Lower cost alternative to 70-200 VR I

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by tempest_connolli, Sep 21, 2010.

  1. I am thinking of downgrading from my AFS 70-200 2.8 VR (1st version) to something more affordable and lighter. Currently shooting DX, but who knows how quickly Nikon will introduce an FX camera that I would want, so I need to keep options open if possible.
    The only Nikon brand alternative I found is the AFS 70-300 f4.5-5.6 VR. Beyond the obvious 2-stop loss in light and more solid feel, I am wondering what I might be missing.
    Focus speed is pretty important to me, btw. Recently, I did some hand-held bird photography, and found that focussing speed was very important. On the otherhand, f8 seemed adequate for background separation at 200mm.
    Although I do lots other than wildlife photography, this is all that I've really used the 70-200 for.
    Thank you for input, and I hope no one is offended by the comparison between these two lenses. If you have any alternatives, please do share.
  2. The newest Sigma has been getting decent reviews. Not sure 200mm will be enough for wildlife. Probably not enough on an FX.
    Kent in SD
  3. My alternative to the 70-200 is a 105VR. Still a Nikkor, f2.8, smaller, lighter, cheaper and every bit as good. But I`m not in bird photography (althought I`ve used it for birds).
  4. The 70-300 normally has very snappy focus. I was just testing that in an indoor environment today. very snappy...
    When it hunts, it hunts worse than any other lens I have. The full-time AF over-ride, getting you "close" and then locking focus with the AF button mitigates these situations, but they do exist.
    By way of comparison, my 18-200 never hunted much at all.
  5. I agree with Peter about the hunting, as I have the 70-300mm VR lens, but in decent light it doesn't happen very often. I would definitely recommend putting it on your short list. It's a sharp lens and doesn't weight too much.
  6. I use both these lenses, the 70-200VR's focus is definitely way faster and locks on much more solidly than the 70-300VR. In good light though, the difference is there, but pretty minimal. The focus travels a fair bit if it misses focus, and can be quite annoying.
    I can still manage shots like these using my D300 with the 70-300VR. Also, no tripod food on the 70-300VR if that's your thing. On the plus side, it's very light and portable (relatively speaking). I kept my 70-300 after acquiring the 70-200 because the 70-300 is so awesome when not shooting seriously. Or on holidays.
  7. I have taken both of these backpacking with a D300. Sorry, I find that I need both.
    The 70-200 achieves better microcontrast, color and focus speed in poor light. Result: more and more memorable shots at dusk and dawn and I can attach a polarizer, lose 2 EV and still have enough light for efficient auto-focus behavior.
    The 70-300 sits comfortably in a small belt pouch, weighs a lot less and is longer. Result: more grab shots while on the trail. Focus speed is fine in good light or good contrast but suffers a lot with a polarizer.
    My bottom line: If nature photos are a priority, I end up taking the 70-200, a 1.4 TC, polarizer, short zoom (tamron 18-50) and gradient filters, a tripod and motrin (almost 10 lbs extra in my pack). For a walk in the woods with friends, however, the 70-300 is a much better companion.
  8. I don't want to give up micro-contrast, fast focus and focus in low light. I guess what I really want is a pro-quality 100-400 F5.6 AFS along with a 105 prime.
  9. Alvin, those eagles are nice. They seem to like that watering hole. What is that location?
  10. My alternative to the heavy 80-200 2.8 is a nice light 75-150 f3.5 series E. I had a Tokina 80-200 2.8 ATX pro back when I was an EOS user and never cared for the weight or the size of the thing. When I started to use Nikons I did not want to get the 80-200 2.8 so I picked up the 75-150 f3.5 series E. With a constant f 3.5 it is still rather fast but so much smaller and ligher it is a real joy to use.
  11. Never heard of someone downgrading from the 70-200. This is highly regarded as one of Nikon's best lenses, and if focusing speed is important, you're unlikely to find anything that can equal it, especially at a lower price, smaller size or less weight. Remember that slower lenses don't focus as quickly, especially in low light. Keep in mind that if you get rid of it, you'll be lucky to get half of what you paid. By the time you buy the replacement lens you will probably in financially in the hole and have a lower quality lens to show for it. Really think this one through before you jump.
