Photozone FF review of AF-S 70-200 VRII posted

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by scott_pogorelc, Apr 29, 2010.

  2. About the hood, "... Nikon went for a slightly curved shape. You will instantly notice this if you're the kind of photographer that occasionally rests a lens on the hood... "

    I`m one of them. It`s really annoying. I like to think that Nikon engineers are really good and competent, and I wonder why they opted for this design. Perhaps the hood material is too flimsy (also designed in this way for better protection) and could not resist many over-the-hood positionings... I was looking for the v.1 hood (it`d need to be trimmed) but my dealer told me that it doesn`t fit.

    BTW, I`m surprised about the sharpness of this lens. My 105mm "official" portait lens use to be the 105VR, some say too sharp for portraiture. Well, my 70-200VRII is slightly sharper!
    (Scott, thanks for the link)
  3. "At minimum focus distance (MFD) at 200mm the 70-200 VR II provides an image angle equivalent to a 135mm lens"
    While its all about the IQ which this lens obviously excels at, I would imagine this issue could be a major concern to some.
  4. The lens seems to perform well, as expected.
    But one annoying thing with these tests is that they only report measured MTF-50 at one distance. Lenses tend to have different performance at different distances and in the case of 24-70/2.8 and 70-200/2.8 this difference seems to be quite significant. Would be nice to see how the performance works out at distances close to infinity; I hear that it is less than stellar there.
  5. While its all about the IQ which this lens obviously excels at, I would imagine this issue could be a major concern to some.
    I have seen a convincing demonstration that at closest focus at f/2.8 the Mk II images are sufficiently detailed (assuming a D3X body is used) that even if you crop the image to match the framing from the tightest image possible from Mk I from the same shooting position, you still get a more detailed image from Mk II than Mk I, and with a TC-14E attached to Mk II to match the framing in camera, it is far superior in detail in these conditions. So what exactly is there to complain about? If the complaint is that people don't have a D3X to allow such cropping then you might want to look a bit ahead; the likelihood of 20+MP cameras in D700 chassis in 1-2 years is very high and this lens will probably be available for the next 6-7 years. I don't have any doubt that the so-called focal length loss has minimal practical significance, taking these considerations into account.
    There are some legitimate issues with Mk II, such as its long-distance performance and the high detail contrast which IMO makes it less ideal for portraits (unless you use really soft light). It's bokeh is also slightly more busy than that of Mk I in my experience. But there are a lot of things for which it is fantastic, and it has been a thrill to use the past few months. For general photography, it's an astonishing performer. The MFD magnification has not been an issue to me. If you need a tighter crop, use a lens that is designed for close-up photography. I.e. 105 VR or the 200/4D AF Micro, or a general purpose tele that allows greater magnification, such as the 180/2.8D or the 300/4D AF-S. It's just never going to happen that a perfect telezoom is made which is suitable for everything. Pick the lenses that you need from what is available.
  6. I'm love mine. Here is a shot made with my D700 ...I was a great distance away. 2.8
  7. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    A lot of those so called "problems" for this lens are blown way out of proportion on various forums. For any lens, the stated focus length is meansure at infinity. Any 70 or 80-200mm zoom is not going to be at true 200mm when you focus to the minimum distance anyway; it is just that you lose a little more with this lens compared to many of the others.
    In other words, the difference is not 135mm for the 70-200 version 2 vs. 200mm, but rather it is more like 135mm vs. 170mm or so on the other 70-200 zooms. There is some difference, but it is not huge. And of course it is only a "problem" at the long end of the zoom range. If you are merely at 135mm, 170mm, you just zoom in closer a little more.
    Nikon USA loaned a test sample to over Christmas. I have posted various test images with this lens on distant subjects. I think the sharpness is just fine:
    The real problem for this lens is the price. After rebates, I paid like $1400 for my 70-200mm/f2.8 version 1 back in 2005. Last year, even that lens had gone up to around $1900 at the end of its production cycle. At $2300 or so, version 2 is very expensive at this point. If it weren't the price, I would have upgraded already.
    And of course the weight remains an issue. I don't mind it that much if the 70-200 is the biggest lens I am carrying, but when I already have a 500mm/f4 or 200-400mm/f4 with me, I can use every ounce of reduction. That is partly why I prefer a D700 over a D3. Nikon themselves have provided every hint that some 70-200mm/f4 AF-S is forth coming; I just don't know when.
  8. So at minimum focus distance being 135 vs. 200... exactly how many steps does one need to take to make up the difference? one? Two? (Remember, it's at minimum focus distance.) I mean, really... is this even a problem?
  9. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Peter, it is a little different. At its minimum focusing distance, the 200mm setting on the new 70-200 v2 is more like 135mm. On another 70-200 type lens, it could be more like 160mm, 170mm or 180mm or so, and of course each lens' minimum focusing distance is also a bit different. However, I don't think there is any 70-200mm lens that is really at 200mm when you focus to the nearest point.
    Therefore, the actual difference between this lens and any other similar lens is not nearly as big as 135mm vs. 200mm.
    As far as stepping closer, that is another issue. Sometimes it is no big deal at all to get closer, but your perspective will change; your subject may look more distorted because you are too close; its relationship with the background may look different. Sometimes it is dangerous to get too close to certain subjects, you might disturb the subject, sometimes you are not allowed to get too close ....
  10. Nikon could save itself from a lot of "bad publicity" if such major deviations in focal length were disclosed directly instead of being discovered by the first person that gets the hands on a copy and reports about it in public - I see no mention of it on Nikon's website anywhere (but haven't looked too hard either). By now, I have learned that the IF design can result in some focal length change with focus distance - apparently much more so than with the traditional focus design.
    Whether or not it is a big deal is another story - but it sure would be nice to be alerted to potential issues as early as possible.
  11. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Dieter, I am afraid that your suggestion wouldn't have worked. It would be more like "even Nikon themselves admit this major issue ...."
    The internet is a great at making a mountain out of a molehill. You'd never know beforehand which trivial issue would become a big deal for no good reason. It is just like the corner performance from version 1 of this lens. It is certainly a problem for landscape photographers, but for most of the news, sports, event, wedding ... photographers, it is largely a non issue. I personally have little concern about that at all on my D700. However, that topic has been discussed over and over to no end on various forums.
    You don't want to bring up any topic yourself for people to latch onto, but perhaps it is not so bad that your product is constantly being discussed ..., even though it is about some of its shortcomings.
  12. You're right Shun, so it's damned if you do and damned if you don't
    Might also be that by explaining the underlying technical reasons Nikon would have to reveal too much of the inner workings of the lens. Plus a technical explanation likely still wouldn't please everybody. Maybe I will try digging up the patent to have a closer look...
  13. I was a great distance away
    By long distances I meant that the subject in focus is something like 100 meters wide... or bigger.
    Nikon could save itself from a lot of "bad publicity"

