USED 70-200 F2.8 VR II or NEW 70-200 F4 (VR III)?

Started Jul 28, 2013 | Discussions
Babylon7
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USED 70-200 F2.8 VR II or NEW 70-200 F4 (VR III)?
Jul 28, 2013

Let me start off by saying that I know there are other posts comparing the 70-200 F2.8 VR II against the 70-200 F4, but my main question has rather to do with what I use it with and value.

I'm in the market for a long-range zoom, and at brand new prices for both, the F4 is a very compelling choice compared to the F2.8 VR II.

I live in Toronto where there is a 13% sales tax. If I was to buy the F4 brand new (haven't seen any used yet in my area), the lowest price I can get it for is about $1400 (taxes included). However, if I was to get the F2.8 VR II used, I can probably find it in the $1900 range if I haggle a bit (no taxes, but also no warranty; but not really that good of a deal besides saving taxes). But this is better than paying into the $2300-$2400 range (taxes included) for a new copy.

I'm not too concern about image quality around the edges since I'm shooting DX with my trusted D90, and there also lies the problem - the quality of high ISO shots are obviously not on par with the D7X00.

In my mind, the F2.8 obviously has an extra stop over the F4, but the F4 has the new VR III, which also gives an extra stop over the F2.8 VR II (if you were to believe Nikon's marketing dept).

If I have this correct, the F2.8's real advantage, besides being much better built and maybe some noticeable increase in depth of field, would only be transparent when you are actually shooting at F2.8; whereas the extra stop worth's VR in the F4 would function at all apertures, thus will allow me to maintain a one-step faster shutter speed (perceived advantage) given the same aperture and ISO (which is useful for my shaky hands and when not shooting wide open). Again, this is what I imagine, so I don't know how this compares to the real world usage and I could also be wrong.

With all this in mind and the potential $500-$600 dollar difference instead of a $1000 difference, which would be a better choice?

Thanks!

Nikon D90
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RichyjV
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Re: USED 70-200 F2.8 VR II or NEW 70-200 F4 (VR III)?
In reply to Babylon7, Jul 28, 2013

Ok well firstly the image quality is very similar, just slightly favouring the f4 several year newer lens as you might expect. The f4 build quality is very good, the f2.8 is like a tank - don't think the f4 is poor or flimsy, it certainly isn't, it just doesn't have that very high level of weather sealing. The f4 is half the weight, which for many is a gamechanger. If I am doing up to 2000m of ascent occasionally and carrying up a couple of lenses then it really matters - the best lens in that circumstance is the one you will actually carry with you all the time.

The f4 isn't "VR III", yes it is 1 stop better VR than the 2.8 here, but the II refers to the second model of 70-200 2.8, not the quality of its VR, an incredibly common naming confusion that somehow persists.

Now whether you get one stop of slower speed handholding is debatable, what I can say is that the VR on the f4 is brilliant, and I can shoot handheld on a D800E at f4 as slow as 1/20 and 1/12 at 200mm and still get some perfectly sharp shots - but I have pretty good technique and don't think that means every shot that slow will be useable.

BUT but but, just because you can shoot (lets say) a stop slower, doesn't mean it will work in real life for you, because at those speeds you will get motion blur from anything that is moving. This is the important difference between f2.8 and f4 here - shutter speed often matters.

If you are shooting things that move, and expect to be shooting a lot at f4 in low light and hoping the VR will compensate, then you are better off with the 2.8. This means weddings and sports indoors and many other things.

Here is a quick rough and ready table from my own experience:

f2.8 II       f4

IQ/10                     9             9.2 - opinion: largely irrelevant for most users

build quality/10       9.8           8.5 - opinion: same again for most users

Sports                    Yes           OK

Low light                Yes           OK

Landscapes            Great         Even better (half the weight)

Studio work           Depends if you need 2.8, otherwise judge by IQ

So for me I got the f4 and haven't looked back for a second. The weight is low (lower than the 24-70 2.8), so many people including myself think that you don't need to mount to tripod using an additional-purchase tripod collar, so when doing your value assessment that needs to be considered.

For sell on value, the f4 is new so will certainly not be replaced for quite a few years, the f2.8 is 2009 so probably won't be replaced for a couple of years (in the old and now getting debatable holy trinity there is much more demand for a 24-70 2.8 refresh with superior optics/VR or both).

