D3x scrutinizes the 70-200 VR models

Started Nov 30, 2009 | Discussions
Marianne Oelund Veteran Member • Posts: 7,779
D3x scrutinizes the 70-200 VR models

A strange thing happened last Friday: It's November, and this is Seattle, but we had sunshine! So I decided to make the best of a post-Thanksgiving afternoon, and see how the new 70-200 VR II performs.

Here is a distant-subject composite with panels comparing the center and corner IQ of the 70-200 VR I, 70-200 VR II, and the 200 f/2 VR as a "reference" lens. Apertures covered are f/2.8 through f/8. Crop resolution is 100%, from the D3x at ISO 100.

The 70-200 VR I is showing the typical corner IQ problems, but its center resolution is still top-notch for a zoom, and at most apertures, you can see just a bit sharper detail than the new lens. But that's a subtle difference, which I think most users would say is more than made up for by the VR II's truly magnificent corner performance. At f/2.8, corner resolution is just a little short of the 200 f/2, but contrast is surprisingly slightly better than my chosen reference. At f/4 and on, the VR II is actually pulling more corner detail than the 200 f/2!

As to the rumors that the new VR II doesn't achieve the full 200mm focal length, you will see that this isn't true at all. In fact, both zooms have slightly more reach than the 200mm prime.

I also have test images using all of the Nikon TC-E converters, which I will post on this thread later.

If you are interested in the AF performance of the new lens, see my D3 vs D3S AF thread in the D3 forum, which includes test data for both 70-200 VR versions.

DecibelPhoto Contributing Member • Posts: 791
Wow thanks...

Very informative post, the new lens looks awesome. You're quite lucky to own all three lenses, I appreciate you taking the time to run them all side by side.

RBFresno
RBFresno Forum Pro • Posts: 12,681
Re: D3x scrutinizes the 70-200 VR models

Marianne:

You are such a great contributor!

Your combination of experience, sound methodology (I think!), and knowledge of both the science and art of photography, often seems like an oasis of truth in this forum!

Marked improvement, especially in the corners between the old and new 70-200VR (I only have the latter).

Looks like my 200VR still will have its uses!

Best regards,

RB

http://www.pbase.com/rbfresno/profile

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Zachawry Regular Member • Posts: 456
Re: D3x scrutinizes the 70-200 VR models

Looks like the 200/2 has better contrast and clarity at wider apertures.

Dang I want that lens.

-- hide signature --
Andre De Angelis Senior Member • Posts: 2,191
Re: D3x scrutinizes the 70-200 VR models

Thank you Marianne,

This is exactly what I wanted to see.

Andre De Angelis Senior Member • Posts: 2,191
Re: D3x scrutinizes the 70-200 VR models

Yes Marianne,

Please do. I am eager to see what the results are with the TC71E, especially wide open.

Many thanks once again.

Marianne Oelund wrote:

I also have test images using all of the Nikon TC-E converters, which I will post on this thread later.

Daves602
Daves602 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,640
Thankyo, you may have saved me some money

@f4, the old version of the 70-200 looks sharper in the centre of all 3 lenses. If I keep using it on my D300, why would I upgrade? But, it is tempting to use it on the D3 so that means money.
--
Warm regards, Dave.
Australian NPS member
D3, D300, glass 10.5 to 400mm, f/1.4-2.8.
http://www.dksphotography.com.au
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 Daves602's gear list:Daves602's gear list
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Figero Contributing Member • Posts: 806
Re: D3x scrutinizes the 70-200 VR models

Thank you for that comparison. I was unsure if I made the right decision by pre ordering the 70-200mm VR II when it was announced. I was pressured by the rumors that it would be extremely hard to get my hands on one and it would be chronically out of stock. I will have my copy tomorrow. And I am so looking forward to your TC tests.
--
Steve M
I like Bokeh provided it’s in focus and tack sharp!

 Figero's gear list:Figero's gear list
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Big Daddie Contributing Member • Posts: 936
Re: D3x scrutinizes the 70-200 VR models

Thank you Marianne, that's the most informative comparison I've seen!

Rune Nielsen Contributing Member • Posts: 667
Re: D3x scrutinizes the 70-200 VR models

Thank you very much. Nice work!

I have the old 70-200 VR I, but I'm not to concerned about the corner sharpness (DX shooter and not much ladnscape). But I'm very concerned about performance with Nikon TC's, so I look forward to see the results.

Phil_L Veteran Member • Posts: 3,164
Re: D3x scrutinizes the 70-200 VR models

Thanks!
Usual thoroughness.

For DX users the "upgrade" from the VR I seems hardly a must.
--
Phil_L

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Mike Neary Veteran Member • Posts: 3,355
Thanks Marianne!

Thanks so much for this informative comparison.

Wow - I must say I am a bit surprised that the new 70-200 isn't better than the old one at f/2.8. Most folks seem to think the new one is slightly sharper...

So far, the upgrade does not seem to make much sense for a DX shooter - 1 stop better VR and better resistance to flare, it seems - but for FX the new lens is a must have...

