D3s or 200mm f2

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by akshun, Jan 6, 2011.

  1. Ok, so i have an opportunity to spend some cash.
    Its a toss up between the Nikon D3s or the Nikon 200mm f2 lens.
    I currently have a D700 with a series of decent lenses(14-24mm,24-70mm,70-200mm) and an 85mm 1.4d.
    Im dying to get the D3s for its low light capability,speed and durability, but at the same time ive been wanting the
    200mm f2, hmmmmmm.
    let me know what you would go with in my situation.
  2. I think it depends what you photograph ;)
  3. 200/f2 !!!
  4. I was in a almost similar situation a few months ago, unsure of upgrading from my D300. I landed on a 24-70 and 70-200 combo, and saved quite a few bucks. Who knows what the D400 or D800 will bring?
    But as Ron S says, what do you photograph and what are your needs apart from "want to have"... ?
  5. Rob, i photograph pretty much everything, mostly weddings and people , pets etc..
    i also travel alot so i take alot of scenic pics from other countries. Most weddings i shoot, the hall or
    church is brutal for light, so its nice to have the ability to shoot with low noise in those conditions and the
    D700 does very well, but its still no D3s.
    i also use the MBD-10 grip, speed is good, but again, its no d3s.
    id like to start doing some kids sports, like soccer and baseball and the D3s has the crop factor setting
    which will give me some more range with the 70-200mm if needed.
    But that 200mm f2 sure looks sweet and the reviews on it are stellar!
  6. I have the D700 and all the lenses you mention (with the exception that the 200/2 is v. I, not the current II). What do you want to do with the 200/2? It is quite a heavy lens so ... just to remind you about that. I can always feel in my body when I´ve used it. But the results are quite from another world. I wish I used it more often.
    I have no experience with the D3s but I think an incremental upgrade within the same generation is probably not worthwhile unless you don´t already have a backup body. If you just have one body then you probably should get another one (e.g. the D3s).
  7. What do you mean by crop factor? If you mean the DX mask, all that does is use the middle section of the sensor in
    DX size and give you a 5mp image, which is what your D700 is also able to do. The 200mm f/2 has really shallow DOF when shot wide open, so it might not be suitable for kids/pet/random moving subjects. So the D3s might be more worthwhile if you need that 1 stop advantage over the D700.
  8. the D3s is a great body, it'll be obsolete in a few months, but who cares? if you want low-light, that's the one.
  9. I have 2x D3s's which I use for fashion shows, often in poor lighting conditions (not many venues have super lighting like the London Fashion Week tent!), my main lens is the 70-200 f/2.8 VRII. I suppose this is quite similar to sports photography but I generally can predict where my subjects will be heading! I upgraded from a D3 (same sensor as D700 of course). I find the D3s in combination with Lightroom 3's noise reduction has given me much more flexibility to shoot in poor light and get useable results.
    Unfortunately my D3s upgrade was at the same time as my Lightroom 3 upgrade so its hard for me to apportion the improvement to one or the other, although revisiting some of my D3 shots in Lightroom 3 has rescued some I had thought were unuseable - funnily enough from a friend's wedding in a badly lit church with no flash (I never normally do weddings). My D3 was damaged though so that was a good excuse to upgrade ;)
    The 200mm f/2 is a beautiful lens, but I've never used it so I can only go by what I've read in reviews about the difference in results between it and the 70-200 f/2.8. So really you need to weigh up these, along the one-stop advantage of the lens (and how often you will shoot at f/2) against the "at-least-one-stop" advantage of the D3s vs D700, plus the extra "pro" features of the D3s, including the extra size/weight...for me, in my situation, I get more flexibility from the D3s+70-200 than a D700+200, but its down to your priorities. As Ilkka says it is good to have a backup body.
    Generally of course investment in quality lenses will serve you for many years through several body upgrades, but its nice to be on a good quaillty starting platform around which to build your lens collection. I would consider the D700 and D3 series both good platforms. As Per-Christian mentions, the next body might surpass what the D3s currently gives you, if you are in a position to be able to afford it when it comes out...
    BTW are you considering the VRI or VRII version of the lens - there is quite a big price difference!
  10. I'd put the money in the bank. I'd wait till I KNEW there was something I needed.
    If I didn't have to worry about money (wouldn't THAT be nice...) I'd take another trip to Alaska with that money and bring all my camera gear.
  11. Either of them are candidates for "intensive-initial-use-then-abandoned-because-too-much-big&heavy" kind of gear. Obviously it is based on my own experience, and what I think when someone ask me.
    If I must choose between them right now, I`d opt for the 200VRII. Whatever the difference between the D700 and D3S is, I bet is not enough to make it worth it to my photography. I`d wait for the D4, or for the D700 successor.
  12. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I'd put the money in the bank. I'd wait till I KNEW there was something I needed.​
    Really. Since the choices are totally different items (a lens vs. a body), it seems clear that neither one is necessary. In that case I think it is prudent to save the money until some "must have" item appears.
    I also agree that the difference between the D700 and D3S is not big enough. Since a D4 is very much expected within this year, at this stage of its production cycle, I wouldn't buy a new D3S unless it is absolutely necessary.
  13. Get the 300mm 2.8 VR lens. You already have 70-200, so something longer could make a difference.
  14. FWIW, I have a D700 (no grip) and a 200 f/2 mk 1. The 200 f/2 will gain you a stop over your 70-200; the D3s is roughly the same relative to the D700 (maybe slightly better). Bear in mind how narrow the depth of field is at f/2 - if you want bokeh, get the 200 f/2; if you just want low light, I'd consider the camera with better ISO performance, since a fast shutter won't help if you can't get everything in the DoF. The D3s would also make all your lenses better - although you could say the 200 f/2 would make your next camera better. The 200mm f/2 is absolutely better in terms of subject isolation and LoCA than the 70-200 (which is why I got one - and I don't have the 70-200) but it's huge, and you really have to want to use it (and subtle it isn't). It is, however, easier to hand-hold than people claim; I'm overweight, so I counterbalance it, but I don't have huge biceps.