Hope this helps.

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Regards
Rich

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bakhtyar kurdi
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Re: USED 70-200 F2.8 VR II or NEW 70-200 F4 (VR III)?
In reply to RichyjV, Jul 28, 2013

I am selling my mint condition 2.8VRII for $1750, I am in Winnipeg.

Aden camera sells F4 for $1239, yes you are right, it comes to $1400 after taxes.

I settled on a Sigma 100-300/4

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Babylon7
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Re: USED 70-200 F2.8 VR II or NEW 70-200 F4 (VR III)?
In reply to RichyjV, Jul 28, 2013

RichyjV wrote:

Ok well firstly the image quality is very similar, just slightly favouring the f4 several year newer lens as you might expect. The f4 build quality is very good, the f2.8 is like a tank - don't think the f4 is poor or flimsy, it certainly isn't, it just doesn't have that very high level of weather sealing. The f4 is half the weight, which for many is a gamechanger. If I am doing up to 2000m of ascent occasionally and carrying up a couple of lenses then it really matters - the best lens in that circumstance is the one you will actually carry with you all the time.

The f4 isn't "VR III", yes it is 1 stop better VR than the 2.8 here, but the II refers to the second model of 70-200 2.8, not the quality of its VR, an incredibly common naming confusion that somehow persists.

Now whether you get one stop of slower speed handholding is debatable, what I can say is that the VR on the f4 is brilliant, and I can shoot handheld on a D800E at f4 as slow as 1/20 and 1/12 at 200mm and still get some perfectly sharp shots - but I have pretty good technique and don't think that means every shot that slow will be useable.

BUT but but, just because you can shoot (lets say) a stop slower, doesn't mean it will work in real life for you, because at those speeds you will get motion blur from anything that is moving. This is the important difference between f2.8 and f4 here - shutter speed often matters.

If you are shooting things that move, and expect to be shooting a lot at f4 in low light and hoping the VR will compensate, then you are better off with the 2.8. This means weddings and sports indoors and many other things.

Here is a quick rough and ready table from my own experience:

f2.8 II f4

IQ/10 9 9.2 - opinion: largely irrelevant for most users

build quality/10 9.8 8.5 - opinion: same again for most users

Sports Yes OK

Low light Yes OK

Landscapes Great Even better (half the weight)

Studio work Depends if you need 2.8, otherwise judge by IQ

So for me I got the f4 and haven't looked back for a second. The weight is low (lower than the 24-70 2.8), so many people including myself think that you don't need to mount to tripod using an additional-purchase tripod collar, so when doing your value assessment that needs to be considered.

For sell on value, the f4 is new so will certainly not be replaced for quite a few years, the f2.8 is 2009 so probably won't be replaced for a couple of years (in the old and now getting debatable holy trinity there is much more demand for a 24-70 2.8 refresh with superior optics/VR or both).

Hope this helps.

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Regards
Rich

Hi Rich - thanks for your comments. Just curious, in relation to your experience:

"...shoot handheld on a D800E at f4 as slow as 1/20 and 1/12 at 200mm and still get some perfectly sharp shots."

Were you able to get the same sharp results with the F2.8 at just as slow and at 200mm?

Thanks, Eric

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Babylon7
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Re: USED 70-200 F2.8 VR II or NEW 70-200 F4 (VR III)?
In reply to bakhtyar kurdi, Jul 28, 2013

Thanks for the offer on the 2.8, although I prefer to be able to try it out for something in this price range.

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bobcat3610
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Re: USED 70-200 F2.8 VR II or NEW 70-200 F4 (VR III)?
In reply to Babylon7, Jul 28, 2013

For me the deciding factor besides price of course was the fact that the VR II is a heavy focus breather. Only yielding 135mm at it's MFD. The F/4 Not only doesn't retract focal length as you focus closer but also has a closer MFD so if close up performance is important to you that's something worth considering .

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RichyjV
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Re: USED 70-200 F2.8 VR II or NEW 70-200 F4 (VR III)?
In reply to Babylon7, Jul 28, 2013

I haven't done extensive handheld tests for slow shutter speeds on the 2.8, I played around quite a lot with one, and had the f4 not been released I would have got the 2.8, but I'm sure there are plenty of folk here who have! The only reason I have on the f4 is because someone asked on the forum a couple of months ago and I was curious as to what the answer was, and it is easy to test.

