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:

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.

So to use your shot below as example: At 12 feet, the 2.8 VR2 lens when set at 200mm on the zoom ring would actually give you the field of view of perhaps 155mm due to its breathing issue. The new F4 lens (as we can tell from its published magnification) will probably give you true 200mm performance at 12 feet. So it is likely that the F4 lens will give you same or even better bokeh in your example. Time will tell. We'll have to see how the comparisons go.

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.

I never said it wasn't common. I just implied that it's silly to do the "wide open, everything blurry" look 100 percent of the time, and I pointed out that other fast portrait lenses are readily available and as such that there is no reason to poo poo what will probably be a great new lens just because it is not yet another potential fast portrait lens of which we already have many... in fact from a certain perspective the VR1 2.8 zoom is still a strong portrait lens in that its characteristics are considered "flattering" in much of the portrait world, and it achieves full effective focal length (i.e. does not breath significantly).

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.

As to what I was talking about in more detail... If you ever tried taking stopped-down landscapes with the VR1 on FX, the outer 40 to 50 percent of the frame never sharpened up (to the degree of looking unfocused or defective), possibly due to severe field curvature, but really only Nikon's engineers and a small number of other optical geniuses know exactly why. This was a known issue/fact, and it was easy to see. Nothing "in post" could get back the amount of detail lost. On the other hand, that issue didn't matter for portraits or sports photography in which the outer portion is usually out of focus background.  However, if you get a chance to see VR1 and VR2 next to each other again and have some time to kill, try some "REAL WORLD" shots that contain people wearing detailed fabrics or other fine textures, and compare the VR2 at 2.8 to the VR1 at 4.5 (they should be about the same in resolution rendered)... Then compare the VR1 and VR2 head to head at 2.8 (the VR2 should smoke the VR1)... You will see a dramatic difference in detail rendered even at 12 MP on a D3s, and far more so on a D3x or D800. It is not hard to see, and it's plenty real. If you do not get that result, then you should probably send your VR2 in for calibration service, no joke... You may not choose to care about pixel peeping in your "real world" shots, but if you don't then the D800 is significantly wasted... Oh, and it's important to note when comparing resolution of the VR1 and VR2 that you have to make the composition/angle of view match as opposed to the zoom set on the focus ring, due to the severe breathing on the VR2.

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.

I agree the mk2 2.8 Canon should be superior to F4LIS, though I have not owned that one yet. I meant some would still use the F4LIS for size/weight... But when I was shooting Canon the F4LIS was far superior to the 2.8 IS Mk1, and it was really amazing how the Canon fanboys would go irate if you brought this up. They could not even stomach that one Canon was better than another Canon.

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.

I know I saw the 16-35/4 multiple times during the Olympic coverage (on TV, I was not there lol). I'm pretty sure I saw the F4LIS, and I know for a fact that I saw the 200-400/4 repeatedly, as well as some other slower Canon stuff (their various weird L grade superzooms that I never liked). Tons of 500/4 were there. F4 was no pariah, and that is the height of event coverage.

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.

Thanks. Discussion is good.

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

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