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Nikon 80-200 2.8 definitive opinions please!


col.campbell 11 818 4 United Kingdom
25 Feb 2013 1:35AM
Following on from the demise of my trusty old D100, I raided the savings and replaced it with a D700.

While I'm in a spending mood, and before SWMBO puts a stop to it, I've been thinking of buying a lens too. I've almost talked myself into picking up a used Nikon 80-200 2.8 to replace my 70-300 non-VR. I've basically chosen it to be the first to be replaced because it was always the most troublesome in low light. If anyone can present compelling arguments that my Sigma 17-35 EX DG or Nikon 28-80 should be first to go, I'll listen.

In the meantime I'm leaning towards the 80-200 because it's fast, I've heard it's sharp, built like a tank, and costs a lot less than the 70-200.

Now, so long as no-one's going to throw me curveball, WHICH 80-200?
I've read many conflicting comments:
The AF-S may/ may not be slightly sharper than the D at 2.8
The AF-S may be prone to focus motor failure
The D may have a backfocus problem
One of them (the D, I think) is prone to A/M switch cracking and fracturing

I have also read many positive comments from users who can't sing their praises enough.

Part of the masterplan is to throw a x2 TC into the mix later on. I looked at an 80-400 but it's a massive slow beast. My thinking is that 80-200 plus TC is more cost-effective and is more versatile.

Sorry for the lengthy monologue; none of this is cheap, and I'm sure we'd all agree that our money is too hard-earned to spend it rashly. Basically, is there a huge pitfall I haven't thought of, or can I go ahead? Smile

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StrayCat e2
10 15.5k 2 Canada
25 Feb 2013 4:56AM
Hi Col. Don't forget to check out what our friend Ken Rockwell has to say about those lenses, and while you're doing that, have a look at what he says about the new VR 70-200mm F4. It is much lighter and smaller than what you're considering, but I don't know if that means much to you. The 80-200mm was a mainstay of John Shaw's back in his film days, but I'm not sure if he updated or not. Might be an idea to check his website.

Good Luck,
Denny
25 Feb 2013 7:59AM
Adding a 2x tc to the 80-200mm is not a great way forward, af will be so slow and image quality will take a hit.
thewilliam 6 4.8k
25 Feb 2013 10:06AM
It must be about 12 years back when I chose the more expensive AFS version for wedding work. I reckoned the premim was justified because:-

1. It focusses about a foot closer and that's useful when you phototograph people.

2. The focussing is almost instant and it focusses on the right distance.

One downside is that it's heavier than its AFD brother. Compared with the new 70-200 f2.8, there's no VR but then I've been around long enough to be able to live without it. I've only owned one lens with VR, the 105mm Micro, and never switched on the VR facility in the 6 years of use.

Reliability? It still works after 12 years of professional use!
25 Feb 2013 11:31AM
The AF Zoom-Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8D ED is still in Nikon’s catalogue today. You’ll see it described in some places as the ‘two-ring’ model, referring to its separate zoom and focus rings.

It’s a good lens – at shorter focal lengths it’s exceptionally good – but you’re right that its M/A switch is prone to breaking, or at any rate often broken on used lenses (so look out for that). Otherwise this lens is extraordinarily well made: superior to almost all other autofocus lenses, including those twice its price.

Beware: Nikon doesn’t make a compatible teleconverter for this lens. The solution is to use a third-party teleconverter, the best of which are probably the high-quality Kenko 1.4 × and 2 × models. However, only some of these Kenko models support proper aperture reporting in the EXIF data (i.e. a max aperture of f/4 or f/5.6 with the 1.4 × or 2 ×). I don’t remember which ones off the top of my head, but check if this matters to you.

