FX Telephoto zoom choices for $1500?

DavidDavid Posts: 18Member
edited January 2013 in Nikon DSLR cameras
Hello all,

I find myself in a bit of a predicament - and the wealth of knowledge here I think can help steer me in the right direction.

I am currently accumulating a range of Full Frame compatible lenses so that when I make the jump to FX - all I need is to buy a body. I currently have a 50mm 1.8G, and a few DX lenses - of which I will be selling off. I will also be purchasing the 16-35 f/4 from Nikon as my wide lens - being that I like to use filters for my landscapes. I will need something on the telephoto end - and my budget is about $1,500 for this lens. The lenses I am considering are:

- Nikon 70-300 VR
- Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VRI (which I have found a recently serviced version on Craigslist locally for $1,300)
- Nikon 70-200 VRIII f/4
- Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 OS HSM (about $1,300 online)

For now - I do not do any indoor sports, so not sure that the extra stop in aperture is really necessary. I mainly will use it for landscape and portraits as well. Though, I will not rule out doing some low light work with this lens in the future. I am currently a hobbyist who occasionally will take some shots for friends and referrals for minimal fees.

Thoughts? Thanks in advance!
Post edited by Msmoto on
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Comments

  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    I changed the title a bit to make it more clear. If the reputation Sigma is rapidly gaining holds true for the f/2.8 70-200, I might go this way. Then a teleconverter can give you an f/5.6 400mm.... But, I would check reviews
    Msmoto, mod
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    It's the new Sigma line, which appears to be outstanding. I can't say that for older lenses. 8->

    The only thing against the 70-200/4 from Nikon in my eyes is: after only two f-stops you're leaving the peak of resolution - but honestly, I don't see it that much. Otherwise, it's a fine, light-weight glass with really great VR - 1/20 at 200mm is no problem.
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 3,968Member
    The reviews I've read say the Sigma 70-200mm OS is similar optically to the Nikon VR1.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    edited January 2013
    And the review I read states the Sigma to be weaker in the corners - so, how can that be, if they are so "identically". Come on guys, the people of us who could tear down such lenses and put them on an optical bank to measure that kind of blah, are really few. [-(

    I quote photozone:
    "Compared to the "big boys", Canon's and Nikon's reference zoom lenses, the Sigma performs on a similar level in many regards, but clearly lacks sharpness at the image borders at the long end of the zoom range. In addition, it also shows pronounced focus breathing, which means the focal length is reduced considerably at close focus distances (however, this is also true for the current Nikon 70-200/2.8 VR II lens). If the lack of border resolution is not an issue, the Sigma lens offers a nice high-end package for significantly less money."

    Question remains, if one wants to care about borders so much? Depends on what you're shooting, doesn't it?
    The 70-300 is also a very good glass.
    Post edited by JJ_SO on
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 3,968Member
    JJ_OS, similar does not mean identical.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • obajobaobajoba Posts: 206Member
    The 70-200 f/4 is going to be sharpest at what, f/8? and the 70-200 f/2.8 VR will be sharper at f/4... so, factor that in as well as what body you are using. IMHO, D3s/D4/D800 with a 70-200 2.8 VR at f/4 and ISO1600 is better than the 70-200 f/4 lens at 5.6 or 8 and ISO 3200.
    D4 | 70-200 2.8 VR | 24-70 2.8 | TC-17e II
  • DavidDavid Posts: 18Member
    I have also thrown the idea around of getting a 70-300 VR for outdoor use, and a 85 1.8 for portraits and low light. This would be the slightly cheaper option. Though I do not know if I would be happier with these two lenses over one that would do both.
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,144Member
    I wouldn't be concerned about any lack of sharpness in the 70-200 at f4. It is plenty sharp at f4 and f5.6. The improved VRIII over the 70-200 2.8 VR1 will more than offset the ability to open up one more f-stop for a faster shutter speed since it gives you 4 stops. Since David is not shooting indoor sports he does not need the a 2.8 zoom shot at 1/500th second or faster to freeze fast movement. Since he has a 50mm f1.8 he already has an indoor low light portrait lens. The 70-200 f4 can be used indoors for portraits with bound flash or with the Nikon Creative Lighting System's off camera flashes or with slower shutter speeds (nothing really wrong with sitting still for a portrait). I would go with the new 70-200 f4 and add some Nikon CLS compatible strobes and then if I found I wanted a dedicated low light portrait lens I would add the 85mm f1.8.
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    edited January 2013
    The 70-200 f/4 is going to be sharpest at what, f/8?
    Says who? If lensrentals finds the 70-200/2.8 at f/4 maybe a bit sharper than 70-200/4 wide open, I would not bet on your guessing.
    @PB_MP you're right - that "identically" came from the other thread of the Sigma 120-300. Anyway, it can't be that similar...

    Post edited by JJ_SO on
  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,172Member
    I think similar reads as "as good as" (Optically) and wasn't there some talk about the 70-200 weak edge sharpness too just like what they say the sigma has?
    Moments of Light - D610 D7K S5pro 70-200f4 18-200 150f2.8 12-24 18-70 35-70f2.8 : C&C very welcome!
    Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.