    If you really want an upgrade now, I'd lean to the D3s if you're trying to treat these as equivalent options. But - if your 70-200 is a mark 1 (i.e. the corners are fuzzy at 200mm on FX), that would tip me to the big prime. Although Frank's suggestion of a 300mm instead also makes sense.
  15. I'd get the 200mm now, and wait to see what's coming up in the D800. If the D7000 is any indication of the advances in DX, it's likely the D800 low light will perform closer to the D3s than the D700.
  16. I have both of these. I shoot a lot of sports. As one poster mentioned, the results from the 200 F2 are absolutely breath taking. Additionally, IMHO, there is quite a difference between the D700/D3 and the D3S. I shoot a lot for local media and much of it is in low light H.S. gyms as well as football fields. If I can not shoot there, then the athletes can not see, it is that simple. I also added the 85 AF-S 1.4 and the results are just unbelievable. Most of the other shooters will use strobes to shoot, while I am getting clean shots at ISO 16000. I have had large front sports page prints from ISO 25,000. As Shun said, I probably would get the glass and wait until the D4 comes out, which will hopefully be this year. I want to add a third body and have resisted another D3S in the hopes to add a D4.
    Best of luck.
  17. This thread makes me wonder what you guys were doing or would have done 5 years ago, when 3200 ISO was about the top limit. And in film days you'd be lucky to get a true 1000 ISO - B&W only, with grain that looked like coarse grit sandpaper! I hate to sound like my old dad, but you really don't know you're born these days.
    The D700 is a fine camera. The 70-200 f/2.8 is a fine lens. So use what you've already got to its best advantage, because always lusting after the next big thing is a distraction that really won't improve your photography.
  18. Drool, 200/2 drool.
    That's all I got for you ;-)
  19. This thread makes me wonder what you guys were doing or would have done
    A lot less photography when it was dark.
  20. Shun has the answer - it you don't know what you need, hold on to your money.
    200mm is not very long for an FX camera, practically in the head-shot category. For weddings, it is only good for medium shots from the Sacristy door or rear of the church. IMO, it's not worth the money for an extra stop over a 70-200, especially with the D700/D3/D3s. If you don't have a 70-200/VR, I'd suggest that for a start. If you need a fast, long lens for weddings and fashion, the 300/2.8 VR is about the same price as the 200/2.
  21. For all that money you're getting 1 stop of higher iso performance and a more durable body. You could put the battery grip on the d700 and get 8 fps. I vote the lens or wait for the d4.
  22. All of Nikon's 200mm f2 lenses are exceptional. I had the 200/2 AI. The size, weight, and cost of these lenses make them very purpose specific. If you do not have a determined need for this lens then it may take up a disproportionate amount of your equipment budget.
    I doubt that the D3S has much to offer over the D700, and that seems to be the consensus above. I recommend waiting for the next wave of full frame cameras coming out especially considering the current cost of the D3S.
    The Nikon 135mm f2 may be a more appropriate fast telephoto to consider for your requirements. While it may not be up to the standards of the 200/2 it is just as fast, much more handholdable, and vastly less obtrusive.
  23. If you do not have a Nikon 300 2.8, get THAT first.
    I think of the Nikon 200 f2 lens as a worthy FILM body lens where the f2 and VR will alow some awesome portraits on slow speed B&W film.
    I shot all of these with Rose bowl Parade on a Nikon 300 2.8 AFS Version I, handheld at ASA 200 on a NiKon D300.
    http://andrenoble.com/Rose Bowl 2011 web/Rose Bowl Parade 2011/content/index.html
    The results from this lens are truly professional. the Nikon 300 f2.8 AFS lens is in a class by itself.
  24. Ok guys, lots of great feedback here, very much appreciated too.
    i guess the D3s is not gonna happen, i am very happy with the D700 and i have the grip which gives it the
    speed, but its still just not quite up to that level of the D3s , atleast i dont think so, but obviously the
    differences are very slight and for that amount of money i can get some great glass that will last for a long
    Andre, those images are quite impressive, thanks for the examples, however, from what ive been reading
    and the samples i have seen taken with the 200mm f2, its basically in a class all by itself.
    Im thinking at this point, that i may rent the 200mm f2 and the 300mm f2.8 and try them out to see which
    feels the best.
    another option for the money would probably be the 200mm-400mm vr.
    Anyone try that yet??
  25. The D3s will be replaced in the current year and is not a good investment unless you absolutely need the the extra 1 stop or so over the D3, D700. The 200 F/2 is a much better investment and you'll be using it long after the D3s beomes obsolete. Camera bodies are more or less computers these days and their currency value drops rapidly just like computers. The lenses on the other hand will last for decades and longer and hold a lot of their value as long as Nikon doesn't change the F mount.
  26. You are right Steven. The 200/2 is in a class all by itself. In extensive testing it has beaten all the ED and L glass, that I have owned, including 300/2.8, and 400/2.8 from both Nikon and Canon. The only lens that could actually beat it, but only at f2.8 and smaller, was my Zeiss/Contax 85/1.4 T*.
    Bokeh of the 200/2, well of my lowly AI version anyway, is incredible. However, for truly isolating the subject from it's environment the additional length of the 400/2.8 makes images even more impressive than the 200/2. I only mention this lens since you asked about the 200-400. I do not know if you have a requirement for a lens this long, this fast, and this heavy! I too have often thought that the 200-400 could solve a lot of my sports photography problems, if I could ever afford one, but the consensus seems to be that while it is an exceptional zoom lens it is clearly not in the same realm as the 180/2.8, 200/2, 300/2.8, and 400/2.8. The other problem is that at f4 one is not going to get the same kind of subject isolation.