    Well, Nikon could do a lot for us. They could give us a roadmap - information about products in development so we don't buy something that doesn't quite do it but is available today, in place of waiting for a product that will do what we want, and may soon be introduced. This could save a lot of people a lot of money, but not Nikon of course. They're trying to sell what they have available now. Any official word about a "problem" might cause serious difficulties for them, even though the "problem" might be inconsequential to most people, which no doubt is the case here, as what is ultimately important is not the actual size of the full-size image but whether it has the detail needed for the shot.
  14. I think I'll hang onto my first-generation 70-200 f/2.8 VR G.
    - I can zoom in for head shots with strong bokeh. The close-focus problem of version 2 might be problematic for this type of shot.
    - It's sharp enough for people.
    - It's sharp enough for a 12 MP sensor.
    - Corner sharpness is of no concern when the background is blurred anyway.
    - It comes with a well-constructed hood that you actually CAN use as a camera stand in a pinch.
    - The extra stop of VR is a "nice-to-have," not a deal-breaker.
  15. Any comparison has to be done on equal footing otherwise the results are nonsensical. For the 70-200 Mk.2, arguments are made that it "is 135 mm" at the near limit. Then, this value is compared against lens(es) of various brands, but then one uses "200 mm" as the value to make the comparison against. From this, a myth is build that the lens "shrinks" when it is focused close.
    The basic truth is that Nikon, no more than any other lens maker, can rewrite optical laws. Focal length *is* defined for infinity focus. So any other lens of similar specification will, by and large, behave in a similar manner. Instead of calculating a fictious "focal length", look at the magnification ratio one can obtain. Most portrait-type lenses will go to around 1:8.
  16. You can always use extension tubes if you need a shorter minimum focus distance. You do, of course, give up focus at infinity.
    Life is full of trade-offs.
  17. So any other lens of similar specification will, by and large, behave in a similar manner.​
    Depends on what you mean by similar. Comparing the MkI and the MKII shows what I would consider a significant difference. 1.5m vs 1.4m closest focus distance but 1:4 vs 1:8 maximum magnification. That isn't what I would expect given that both are described as 70-200/2.8 lenses.
    So where does the similarity end? When I include the 80-200/2.8 with 1.5m closest focus distance its maximum reproduction ratio is also 1:4 - nearly identical to the MkI. The Sigma 70-200/2.8, however, seems to be similar to the MKII - 1.4m and 1:8. Canon does not provide the maximum reproduction ratio on their website except for the new 70-200/2.8 MKII, for which 1.2m and 1:5 is found. The older IS version has 1.4m and 1:6 and the 70-200/4 IS is 1.2m and 1:5. Maybe the 200/2 is similar - 1.9m and 1:8; 180/2.8 with 1.5m and 1:7? Or the 135/2 DC - 1.2m and almost 1:2.
  18. What determines the magnification in the end is how the nodal points move about. Most lenses in the category we talk about here, zoom lenses 70/80-200 mm, end up somewhere around 1:8. Some go to 1:5, few end up at 1:10. That's the range we are considering. The Mk.1 ended at approx. 1:6 the new one at 1:8.
    Please note that you get a change in effective aperture when you go higher in magnification than about 1:10 or so, so there is a penality to be incurred there. Plus usually you'll get more pronounced curvature of field and a significant increase in colour aberrations as well. So there are reasons why the designers limit the near focus and accordingly the maximum magnification you can get.
    That the 135 DC ends up at 1:2 is wishful thinking. It goes to 1:7.1.
  19. That the 135 DC ends up at 1:2 is wishful thinking. It goes to 1:7.1.​
    Was just quoting Nikon US website which states 0.48x (which seemed strange to begin with):
    The global site has it correctly:
    Strangely enough, the maximum reproduction ratio info on the global and the US site rarely match - what's up with that?
  20. what's up with that?

