Epic fail? 70-200s of all makes among least reliable lenses
Which words spring to mind when you think about 70-200mm zoom lenses - solid and dependable or fragile and unreliable? Lensrentals' Roger Cicala has just published an analysis of the failure rates of the 12,000 lenses he rents out, and the results may surprise you. Even having taken into account popularity and accidental damage, five 70-200s turn up in his highest failure rate table - including the latest models from Canon and Nikon.
As always with Roger's work, we'd recommend reading his entire article before commenting - partly because he openly discusses the inherent weaknesses and gaps of his analyses, but mainly because it's really interesting.
Even having removed instances of the lenses being damaged, Cicala found the Nikon 70-200mm F2.8 VR II, Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 OS, Canon 70-200mm F2.8 IS II, 70-200mm F4 IS and Sony 70-200mm F2.8 to be amongst the eighteen lenses that last the least amount of rental weeks between requiring servicing. Indeed all of them needed repairing nearly twice as often as the average lens (which would last for a little over 100 rental weeks between services).
So why is it these reputedly 'bomb-proof' workhorses need constant maintenance? A closer look at the Lensrentals figures sheds a little light on some specifics - 40% of failures of the Nikkor come from jammed zoom mechanisms, while all the Sonys suffered from AF motor failures, suggesting some of the problems stem from specific design flaws.
|A close-up of that adjustment screw - just one of many widgets-per-cubic-centimeter typical in a 70-200mm lens. Picture courtesy of Lensrentals|
We spoke to Cicala, wondering whether it was their very reputation for durability that was the 70-200's undoing. 'I think that's part of it' he agrees: 'they tend to be hard-use lenses, with sporting events and action shooting being the order of the day.'
We also wondered whether it was a consequence of shipping such large, heavy lenses around - something Cicala had also considered: 'they are heavy and when they bang into a table, hanging from a neck strap, or get dropped during shipping, that's a lot of momentum jarring the insides.'
But there's more to it than this, he suggests: 'supertelephoto primes are also heavy and get shipped just as much but they hardly ever fail. This could be because they tend to be monopod or tripod mounted, and people baby them (they're aware that dropping a rented 600mm f/4 IS would cost a fortune), but I don't think that explains the whole difference.'
The final factor, he says, is complexity: 'When we disassemble any of the 70-200 F2.8s, the insides are exceedingly robust and well put together, but they're also probably the most complex as far as widgets-per-cubic centimeter of any lens. The supertele primes aren't nearly as jam-packed - there's a lot more space between components, usually.'
So, while Cicala's data doesn't allow us to pin-down precisely why his 70-200s keep failing, it's something worth considering, before you consider actually trying to use your 70-200mm to hammer nails in.
|Waffles with fruits by Coolinarka|
from Food photography (desserts)
|Vestrahorn Frozen Reflection by Will B Milner|
from Ice cold
Canon's new EF-S 35mm F2.8 Macro lens is not only compact and affordable, but it is a pretty good performer as well. We put it to the test with eyeballs, flowers and even some antique cameras. Read more
Google has updated its Photos mobile apps to support the recently announced service for creating and printing physical photo books.
Europeana Photography is a new online image archive that includes more than 2 million historical photographs from European collections in 34 countries, covering the first 100 years of photography. Read more
Manufacturers love to state CRI (color rendering index) numbers to prove that their LED lights will provide great color, but a single CRI score doesn't tell the whole story.
NASA's Juno spacecraft is sending back its first images from Jovean orbit, and they're beautiful. Read more
We got our hands on the first zoom lens available for Fujifim's new digital medium format system. Check out the samples
As summer really gets going over here in the Northern hemisphere, the team at Imaging Resource has put together a list of the best cameras for backpacking.
The Ukrainian Parliament banned statues of Lenin in 2015. Two years later, the monuments no longer adorn public buildings or stand watch over town squares, but they're still there.
If you had to choose one camera to bring along for the ultimate West coast road trip, what would it be? DPR's Sam Spencer choose the X100F. Read more
The a9 boasts impressive capability. As more examples of it in practice pour in, Sony's claims hold up. Watch the a9 track and maintain focus on a rapidly approaching basketball.
Last week, more than a million tonnes of Californian coastline slid into the ocean, taking part of Highway 1 with it. Check out the remodeling in photos taken before and after the landslide.
Even after eighteen months of reviewing the latest, greatest, shiniest and must-buy-me-est new gear, DPReview staffer Carey Rose has continued to use older DSLR cameras for his freelance work. But now, that might be changing. Read more
Sony is the world's leading mirrorless camera brand but remains third for ILCs overall, it's said in a presentation to investors. A focus on high value cameras and lenses should boost operating income, it says. Read more
It's nicknamed the 'Cycloptic Mustard Monster,' and is a 3D printed medium format camera. Read more
The new NanGuang LED lights are battery powered and come with accessories including filters and diffusers.
Have you been telling yourself, "Hey, I really need one of those 8K displays?" A video about Dell's new 8K monitor shows you what to expect. Is it really that much better?
Tamara Lackey, a Nikon ambassador USA and pro shooter, discusses embracing self-consciousness as a means of connecting with subjects.
There's a new Spiderman movie coming out and the poster been generating a lot of online chatter. Mostly about how it looks like the creation of a fevered teenager that just discovered Photoshop.
An honest defense of the system's merits, with photos as proof.
Copyright disputes are no fun at all. 'Binded' is a new startup that aims to simplify the process of registering - and enforcing - copyright for photographers. Read more
Not everyone wants to pay a premium for a long zoom camera. Thankfully, there are many reasonably priced cameras available, though they won't offer the same image quality as enthusiast models. In this updated roundup we look at big zoom cameras with more consumer-friendly price tags. Read more
Think Tank Photo has updated two of its popular bag lines with improvements to functionality. Read more
We’ve all seen Bob Jackson’s Pulitzer Prize winning photo, but there's another.
The sample footage looks good.
It will automatically pick the best camera settings depending on shooting conditions. It even promises enhanced functionality for your camera, like exposure and focus stacking. It already supports many cameras from Canon, Fuji, Nikon and Sony. Read more
As if $13,950 wasn’t enough to pay for a special edition lens, the Leica Store in San Francisco is offering a prototype of said lens for $24,995. Read more
Make those old photos disappear without deleting them forever.
Firmware updates enable 10 fps shooting with adapted A-mount lenses, and faster startup times and better compatibility for 20 fps shooting when using native lenses on the a9.
Fujifilm has released firmware updates for its camera models X-T2, X-Pro2, GFX 50s, X-T20, X100F and X-T1 and updates to three of its software products.
A 22 year-old Romanian photographer uses his DJI Phantom 4 drone to capture unique perspectives of the city where he now lives.