Nikon 70-200mm VRII Problems?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by inTempus, Dec 12, 2009.

  1. inTempus

    inTempus TPF Noob!

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  2. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Didn't we have a thread reporting this a few days ago?

    I have encountered some slightly off focal ranges used in advertising - things like the sigma 2*TC being more like a 1.95*TC and a few lenses I have read don't have perfect focal lengths when measured up against others.
    But in all those examples the difference was quite small and only really showed when doing test shots side by side in controled conditions - and out in the field the tiny differences would not affect the shot overall nor show up.

    However, if this test is accurate, then something has gone seriously wrong with the nikon lens I think. Might be a manufacturer error or design error, but I would have expected either of those to be noticed before release. It might be Nikon is trying something fancy somewhere with the naming and lens tech but I don't see how it would benefit them if this is the case.

    I'm confused on this issue

    *edit* reading a bit more its only a close distances that hte problem appears - still even though its closer distances only and its a normal 200mm at further off subjects it still looks to be a pretty big loss of focal length - sure it might be sharper as a result, but if one loses versatility and has to resort to other lenses is that improvement in sharpness worth the loss?
     
  3. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Yes, MrLogic began a thread, based on the dPreview tests done by Marianne Oelund. That was on Dec. 3,2009, in this thread

    http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/...-70-200-ii-effective-focal-lengths-200mm.html

    Extreme loss of focal length at CLOSE focusing distances is pretty common in many lenses; With the 70-200 VR-II, the lens at Infinity focus is longer than Nikon's 200mm f/2 AF-S VR-G lens. Nikon's 18-200mm VR loses so much focal length when focused at its closest distance that is is scarcely longer than an 85mm lens...LOSING focal length as a lens focuses closer is very,very common. Macro lenses for example, the Tamron 90mm is about 73mm at 1:1.

    Nikon optimized the new VR-II lens for full-frame, with very high sharpness across the frame, even on FX, AND they made it very flat-field at closer ranges, which is something that is going to be important to people shooting on the D3x,and on future cameras with even higher MP counts and big sensors.

    Marianne Oelund's tests were very,very good and very informative, but YES, the new 70-200 VRII loses focal length at close,indoor ranges--just like dozens of other lens designs. People wanted a shorter, more-compact, water-resistant, internal focusing 70-200VR suitable for 25MP captures, with no vignetting on FX, high corner sharpness, and flat-field performance at MFD....they got it!

    Here's a bit from that post of Dec 3:16-85mm AF-S DX Lens Review by Thom Hogan
    In his review of the 16mm-85 Nikkor lens, Hogan writes:

    "Many Nikon DX users had already picked the 18-200mm VR as their walkaround lens, partly because they were seduced by numbers. Quick question, which gives you more range: the 18-200mm or the 16-85mm? The answer might surprise you a bit. The 16-85mm has a horizontal angle of view range of 16 to 73 degrees, the 18-200mm has an angle of view range of 7 to 66 degrees. However, because the 18-200mm changes focal length so much at the long end when focused close, for many situations its angle of view is only 10 to 66 degrees, which is not looking a lot better than the 16-85mm. I personally value those extra 7 degrees at the wide end much more than the extra 6 to 9 degrees at the telephoto end--they make a more dramatic impact on my photography."

    From one thing I read, the new 70-200 VF-II is more like 65mm at the short end; to me, that would be more welcome than a few extra millimeters on the long end. And also, it's important to note that at Infinity, the new 70-200mm VR-II zoom lens is actually a little bit longer than the 200mm f/2 VR-G prime. The loss of focal length as the lens is focused closer is VERY normal for internal focusing zoom lenses, and for macro lenses as well. It's not that unexpected to people who are actually intimately familiar with optics. The new lens has flatter field at closer ranges than the old lens, leading to improved image quality. At very close ranges, internal focusing lenses may LOSE FOCAL LENGTH as a way to keep the actual, effective light transmission the same--note the use of the word "may". If a lens cannot change its overall length AND the user wants the actual, effective aperture of the lens to remain the same, the simplest solution is to allow the focal length to drop at very close focusing ranges. On the other hand, with a lens that focuses by extension of the barrel, like most old-style, non-internally focusing macro lenses, the aperture drop will be quite pronounced. A Tamron 90mm f/2.8 or old-style 105mm Nikkor D-series, the maximum aperture will DROP to f/5.6 as the lens is focused close, at 1:1 magnification.

    It's clear the new 70-200 VR-II has had design optimization choices that favor a perfectly flat field at close ranges, leading to better edge-to-edge sharpness, and very little vignetting on full-frame. At Infinity, where actual focal length is important, the lens is *longer* than a Nikon 200mm f/2 prime lens. With ever-higher and higher MP sensors, the need is for a lens with the absolutely BEST optical performance--resolution, center sharpness, corner sharpness, contrast, and flatness of field and freedom from vignetting.