  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 3,968Member
    @heartyfisher Exactly. I would put the Sigma OS and the VR in the same league in terms of performance. That said, I would still give the edge to the VR1, simply because it focuses more accurately.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • obajobaobajoba Posts: 206Member
    edited January 2013
    The 70-200 f/4 is going to be sharpest at what, f/8?
    Says who? If lensrentals finds the 70-200/2.8 at f/4 maybe a bit sharper than 70-200/4 wide open, I would not bet on your guessing
    I think maybe I worded that poorly. For all of my life, I have found the general/accepted rule of thumb to be that a lens is not sharpest wide open, rather it is sharper 1-2 stops down. Thus I deduced the 2.8 at f/4 and the f/4 at 5.6 or 8. So, that's where I was headed and I would prefer to shoot at ISO1600 than ISO3200 on ANY camera... So, at f/4 whether or not the 2.8 lens is sharper than the f/4 lens remains to be seen. Without valid test data, using accepted rules of thumb, I made my opinion/guess.

    BTW, everything I have seen/heard is that the 70-200 f/4 is a remarkable lens. You can't go wrong with either of those 2, the 70-200 Nikkors. I vote 2.8 VR because with a TC on it I still have more flexibility than the f/4 in regards to exposure time and ISO - unless I'm on a tripod - which I don't own. I guess I don't own a camera right now either... :D

    If he isn't shooting sports, it stands to reason he may be using a tripod and therefore would disable VR any way. And if he is shooting indoor sports he should be using a monopod but even if not, you'd want to disable VR to shoot action because it hinders more than it helps. So that brings us to what VR is getting you, the ability to shoot at lower ISO because of slower shutter speeds without vibration. Fantastic. I still want to shoot where my lens is sharpest if at all possible or my desired DOF (where applicable), then at the lowest possible ISO, and finally the ideal shutter speed.

    Of course, I spend most of my time shooting at 2.8 or 3.2 and like Donald said, at 1/500 or faster. Maybe I need a 200/2.0 AND a D4, it's only money right? :-/
    Post edited by obajoba on
    D4 | 70-200 2.8 VR | 24-70 2.8 | TC-17e II
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    edited January 2013
    @David Given your budget and intended usage I would go with the 70-200 f/4. I second donaldejose remarks on new VR system Nikon has incorporated into this new lens...it will serve you well specially on those low light conditions.

    Best of luck shopping....cheers :D
    Post edited by Golf007sd on
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    Maybe I'm the only one who gets tired of lugging the Nikkor 70-200 2.8 (vr 1) around, but I use my 70-300vr all the time when I don't have a "planned" shot in mind. It's allot easier to carry with you for sure. Stopped down to F/8-11 it is just as sharp as almost anything out there. If you want a light weight lens, then that is for you. Then again that is coming from someone who has both.

    As you had mentioned, the 85mm 1.8g (or D) would be good easy options. My travel to friends kit will have the 35/50/85, & 70-300vr to keep it light. Work I swap the 70-300vr for the 70-200vr 2.8.

    If you have never held a 70-200 2.8 for a couple of hours, I would suggest playing with one at a store for 10-20 minutes. I see a ton of 80-200mm lenses that are mint, bought by hobbyist over the years that just sat on the shelf due to the weight. If you know what you are getting yourself into, the 70-200 2.8 is a fantastic lens. I personally would stay with Nikon vr1 over the Sigma any day. Sigma's do not have the weather seals the Nikkor does.

    If you want to take photos of friends you need a flash or preferably two (sb700s are fine), a couple of small soft boxes, and lenses in the 35mm, 50mm, 85mm & 105-135mm range are preferable lengths.

    You are at that point that all of us have been, and each has taken their own path on what they viewed was important at the time. Then we all buy more gear, then more, and more.....

