5 Reasons why you need a 70-200mm lens

Aug 1, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

5 Reasons why you need a 70-200mm lens

Aug 1, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Join the Discussion

Share on:

why_you_need_a_70-200

There was a time when the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8VR was the lens I used most often. I was mostly shooting portraits on location. Once I started moving toward the studio and to animals, I opened up my options. So, a 50mm and 105mm macro suddenly became my go-to glass.

Now, I’m getting back out on location and find myself using a 70-200mm more often again. I did miss it and I’ll never get rid of it, although I may still neglect it occasionally. In this video from DigitalRev, Kai gives us his 5 reasons why everybody should have one.

YouTube video

1. It’s a workhorse of a lens

It absolutely is. I’ve used mine in all kinds of different weather conditions. Through rain, snow, sleet or sunshine, it just keeps on working flawlessly. Whether you shoot Nikon or Canon, you really can’t go wrong with a 70-200.

Of course, there are several different versions from both manufacturers. There’s the highest end f/2.8s and there’s slightly less expensive f/4 versions. Weather sealing, speed and other features will vary, but they’re all solid lenses if you can work within their limitations.

2. Versatile focal length range

This one’s probably going to split opinions. It’s also going to depend on whether you’re using a full frame body or a crop.

Personally, I prefer to use the 70-200 on a Nikon DX crop body. At 70mm, it gives me the same field of view as a 105mm lens on a full frame. For me, this is a perfect portrait length. When I shoot full frame or film, I usually use the 105mm f/2.8D AF Micro-Nikkor for portraits. I do get slightly more depth of field at 70mm on the crop, but not enough that it’s a problem.

It might not be wide enough for some, but it doesn’t have to be your only lens. For me, it’s mostly perfect. I just prefer the look longer lenses provide.

3. Great performance

The 50mm and 105mm I mentioned above are both great lenses for me. I’m usually using them stopped down to give more depth of field anyway, so they’re good and sharp. They both, however share the same fatal flaw. They’re slow to autofocus and not very responsive.

The 70-200mm lenses are lightning fast. At least, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8VRII and its predecessor are. Part of my problem is that I’m using the “D AF” versions of the 50mm and 105mm. However, I’ve found that the more recent “G AF-S” versions really aren’t that much faster.

4. Hand holdable

This is another one that’s going to split opinion. The 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses are heavy compared to lower end consumer zooms. They’re also heavier than the 70-200mm f/4 options. They’re still really not that heavy, though. Sure, you may not be able to carry it all day, but nobody’s saying you have to.

Getting handheld shots with a 70-200mm f/2.8 is easy. I actually find the extra weight gives me more stability over lighter weight zooms when handholding. Even the original VR I’ve handheld 200mm on a crop body as slow as 1/30th of a second. It takes some practise, but they will shoot this slow handheld without camera shake.

Without VR/IS, or if you want to freeze action, you’re going to need faster shutter speeds. It’s still not uncomfortable to hold, though. If you don’t fancy lugging f/2.8 weight around all day, you can always go for a less expensive f/4.

5. Image quality

Again, this is something that can’t be beat, at least with Nikon and Canon. Historically, 3rd party 70-200mm f/2.8 image quality hasn’t always been the greatest. Lately, Tamron at least, seem to have gotten caught up. I’ve heard good things about the most recent Sigma 70-200mm, although I haven’t tried it myself. When I put the previous generation Sigma against my Nikon, I wasn’t impressed at all.

For me, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8VR is one of the sharpest lenses I own. As I mentioned above, I’ll never get rid of it. It will be with me until either it dies, or I do.

canon_70-200s

So, what options are available? Well, these are the current models for the main brands.

I find it interesting that Canon offer stabilised and non-stabilised versions of both their f/2.8 and f/4 lenses. I find it even more interesting that there doesn’t seem to be an f/2.8 Sony lens at all.

For third parties, you’ve basically got Sigma and Tamron as the main competitors.

Do I agree with Kai that everybody should get one? Yes and no. It depends on several things, not least of which is your budget. If you can afford one and want it, then go for it, you won’t be disappointed.

I think if you need this focal range, you should absolutely get one over the less expensive “kit zoom” alternatives. The build quality, at least with Nikon & Canon, is second to none. They’ll last a lifetime and their performance and reliability saves you so much time and hassle.

Do you have a 70-200mm f/2.8 or f/4? If so, which? What do you love about it? What do you hate? Which other lenses would you recommend everybody should own? Let us know in the comments.

[via DigitalRev TV]

Filed Under:

Tagged With:

Find this interesting? Share it with your friends!

John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Join the Discussion

DIYP Comment Policy
Be nice, be on-topic, no personal information or flames.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

8 responses to “5 Reasons why you need a 70-200mm lens”

  1. Tim Hasl Avatar
    Tim Hasl

    Johannes Keller

  2. Robert Burgoine Avatar
    Robert Burgoine

    Be exactly like everyone else

  3. Zygmunt Zarzecki Avatar
    Zygmunt Zarzecki

    Tamron 70-200/2.8 rules!

  4. Stefan Angelescu Avatar
    Stefan Angelescu

    28mm f/2.8 for life!

  5. Kay O. Sweaver Avatar
    Kay O. Sweaver

    The Canon 55-250 IS STM lens is a pretty decent APS-C alternative, *if* you don’t need f2.8 and blazing fast autofocus. The sharpness is there, and its got an even wider range of focal lengths. Focus speed isn’t great, so not great for birding or sports.

    I rent the 70-200 when I need it.

    1. John Avatar
      John

      I agree, the 55-250 is an awesome zoom. It weights nothing, it’s incredibly sharp, and it’s so cheap that it’s practically disposable. It is my cheapest and favourite lens

  6. S Willard Avatar
    S Willard

    Sony has the new 70-200 2.8 gm

  7. Barbaro Haas Avatar
    Barbaro Haas

    The Tamron FX I have rocks the street photos I take, nothing like this.Thanks