    If anybody wants a lens that is optimized for something like a 24.5 megapixel FF Nikon D3x sensor, the new lens is that lens. For those shooting with DX camras, the old lens is stil quite good, and the new lens is a little bit better, but both are streets ahead of say, the 17-year old to 12-year old 80-200/2.8 lens designs.
     
  4. inTempus

    inTempus TPF Noob!

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    I see an awful lot of negative comments about this new design, it doesn't seem to be all that well received by a lot of people. But then people like to ***** about things. I was taken back by the rather scathing reviews people were giving it.
     
  5. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Yeah, it's getting a lot of scrutiny. At close range, the lens loses a lot of focal length. At 40 feet, it's something like 183mm in focal length, roughly. The internet is a wonderful place to find out "the truth" about a lot of things. Like for example, how the 18-200 VR-Nikkor becomes almost 85mm at the long end when focused to its minimum focusing distance. Lens focal length specifications are within roughly 10 percent of nominal stated length, but this lens loses more than that at MFD.

    The lens has been optimized for flat field, high sharpness center to corner, and minimal light fall-off, with resolution high enough for the current highest-MP d-slr on the planet, the Nikon D3x. It also does pretty well with the 1.4x and 1.7x teleconverters.

    Again, the internet is a great way to find out about all sorts of products; there's a great book called, "The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual". Nikon IMO, handles this type of situation poorly, so the internet boards are full of people who, for the first time ever, have been made aware of internal focusing lens that loses focal length; wow--a common fact has just been put in front of the great unwashed masses who are shocked to discover something pretty common. It's almost like the great secret that EPA gas mileage figures are not reflective of real-world mileage.

    The situation is generating a lot of heat on dPreview. Nikon execs have not read the Cluetrain Manifesto,obviously, so they are suffering a web-based PR brushfire. Among users who have the lens, they seem pretty impressed with its sharpness, contrast, and overall handling, but among the measurebators on dPreview, a lot of them are up in arms about something they heretofore never knew about, probably because they don't know much about lens design and how various optimizations come with compromises.

    What impressed me were Marianne's comparisons of the original 70-200,the new model, and the 200/2. The new lens is far better in the corners wide-open than the old zoom. But still,despite better optics, people are complaining a lot.
     
  6. inTempus

    inTempus TPF Noob!

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    The question I have is why do they sell it as a 70-200 when it's more like a 70-180?

    I was surprised just how short the new lens was on the long end. If I wasn't aware of the difference, I would be pissed I just spent $2500 on a 70-200 and got something less. On a full frame body like the D700/D3 this is pretty discouraging. I mean, I want a teleconverter for my 70-200 on my 5D2 because often times it falls short. Now with the VRII you have to put a teleconverter on there just to get to 200mm on the long end and you have to lose a stop of light in the process. :)

    Some folks are saying "I don't really care, I'll just keep my VR1 and buy the VR2 to complement it". That's a lot of money to have in two lenses.

    If I made the jump to Nikon I would consider buying the older lens. If I were a Nikonian I would probably just keep my VR1 until I bought the next gen camera with a 30mp sensor that really needed the new lens.
     
  7. inTempus

    inTempus TPF Noob!

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    This guy gives it a glowing review, but that's not surprising given he's on their perk list and gets given pre-release samples to play with. If he gave a negative review I'm sure his perks would get yanked.

    With that said, look at these GORGEOUS high ISO images in this review from the D3S.

    Review: Nikon D3S & 70-200VR II « WedShooter.TV | Inspiration for Wedding Photographers

    Look at that 100% crop at ISO 12800 and 25600. OMG, that's what I want out of a body, that's amazing. If my 1D4 can't come close to that, I will seriously consider making the switch to Nikon. :D I know, I keep saying that. But that right there flops my mop. I really want to get clean ISO 12800 and the D3S certainly appears to deliver.
     
  8. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Here are Marianne's published results: "1.27m (closest); 128mm
    1.4m; 132mm
    2m; 147mm
    3m; 164mm
    5m; 176mm
    10m; 186mm
    "In actual use, worst case, the user would need to move in to 75% of the distance that they could use with the VR I lens, in order to achieve the same magnification. I can't see this as a real problem, until one completely runs out of focus range, and if that happens, that is what teleconverters or closeup lenses or extension tubes are for. The VR I only drops to about 190mm focal length at closest focus, and is up to 198mm by a subject distance of 3m, so it's quite close to being a constant focal-length lens with respect to subject distance."

    So, yeah, the lens loses focal length as it's focused closer. BUT, the image quality across the field at close focusing distances is substantially better than with the VR-I model--higher resolution, flatter field, and therefore, no field curvature leading to soft corners at very close distances...it's almost like Nikon designed the new 70-200 VR-II as a near-field pseudo-macro lens.

