70-200 VR-II early findings

Started Nov 30, 2009 | Discussions thread
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jean bernier Veteran Member • Posts: 3,176
70-200 VR-II early findings

Just received the new lens. For my work, the vignetting and extreme corner sharpness was unacceptable. Please let's not argue over this: what suits me may not suit you. I made my decision and went for it. If you use DX, most of these FX shortcomings are non-issues.

Methodology: FX format (D3X), NEF format, tripod, Live View Tripod with contrast detection AF, mirror up for sharpness evaluation shots, and vignette control to OFF all the way. Vignetting was evaluated by opening files in NX-2, and playing with exposure slider until corner density matches original center density. Results were rounded off for clarity.

I first checked center sharpness, not expecting surprises. Nothing new that we already know: center sharpness of VR-II is slightly above center of VR-I, but nothing to write home about. Extreme corner sharpness of VR-I, no matter how you stop it down , can't touch corner sharpness of VR-II at f:2,8. Now, that's impressive.
On less problem that bugged me.

The vignette issue is a little more challenging. Here are my (un-scientific results):

VR-I f:2;8 70mm 1,5 stop vignette

VR-II_ f:2;8_ 70mm 0,8

VR-I_ f:2;8_ 105mm_ 1,7

VR-II_ f:2;8_ 105mm_ 1,0

VR-I f:2;8 200mm_ 2,0

VR-II_ f:2;8_ 200mm_ 1,3

Surprised? the new lens is far from exempt of vignette. And it will always be that way as long as lenses "just" cover the format in use. That's what happens with the old VR-I on DX: most of the vignetting and bad extreme corners are simply cropped out, so these have never been an issue in the recent past.

VR-I_ f:5;6_ 70mm_ 0,5

VR-II_ f:5;6_ 70mm_ 0,25

VR-I_ f:5;6_ 105mm_ 0,7

VR-II_ f:5;6_ 105mm_ 0,25

VR-I f:5,6 200mm_ 0,8

VR-II_ f:5;6_ 200mm_ 0,7

Stopping down really helps both lenses. IN-camera vignette control set to high can eliminate most of the vignette at these levels.

VR-I_ f:10_ 70mm_ 0,2

VR-II_ f:10_ 70mm_ negligible

VR-I_ f:10_ 105mm_ 0,3

VR-II_ f:10_ 105mm_ negligible

VR-I_ f:10_ 200mm_ 0,25

VR-II_ f:10_ 200mm_ 0,3

Both lenses are very close. Not sure my money is wisely spent on the new lens at this critical aperture (most useful aperture for what we do in the studio). This little extra sure comes at a stiff price.

And now, the most unusual finding: my copy of the lens is on the short side !

the same object, taken by 70-200 VR-II is 97% the size (linear measurement) of the same object taken by 70-200 VR-I. No biggie, but wait:

an object taken by 70-200 VR-II is only 89% the linear size of the same object by 70-200 VR-I.

So my lens is shorter and wider than the old one. Exif shows 200mm when shots look like they've been taken at 180mm...! Sample variation? You bet !
I'd be very grateful if someone could check both lenses and post on this...

Hope this helps.

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Jean Bernier

All photographs are only more or less credible illusions

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