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Compared to...

This review concludes a series in which we're looking at the performance of several 70-200mm F2.8 zooms, using both 35mm full-frame and APS-C format cameras. Specifically, we're concerned with how the two well-established 70-200mm F2.8 image stabilized professional workhorse lenses from Canon and Nikon compare to the latest third party competition, with both Sigma and Tamron releasing new models in the opening months of 2008.

Of course there are some major differences between these lenses. The Canon and Nikon models are built to the very highest standards (including dust and moisture sealing), utilize super-fast and silent ultrasonic motors for focusing, and perhaps most importantly incorporate optical image stabilization systems. The Sigma and Tamron do not include the same level of environmental sealing (although both are extremely well built), and whilst the Sigma features ultrasonic focusing, the Tamron uses a simple micro motor system, which also precludes the option of full-time manual focus. However one potential advantage of the newer Sigma and Tamron designs is that both have usefully improved close focus distances of approximately 1m vs. 1.5m; both are also much cheaper than either the Nikon or Canon.

Side by side

Below you can see four fast telezooms side by side; from left to right, the Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8 IS USM, Nikon AF-S VR 70-200mm F2.8 G, Tamron 70-200mm 1:2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro, and Sigma 70-200mm 1:2.8 EX DG Apo Macro HSM II. All are well built and finished lenses which are (not surprisingly) pretty similar in size and weight, and share broadly the same design features, including internal zoom and focus mechanisms, and rotating and removable tripod mounts. The Nikon is noticeably longer and slimmer in design than the others, and the Sigma is the shortest and most compact. They also all come as standard with deep, petal-style lens hoods, and (for what it's worth) soft carry cases.

Specifications compared

 
Street price
$1700
$1625
$800
$700
Date introduced
August 2001
April 2003
December 2007
February 2008
Maximum format size
35mm full frame
35mm full frame
35mm full frame
35mm full frame
Focal length
70-200mm
70-200mm
70-200mm
70-200mm
35mm equivalent focal length(APS-C)
112-320mm
105-300mm
105-300mm (1.5x)
112-320mm (1.6x)
105-300mm (1.5x)
112-320mm (1.6x)
Diagonal Angle of view (FF)
34º - 12º
34º - 12º
34º - 12º
34º - 12º
Diagonal Angle of view (APS-C)
23º - 8º
23º - 8º
23º - 8º
23º - 8º
Maximum aperture
F2.8
F2.8
F2.8
F2.8
Minimum aperture
F32
F22
F22
F32
Lens Construction
• 23 elements / 18 groups
• 4 UD elements
• 21 elements / 15 groups
• 5 ED elements
• 18 elements / 15 groups
• 2 ELD elements
• 2 SLD elements
• 19 elements / 16 groups
• 3LD elements
Number of diaphragm blades
8, rounded
9, rounded
9
9, rounded
Minimum focus
1.4m
1.5m
1m
0.9m
Maximum magnification
0.17x at 200mm
0.16x at 200mm
0.28x at 200mm
0.32x at 200mm
AF motor type
• Ring-type ultrasonic
• Full-time manual focus
• Ring-type ultrasonic
• Full-time manual focus
• Ring-type ultrasonic
• Full-time manual focus
• Micro motor
• Manual focus clutch
Focus method
Internal
Internal
Internal
Internal
Zoom method
Internal
Internal
Internal
Internal
Image stabilization
• 3 stops
• Dual mode - Normal and panning
• 3 stops
• Auto panning detection
• Active mode
• None
• None
Filter thread
• 77mm
• Does not rotate on focus
• 77mm
• Does not rotate on focus
• 77mm
• Does not rotate on focus
• 77mm
• Does not rotate on focus
Supplied accessories

Front and rear caps
• ET-86 Hood
• LZ1324 Soft Case

Front and rear caps
• HB-29 Hood
• CL-L2 Soft Case
Front and rear caps
• Lens Hood
• Soft Case
Front and rear caps
• Lens Hood
• Soft Case
Weight
1570 g (55.4 oz)
1470g (51.8 oz)
1390g (49.0 oz)
1330g (46.9 oz)
Dimensions
86.2 mm diameter x 197 mm length
(3.4 x 7.8 in)
87mm diameter x 215mm length
(3.4 x 8.5 in)
86.6mm diameter x 184mm length
(3.4 x 7.2 in)
89.5mm diameter x 194.3mm length
(3.5 x 7.6 in)
Lens Mount
Canon EF only
Nikon F only
Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, Sony, Sigma
Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony
Other
• Dust and moisture sealing
• Supplies distance information for E-TTL II flash metering
• Dust and moisture sealing
• Reports focus distance information to camera body
• Three AF stop buttons
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52
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