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Why 2.8 ?

MikeRC Plus
12 3.6k United Kingdom
27 Dec 2009 2:19PM
Hi...I know it's probably a dumb question but I have been wondering about it for months, I don't understand why I paid a bundle for a 2.8 70-200 Nikon lens expecting it give me better/sharper pictures.

Quite frankly my pictures are no better than with my 70-300 5.6 lens.
...they were mediocre then and nothing has changed.

I realise that in the overall scheme of things it's not important but it is the only interest I have and it doesn't seem a lot to ask to be able to do it properly...everybody else does.

I know that over the years I have been here before but if anyone could give me some advice...that I can understand ....it would be greatly appreciated.


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User_Removed 16 7.3k 6 United Kingdom
27 Dec 2009 2:24PM
With a great deal of respect Mike, if you are not seeing an improvement in image quality between the two lenses you mention then you either have a faulty lens or faulty technique

I have both lenses and whilst the 70-300 is an OK lens, it pales into the "very mediocre" class when pitched against the Nikon 70-200.

I regularly shoot with the 70-200 at f/2.8 at high iso and the images are pin sharp. I obviously couldn't do that on a 5.6 lens (!) but wouldn't want to shoot with that wide open anyway

Can't help any more without knowing exactly what is wrong and how you are shooting but as I said, they are chalk and cheese quality wise

What problems are you seeing Mike.. can you post some or link to some examples?
cameracat 14 8.6k 61 Norfolk Island
27 Dec 2009 3:29PM
You have to bare in mind that at f/2.8 your DOF is going to be shallow, When making comparisons, You need to look at the exact point of focus.

As Barrie has said, If your not seeing better quality from the 70-200 f/2.8, Something has gotta be very wrong.....Sad
GHGraham 8 7 10 Scotland
27 Dec 2009 3:30PM
Take a shot of something simple but contrasty with each lens at every full stop aperture on a tripod under identical light, identical ISO and only adjust speed to keep exosure the same.

Set for ISO 50 to eliminate noise from the sensor.

Then print and compare which lens performs best at which aperture. There's your sweet spot. Each lens is different and an expensive fast lens is expensive because it is fast, not necessarily cos its actually better.

I invariably shoot between f8 and f16 depending on the lens. For example my very expensive EF 24mm F3.5L TSE lens is rubbish (colour aberation mostly) but at f16 it's as sharp as a pin. My EF 50mm f1.2L is best at f5.6 - f8.0.

And most people rarely exceed the quality of lens with the quality of their work so I'd just get on with taking good pictures and figuring out which ones work and which dont.

MikeRC Plus
12 3.6k United Kingdom
27 Dec 2009 4:11PM
Cheers Barrie, I cannot think why I should have a faulty lens...and how would I know anyway ?

I don't have a technique..I always shoot in aperture mode, I turn on the VR, find the best viewpoint, set the lens at 2.8 or 4.8 if useing the converter, guess the ISO, focus on the subject geting as close to the eyes as possible, half press the shutter to focus and fire the shot....what more can I do ?

I know what you're saying about the lens, everything I have ever read or heard about this lens is off the chart but it's just wasted on me.

I try not to spend too much time looking at other people's stuff, it just helps to make me more disheartened.
This latest episode of self criticism was brought about when I happened on this, posted by another member.


...rarely if ever have I got a shot as good as this and that's with a supposedly much better lens.
I rarely post now because I am embarrased when people say "brilliant shot" when I know it isn't.

I've tried with a tripod and a monopod but they don't really lend themselves to "wildlife" and the shots are no better anyway.

I am certainly not looking for toffee but If you could give me any helpful advice I would be forever in your debt and I promise I will never laugh, I mean criticise, your jokes again...LOL

MikeRC Plus
12 3.6k United Kingdom
27 Dec 2009 4:19PM

Quote:Something has gotta be very wrong.....

thanks cameracat .
csurry 16 9.2k 92
27 Dec 2009 4:22PM
Mike more detail is needed.

You say you are using VR, but is it that the real problem is that your shutter speed is too low? I nearly always use a tripod and I have had many amusing conversations with other members on here, the scenario goes something like this:

Other photographer: I'm shooting at ISO 100, f/8 1/100th sec (and they are handholding).