Even then, depends on your focus distance as mentioned above, there is huge focus breathing on the 2.8 so if you are testing 200mm at close range for handheld speeds you aren't really comparing like with like.

But I wouldn't get fixated on numbers like these handheld ones, it is hard to qualify the difference exactly, and the benefits of one or the other in the end come down to weight/price/2.8?/a bit better vr, with a few exceptions for outdoors shooters who need weatherproofing preferring the 2.8/shooters needing far corner details where the f4 is a bit stronger/people for whom focus breathing is too much.

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Rich

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Babylon7
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Re: USED 70-200 F2.8 VR II or NEW 70-200 F4 (VR III)?
In reply to bobcat3610, Jul 28, 2013

bobcat3610 wrote:

For me the deciding factor besides price of course was the fact that the VR II is a heavy focus breather. Only yielding 135mm at it's MFD. The F/4 Not only doesn't retract focal length as you focus closer but also has a closer MFD so if close up performance is important to you that's something worth considering .

Good point, maybe they'll have that improved for the next version.

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Babylon7
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Re: USED 70-200 F2.8 VR II or NEW 70-200 F4 (VR III)?
In reply to RichyjV, Jul 28, 2013

RichyjV wrote:

I haven't done extensive handheld tests for slow shutter speeds on the 2.8, I played around quite a lot with one, and had the f4 not been released I would have got the 2.8, but I'm sure there are plenty of folk here who have! The only reason I have on the f4 is because someone asked on the forum a couple of months ago and I was curious as to what the answer was, and it is easy to test.

Even then, depends on your focus distance as mentioned above, there is huge focus breathing on the 2.8 so if you are testing 200mm at close range for handheld speeds you aren't really comparing like with like.

But I wouldn't get fixated on numbers like these handheld ones, it is hard to qualify the difference exactly, and the benefits of one or the other in the end come down to weight/price/2.8?/a bit better vr, with a few exceptions for outdoors shooters who need weatherproofing preferring the 2.8/shooters needing far corner details where the f4 is a bit stronger/people for whom focus breathing is too much.

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Regards
Rich

From your post and others it looks like the majority of people actually favour the F4 based on price/performance. I suppose I need a good combination speed and VR and I can wait for better deal on a used F2.8 VR II. After all, I got my D90 + grip + 17-55 2.8 package used for $1100!

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chuhsi
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Re: USED 70-200 F2.8 VR II or NEW 70-200 F4 (VR III)?
In reply to Babylon7, Jul 28, 2013

I was in a similar situation a month ago. Some thoughts:

Even if the price difference was only $500 or so, which lens better suits your needs? I really wanted the 2.8 because I almost always shoot wide open, but I couldn't comfortably carry the lens all the time because I always have my little kids with me. An f/4 lens that get used more often is more useful to me.

One is new and one is used. Some people care. Also, if you buy the f/4 new, you're going to take a resale price hit for sure whereas you might be able to resell the used 2.8 for the same price down the road.

You can probably get a used f/4 for around $1150. That's the real comparison.

 chuhsi's gear list:chuhsi's gear list
Nikon Df Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G +2 more
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Babylon7
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Re: USED 70-200 F2.8 VR II or NEW 70-200 F4 (VR III)?
In reply to chuhsi, Jul 28, 2013

The F4 is still fairly new and probably not many people have it - so I haven't been able to find a used one yet.

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DavidPonting
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Re: USED 70-200 F2.8 VR II or NEW 70-200 F4 (VR III)?
In reply to Babylon7, Jul 28, 2013

You don't say exactly what you are using it for!

If you're planning to shoot sports, weddings or other action/low-light stuff then the choice is a no-brainer - the f/2.8, because you need f/2.8 for those things (an extra bit of VR doesn't help with subject motion, so the better VR doesn't replace the need for a fast lens)! Alternatively, you can use it as a club - it's built to last, but you pay in weight and cost.

Otherwise you probably want the f/4...