    I would just suggest on focusing what you shoot now, and know what you will shoot tomorrow. Look at all your photos and tally up what shortcomings you feel when you are shooting, (not what others and magazines tell you what you should have), and see where your needs are. Maybe 2.8 is what you really need, maybe that extra 200-300mm is what would help you(don't forget you are going to loose the 1.5 crop). Maybe you are getting more side gigs and a 85mm with a couple of flashes eat up your budget and the 70-300 is all you can do now. Let you images and shooting habits tell you what you need. Every lens you have mentioned are good - none are dogs or even close to it. The only bad choice you can make, is one where you don't use the lens and it doesn't help you strive to be better.
    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • SkintBritSkintBrit Posts: 79Member
    If you could buy a nice used 70-200 VR1/2 within budget, and 200 is enough for you, that's the route I would go, but any of the lenses you mention I'm sure would give you sterling service. (There's something nice about 2.8 though!)
    D3s's D700 F100 / Trinity 2.8 Zooms & 1.4 Primes / 105 micro. SB900s with Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 / Mini TT1s. Camranger remote control system.
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0
    edited January 2013
    Since I bought the 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II, my 70-300mm VR was not used anymore, the IQ difference between those lenses was enorm on my D300, normal I think, the price difference is enorm too. Last week I bought the D600 and tried the 70-300 VR on it. My problem with this lens is, it focussing too slow for bird photography, gives nice results till 200mm, but just nice, because I am spoiled by my 70-200 VR II.
    Post edited by [Deleted User] on
    Those who say it can't be done, should not interrupt those doing it!
  • obajobaobajoba Posts: 206Member
    Since I bought the 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II, my 70-300mm VR was not used anymore, the IQ difference between those lenses was enorm on my D300, normal I think, the price difference is enorm too. Last week I bought the D600 and tried the 70-300 VR on it. My problem with this lens is, it focussing too slow for bird photography, gives nice results till 200mm, but just nice, because I am spoiled by my 70-200 VR II.
    @Ton - do you feel like the D600 resolution with the 70-200mm VRII would allow you to crop the photo and retain enough sharpness to make up for the 100mm loss? It's tough to explain what I am trying to say so I hope you understand.
    D4 | 70-200 2.8 VR | 24-70 2.8 | TC-17e II
  • DavidDavid Posts: 18Member
    I have been offered a 70-200 VRI for $1,300. I am quite tempted by this - though I am wondering if it would be suggested to send the lens into Nikon for calibration and cleaning due to the age of the lens. If so- how much might this cost me?

    Also - I have heard so much about the vignetting of this lens on Full Frame format cameras - can anyone post up a photo taken with this lens on FX without and post editing so that I can see what I should expect? There are zillions of photos on the internet, but finding some that have not been fixed in Lightroom or other comparable program will be hard to determine.
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    but finding some that have not been fixed in Lightroom or other comparable program will be hard to determine.
    which I think proves, if you use LR, vignetting is not an issue
    if you really concerned about vignetting then the you will be better off with a prime

  • DavidDavid Posts: 18Member
    Touche. I suppose I cannot argue with that. So - at this price, would you spend your money on the new Sigma or on the older Nikon? As far as teleconverters go - if I were to opt for the newer Sigma, am I forced to use a Sigma branded teleconverter? Thusfar I do not need that kind of reach, but who is to say what the future will hold.
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 3,968Member
    edited January 2013
    The VRI is a better buy than the Sigma, optically it has the edge and it has weather seals.
    Post edited by PB_PM on
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • Benji2505Benji2505 Posts: 517Member
    70-200 VRI is a great lens. The vignetting shows wide open, but first LR fixes it anyway and second it is not as bad as one would think from all the discussion about it. TTJ is right though, it handles like a telephone post and might become heavy if you carry it around permanently. 1300 sounds like a good price if it is in good condition, check the glass elements.
  • PaulDiPaulDi Posts: 1Member
    I have the 70_200 f/2.8 VRII. And I can say it is heavy. So try that out. But I carry it all over the place (about 10kgs on my back with everything). I tried the 70-300 on a D7000 months before I got my D600 -- I did the same thing you are doing -- built up the lenses first. Even on the D7000 I felt I saw a big difference in IQ (but I am no expert to trust my opinion too much) and just couldn't go with the 70-300. However, I do see there will be trips that I will need to use something lighter on. I'm hoping for an upgrade to the 80-400. I use a cheap, used Tamron doubler on the 70-200 and get very good center results and can hand hold it a lot of the time.

    Someone mentioned flash. Be aware that the D600 + 70-200 isn't a working combination for correct flash with an SB 600. I can use them together but it is a bit hit or miss expecting it to work right. I only read the manual in that area after struggling with it in a dark setting and finding it working well with the 24-70 but weird with the 70-200. They are both so darned sharp that I hate to use anything else.
  • TriShooterTriShooter Posts: 219Member
    I agree with the comments about on the 70-300mm being a too soft somewhere soon after 200mm but thought it was a good lens for taking snapshots of my granchildren running around parks, playing on swings, and climbing around the jungle gym structures. I also used it at church picnics. Nevertheless, I sold my 70-300mm lens like many others here have done.

    I also agree that the focus is too sluggish for most birds in flight with any consistency. I have not tried the new 70-200 F4 but think I could be easily persuaded to give it a shot as as the 70-200mm F2.8 is a tank for shooting all day, but it takes gorgeous pictures and it also absolutely worth the extra weight and money when shooting inside, or outside in marginal light on faster moving subjects because it stops the action. The problem with the F4 in low light is only applicable for fast moving subjects. If it is ducks or geese swimming on a pond the F4 will do everything anyone could possibly want with its VR system.

    My main problem with Sigma lenses has their color reproduction which was never as good to me, as the Nikon lenses, and definitely not as consistent lens model to lens model. For example the 24-70mm lens is a fine lens with excellent sharpness but the color is very different than Nikon glass. Some people are fine with Sigma's color cast which can be corrected, but it also changes from one lens model to next whereas Nikon lenses are more consistent. Maybe this has been resolved with Sigma's newer lenses.
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