70-200mm f/4 - saves me weight but what else do I lose out on?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by mbrennan, Jun 17, 2016.

  1. My camera pack is getting too heavy for me. I'm not 21 years old anymore.......... I keep a camera pack mainly to travel and shoot natural landscapes. I intend to spend 6 weeks overseas next year and if recent half day hikes are indicitive, I need to shed some serious weight from my camera pack as my enjoyment has been somewhat diminished with mild fatigue a couple of times recently. My camera pack is ergonomically excellent and suits me well for hiking.
    I basically shoot with a D810+grip, 14-24/2.8, 24-70/2.8 and 70-200/2.8 and assorted (and very necessary filters / accessories etc).
    I can leave the battery grip and matching L plate out to save 502 grams but I need to shed a proper kilogram out of my kit to make a worthwhile difference - I have tested this by leaving out the 24-70/2.8 (@915 grams) for my most recent part day photo trip and finding the lighter pack a delight to lug like old times.
    The 14-24, is a brick, but it is also a non negotiable item - it is my favourite lens and I use it plenty often enough.
    The obvious 24-70/2.8 lightweight replacement is the 24-85 variable aperture VR lens which I have already used with the D810 for 6 months and not particularly liked my results at the wider end, nor could I get on with it's VR.
    This leaves the 70-200/2.8
    I have the first version - classic Nikkor lens, I love it, I have a good copy and it's delightful bokeh often simply makes my day. I can live with the light fall off and lack of extreme edge sharpness on FX etc but the general crispness of this lens from wide open and it's OOF rendering is superb. But it's a space hog in my pack and my copy weighs 1521 grams..........
    The new 70-200mm f/4 is said to weigh circa 850 grams which is (approx.) 670 grams lighter and a great deal shorter which would be ideal for my pack as the current /2.8 lens imposes itself into the next pouch a little making it a bit tight to fit in and remove from the pack - esp. when in a hurry to switch lenses.
    670 grams is a substantial weight saving and coupled with the battery grip's 500 grams it will indeed make a considerably lighter pack weight. However, most of my hand held shots taken with the f/2.8 are with an f/3.2 to f/5.0 aperture. My hand held technique + D810 sensor really dictates that I use the 70-200 only lightly to moderately stopped down from wide open. I do not find the VR on my 70-200 older very good with ultra slow shutter speecs (ie < 1/125th) - often I have a better 'keeper' rate for slow shutter stuff without VR - for me I find VR on this lens better around 1/250th, when, in still air, I can handhold it steady without VR anyway.
    My main questions are :-
    a) To those have used both f/2.8 and f/4 versions - how does the bokeh compare on the f/4?
    b) Is the VR on the f/4 version a significant improvement over the older 70-200f/2.8 version?
    c) How crisp is the f/4 when it's wide open or stopped down to f/4.5 and f/5 is it in the same league as the f/2.8 for unless I can make the newer VR version work for me I'm likely to be using the f/4 lens as a hand held proposition set wide open or stopped down a notch or two.
    Any experiences, advice most welcome.
  2. Have you actually gone through your images and looked at the most oft used focal lengths? My hunch is that you'd see that you could probably replace some of the zooms w/ some small number of primes and save a whole lot of size/weight. And of course, leave the grip at home.
  3. I can't speak for the 70-200 f/4, I'm afraid. The Tamron 24-70 is 100g lighter than the Nikon and still gives you VR - and it's better at the wide end than the 24-85, according to DxOMark; still, 100g isn't 1kg. I'm hoping to pick one up on Sunday, although it sounds as though the camera store I'm visiting may not have succeeded in getting one in.

    DPReview noted severe problems with the D810 at moderate shutter speeds on some lenses, including the 70-200 f/2.8 VR2, due to mirror and shutter vibration - and that VR seemed to make it worse; electronic front curtain shutter solves it (speaking of which, one day I should understand why the back curtain shutter doesn't cause the same problem...), but that requires mirror lock up, so it's quite painful. After vocally advocating VR in previous threads, I'm now beginning to have similar concerns about sharpness, although it substantially helps my ability to frame and focus accurately.

    It's not optically perfect, but I don't suppose 24-120 f/4 would serve you better if you're worried about weight? I'm about to go on a holiday with a 14-24, 24-70, 70-200 f/2.8 triumverate and the 200-500 f/5.6 (possibly plus a macro, a fish-eye, maybe a prime and maybe a tilt-shift, and a heavy L-plate). It's going to hurt, and I feel your pain. Sadly I feel I actually need the 70-200 f/2.8 on this trip, but the f/4 would be much more practical, and I hear only good things about it. I, too, only shoot the 70-200 at f/2.8 under duress, because it sharpens appreciably and is more resiliant to AF accuracy stopped down a little.