The main factors between them are:

f/2.8 better:

  • Aperture: the f/2.8 obviously wins this!
  • Build quality: Tank-like vs Infantry-carrier-like - the f/4 is good, but nowhere near as good as the f/2.8

Too close to call / situation dependent:

  • IQ: Now we're splitting hairs - the f/2.8 probably has the edge, but it's a very tight margin.
  • Intimidation factor: the f/2.8 is a big lens - if you're shooting people that will get freaked out by a huge lens pointing their way (street photos, kids...), then you might prefer the f/4

f/4 better:

  • VR: Looking at Nikon's CIPA VR table (here (NR)), then you get half a stop more VR-ability with the f/4
  • Close focus: the f/4 focusses closer and doesn't breathe anywhere near as much, if at all - resulting in a much greater magnification ratio.
  • Weight: the f/4 wins easily (though if you need a tripod collar the difference falls somewhat)
  • Cost: the f/4 wins easily (though if you need a tripod collar the difference falls somewhat)
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kormendi_adam
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Do not make VR a deciding factor
In reply to Babylon7, Jul 28, 2013

I don't believe a word of this marketing stuff by Nikon, and I seriously doubt that there is any difference between the VR capability of those lenses.

I have a lowly 70-300 VR, and I can take razor sharp shots at 300mm and 1/6 sec (or even 1/3) with a D300s. That would be 450mm on an FX camera. That is already in 'insane territory'.

And I bet that VR on the 70-200 is no worse. Now, how can that be improved? VR can be faster or quieter or less proun to failure, but I don't think the VR on the F4 can give you a 1-stop advantage over that of the f2.8 (which is undisputedly one of Nikon's best lenses ever made).

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Nikon D700 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF Nikkor 35mm f/2D Nikon AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D +1 more
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hajagosb
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Re: USED 70-200 F2.8 VR II or NEW 70-200 F4 (VR III)?
In reply to Babylon7, Jul 28, 2013

If I would shoot DX I would go for a Sigma 50-150 2.8 OS. You can get it around 1000$. I had the previous version with no stabilization which I liked a lot. Works great on a D90. It's almost half the weight than the 70-200 which makes it easier to carry around.

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Nikon D800E Nikon D810 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G +3 more
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bobcat3610
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Re: Do not make VR a deciding factor
In reply to kormendi_adam, Jul 28, 2013

Something else to consider when deciding between new and used glass. Nikon will only honor their warranty for the original purchaser. If you go with a new F/4 you've got 5 years of worry free coverage. If you go used and your lens needs repair (and these are very complex lenses) then it's all on you.

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Babylon7
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Re: USED 70-200 F2.8 VR II or NEW 70-200 F4 (VR III)?
In reply to DavidPonting, Jul 28, 2013

Thanks for your input, David.

I actually didn't say what I used it for because I generally shoot a bit of everything, so I was hoping to get some opinions on the overall package/value rather than for a specific type of situation. But you have pointed out what I have gotten from others is that the F4 seems to be a better package value over the F2.8.

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Babylon7
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Re: Do not make VR a deciding factor
In reply to kormendi_adam, Jul 28, 2013

Hi Adam - you may be right about the real world effectiveness of VR. I Ken Rockwell's test and he found that, at least for the F2.8, the real world effectiveness of the VR is 1-stop lower than advertised (http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/70-200mm-ii.htm#vr). Personally I don't haven't tried out any of the tele-zooms so I can't comment on his conclusions.

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Babylon7
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Re: Do not make VR a deciding factor
In reply to bobcat3610, Jul 28, 2013

Yes, I do realized that. I have a 17-55 2.8 bought used and so far I haven't had any problems with it yet. But I suppose there is no guarantee for anything.

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labalaba
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Re: USED 70-200 F2.8 VR II or NEW 70-200 F4 (VR III)?
In reply to hajagosb, Jul 28, 2013

This is very straightforward.  The F2.8 lens can do things the F4 can't.  For example, whatever you shoot and on whatever body, the F2.8 will keep going later into the evening than the F4 will.  And that is not even beginning to talk about adding teleconverters.  The only reasons to consider the F4 over the F2.8 would be because you just don't want a lens that big, or because you can't afford it.  And this comes from someone who owns the F4 and is happy with it.

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Babylon7
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Re: USED 70-200 F2.8 VR II or NEW 70-200 F4 (VR III)?
In reply to hajagosb, Jul 28, 2013

Thanks! This lens does look very interesting indeed. It covers the focal lengths (56-69) that I'd miss if I go for the 70-200; it is 50 shorter on the long end but I rarely need that kind of zoom range.

The price seems reasonable for a 2.8 OS. I'll definitely add this to my list for consideration.

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