    By the way don't be afraid to buy used lenses, since your buying dollars can go a lot further. You certainly don't need VR in these supertelephotos. Generally speaking subjects are moving when you pull these suckers out, and you need the shutter speed anyway. If you are attempting to do serious landscape work, with one of these, then you have to use a tripod.
    To my original message, you must seriously consider how often you will actually use a 200/2 before sinking a big part of your photography budget into it. I enjoyed having mine while I was shooting indoor competitive swimming events and large gymnasium events but when these became infrequent an 80-200/2.8 zoom with TC-14E II became more practical for field sports and automotive racing, alongside my 400/2.8 AIS.
    I also enjoyed using my Zeiss 85/1.4 and Nikon 135/2 AIS, and both delivered excellent indoor event results, but I could not adapt the Zeiss to my Nikon body when I switched from Canon. The 135/2 had to be sold with the 200/2 to get the 80-200/2.8 AF-S, TC-14E II, and 8/2.8 AIS.
    Good luck and have fun planning!
  27. The 200/2 is in a class all by itself. In extensive testing it has beaten all the ED and L glass, that I have owned, including 300/2.8, and 400/2.8 from both Nikon and Canon. The only lens that could actually beat it, but only at f2.8 and smaller, was my Zeiss/Contax 85/1.4 T*.
    This is all good to know. However there are a lot of great lenses out there which may or may not fill a real need other than pride of ownership (aka Nikon Acquisition Syndrome). It's hard to argue image quality when the real limitation is that of the sensor. The same criteria should apply to the potential advantages of a D3s v. the D700, like 600+ shots per charge, 11 fps and 720p video.
  28. It's hard to argue image quality when the real limitation is that of the sensor.
    The quality of the 200/2 vs. the 70-200II is very obviously visible even with 12 MP FX sensors. The 70-200II renders backgrounds with harsh bokeh when the distance to the subject is in the tens of meters. It also produces very high-contrast results which together with high-contrast available indoor lighting leads to an extremely high contrast result. Trying to reduce the contrast with the raw converter is possible but leads to noise in the shadow parts of the image when they´re pulled into light (when using the 70-200II). The 200/2G (v. 1 at least) produces very gentle drawing especially wide open, making it much better suited for indoor people photography (outside of the studio). In the end the zoom produces more harshly rendered faces in these conditions and I'd only use it for people photography when a) I don't like the subjects and don't care about their feelings, b) outdoors when in extremely thick overcast weather with snow making the lighting very soft.
    I don't really care about the sharpness difference between these two lenses. What I care about is making my subjects look good. And for that, the 200/2 is worth all the trouble of hauling it around. (The v. 1 of the 70-200 was more gentle than Mk II but with the vignetting which shows pronouncedly in white classroom environments I couldn't find it acceptable on FX.)
    Personally I think it would be much better for everyone that Nikon update the 180/2.8 to AF-S - it would be much cheaper than either the 200/2 or the zoom, half the size and weight of the zoom, much more pleasureable to hand-hold, and finally much less attention-grabbing. It doesn´t have this harshness problem though not quite as nice as the 200/2, but its AF and MF in the current incarnation are both too imprecise for reliable use at f/2.8 (hence AF-S is needed). But Nikon seems to be more interested in making either lenses with extreme zoom range for the consumer market, or extremely expensive and heavy lenses for the high-end market. I would find the more moderate aperture primes the best option for many situations.
  29. I'm probably in the minority here, but I view the 200 f/2 as little more than bait for chronic gear lusters. It's not long enough to be a good sports lens, and the extra stop at 200 mm doesn't justify the mass for any application that I can think of. I can almost imagine the Nikon engineers chuckling at the people who line up to buy the thing.
    I watched one of McNally's videos where he was using the 200 to demonstrate a flash system. The thing looks ridiculous, like attaching a football to the front of your camera, and the photos he got with the 70-200 looked better IMHO. Caveat emptor.
  30. There's nothing ridiculous about the 200/2 AFS except for its poor tripod mount. Fortunately, the latter has been improved on the latest VR Mk.2 and at the same time, the "chuckling" Nikon engineers managed to squeeze out even better performance from an already superb optical design. As far as size is concerned, try a real heavyweight such as 300/2, 400/2.8, or 600/4. Then the 200/2 becomes a true featherweight ...
    I agree that all the 200/2 designs serve specific purposes. These are not general-purpose lenses at all. (I have several of them, so obviously find it useful). If such a lens suits your shooting requirements look no further, if not, save up the money for something else.
  31. I bought my 200 f/2 to replace my 135 f/2 DC because it has bokeh that's almost as smooth but without distracting LoCA, which seems to bother me more than most people. Every other lens I might have considered, from the 85mm f/1.4 to the 70-200 f/2.8 range, has extremely visible LoCA used wide open. It happens that 200mm is about the right focal length for my needs as well - if anything it's slightly long, but in the absence of a LoCA-free 135mm f/1.4 it's my best option. The only alternative I might have considered is a 400 f/2.8 - but I can hand-hold the 200mm, I don't have to photograph people from the next room, and I haven't maxed out my credit cards yet. (I actually found I could lift and aim with a 400 f/2.8 when I tried one, but with the 200mm I can do it for an extended period of time.)

