Help evaluating a 70-200vr2

Started Jul 16, 2014 | Discussions thread
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Help evaluating a 70-200vr2
Jul 16, 2014

Hello everybody.  This is my first post on the forum but I've read this site (including forum posts) for quite a while.

I've just recently started buying some good modern FX glass, to build upon my current (soon to be backup) kit that consists of some DX and old used FX lenses.  The first lens I wanted was a 70-200 vr2, which I've now had in my hands for a couple days.  I'm thinking I may need to return this lens for another copy, so I'm posting here for a sanity check.  For something this expensive I want the amazing performance across the frame I've read about in so many places, but I don't want any ignorance on my part to make me reach the wrong conclusions.

I'll first try describing what I'm seeing, and I can add photos later if necessary.  I should also mention that I suspect this lens was already tried out and returned by somebody else (bought from Amazon) because of little things like the warranty card being askew in the box and curled up on one side.

Note that I only have a DX body available right now, so the issues I'm talking about are across the cropped frame, not even full frame.

Basically, when shooting a flat test chart maybe 15 feet away at 200mm 2.8, the top two DX corners look about as good as the center, the bottom left looks a bit worse, and the bottom right looks significantly worse.

Moving outdoors and shooting from maybe 30 feet away at a single target, center focusing and recomposing, the results are largely the same.  The bottom right is noticeably worse.

In both of these circumstances, I get the same results when flipping the camera upside down using the VR2's rotating tripod collar.  I did this just in case there was some geometry problem with my targets.  The lower right still looks worst (but upside down of course).

After doing all this I returned to the flat test chart at about 15 feet.  Using live view I used CDAF on the center target and got the same results of the bottom right DX corner target being noticeably worse and the bottom in general being somewhat worse than the top and center.  I then moved the CDAF focusing box around to each of the five targets (center plus 4 DX corners).  Each target looked good when that particular target was the focus point.  When the bottom right was my focus point, the rest of the targets looked decent, just not fantastic.  However when the upper left was my focus point, the bottom right looked terrible, basically completely out of focus.

It seems to me that all points of the lens, at least within the DX frame, are capable of producing a sharp image but that the focal plane is tilted or something.  When shooting actual people at short distances, this may not be a big deal, and this lens in fact has given me some astonishing images wide open at 100ISO.  However I'm concerned that upon moving to FX and when shooting things far away, it may not be possible to get large areas of the image sharp.

Does this sound like the kind of thing one immediately exchanges a lens for, or do you more experienced folks thing I'm missing something, or does it make no sense without pictures?

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