Can't wait to see your TC tests!

Cheers

Mike

OP Marianne Oelund Veteran Member • Posts: 7,779
Results with Teleconverters
1

In my opening post for this thread, I hinted that the center sharpness of the older 70-200 VR I looked slightly better. It turns out that this is a real advantage, which becomes more obvious when teleconverters are added.

Results with the TC-14 and TC-17 are shown below. Again, these are 100% crops from the D3x at ISO 100. The reference lens is the 200-400 f/4 VR.

Results with TC-14

Wide open, center performance is quite comparable between the VR I and VR II, and I find no significant reason to prefer one over the other. Edge performance, however, does favor the VR I. At f/5.6, the VR I is pulling ahead, and in fact is hard to distinguish from the 200-400. At f/8, center quality is again very close, but the VR I retains the advantage at the edge.

Results with TC-17

Again, wide open performance at the center is fairly close between the two lenses, but the VR I is a little sharper at the edge. Stopping down, the VR I improves more than the VR II does, with even more advantage at f/9.5 (two stops down from wide open).

Note that apertures for the 200-400 reference lens in this set are actually 1/2 stop wider, i.e., f/4 - f/8.

Regarding the TC-20, I've decided that my examples are not a good basis for comparison, due to lighting changes, so I am not posting that set. I will just comment that the VR I has a little resolution advantage in the center, but also has some difficulty with veiling flare, especially around highlights. At the edge of the frame, things are different with the TC-20, and there is a little better detail with the VR II (although I should perhaps say it's a little less poor, as neither lens has very good IQ at the edge with this teleconverter).

Sergey_Green
Sergey_Green Forum Pro • Posts: 11,996
Very informative post - thank you

The 70-200 I and II are almost the same, but the 200/2 is truly impressive. Although it is optimized for wider apertures, I would have never thought the difference is so striking. Thanks for the post.

http://www.pbase.com/sngreen

Bo Photo Regular Member • Posts: 165
Re: D3x scrutinizes the 70-200 VR models

Marianne:

I photograph mostly portraits and what I noticed from todays shoot with my new VR11 is how sharp it is from my old VR1 in the eye's @ f2.8, wouldn't you think when photographing people is were you would see a big different's between the two lenes, because of were the face is placed in the frame most of the time.

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Bo

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sebastian73 Contributing Member • Posts: 598
Re: Very informative post - Sergey and Marianne

Sergey the 200/2 is truly impressive, but only from 2.0 till 2.8. From 4.0 and the other apertures I see no namable difference. So, I'm happy that the new 70-200 preforms so well also in the corners.

Marianne, once again thanks for you effort and your time that you spending for your excellent reviews.
--

Nikon D3, D700, AFS 17-35/2.8, AFS 24-70/2.8, AFD 85mm/1.4, AFS 105mm/2.8VR, AFS 70-200/2.8VR, TC-1.4E II, SB-800

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Daves602
Daves602 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,640
Sealed it, I am keeping the old version

The difference with the TC's has sealed it for me....for the present time anyway.

The 70-200 at f/4 through 5.6 looks to be the winner on DX and with a tc on fx. It would be interesting to see a comparison of the 2 70-200 lenses and a tc used on a d300.
--
Warm regards, Dave.
Australian NPS member
D3, D300, glass 10.5 to 400mm, f/1.4-2.8.
http://www.dksphotography.com.au
http://www.sydneyuniversitycricket.com.au

 Daves602's gear list:Daves602's gear list
Nikon D3 Nikon D300S Nikon D810 Nikon AF DX Fisheye-Nikkor 10.5mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED +25 more
sacohcan Regular Member • Posts: 418
Re: D3x scrutinizes the 70-200 VR models

Thank you very much!
Very interesting.
Best wishes...

 sacohcan's gear list:sacohcan's gear list
Sony a9 Sony FE 70-200 F4 Nikkor AF-S 300mm f/4E PF ED VR Zeiss Batis 25mm F2 Zeiss Batis 85mm F1.8 +2 more
frank207be Regular Member • Posts: 371
Re: What about closer focus peformance?

Hello Marianne,

Very informative thread

All these images seem to be taken from a very long distance, but how is the closer distance performance between your copies of all these lenses?

My own comparisons show a much better performance at all apertures with the new VR2 and 200/2VR compared to the VR1 on both D300 and D700.

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Frank

Bill F. Regular Member • Posts: 183
Re: Results with Teleconverters

Marianne,

Thanks once again for sharing your findings on the comparisons that many of us are interested in. The new lens is an improvement in many areas that people were complaining about, so it shows Nikon is listening. The old lens however still holds some advantages, especially with TC use and to a lesser extent with center sharpness. From your other tests, it looks like the new lens, when paired with the D3s, is the consistent leader with focus acquisition over the D3. Bring in the VRII advantages over VRI, nanocoating, etc., and it looks like a nice upgrade. All that said, it also can be concluded that the upgrade is not for everyone, as many have stated. Your comparison tests bring data to the table to help in some of that decision-making.

always a pleasure to read your findings and views,

Bill

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