  12. First, a disclaimer: I've got experience with neither. But one option the OP may consider is a Sigma 50-150 f/2.8. It weighs half as much, and costs about £590 in the UK. You'd me giving away some range at the long end and VR. I haven't been able to find a review of the newer 50-150, but the older model was considerably less sharp than the 70-200 at the long end, especially in the borders. A second option, which would make the OP to lose some more range, is the Tokina 50-135.
  13. Your logic doesn't make sense to me. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
    You won't get much more than 50 cents on the dollar selling your 70-200, which you will spend on anything comparable in a third-party lens. The 70-300 Nikkor is far poorer in optical and build quality, and has little resistance to weather. The 70-200 is sealed pretty well against drips and drizzle.
  14. hey, it's your money... if the 70-200 is too big and heavy and you dont use it as much as you thought, the 70-300 VR is a lighter, optically-inferior option which would give you more reach. you might also consider the new 28-300 which is surprisingly good from early reports. if a constant aperture matters more than focal length, the 50-150 version II is indeed a good choice. it's about the same in size and weight as the 70-300 VR, and can accept sigma TCs.
  15. "The 70-300 Nikkor is far poorer in optical and build quality" If you are referring to the VR version, I disagree as far as optical quality - at least not from my personal experience. Build quality? Who knows. My 70-200mm is the only Nikon lens I have ever owned that has failed and required service. I don't believe Nikon lenses fail very often regardless of their retail price.
    I may be the exception but I only use my 70-200mm for low light shooting and portraits - my 70-300mm VR does a great job for me for pretty much everything else.
  16. I also have both lenses. I initially got the 70-300VR and the added a 70-200.
    I use the 70-200 primarily for my children's indoor school events and this is where it really shines. However, it weighs a ton and due to its size you will stick out of the crowd in a major way. At concerts I need to keep it on a monopod or risk wrist/bicep strain. Reach is not ideal, but 200mm is not too bad with the shorter indoor distances. Being able to use an ISO level 2 stops lower than the other lens gives me better picture quality and I can crop effectively.
    Outdoors, especially for track and field (my kids are under 10), the 70-200 rarely comes with me unless its very overcast. I prefer to use the 70-300VR, as it gives me greater magnification, is lighter and easier to carry and move around with.
    In sunny conditions I don't think that there is much difference in the focusing speed (I use a D300). You do lose out on the bokeh and the separation from the background, but I have not felt that the image quality was substantally weaker than the 70-200s. I do find that the 70-300VR has stronger VR as compared to my 70-200. This is based on my lens, YMMV.
    When on vacations and traveling, my 70-200 stays at home. The 70-300VR is what accompanies me (along with a 18-70 and 35). I am not a pro, and in a zoo etc the longer focal length comes in handy.
    So bottom line is that you will need to be very clear as to what your requirements are. For birding, I would think that the 70-300VR would be a better choice due to its reach and portability. Having said that, 300mm is too short IMHO for birds unless you can get very close.
  17. @Tempest Connolli: Cheers mate, those were shot at eagle heights wildlife park.
    Oh btw, the 70-300 doesn't really track as well as the 70-200 in low light. The 70-200 can easily track in low light*, but the 70-300vr.... maybe just my lack of skill.... not really. Especially not at the longer end.
    *IIRC it was 1600, 3.5/160 or something like that. I only recently got my exif data export fixed. This shot probably does not have exif data. But yeah it was shot inside a tree covered flying arena. Something i do not want to try with the 70-300vr.
  18. I recommend keeping your 70-200 and adding a more affordable and lighter lens.
    When I need something more affordable and lighter than my AFS 80-200mm f/2.8, I use the Nikon 75-150mm f/3.5 Series E or a 180mm f/2.8 prime lens.
  19. How about the old 70-210 constant F4 AF?
    It's an old lens that served me well with film..

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