO processing. VII is obviously a better lens for many reasons but after processing, the differences were not all that noticeable. DXO is not a perfect fix but it is better than anything else I have seen or used.
    I would certainly recommend Keith give it a try. He may find it takes are of his issues to his full satisfaction. It will certainly take care of the vignetting 100%. I would not sell any lens solely due to vignetting as this is one of the easiest issues to correct. And personally would never sell Nikon glass for Sigma glass (in this zoom range).
     
  17. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    BTW, here is an image captured with the Sigma 70-200mm/f2.8 OS @ 200mm, wide open at f2.8 on the full D700 FX frame. This is the entire frame scaled down.
    With a blue sky in the background, you can see some vignetting in the corners. There is also the usual pincushion distortion on the long end of a zoom, as the top of the house bows downward in the top middle of the frame. Sharpness is still good at f2.8; you can't really see that in this small JPEG, but I checked the original NEF file at the pixel level.
    That amount of vignetting and distortion is very typical for this type of lenses. You will also find them on Nikon's 70-200mm/f2.8 AF-S VR ii. The Nikon is somewhat sharper. DPReview.com also reviewed the Sigma lens; they like its tripod collar but I really don't like that design.
    00YfyI-354959584.jpg
     
  18. Great discussion guys!
     
  19. Keith,
    Sounds like you have a terrible problem.... but one that is easily solved...
    Step 1) Decide if you can really live without the 14-24 f/2.8 and 200 f/2.0 on a daily basis. After all, you can always rent them later for special projects.
    Step 2) Sell the lens, or lenses that are collecting dust in your cabinet and put the money in a safe place. My guess is that you would net somewhere north of $6000 if you were to sell both of those lenses.
    Step 3) Take about $1000 of the money gained in step 2 and a month or two of time and use it to experiment and figure out what lighting, backgrounds, accessories, zooms or primes make sense for the kind of shooting you do 90+% of the time. My guess is that if you are interested in doing a lot of portraiture then you will spend most of your money on lighting, modifiers, backdrops and upgrades to your studio - lenses will become an afterthought. Maybe a mid-wide lens like the 17-35 f/2.8, the 16-35 f/4.0 or the 24 f/1.4 might come in handy. Maybe you would find the 135 DC f/2.0 useful? Perhaps you will find that 10 SB-900s do the trick, or a couple of studio packs and four or five heads. Maybe a gently used previously enjoyed D3x (if you can find someone who is willing to part with one) is what you really need to be make stupendously large prints? Maybe try a medium format camera like the Pentax 645D and see if making absolutely ginormous prints is your cup of tea. Since you are using Nikon gear you have the luxury of being able to rent, beg, borrow or steal almost everything you would ever want to play with before getting anchored to a piece of gear.
    Step 4) Play, have fun, learn, enjoy!
     
  20. @Shun
    Wow - after taking some shots of just sky I can see the vignetting. Never noticed it before. I primarily shoot sports and portraits with the 70-200mm, so I guess it's not surprising.
    As for corner sharpness, I guess my style of shooting doesn't make it easy to see...
    I have a chance to use both my VRI and a VRII at the Maine Forest Rally this year so I guess I'll see if I can tell the difference between the two lenses after that shoot.
    RS
     
  21. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Wow - after taking some shots of just sky I can see the vignetting. Never noticed it before.​
    That is the difference between a set up test shot with a uniform background and real-life shooting. Tests are fun to read. Whether it makes a difference in everyday photography is another story.
     

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