    You could check the manual in those cases where it is available in PDF format, or ask online, in those cases where the USA and international sites disagree on specs. Perhaps someone can send e-mail to Nikon USA so that they double check and correct these.
    I have to take back a bit about what I've said about bokeh of the 70-200 II. Initially I experienced some less than smooth bokeh from it in certain images but yesterday I shot a few hundred images wide open with it and only one exhibited busy bokeh (traffic sign in the background looked a bit nervous). I can say that it's much better than the 80-200/2.8D N's bokeh and close to that of the best, with exceptions in somewhat unusual situations where e.g. text or sharp high-contrast detail in the background is not smoothed quite as well as it could. Overall I'm ok with this aspect of its performance - in most images the bokeh at f/2.8 is very nice. In yesterday's images taken at 200mm f/2.8 the image definition is really fine, and there is some room for cropping with still the potential for a nice print, even though I was using 12 MP FX. I've always wondered why Nikon and Canon let the performance of the long end of most of their telezooms drop compared to the middle and short focal lengths - if you use a long zoom, you probably want to use it at the longest focal length quite often, so it should perform well there. The new 70-200 II doesn't disappoint in this respect - and hopefully if we get an f/4 version, and a new f/5.6 supertele zoom (like 100-500 or 80-400 with AF-S and VR II) that they put the best performance at the long end as in many cases (whatever it is) it won't be long enough ;-). The lighting yesterday was also excellent (light clouds with tiny bits of sunlight) and the high contrast didn't cause any problems this time. It seems likely that the 70-200 II will be my most used lens for the foreseeable future.
  21. Of course some subjects are proned to show more pronounced out of focus effects, and probably the sharper lenses are the worst to hide them... in my experience the sharpest the lens the worst bokeh. And in the opposite, the softer the lens the better bokeh. The 70-200VRII is a supersharp lens.
    If you ask you will find infinite kind of users... I`m so satisfied because I rarely use long lenses. I like my Nikkors because most are optimized for closer distances, and zooms are usually for shorter settings; the only lenses I`d like to be better at the longer end are the wide angle zooms like the 14-24, 17-35or 16-35.
    About the zooming issue, I think that from an user point of view, everyone would like to have an all-in-one lens, specially if we consider that it`s expensive enough... many people when asked say things like "I want Nikon to develop an all purpose, gold ringed, super sharp full format 16-200/2 with VR, AFS, ED, IF, macro, compact size and affordable under $1000... and with a 77mm front filter thread". Well, they develop their things up to what is technically and commercially feasible. We need to know our real needs and get the gear we will use. Some products fit us better and some don`t... that`s life. There are many options to choose.
    Below a pic showing that busy bokeh; sometimes could be even dizzy... first the whole frame,
  22. Now a 100% crop (the upper left corner of the thumb at top):
  23. And why not, the sharp area (100% crop). I think it is resonably good for a zoom wide open... hand held, bad illumination, etc. (leaves inside the bottom thumb at upper-left).
  24. My guess is that you had VR on?
  25. What I think is funny is that there has been a lot of discussion of the shortening of the focal length of this particular lens, but not of other zooms. Back in the D70 days, my 18-70 was killing me because the max focal length dropped a lot at close focus, making the perspective quite suboptimal for portraits. I ended up using different lenses for the portraits, but the only significant discussion I remember seeing of this effect is in the case of 70-200/2.8 II.
    I don't actually mind that photozone only tests at one distance, but they could have a clear disclaimer saying what they tested and they didn't test. Just to avoid wrong conclusions spreading on the Internet. In terms of distance, I'm thinking mostly of landscape-type shots at long distances and compressed perspectives.
  26. Bjorn, yes, I had VR on.
    Sincerely, after checking a lot of my pics from this lens, I`m not able to say about how much the enabled VR system affect bokeh quality. Some subjects show even a beautiful bokeh, some ugly. If any, perhaps I could see on certain contrasty textures at the closer areas of backgrounds a bit more "enraged", "electrical", "radiactive" OoF effects when VR is "on". It doesn`t look to be as harsh with longer focal settings.
    With the VR "off", I also have found nice and ugly OoF areas, depending on the subject, but always with that double lined, bright contour.
    Perhaps I coud say that only one stop down bokeh improves, with or w/o VR. I should need to make direct comparisons to really know about it.
    Just for fun, I`m posting another sample: this time VR "off". First the whole frame,
  27. And now a 100% crop, from middle-right area:
  28. Here I have a pic plenty of OoF bush... VR "on". The whole frame,
  29. I think bokeh is perfectly acceptable; I`m not an expert but I`d say more or less typical from Nikon sharper lenses. Detail, 100% crop.

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