    I hope that helps, given the disclaimer I started with...
  4. The f/1.8 AF-S Nikkor primes are lightweight and very good optically, you may want to consider those. The 70-200/4 is excellent.
  5. What do you lose with the 70-200mm f/4 vs the f/2.8 (version 1)? One f/stop. It's an excellent lens.
  6. I have recently gone through the same journey for almost exactly the same reasons and gone from the 14-24, 24-70 & 70-200 VRI to the 18-35, 24-85 [which I am v. ambivalent about...], and the 70-200 f4.

    Frankly I think the new f4 blows the old f2.8 VRI out of the water in every aspect. It's smaller, lighter, quicker to focus, and has to my mind better performance wide open. VR is significantly better [the lens is smaller and lighter and you may find as a result your hand-holding technique is better], the lens focuses faster, and I'd say it was quieter too.
  7. The three or four prime lenses it would take to cover the same range as a zoom lens would likely weigh and cost more, perhaps by a substantial margin if you go top of the line. In practice, however, you can lighten up using primes and possibly with an improvement in image quality if you choose wisely.
    If you review you images in Lightroom, you can easily list them by lens and/or focal length, and see what you use most in various situations. Most of my landscapes are taken with a normal or medium telephoto. I would probably be fine with a 24-70 zoom, or a 60 and 100 mm lens with a digital Hasselblad (1.5x factor). That's just an example, and your usage may vary.
    The Photozone review of the Nikon 70-200 f/4 is mixed. The optical quality looks good, but the lens is not weather sealed except for the mount.
  8. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I keep a camera pack mainly to travel and shoot natural landscapes. I intend to spend 6 weeks overseas next year​
    For travel and landscape, I wonder why you need three constant f2.8 zooms? If you were a (indoor) wedding photographer, I can see that the 24-70mm/f2.8 and 70-200mm/f2.8 are almost "must have" lenses.
    I would do what Dave Fitch does. Perhaps replace some of the wide part with 1 or 2 fixed 20mm, 24mm, or 28mm lenses. Personally I like the 18-35mm AF-S a lot.
  9. I feel Mr. Brennan's pain, as 21 is a long way in the rear view mirror for me, as well. I spend quite a bit of time overseas, much of it on hiking trails, so weight--and bulk, as much as weight--is also a major consideration for me. My travel kit consists of a Nikon 16-35 f/4 (also a brick, but I like it), a Nikon 50mm f/1.8 prime which weighs next to nothing, and the Nikon 70-200 f/4.
    I have been very, very impressed with the 70-200 f/4 in every regard. Most of my shooting with it is wide open or at most stopped down by one or two stops, and sharpness and bokeh, at least to my eyes, are outstanding. Better, I dare say, than the old Nikon 200mm f/4 prime I've had for decades. AF is fast and accurate, even at very close distances. Very easy to hand hold.
    I also have a 24-120 f/4, which I carry if I am absolutely limited to one lens, but my admittedly unscientific observations are that while it is a fine "f/8" lens, it is not in the same league optically as the 70-200 f/4.
    On a related note, a couple of years ago I was stupid enough to drop my 70-200 f/4 a good two feet onto a concrete airport runway, with enough force to shatter the B+H UV filter I had installed. Fortunately, no ill effects on the lens whatsoever, which speaks well of its build quality, if not of its owner.
    In addition to losing only one f/stop, as Mr. Javkin pointed out, you also save $500 in cost vs. the f2.8, no small consideration for me. Most of my work requires as much resolution as possible in my images, and substantial enlargements. With the excellent VR on the 70-200 f/4, I can at the same time bump up the ISO a couple of notches an an FX body to compensate for the loss of one f/stop with little, if any, noticeable loss of saturation or increase in background noise, especially on landscapes. I find that I need less post-processing "magic" with the 70-200 f/4 than with most of my other lenses.
    Again, these are strictly field observations with no scientific or hardware analysis, but performance in the field is all I care about. Hope this helps in some regard.
  10. My old and aching back supports a kit resembling Tom Bulloch's kit except my middle prime is an AI 55 macro. Both zooms are better than the old AI primes they replaced at matching focal lengths (tested using a D800x). I typically keep the 70-200/4 on the camera when hiking and have been very pleased (and often amazed) with sharpness and contrast at all focal lengths. I typically shoot at f5.6 to f8. I too am looking for a lighter kit inventory but that may mean swapping the D800 for a lighter body. Swapping the 16-35 for a 18-35 could further lighten the load but I find wide angle VR useful when I'm not carrying a tripod.
  11. landscapes while hiking? i would swap out the 24-70/2.8 for something lighter. if you have an UWA and a tele, you can get by with a 50mm.
  12. When I travel, my f2.8 lenses stay at home except for one prime lens I take, either a 20mm or 35mm. I love my 70-
    200mm f4 and my 24-85mm on my d810 with grip. I have a 16-35mm zoom I take if I need to go really wide. I think that
    image quality of my 70-200mm exceeds that of my 70-200mm f2.8.

