Nikkor 70-300 VR vs. 80-200 2.8 ED

Antithesis

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So I've been given an early christmas present in the form of money and I want to get a telephoto. I have about $500 to spend. After I get a decent telephoto I will have a good focal range for most types of photography. The short version: 70-300 VR vs. 80-200 f2.8, more importantly: image quality and utility. Also, brief opnion on the sigma 70-200 2.8

Anyways, I want to get a tele that I can use for nature shots, snowboarding shots, and other normal tele-usage to eventually be submitted as stock photography (I know the draw-backs of this approach, but I still want to give it a try). The two lenses I've really been considering are the 80-200 f2.8 (AF-S hopefully if i can find one at the right price) and the 70-300 VR. I know the image quality and build quality will be better on the 2.8, but I'm not sure how much better.

I went and handled an 80-200, and here are my impression: It's solid, but not as solid as I'd expect from a pro-level lens. I've used my buddies 70-200 f2.8 VR and this was nowhere near that level of stoutness. I also found that the pull-zoom on the ED was almost counter-intuitive, as the only pull zoom I have is for my 35mm, and you push forward to zoom. In that regard I'd like to get the AF-S version with the twist zoom, but finding one in my price range is a bit daunting if not impossible.

I have yet to physically handle a 70-300 VR, but apparently the build quality is on par with the 18-200 VR and significantly better than the entry level nikkor's. One big plus of the 70-300 is the lighter weight which may get it more usage. I was also curious how the VR actually holds up to its reputation. If my math is straight:

VR = 2-4 stops, at 5.6 @ 300mm, this should be similar to a 2.8 lens(5.6 > 4 > 2.8, but in terms of shutter speed), correct? I know I wouldn't be able to stop motion very well, but on almost all the occasions I'd need to do that I assume I'll be outside in sunlight so it's not too much of a concern.

In low light, a 2.8 aperture would probably do a lot more justice than a finicky image stabilization system, but I'd still have the versatility if needed.

Ok, now image quality. Is the 80-200 going to be that much better? I've read reviews on both lenses, and they both fall off at max length. The lenses appear to be similarly sharp at 200mm, although the 70-300 has a larger CA size at max. focal length.

So what are peoples opinions? And what do people think about the similar sigma 70-200 f2.8 HSM? Oh, and sorry for the novella.
 

ScottS

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GO WITH THE SIGMA.

Its friggin amazing!!! I love mine!!
 
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Antithesis

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I guess I'll keep my eye out for used ones. People do seem to love them. One of my buddies is convinced that anything but nikon or canon glass is garbage, but he's an elitest :lol:
 

JerryPH

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One of my buddies is convinced that anything but nikon or canon glass is garbage, but he's an elitest :lol:

And your friend is in for a few rude surprises if he every lowers his rose coloured glasses long enough to take a good look around. The gaps between "high end" brand name lenses and 3rd party lenses like Sigma, Tamron and Tokina are closing and in some cases the 3rd party lenses are equal to or even superior to those big names.

In today's market, neither price nor brand name is any guarantee of "ultimate quality" or "best value for your hard earned dollar". If you don't do your homework before spending the $$, you are a fool.
 
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And your friend is in for a few rude surprises if he every lowers his rose coloured glasses long enough to take a good look around. The gaps between "high end" brand name lenses and 3rd party lenses like Sigma, Tamron and Tokina are closing and in some cases the 3rd party lenses are equal to or even superior to those big names.

In today's market, neither price nor brand name is any guarantee of "ultimate quality" or "best value for your hard earned dollar". If you don't do your homework before spending the $$, you are a fool.

Very true, but then again you have to consider that the larger companies like nikon and canon have a whole lot more money to throw around in terms of R&D than companies like Sigma do. The photozone tests do show that the nikon lenses have marginally better resolution, and for some that means all the difference. I, on the other hand, can't validate spending extra money on IQ if my images are being printed in 8x10 or 11x14's.

I have also heard that the HSM motors on the sigma's can be finicky. However; everything I've read on the forums seems to praise their higher end models like the 70-200 f2.8. Some people will consider the nikon and canon models better based on placebo effect alone. I don't plan to use my images at 100% crop from a RAW image, so I expect that any of the above lenses would be satisfactory.

I'm just trying to figure out people's experiences and personal comparisons. So far, I can see some advantages to each lens:

Nikkor 70-300 VR: Pros: Lightweight, long focal length, Image stabilization, can purchase new. Cons: Lightweight = plasticky = breaks easily (dropping or being kicked over means a chipped or cracked piece of plastic), small maximum aperature.

Nikkor 80-200 f2.8: Sturdy, fast, envious looks from fellow nikonians, getting kicked over or dropped means a scuff and not much more. Cons: Pull-zoom, enormous for a relatively small focal length, heavy, Normal AF versions are noisy and hunt at 200mm, the version I want will probably be too expensive.

Sigma 70-200 f2.8 HSM: Pros: Sturdy, fast, cheap, tripod ring, Probably as solid (or moreso) than the 80-200. Cons: Possibly sketchy HSM motor (but if it works apparently they are fast and quiet), Heaviest of the three, sneers from fellow nikonians.
 

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I had the 70-300 nikkor was pretty happy with it, but for motorsports it just wasnt fast enough so I traded up to the 70-200 2.8 VR - this lens is VERY good........ I mean *very*
 

johnmh

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Speaking about the Nikon lenses - the 70-300 VR is a good enough lens for casual use. I've gotten some great shots with it and the VR is very useful with hand-held compared to the 80-200. But then I'm getting old and frankly, hand holding isn't as easy as it used to be for 'active' shooting (in my case kid's soccer and other sports) It's been more than ok in the past for outdoors shots and more than a few wildlife shots. Perfect and tack sharp? Not always but still pretty decent.