    Choosing a 200 f/2 over an alternative way to get to 200 f/2.8 is no more ridiculous than the half-stop difference between a 50 f/1.8 and a 50 f/1.4, or the same with the 85mm lenses. Plenty of people justify that choice, for the bokeh and improved wide-open performance, even though the difference on paper is tiny; the f/2.8 zooms are better wide open than a normal prime is (they only have to work to f/2.8), but the big prime is still better. If you just want to be able to handle lower light, a 200 f/2 is a big trade-off compared with a 200 f/2.8 - it's less flexible, more obtrusive, almost as unwieldy as just putting the f/2.8 lens on a monopod - and for that reason the D3S (with provisos about impending replacements) might be better. If you need a stable shot at maximum aperture, at least with a 70-200 you can get twice as close and shoot at 100mm f/2.8 instead, with a slower shutter. But if you want subject isolation, smooth bokeh, better rendering, the f/2 is absolutely detectably different from the "alternatives".
  32. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I am glad that Bjorn Rorslett finally agrees that any 200mm/f2 is a special-purpose lens. :)
    I have used a version 1 of the AF-S VR briefly. There is no doubt that it is an excellent lens optically. I think it is a wonderful lens for news and indoor sports photography (where the athletes are typically not that far away). If I were a news photographer inside the US Congress shooting those hearings, this is THE lens I would use. However, for my type of photography, I will never buy this lens. I'll explain why after we re-visit what the OP Steven Jackson wrote:
    Rob, i photograph pretty much everything, mostly weddings and people , pets etc.. i also travel alot so i take alot of scenic pics from other countries.​
    There 200mm/f2 is a big lens, no doubt, while it is not as big as the 600mm/f4 and 400mm/f2.8. When you get a 600mm lens, it is going to be big regardless of whether it is an f4 or just f5.6. However, for a 200mm lens, any 200mm/f2 is huge. If you shoot news or sports from more or less a fixed location, it is not a major issue; you should be using a monopod that will support its weight.
    However, if you shoot weddings, most likely you will be moving around to capture different angles. Do you really want to be weighted down by a huge and fixed 200mm lens? I don't care how sharp that 200mm/f2 lens is or how wonderful the bokeh may be, I am much better off moving around with a 70-200mm/f2.8 AF-S VR to capture a bunch of different images, especially version 2.
    I travel quite a bit also. Just a few days ago I was in Costa Rica, and some of the internal flights on small planes have a 25-pound weight limit for all luggages. Typically one big lens plus a good carbon-fiber tripod would eat up half of that allocation, and I still need a couple of other lenses, a backup body, flash, clothes, etc. etc. I had my 200-400mm/f4 on those flights. When I travel, I bring one big lens; typically that is either a 500mm/f4 or 200-400mm/f4. A 2nd big lens is a nightmere for traveling and there are many much smaller options for 200mm.
    I echo what Jose Angle wrote earlier about both the D3S and 200mm/f2 AF-S VR:
    Either of them are candidates for "intensive-initial-use-then-abandoned-because-too-much-big&heavy" kind of gear. Obviously it is based on my own experience, and what I think when someone ask me.​
    That was why I agreed with Peter Hamm earlier that the OP is much better off keeping the money in the bank and wait for something he really needs.
  33. thanks again for the valuable feedback gents! For now i think i'll wait it out and use what i have.
    perhaps i'll rent the 200mm f2 for a weekend and see if im comfortable with the weight, portability and
    limited versatility.
  34. I use my 200/2 lenses mainly for landscapes, a task for which they excel. Plus for IR.
  35. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Bjorn, could you tell us a little more about exactly what kind of landscape photography you use the 200mm/f2 AF-S VR for? In particular:
    • Do you shoot it @ f2 frequently, for the purpose of landscape photography?
    • Do you hike more than a few kilometers with the 200mm/f2?
    • What other lenses do you carry?
    Personally, I very much am looking forward to something like a 70-200mm/f4 AF-S VR from Nikon, hopefully this year. Since Nikon introduced the 16-35mm/f4 and 24-120mm/f4 AF-S VR last year, a 70-200 to complete the f4 AF-S VR series seems obvious. I just bought the 70-200mm/f2.8 version 2, but as great a lens as it is and f2.8 is wonderful for weddings and parties, I very much would like something smaller and lighter for hiking.
    Typically most of us have a budget or limitation on how much money we can spend or how much weight we can carry. If you over-spend in one area, it will somehow cost you in other areas. But then there are people who seem to have an infinite amount of money for equipment purchase and a couple of assistents to carry them ....
  36. I have to say that, were I a wedding photographer, I wouldn't be carting around a 200 f/2. Not because I couldn't carry it (it's big, but unless you're particularly scrawny it's certainly not unmanagable when you're used to it - I'm not especially buff, although I've not tried carrying it for hours on end yet) but because a 200mm prime is too inflexible. It'll produce lovely pictures, but you'll have missed a lot more by the time you've changed focal lengths. It's also really difficult to be unobtrusive with it. I actually do intend to take the 200 f/2 to a family wedding next year for my own shots (staying well out of the way of the official photographer); it's a good lens for candids, but I know I'm stuck with one field of view, and if I were shooting the wedding professionally then that wouldn't be acceptable to me. A prime at a wedding is great for staged photos, but do you really need a 200mm lens for a staged shot (when communicating with the subject is tricky)? I know I'll get a few nice shots, hopefully that the official photographer won't, but I'll also usually be in the wrong place. Someone at a recent wedding asked me to take a photo of their kids when I had a 135 f/2 on the camera, and I had to walk a long way away to do it.