    One of the single biggest problems with many lenses is that when focused closer, curvature of field kills sharpness at the edges, and when a flat subject is photographed, the edges of the field will be "soft". As you can see by the sample pics, the new lens has superior edges-sharper, more-contrasty,and with very little vignetting. The lens is delivering the BEST IMAGE quality Nikon can make it deliver,even at close ranges. They have succeeded in also making the lens excellent at Infinity. They have done what they though was the best thing to do--given their plans, which I think include some higher-resolution sensors.
    Again, a loss of focal length as an internal focus lens is focused closer is a design decision. Focal lengths are stated at Infinity focus. Canon's 70-200 f/4 L IS USM tested as 71.60mm to 192.73mm in Popular Photography's million dollar lab...but what about at say 1.5 meters??? I don't know--does it lose any FL?
    As far as switching to Nikon--yeah, the D3s looks superb at elevated ISO settings. We've got another two years before the D4 comes out. Nikon's plan has been to produce the lenses FIRST, then the cameras to go with them second. The 200 f/2 VR came out far in advance of the D3x, but it is one of the few lenses sharp enough to make use of a 24.5 MP sensor at f/2.8 in Thom Hogan's D3x test. 14-24, 24-70, unmatched by any other similar zooms...the 14-24 Nikkor is better than almost any primes in its range,from any maker.
    I think one thing is interesting: the 70-200 VR I is a better DX sensor lens than Canon's 70-200 2.8 L-IS USM, according to dPreview's review and my own experience as well,and I think Nikon's going top continue with the VR-I model for DX users for a while. The VR-I lens is pretty good on DX, for which it was optimized, but I think the new VR-II model is designed for the next generation of sensors. Nikon's main focus is on the mid- to higher-end shooter, and they have no problem pricing things very high for those that can afford the best designs. They don't want to be the Chevrolet of cameras/lenses. Nikon doesn't care about making the lowest cost lenses; their engineers often focus on quality over price point, which makes sense considering who this type of lens is targeted at: D3x users and D4x users...
     
  9. benhasajeep

    benhasajeep TPF Noob!

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    I almost traded my 80-200 (2nd gen) for the 70-200 vr1, when it first came out. I went to my local Nikon crack dealer ready to buy. After checking out the vr on my film body and d50 I decided to hold off for a bit. I went to the store about a month later again intending to trade for the new lens again (just had the itch). This time the salesman even said that he had a couple come back. That he wasnt sure if he had gotten bad samples or not. Then I decided it was not worth it and kept my 80-200.

    Now the VII is out and it seems that although the lens does have some improvements where the VI had some short commings. In my opinion paying a premium for Nikon good glass the lens should peform well in ALL aspects!. From what I have read on several forms. I think my 80-200 will do quite well until VIII comes out. Right now it performs just fine with current technology. Maybe when 50mp or more DSLRs are out it may start showing its faults more. But there is more usefull life left in it until then.
     
  10. cfusionpm

    cfusionpm TPF Noob!

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    I don't think that was the point of the link comparing the Canon to the Nikon though. It's saying that the VRII loses MUCH more than should compared to the VRI and Canon L; both of which also have internal focusing. Hence the claim for "bad" design.

    According to the link in the original post, the 2.8 IS doesn't; or at least not nearly as much as the VRII. I can only assume the f/4 would be similar.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2009
  11. MrLogic

    MrLogic TPF Noob!

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    It's not. Actually, it's slightly longer than 200mm at the tele end (just like the VR I). Just not at close range. I know... that's where it counts for many of us. But technically it isn't a 70-180m lens, even though the loss of focal length at close range is VERY real.

    In contrast, the new Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L will actually be a 72-194mm f/2.9 according to the patent. The thing is, the Nikon would still be labeled a 70-200+ (or 65-200+ according to some) if it was labelled correctly, while the Canon would be labelled 72-194mm f/2.9. Even though I suspect the Canon will lose a lot less focal length at minimum focus distance and for this reason will prove more useful for wedding photographers (for example). Just my uniformed opinion.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2009
  12. MrLogic

    MrLogic TPF Noob!

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    Might as well post it in this thread as well. Calculated (not measured) focal lengths at "200mm" & minimum focus distance based upon published specifications, according to Thom Hogan:

    Nikkor 80-200mm AF-D(?) f/2.8: 185mm
    Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 I: 182mm
    Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8: 174mm
    Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 : 174mm
    Canon 70-200mm f/4: 172mm
    Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS: 161mm
    Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 w/o IS: 153mm
    Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 II: 134mm

    Re: Response 1: Nikon SLR Lens Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review

    Note: probably not entirely accurate as the 70-200 VR I was measured at ~ 190mm, not 182mm.
     

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