All earlier 80-200 mm f/2.8 autofocus lenses from Nikon used the same optical design as the current lens (coatings excepted), but had push-pull zoom mechanics and several minor mechanical and electronic differences between themselves. Not all have focus-distance reporting (useful for flash photography in some cases). These lenses are good value, since they have top-class mechanics, optics that still earn their keep in today’s Nikkor catalogue, and fairly low used prices. Make sure you choose a clean one that didn’t spend twenty years shooting weddings. Many of these professional lenses were ridden hard and put up wet. Why choose one of those when you can get a hobbyist’s pampered lens for only a few quid more?

All of the above lenses have pronounced back-focus at the long end of the zoom range and at short focusing distances (e.g. 2 m). This problem is probably caused by an interaction of strong spherical aberration with the autofocus system. Page 372 of the Nikon D800 user manual describes the problem like this:

When focusing at minimum focus distance with AF 80–200mm f/2.8, AF 35–70mm f/2.8, AF 28–85mm f/3.5–4.5 , or AF 28–85mm f/3.5–4.5 lens at maximum zoom, in-focus indicator may be displayed when image on matte screen in viewfinder is not in focus. Adjust focus manually until image in viewfinder is in focus.

In practice, this is rarely a problem for me, since I don’t usually shoot at 200 mm near the minimum focus distance (and I can focus manually on the rare occasion I do). If you back off to about 135 mm the problem largely disappears, and you get much better optical performance at close range to boot. With distant subjects the optical performance improves and the back-focusing issue at long focal lengths goes away.

•••

The AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8D IF-ED is a very different lens from earlier models, with five ED glass elements instead of three in earlier lenses. The first thing you’ll notice is its colossal size and weight. And make no mistake: it’s significantly sharper at large apertures and long focal lengths (though still not as good as the latest £1600 f/2.8 tele-zooms). It accepts Nikon teleconverters, and works better with them than the earlier lenses do with the Kenkos. It has a Silent Wave Motor which focuses faster, more quietly, more accurately, and with less torque reaction than the AF-D lenses.

On the downside, this lens uses more plastic in its construction, and as a consequence tends to look a bit ragged after years of careless use. The SWM fails with disconcerting regularity. When I looked for one of these, every lens I viewed or asked detailed questions about squeaked (a sign of pending failure), was broken, or had already had a motor replacement. Replacing the motor costs north of 300 quid, and does nothing to prevent the motor wearing out again, which it duly eventually does. I didn’t have the stomach for that kind of risk, so I passed on this model. I suspect the owners who haven’t encountered this problem, like thewilliam above, prefer to hang onto their good lenses, leaving a disproportionate number of failing or failed lenses on the used market. Be careful out there!
thewilliam 6 4.8k
25 Feb 2013 12:50PM

Quote:On the downside, this lens uses more plastic in its construction, and as a consequence tends to look a bit ragged after years of careless use. The SWM fails with disconcerting regularity. When I looked for one of these, every lens I viewed or asked detailed questions about squeaked (a sign of pending failure), was broken, or had already had a motor replacement. Replacing the motor costs north of 300 quid, and does nothing to prevent the motor wearing out again, which it duly eventually does. I didn’t have the stomach for that kind of risk, so I passed on this model. I suspect the owners who haven’t encountered this problem, like thewilliam above, prefer to hang onto their good lenses, leaving a disproportionate number of failing or failed lenses on the used market. Be careful out there!


My lens has always been carefully used so it still looks nice. I don't mind plastic in the costruction, provided it's used where appropriate and I have no intention of selling it.
25 Feb 2013 1:44PM
I bought a clean used one when the 70-200 came out and all the local pros traded in their 80-200's (so the market was flooded then and prices were low). I can echo that it's fast, it's very sharp, it's heavy because it's built like a tank, and it costs a lot less than the 70-200. My A/M switch broke two years ago, I just deal with it rather than spend the money to repair.
col.campbell 11 818 4 United Kingdom
25 Feb 2013 9:59PM
Thank you all for your replies. The way today panned out, I haven't been able to properly read & digest but I will tomorrow. Initial thoughts are, the ED model and TC. 400/ 5.6, faster than the 80-400 isn't it, I think? But 80-200 2.8 the majority of the time. A good compromise, I'm thinking.