    I use my 200mm to shoot people playing tiddlywinks - an indoor sport, typically played in dimly-lit rooms, where I need to move around to get the right angle. I don't want to be in the next room, but nor do I want to be next to them so that the mirror clatter puts them off. The background is usually messy, so I want to lose it. A 200 f/2 is pretty near perfect for me; the 135 f/2 would have been nearly as good if it didn't have LoCA and had VR. A 70-200 wouldn't be bad, but I wouldn't use the wide end very much and it wouldn't be as good at the long end that I need. At a wedding, I'd have used the 70mm end more, usually have better light, and want to keep the scenery more of the time. I have a cheap 28-200 that does a pretty decent job under those circumstances. I did take a load of wedding speech shots at the long end of my 150-500 zoom recently, but that's because I was sitting at a table a long way off.

    For outdoor sports, however, I have no delusion that the 200mm is long enough. I photographed (amateurly) at Wimbledon a couple of years ago - 500mm was just about long enough, and while I took some shots with the 150mm end of my zoom, you really have to be in the right place. And a tennis court is much smaller than a soccer or baseball pitch.

    Since the 200-400 got mentioned: it's a lens for which you really have to want a 400mm f/4. It's a preposterously big and heavy way to achieve 200 f/4, and the price is enough of the way towards a 500mm f/4 that I'd be seriously considering getting an older 500 f/4 instead. A lot of beautiful shots have been taken with it, and a lot of people love it, but there's no way I have a use for it. But I don't shoot outdoor sports (much), and I can't say that a 200-400 would do a bad job with football or baseball, and it would certainly be flexible, so long as f/4 is enough for you. It wouldn't be as good as one of the big primes used at its focal length, but you're paying for the privilege of being able to zoom during the game - newspaper photographers can afford to have big primes because they can toggle between cameras or rely on colleagues with a different view, and I assume you're not in that position. Just bear in mind the 200-400 isn't going to be good for weddings, and carrying it will be a pain.

