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Would I be better served by a 70-200 f/2.8?

MarcG19

Arlington, US
289 posts

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MarcG19 Registered since 16th Apr 2009
Sun 14-Apr-13 07:45 PM | edited Sun 14-Apr-13 07:56 PM by MarcG19

Hey all,

Wondering if one of the 70-200 f/2.8s serve me better than the 80-200 f/2.8 AF-D two-ring, especially for 100% crops in DX at the center at f/2.8.

Explanation:

I'm trying to get a decently portable set-up for DX birding/animals, i.e. something that I can stow in a carry-on suitcase a long with a D7000 body and the rest of my clothes, toothbrush, etc. also i.e. 70-200 sized lenses are maximum size for this application. I have a 300 2.8 and it works well but is too big for this.

I've done decently in the past with the 70-300 VR and even the 55-200VR. But, oftentimes the light makes me want to have f/2.8 rather than f/5.6.

So, after a bit of research, I bought an 80-200 f/2.8 AF-D (the two ring version with a tripod collar). I've been analyzing my first shooting sessions with it. It handles well, and its pictures at first were good (though I'm having trouble with AF, but that's just a matter of experience). But then I started to see things like this:

Click on image to view larger version


(f/2.8, 1/1000, ISO 400,100% resolution taken from roughly the center)

This was just about the best shot i got out of a 3 hour session with this lens. I think I got the focus on the spoonbill spot-on, both when I took the shot and when I looked at in in PP. (there are other shots, which I'm not posting here, which IMO further confirm that even though I can mess this up, there are plenty of times where I got it spot-on but got results like this, even when shutter speed was 1/1000).

Again, I'm still learning to optimize D7000's AF system. I'm also fearful that looking at 100% center shots with DX cameras may be asking too much for any lens (to say nothing about bad bird photography practice). But still, I think sometimes I'll have to take 100% crops, and so this image was disappointing.

I went back and started thinking about my equipment, technique, and looking at the photos that came out well. Those that came out well were inevitably f/4. Also, I re-read Thom Hogan's review of the 80-200, which said (effectively) the lens didn't perform great at 100% at f/2.8 but did better at f/5.6. (I'm shocked I missed this, because this would have affected my decision-making, but oh well).

So, I did my own tests which I think confirmed this. For those interested:

Click on image to view larger version

(f/2.8, tripod, roughly 10m, 100% crop, no other PP)

Click on image to view larger version

(f/5.6, tripod, roughly 10m, 100% crop, no other PP)

Bottom line question: if I used either the old or new 70-200, would my results at f/2.8 be better? Any other thoughts?

Thanks,

Marc

(ETA: test shots were manually focused in live view's maximum view, and the ther f/2.8 is representative of a set of 5 shots. Also, the 300 f/2.8 was put through the same test and its f/2.8 performance is great)
Attachment#1 (jpg file)
Attachment#2 (jpg file)
Attachment#3 (jpg file)

Cheers,

Marc

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"90% of my best life's work could have been made with a manual body, a 24mm lens, and a telephoto zoom in the 80-200 range"
- Galen Rowell
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