HOWEVER, having moved up to 'better' glass, I can't help but say that neither compares to something like the 70-200 2.8VR

However, as that's 3-4 times your budget......... so acepting the fact that what you REALLY want and should get is expensive......

IMO - and it's an opinion only - the VR is worth it for the type of shooting you're discussing - even if it's 'only' the 70-300 VR.

......the irony of course being that having anything like this 30 or 40 years ago was inconceivable......

Yeah, the 70-300 VR isn't 'as good' as some other lenses but it's one hell of an improvement over what most people could dream of getting with the best optics you could buy a few decades earlier. just my opinion.
 

Trenton Romulox

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I'm going with the 80-200mm soon myself, just because the optical quality is the same, if not better, than the 70-200mm VR, but quite a bit cheaper. I don't need VR. But if you do, go with the 70-200mm VR for sure! I've heard nothing but great things 'bout it.
 

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I'm going with the 80-200mm soon myself, just because the optical quality is the same, if not better, than the 70-200mm VR, but quite a bit cheaper. I don't need VR. But if you do, go with the 70-200mm VR for sure! I've heard nothing but great things 'bout it.

Err your joking right? You comparing the same lenses? Same if not better is hardly what it's like. On the wide angle the 80-200 AF D is significantly better, and it keeps it's awesome quality all the way to the 200mm range. The 70-300 on the other hand is average but not poor by any means at 70mm and quality quickly drops from there. The lens is to put it bluntly useless at 300mm. Acceptable images can under good conditions be pulled through it at 200mm.

The 70-200mm f/2.8 AF-S is quite a bit better than the 80-200mm f/2.8 AF, but then were you expecting something else? There's more than $800 price difference on those here. The 80-200 is everything you'd expect from a pro lens bearing in mind that the lens design is VERY old and it is no longer on par with any current pro level lens. That said it's currently the only lens in my collection I think will actually survive a fall.
 
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Err your joking right? You comparing the same lenses? Same if not better is hardly what it's like. On the wide angle the 80-200 AF D is significantly better, and it keeps it's awesome quality all the way to the 200mm range. The 70-300 on the other hand is average but not poor by any means at 70mm and quality quickly drops from there. The lens is to put it bluntly useless at 300mm. Acceptable images can under good conditions be pulled through it at 200mm.

The 70-200mm f/2.8 AF-S is quite a bit better than the 80-200mm f/2.8 AF, but then were you expecting something else? There's more than $800 price difference on those here. The 80-200 is everything you'd expect from a pro lens bearing in mind that the lens design is VERY old and it is no longer on par with any current pro level lens. That said it's currently the only lens in my collection I think will actually survive a fall.

I think he was comparing the 80-200 2.8 with the 70-200 2.8 VR. I think the 80-200 has marginally less image quality than the VR, but at less than half the cost used. If I had my druthers I would definetely get the 70-200 2.8 VR as it's an absolutely amazing lens. Unfortunately I don't have that kind of money to spend (yet at least), so I have to investigate cheaper options until the day I can start dropping thousands on nikkor pro-level 2.8's.

That said, if I could find an 80-200 AF-S in my price range (which is very doubtful), that would be my first choice, and I'd pick it up immediately. There was one on ebay yesterday in the morning that was pretty dinged up but had good, scratch free, glass for $475 buy out. After I came back realizing the very apparent differences in the 80-200 ED and the 80-200 2.8D IF ED AF-S to buy it out, someone had jumped on it. Doh!

The 70-200 VR is just way out of the ballpark for now.

The Sigma 70-200 f2.8 HSM looks like the best option and will most likely be what I get. It has everything I want and need for a good price, plus it's as solid as a brick from what I hear.
 

Garbz

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Yep that makes more sense. The 80-200 AF-S is rare. They discontinued it very soon after it was released to make way for the 70-200 AF-S and to get pros to switch to the new lens. That's the downside at this grade of lens you really pay a lot for little difference. The image quality on the 80-200 AF the 80-200 AF-S and the 70-200 AF-S is very similar with the latter ones being slightly better, the real advantage though is the motors and VR.

If you have a D200 I would still consider the 80-200 AF. The camera's motor is sufficiently fast to track every moving object I've tried the only downside being a strong torque action you can feel. If you have a D80 or below I would really look at the AF-S version if it can be found.
 
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I have a d80. I played with the 80-200 ED AF at a photo shop on a d70 and the focusing was slow and hunted a lot. I don't think I would consider that lens at all, the AF-S on the other hand would be nice to have. It looks like a neck and neck tie between the Sigma and the Nikkor 80-200 AF-S, with sigma being affordable, and the Nikkor being uber.
 

Trenton Romulox

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From what I heard, the 80-200 was of better build quality than the 70-200, but also heavier. I have not actually checked the validity of that statement though, so someone feel free to correct me. Now, I personally use auto-focus about 1 in every 1,000 shots, but that's just me. Everyone is different.
 

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I was considering the same options. I went with the 80-200 AF-S and love it to pieces. It's pretty hefty, but I figure it's just a nice workout for my arms ;)
 
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From what I heard, the 80-200 was of better build quality than the 70-200, but also heavier. I have not actually checked the validity of that statement though, so someone feel free to correct me. Now, I personally use auto-focus about 1 in every 1,000 shots, but that's just me. Everyone is different.

I've used the 70-200 VR and that thing is f'ing heavy. It's way heavier than the pull-zoom 80-200 ED. I'm not sure how it compares to the AF-S version of the 80-200, I imagine they are similar.

Price is of importance or I'd already have the AF-S 80-200, I'm trying to sell as much of my old random crap on ebay to afford this lens, but it's still a ways off. That's why I was considering the 70-300 and the sigma.
 

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