    I'd certainly hire a 200 f/2 before you get one (with the proviso that you'll probably fall in love with it - it took me about ten minutes of trying one in a shop to do the same). You may regret it for the sports photos, though - I'd hire a 200-400, or even an 80-400, too and try the style of shooting you're trying to get into. If you need the reach, a 200 f/2 is a bad thing to have bought in order to find it out - and bear in mind it doesn't teleconvert as well as some of the alternatives.

    Good luck, and I wish I had your problems. :)
  37. Shun: you really wish me to display all the kinds of images for which I deem the 200/2 be suitable??
    Suffice to say that I live in a country where light levels often are low. An f/2 lens is not a luxury.If it's necessary, I shoot at f/2 or whatever aperture appropriate for the result I aim for.
    I set up my lens kit according to what I intend to shoot on any trip. Planning ahead is essential. I don't what to bring gear which will not be used.
    The attached example is early morning so light levels aren't that low anymore, but it does show the power of a 200 lens for landscapes.
  38. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Shun: you really wish me to display all the kinds of images for which I deem the 200/2 be suitable??​
    Not at all.
    Bjorn, you are showing a nice image and a 200mm lens can clearly be very useful for landscape. However, you have not explained why you must use a 200mm/f2. In other words, why a 200mm/f2.8 or 200mm/f4 cannot get the job done for the purpose of landscape photography such that you must use f2.
    Just use your image as an example; if it were me in that situation, I would probably shoot at f8 or even f11 (partly for more depth of field, but most likely even f16 is not sufficient to bring both the front and back trees in focus so that I may need focus stacking), regardless of the lens I have is a 200mm/f2 or 200mm/f4.
    It is not difficult to show great images captured with the 200mm/f2, but hopefully it is also clear to everybody that once you have a $6000 lens that weights 2.93 kg (about 6.5 pounds), it probably means some or perhaps all of the following:
    • You have less money for other lenses and perhaps bodies (If your bank account is like Bill Gates', this certainly does not apply to you)
    • You can carry fewer lenses for other opportunities
    • Your mobility is more limited so that you can get to fewer places and fewer angles.
    Exactly what other photo opportunities you might miss due to having the 200mm/f2? It is hard to quantify.
  39. Shun: Obviously you are unfamiliar with low light situations. Or you don't appreciate the control of focus and scene rendition which such a lens allows. Or both. So your line of arguments is irrelevant.
    That particular image lay straight before me when I wrote then answer. I could post a low-light scene if that makes a better point.
    I tried to explain this before, but will repeat once more: I bring the lenses that are instrumental to my plans for a given trip or assignment. This might be just one, or two, or ten, or whatever the plans call for. Many times the 200/2 is not part of the kit, many times it is.
    Other people do their photography following different principles. In the greater scheme of things, and seen over a longer time span. lens costs are not that significant once you purchase what you really need (and refrain from purchasing what you don't need). Longevity of even a modern lens should be decades.
  40. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Bjorn, I don't think it is necessary to question my knowledge about photography. I have merely been asking for concrete examples when a 200mm/f2 is required in the context of landscape photography such that even a 200mm/f2.8 cannot get the job done. And I am sure there are some rare occasions that is indeed the case. Therefore, the follow up question is how often do you really run into such situations? If one must use a 200mm/f2.8 instead, would you say that will produce an unacceptable image?
    Since we are talking about equipment in the $5000 range (the D3S being $5200 and 200mm/f2 AF-S VR 2 is currently $6000 at B&H; version 1 is still available new at $4500), I am afraid that cost is a significant factor for the majority of us. It is well known that Bjorn owns some 200?? lenses. Consider yourself highly privileged and can afford expensive tools for the occasional need. I really don't think that is the case for most people who read this forum. Since the OP has neither explained why he needs the D3S nor the 200mm/f2, I have been recommending against both from the beginning.
  41. Shun: It's ridiculous to question rational decisions and try to force people to defend their well planned investments This is way off the mark. Obviously I need the lens, otherwise I wouldn't have purchased it. I'm no idiot. Please don't treat me like one. Just for your information, more than 50% of my exposures are 1/15 or slower. In the darkness of the winter, f/2 isn't fast, it's a necessity.
    Having important gear in duplicate is not extravagant, it's more like an insurance.
    Which brings me to the original question. If that person really needs the lens, he should buy it. Otherwise, don't.
  42. Um, chill, guys? I've already been involved with one thread where I've inadvertently wound up Bjorn through miscommunication recently, and I feel like a kid who's walked in on his parents fighting.

    Bjorn, Shun, I'm sure your collective photographic experience dwarfs that of most on these forums - certainly mine. I assume the point that Shun is trying to make is that for most landscape photography, a large aperture is unnecessary because the subject is static and the exposure time can be correspondingly increased; indeed, the vast majority of landscape photography I've seen relies on a large depth of field. The impression most people have of a landscape photographer is someone with field camera on a tripod taking multi-second exposures. Aperture in the context of low light is irrelevant, otherwise Ansel et al. wouldn't have founded the f/64 club.