Thanks everyone, and if anyone can add an opinion please do!
26 Feb 2013 9:37AM
I have kept Nikon's f2.8 MTF information provided over a number of years. They show the AF-s as usefully optically superior to the D version when used wide open.
The notes with most recent camera bodies say with the 80-200 AF (and 4 other older lenses) at minimum focus maximum zoom (200mm for this lens) autofocus is not accurate. Not reading camera instructions when using a few lenses at minimum focus distance is not the same as the lens having a back focus problem Smile
I have not seen reports about an AF-s focus motor problem.
Nikon autofocus converters cannot be fitted to pre AF-s lenses.
photofrenzy 8 424 2 United Kingdom
27 Feb 2013 1:55AM
If you can try and hunt down a second hand Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 VR in GOOD condition, Very good lens and built like a tank Superb Optics.Wink
thewilliam 6 4.8k
27 Feb 2013 9:48AM

Quote:If you can try and hunt down a second hand Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 VR in GOOD condition, Very good lens and built like a tank Superb Optics.Wink


This is fine if you intend to use the lens only with DX cameras. You may recall that Nikon introduced a Mk2 when the D3 and D3X bodies were in the pipeline. This was because the original 70-200 wasn't exactly sharp in the corners but this didn't matter when using the smaller DX field.

Choose an AFS 80-200 that's been owned by a careful enthusiast.
photofrenzy 8 424 2 United Kingdom
27 Feb 2013 4:46PM

Quote:If you can try and hunt down a second hand Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 VR in GOOD condition, Very good lens and built like a tank Superb Optics.Wink

This is fine if you intend to use the lens only with DX cameras. You may recall that Nikon introduced a Mk2 when the D3 and D3X bodies were in the pipeline. This was because the original 70-200 wasn't exactly sharp in the corners but this didn't matter when using the smaller DX field.

Choose an AFS 80-200 that's been owned by a careful enthusiast.



You must be refering to the amateur reviews of this Pro lens by an amateur website trying to review a pro lens and got it hopelessly wrong.

In fact i recall one website who had loads of response from professionals laughing at the remarks that were made because they didnt understand what was happening through the viewfinder with this lens , Due to the Lenses front Nodal point being further back than most lenses. In fact the lens is tac sharp , Also NO lens that shoots wide open when set @ f2.8 is sharp , You would need everything in the frame to be at the same distance or focal plane to get a sharp image corner to corner wide open @ f2.8. and very rarely does that happen.

Incidently it has one of the best bokeh performances of any zoom lens, way sharper than the older and clunkier 80-200 thats why it was replaced remember and more responsive AF AND has the VR :

Also on the point of the Newer 70-200 well all isnt what it seems with that lens, because that lens isnt toaly sharp i the corners when stopped down either. Also my big issue with that lens is you have to be focused @ infinity to get the full perspective of the 200mm focal lenght, Once you move away from infinity the lenses perspective changes completely to 135mm focal length and a lot of pro photographers complained about this to Nikon, That is why its hard to find a good second hand MK1 70-200 f2.8 VR because most professionals are keeping hold of them, I have this lens in my kitbag and its one of my best lenses on my D3.Tongue
thewilliam 6 4.8k
27 Feb 2013 6:51PM
Maybe I have an especially good 80-200AFS and She-who-must-be-obeyed, together with many of our colleagues, were unlucky enough to buy bad examples of their 70-200 Mk1 lenses.
photofrenzy 8 424 2 United Kingdom
27 Feb 2013 8:53PM
Yur colleagues have probably been convinced by the same amateur review as yourself. Just put the 70-200 on a Pro camera like it was intended . A perfect Marriage .
thewilliam 6 4.8k
27 Feb 2013 10:14PM
But we've always used "pro" cameras for work as have most of our colleagues.

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