Me, camera mounted on tripod, ISO 400, f/5.6 and shutter speed significantly higher (can't be precise due to different metering not always making it what you may expect).

The conversation then normally turns to why are my shots so much sharper, you know I just can't work that out Wink

Seriously if you want some help post some images with the settings used in the gallery and people may be able to give more feedback.
gary_d 10 576 13 Wales
27 Dec 2009 4:25PM
I have a football but can't play like Ronaldo.

Little Jo Plus
16 2.3k United Kingdom
27 Dec 2009 4:30PM
Hello Mike

I suspect you are suffering the same frustration many photographers experience when they're on the learning curve. You think you're getting better then someone puts up an absolute stonker of a shot and you go away feeling pretty disheartened. Don't!

There are just a few things that need sorting to allow sharp images and you've sorted the first one by getting yourself a good lens. Without that, everything else you do is already compromised.

The second thing is to understand your autofocus system. Most cameras allow you to select the focus point or have automatic selection of the focus point. The latter won't necessarily choose the right point in your image to focus on, so selecting the centre point and recomposing the shot can be a first step to achieving your goal. If your subject is active, you need to be in AF servo, not one-shot mode.

The third thing is shutter speed. It needs to be fast enough to avoid camera shake and also to freeze your subject's movement. The inverse of the focal length is the general rule of thumb, so at 200mm, you want 1/200 sec. VR may let you go down to 1/100 sec or even 1/60 sec, but that won't freeze subject movement. For moving subjects, you want at least 1/500 sec or higher. If you can't achieve this, up the ISO setting.

The other thing to factor is in depth of field. This reduces with increasing focal length. For birds in flight, I'd use f/5.6 to get the eyes and wing tips in focus. If you can't get it all in focus, focus on the eye.

I'm sure others will add to this, but this is a start. If you're shooting moving subjects, then you may need to change the mode your VR operates in or even turn it off altogether.

Tripods/monopods help too, but they need to be sturdy enough to support your kit. I like to rest my elbows on a firm surface in the hide and hand hold for moving subjects.

Your New Year resolution has got to be to get out there and get some more practice. You will get there. I know you will.

Coleslaw 12 13.4k 28 Wales
27 Dec 2009 4:32PM

Quote:Quite frankly my pictures are no better than with my 70-300 5.6 lens.
...they were mediocre then and nothing has changed.

Hi Mike,
I am not having a go at you as I am not quite sure I understand what you are saying.
But a better lens wouldn't transform your pictures from mediocre to excellent just like that you know.
RogBrown 11 3.1k 10 England
27 Dec 2009 4:34PM

Quote:find the best viewpoint, set the lens at 2.8 or 4.8 if useing the converter,

Could be clue here? Not enough dof?
MikeRC Plus
12 3.6k United Kingdom
27 Dec 2009 4:54PM

Quote:I have a football but can't play like Ronaldo.

cheers Gary....how did we get onto football ?
cambirder 14 7.2k England
27 Dec 2009 5:05PM
If you always shoot wide open then are are going to be horribly disappointed at your results. Lenses have a range of f stops for a reason. Most of the time you need a bit more depth of field than f2.8 gives you.
User_Removed 16 7.3k 6 United Kingdom
27 Dec 2009 5:16PM
Have to disagree a little here Smile

Top of the range lenses, particularly the telephoto and super-tele lenses produce excellent results wide open (the wide angles are not so good).

I've won prizes with wedding photos shot inside a church using both Canon and Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 @ f/2.8 hand held with high ISOs.

It has to be technique or a faulty lens (which is less likely). Smaller DoF can help mask poor focussing by giving you the impression that more of the image is in focus but as I said in my initial post and has been repeated, we do need more info and preferably example images with the relevant exif Smile
redsnappa 15 2.0k United Kingdom
27 Dec 2009 5:33PM
Maybe there is nothing wrong with the sharpness of your lens the issue is perhaps an expectation that photos taken with a more expensive lens will produce a massively superior, far sharper and more contrasty photograph than one taken with a less expensive lens.

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