    The question for Bjorn is: do you rely on the large aperture of the 200mm to reduce depth of field, do you use it to reduce shutter time either because there's movement in the scene or because you're not using a tripod, or do you simply use it for the rendering, irrespective of its maximum aperture? What proportion of your photographs do you feel each of these aspects were significant?

    This isn't an attempt to prove that the lens was unnecessary. It's useful for those of us without sufficient experience of these lenses (since I got mine fairly recently, this would include me even were I as experienced a photographer as Bjorn, and I'm really not). It's useful for me to learn from the technique of others. It's useful for the OP, who mentioned wanting to take scenic pics, and is considering whether this lens is helpful. Even if I had a reasonable amount of experience with this lens, I'd still be curious as to the uses to which others put it; we never stop learning. No need for anyone to get defensive.

    Those of us who read here are grateful for anyone sharing their experience. Please don't take a carelessly-phrased question as a reason to withdraw.
  43. First of all, you need to be able to focus the darned thing in the darkness. So f/2, as I said, is no luxury - it's a necessity. Second, there is no rule set in stone that a landscape picture must be sharp everywhere. If that would be a Law I'd be sentenced to a life-long time in jail :). So yes, having a large aperture and being able to throw fore- or background, or even the main subject itself, out of focus is beneficial if your photographic tool allows this. So I enjoy my 24/1.4, 35/1.4, Noct-Nikkor, and other door-openers into the darkness for what they're worth.
    My tripods are the *real* thing. I use them 99% of the time for landscapes. They cost even more than most of my lenses. However, I can shoot super long lenses at ridiculously slow shutter speeds. With my 360-1200, for example, normal exposure in winter - in broad "daylight" is around 1-2 sec. It can be much longer, though. Even a 200/2 can go down to 1/4 or slower at full bore. That is why I was so annoyed by Shun's lack of appraisal of the value of a fast lens.
    By the way, even though the Mk.2 is better in image quality than the Mk.1 (of which I have samples), I won't "upgrade". Simple cost-benefit analysis tells me this. The increase in quality is not sufficient to justify the costs when depreciation is over my standard period of 5 years.
  44. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    There is no doubt that Bjorn is really annoyed, and I just realized why over lunch. As Leigh B. points out in another thread, I think it is much better that I don't post on this topic any further.
  45. It is very difficult to give the right answer. We use to base our opinions in our personal experience and we should take into account the idiosyncrasy (most of the times, unknown) of the person who is asking... here we could also need to apply our experience about forum users demanding answers.
    For this reason, sincere responses are always welcomed, at least by me.
    I think all points in this thread are perfectly valid.
  46. Most photographers are likely under the impression that an f2.8 lens, prime or zoom, is equal to the 200/2 at f4 to f5.6. This is simply not the case. The 200/2 would be sharper at f2 than the f2.8 lens at f2.8, sharper at f2.8 than f4, and by f4 the 200/2 would be vastly sharper than the f2.8 lens at any of it's apertures. So, the 200/2 not only provides an aperture of f2, and the stunning bokeh to go with it, but it provides image quality throughout it's aperture range that puts it in that "class by itself". This is why it costs so much and why it weighs so much!
  47. I was at my local camera shop(Vistek Mississauga) and i asked to try on a 200mm f2, they didnt have
    any in stock, but they had a 200-400mm f4.
    It was huge, but somewhat easy to handle, or atleast better than i expected.
    i have a price quote coming for the 200mm f2.
    I have to agree, John, i always said "you get what you pay for" and im guessing this lens will not
    dissapoint.Not from the sample images i have seen ,anyway.
    For Bjorn, its great to hear that you use the 200mm for landscapes, i checked out your site and its
    awesome!! lots of great info and examples on there, great stuff!
    Im hoping to create some very sharp, but original and different images with this lens , if i should acquire
    i enjoy Landscape as a hobby, so im hoping to put this lens to the test.
    Only other question i have is " do you think its better to buy the drop in filters for the 200mm or
    individual , 150mm pieces of glass that i can hand hold in front of the lens and also use with other
    lenses in the future?"
  48. Use the 52 mm filters in the dedicated drawer. Much cheaper, much easier and more practical than any huge front filter (plus, the lens don't have filter threads), and you are advised to have the lens hood in place at all times. I discarded the factory hood at once since it's too wide and use the HK-19 (for the 300/2.8 AFS) instead. This narrower hood keeps more of the rain, sleet, and snow away from the front element.
  49. Bjorn: thank you for your information. It suggests to me times when my 200 f/2 would be useful when I might not otherwise have considered it. It's always valuable to hear how others make use of their equipment. Even if I have to admit that my own tripod is somewhat inadequate, and temper my own use accordingly.