  13. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    You could up your exercise pre trip, get stronger, and carry what you always have. As to getting tired, that happens at all ages.
  14. Here is a vote for the 70-200 f4 VR. Nice lens. Not so heavy.
    Time for DX? The 16-80 2.8-4 VR is very nice. plus a wide zoom plus the 70-200 f4 VR will save a lot of weight.
  15. I have both the 70-200/F4 VR and 2.8 VR1. I just never use the 2.8 lens any more, prefer the results from the f/4 version almost all of the time. If I think I might want f/2.8-3.2 bokeh for a portrait shoot, I like the way my 180/2.8 renders better, anyway.
    With the 14-24 and 70-200 in a bag, I think a 35 or 50mm/f1.8g lens could easily replace the 24-70/2.8 for a large weight reduction.
  16. I do landscapes myself but not that much hiking. I've followed some pro's who have chosen to use F4 lenses. For travel I am outside most of the day I cannot see carrying too much equip. I am even looking at the idea of going with a mirrorless set up. I also find primes simpler like the 50mm equiv to full frame and the short tele's. With a car etc I can that I can use my Nikons easier ... Coming from a FM2n which I still use, the Fuji is really nice (XT1) I thin I'll enjoy that on travel with a 35mm = 50mm lens for travel.
  17. Yes, I could get a tad fitter than I am now, but as a full time gardener in very large old gardens and farm worker, as well as being a cyclist I think my fitness is my fitness. I have a partial bulging vertebral disc and simply cannot go on lugging so much glass.
    I have been down the prime lens route before. Cost not withstanding (I had a mix of f/1.4 to f/2.8 primes, mostly AF-D models) the regular lens changing drove me nuts (prob. because I gave myself too many options) as did the lack of a top shelf ultra wide prime (my 14/2.8 was not very crisp away from dead centre)
    Next time I venture from home with my camera pack I'll leave the 24-70/2.8 at home and bring the 50/1.4 prime and see if I can live with that - the weight and space saving would be massive. But next year when I travel to the US /Canada for 6 weeks, I'm going to find it difficult to leave the 24-70mm behind......
    I have ordered a new 70-200/4 and will see how I work with it as a hand held option then decide which 70-200 to keep. I can't justify keeping both.
    Many thanks to all who responded.
  18. Know your pain and went through the same process.
    After owning all the 80-200 and 70-200 f/2.8 Nikon lenses since 1993 I switch to the lighter f/4 version about two years ago. Never regretted my choice. The lens is just fantastic and works extremely well with TCs. You will miss one stop of light and a bit of out of focus fuzziness but nothing dramatic. With a D810 you can up the ISO and be fine.
    On the wide side I agree the 14-24mm has no equivalents but the AF-S 20mm f/1.8G is excellent.
    I do not own a mid range zoom anymore, I prefer to carry my 20mm f/1.8G, 35mm f/1.8G, and 58mm f/1.4G in any combo depending of the needs. Two of these plus the 70-200 f/4 make for a nice, small and light package for travel, hiking, and all around shooting. With the D810 pixels it's easy to shoot a bit wide and crop in post processing.
  19. next year when I travel to the US /Canada for 6 weeks, I'm going to find it difficult to leave the 24-70mm behind......​
    i think this maybe depends a bit on mode of travel and level of exertion while shooting, but i generally dont want to carry 20lbs worth of gear unless im on assignment. the 24-70 is a super-reliable lens with generally excellent image quality, but compared to other lenses in its class, its main advantage is focus acquisition speed (and build quality, which works against you if you're weight conscious). The weight isn't so bad with an FX body if that's the only lens you're taking, but with a 14-24 and a 70-200/4, you're loaded for bear and almost as heavy as one. however, you can shave almost 1/2 the weight, and only lose 4mm on the wide end and a sliver of sharpness at 2.8 with the perennially-underrated Tamron 28-75, and a few extra grams with the Nikon 24-85 VR, at the expense of constant aperture. I'm seeing new 28-75's for under $300, which is a bargain price for that lens.
    • 24-70/2.8 AF-S: 900g.
    • Tamron 28-75/2.8: 508g.
    • Nikon 24-85VR: 465g.
  20. The Nikon 70-200 f4 is a marvelous lens,very sharp,even wide open and the vr is superb.
    I have used the lens since it came out on both a D800 and D810,if I lost it or damaged it,I would replace it again without hesitation.
  21. Initial low light / slow shutter exposures with my new 70-200mmf/4 tell me that at last I have a lens that boasts a VR system that I actually find useful! This is a significant step forward for me.
    I can consistantly nail down acceptably sharp shots at 200mm as slow as 1/80th sec with VR! Something I could not do with VR on any lens I had prior to this one. I also expect that the decreased mass of the f/4 version is easier for me to use as a hand held option than the f/2.8 version.
    Yes - I know 1/80th sec is hardly uber slow, however, for me I regularly struggled to be consistant @ 200mm with speeds of 1/125th.
    No regrets with the 70-200mm f/4 so far. No AF fine tuning required on my copy either :)

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