F4 is not F2.8...some thoughts

Started Oct 26, 2012 | Discussions thread
OP Shotcents Veteran Member • Posts: 4,472
Re: F4 is not F2.8...some thoughts

em_dee_aitch wrote:

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

This shot was taken at a distance of about 12-14 feet wide open. The focus is exactly how I wanted with the in-focus zone being one side of her face and then falling off. The bokeh at this distance is only just acceptable to me. Assuming the F4 version gives 30mm more magnification at this distance, you would NOT achieve this bokeh or focus effect. I know this because I compared the VRII to the VRI and they achieved nearly the same effects. The thing I disliked MOST about the VRII was the loss of resolution when forced to crop down images.

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.

You speak of focus control in portrait work like it's a dead art. It's a COMMON technique and most owners of fast glass of this type use it all the time. It's a valuable attribute and you simply can't dismiss it.

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.

I have no idea what you are talking about. I owned both the VRI, VRII along with the D300, D700 and now the D800. Wide open the VRII was a bit sharper in the center and had better micro contrast. But in REAL WORLD shooting they were quite close and I could easily make them look the same in post. Either lens was capable of showing the veins in an eyeball at 2.8 at 200mm. Vignetting was also correctable though I rarely found it an issue in portraits or even shooting events.

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.

I preferred my recently sold 70-200 2.8 MKII to any of the F4 lenses and it was better than my current VRII in some respects, though the VRII was natively sharper in the center by a tiny amount.

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

I know quite a few people who make money with their gear and few own F4 stuff. The MKII and VRII/VRI are what I typically see. I do admit I've seen the 16-35mm F4 in my friends bags of late. Everyone seems to love that lens as much as the 14-24.

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

I think this lens, along with the 24-120 F4 are WAY overpriced, though I do feel that making a buyer pay extra for the tripod foot is the biggest issue I have. With both items combined it would not be a huge issue to save the extra for a VRI or VRII. So in the end I consider the weight the only "big deal" for this lens. I'm looking forward to comparisons, especially portraits.

Good comments...thanks.


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