    Steven: I got the Nikon polariser that fits the lens (at a discount, since I bought it at the same time); it has a modified drawer so you can rotate the polariser. The 200 f/2 already has a protective front element that can be replaced in case of catastrophe. For digital photography, it's rare that I'd want to use anything else - if I needed colour filters I'd obviously have trouble stacking. You might want a (huge) ND grad to hold over the front, but it's probably easier to bracket and combine digitally unless your subject is moving, and using it with the hood in place is going to be unwieldy (I live with the default hood, but I've not taken my lens out in the rain or shot into bright light). I have a yellow/blue polariser, but it's pretty rare that it's useful, so I don't mind that it's only suitable for small lenses. As Bjorn says, there's no filter ring at the front - this leads me to point out that I hate the slip-on "lens cap" (bag) that Nikon supertelephotos have. It shouldn't take thirty seconds to put a cap on a lens. A small price to pay for the lens itself, though.
  50. Bjorn, that 200 F2 VR is no doubt a sweet lens. Personally, I would use it for handheld portraiture in natural light on my film bodies. Compared to the cost of LEICA M series rangefinder lens prices, it seems a bargain at $4500 (or thereabouts).

    . However, Bjorn, I will play devils advocate here: Do you think 35mm is REALLY a large enough format to try to be accomplishing serious landscape photography work?

    Your photography is very creative, I just thinl you could take it to a higher level if you shot your images in larger formats.
  51. To your direct question: I don't think so. Thus, I have a long career in large-format shooting, mainly for landscapes. While all of the larger formats (I shot 6x9 cm, 4x5", 6x12 cm, and 8x10") gave excellent image quality, there is [much] more to a photograph than sharpness alone. So extended depth-of-field was easy, but really limited depth-of-field was not, and this plus the awkwardness of the handling of the gear (relatively speaking, a slow and contemplative pace can be beneficial , but sometimes you need to act fast) influenced how the shots finally appeared.
    I agree that film-based "35 mm" is marginal for landscapes if shorter lenses are used and the utmost technical perfection is sought (caveat as above with regard to perfection). With the best of the FX DSLRs, image quality improves markedly compared to film, but still good rendition of detail necessitates a longer lens; which in fact is one out of many reasons for me to prefer a 200 instead of a 24 for this kind of photography. I use mostly 85 to 200 for landscapes, sometimes much longer.
  52. Bjorn, the fjord image is stunning. What body was used?
  53. D2X probably. It's not a recent image just one conveniently at hand.
  54. One more thing to add. When I seriously test and compare lenses I do it with Velvia 50. My D2X and Kodak SLRn cannot resolve well enough to really show just how much better the 200/2 is over other lenses. Yes, I can still see marked improvement over other lenses with the digital images but Velvia differentiates it to a much greater extent. The D3S would not provide significantly greater resolution at base ISO than the D2X, SLRn, or D700. What I am trying to get at here, is that if you do chose the 200/2, you will truly be amazed in the future when you can pair it up with a D3X, "D800" or "D4". It will come into its own with a 24+ MP full frame or 18+ MP crop body.
    Steven, ou could call Vistek downtown or Henry's downtown and see if they have some of these mega lenses there for you to try. I have shot sample test images in there stores before with my
  55. I know I am coming late to this discussion but I wanted to chime in with three quick things:
    (1) Bjorn, that image is stunning! Thank you so much for sharing it with us.
    (2) I've rented the Nikkor 200mm f/2 before, and found it absolutely stunning. Images with it have this very difficult to describe quality, with bokeh even more exceptional than my Noct-Nikkor, Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 AF-D, or Olympus OM-Zuiko 50mm f/1.2.
    (3) Unfortunately, I've also found it stunningly large and heavy. The lens hood is a must, as the large front element did flare when I tried removing it (admittedly in a dance theater with strong lights around the periphery), but that serves also to make the lens even longer, wider, and heavier. I fatigued quickly from holding it while shooting (a monopod was not an option for me) and also from carrying it around with me. Your mileage may vary, but I would strongly recommend renting one before buying!
  56. Velvia 50 is no match for a D3S or D3X. It's a myth that film was sharper.
    I do all my testing on the D3X these days. It is easy to see the improvement from 200/2 Mk.1 to Mk.2 with this combination. Also the weakness caused by the poor tripod mount, which is really bad on Mk.1 and fortunately better on the Mk.2.
  57. Ok, so John, i went to Vistek, they are preparing a quote for me as we speak.
    I tried on the 200-400mm as they didnt have any 200mm in stock.
    Even to rent, they said they didnt have any in at any of the stores.
    I will be using this lens on a D700 and i have seen some amazing examples from other users on the net. '
    I am definitely going with the 200mm f2 Vr1, and i was actually thinking about picking up another D700 as a back-up, rather than wait for the next "great thing" to come along as i will be using it with a small studio lighting kit and always on tri-pod.
    the D3x is really sweet, and perhaps , one day i will decide to get one for some serious landscape work, but for now, id say the D700 is the best bang for the buck.(IMO)

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