F4 is not F2.8...some thoughts

Started Oct 26, 2012 | Discussions thread
em_dee_aitch Veteran Member • Posts: 3,675
Re: F4 is not F2.8...some thoughts

Shotcents wrote:

I'm a little surprised by many of the comments here with the release of the new 70-200 F4 VR. Regardless of what you read here do consider the following:

1) The lens is a fairly slow F4. This is not only about low light shooting. The biggest issue with the F4 limitation is that you have less control over depth of field. The 70-200 2.8 (and also the 80-200 2.8) are well regarded for their portrait ability. This is NOT only about bokeh; it's also about having part of a face or flower fall elegantly out of the focused field. The 70-200 F4 will not be as good as the faster lenses in this respect. Naturally bokeh will also be of lesser quality.

It's a difference of exactly 1 stop, which is what it is. The DoF difference is not huge, and the bokeh will likely be fine. Since this new lens does not have the huge focus breathing behavior of the VR2 (judging by its disclosed max magnification), it will actually be a functional 200mm lens and thus will actually be capable of getting shallower DoF and better bokeh at any distance less than 20 feet than will the VR2 version, which will turn your argument on its head. I hate to be the one to point that out to you, but it is absolutely true

I'll tell you where 2.8 really matters: 2.8 really matters if you are shooting sports at a long distance. That is where that extra stop of blur will get you some real value, hence the super teles... But at portrait distance? Please. F5.6 makes great portraits at close distance, and frequently even f8 or f9 is needed to avoid the "arbitrarily soft" look if you are shooting a tight head and shoulders shot. Believe it or not, not everyone wants to be photographed with only their eyeballs in focus, which makes for great lens ads or "gee whiz" shots but should not in reality be overused any more than one would overuse a fisheye. And fast 85mm lenses are abundant. The need for F/2.8 sometimes does not mean Nikon should skip the opportunity to make a great F4 lens that the market has been wanting for years.

3) If the focal breathing of the 70-200 VRII is a bother then consider the VRI version.

The VR1 is a great lens, and I had a hard time selling off mine, but... We should not forget that it has extreme vignetting when wide open on FX format, and it is very resolution limited outside the DX area. Also, the VR2 wide open gets as much resolution as VR1 does at about 4.5, and that is in the central area where VR1 is strongest. Just advising someone to go back to VR1 without those reminders is very incomplete advice.

4) As for the size weight factor, I respectfully disagree that the 70-200 F4 is much of an improvement. It's bigger than the 24-70 2.8 and that is NOT a fun lens to take on a trail. If weight/size are serious issues than the 70-300 VR is lighter and has more reach. I seriously doubt the new 70-200 F4 will best the 70-300. They're both slow lenses and my 70-300vr can swing with my wonderful 70-200 VRII in some situations. Pixel peepers will cry otherwise; shooters know the real story.

Countless of us who owned both F4LIS and F2.8LISmk1 in the Canon world (heck, even F2.8LISmk2) would respectfully disagree with you. When I owned both I actually gravitated to the F4 during any situation in which F4 would suffice, because it was such a delight to carry and use, far better optically than 2.8ISmk1. I also used it during travel, and that extra 1.5 pounds matters a lot when scaling down for travel, especially when you scale down multiple lenses, not just one.

Your point about "shooters know the real story" is laughable. I realize this is an entertainment thread, so maybe you want me to laugh, but plenty of "real shooters" (professional ones) are seen every day bringing home the bacon and the great images with the 4IS lens. The photo editors are not crying about the fact the images are not f2.8. Then you have to concede the reality that many of us with the 2.8 lens are stopping down to f4 as often as photographically possible to get the significant uptick in image quality that accompanies that move. Finally, if you are a professional and not pixel peeping at least sometimes, then you are not responsibly checking the quality of your work or the functioning of your equipment and will eventually embarrass yourself... I used the F4LIS at plenty of weddings and events, and not one client or photo colleague looked at an image and said "oh, your DoF is not shallow enough" or "oh, you should have used 2.8."

5) At least for the moment, the Nikon 70-200 F4 price is a cold slap in the face. It's overpriced by about 250 dollars and not including the foot (and charging an arm and a foot for it) is really sad. Just because price gouging Canon does the same does not make it "okay."

Ya, OK. I agree on this point. It is overpriced, but Nikon lenses often are. This is not a problem unique to this lens.

6) I really don't know what folks are talking about when it comes to sharpness. My 70-200 VRII is beautifully sharp wide open. Stopped down the improvement is mainly in the corners, but subtle because it's just always sharp. I expect the 70-200 F4 to be sharp. Stopped down to 5.6 it may be sharper than the 70-200 2.8, but that is pretty meaningless since the former is insanely sharp as it stands. An improvement has to matter to the image. Still, the main point of the 70-200 VRII is that you can shoot at 2.8 all day long.

VR2 is plenty sharp for anything that I do for pay. I'm betting that the F4 lens will be notably sharper in the outer 30 to 40 percent of the frame or so and thus better for landscapes/travel.

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David Hill
San Francisco & San Jose, CA | Austin, TX
Wedding Photographer and Apparent Gearhead

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