Friday, December 5, 2008

Buying a dSLR lens choice II 70-300vr

This was taken with the D200 @ ISO 1250 f/5.6, 1/50 second using the 70-300vr @ 270mm.

In the previous post, we discussed the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 or Nikon/Canon's equivalent. Today, we will discuss the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR.
It is not a fixed aperture lens which causes 'problems' when using this in low light and moving subjects. What this means is at 300mm the fastest aperture is f/5.6 and at 70 the aperture is f/4.5. Therefore, fully zoomed the lens maximum aperture is 5.6 which is not very fast and if the light is limited will present problems to creating a sharp image. However, when the light is fast; the vibration reduction [vr] combined with the ED glass makes this lens a tremendous purchase for <$500. The first image was taken using this lens and the only reason there is no motion blur is because the guest minister [Christopher Alam] was praying and not moving around. The vr on this lens is amazing. It eliminates or reduces any movement on my part [it doesn't reduce movement on the subjects part] and enables me to hand hold a long focal length at slower shutter speeds. However, even with the vr I normally brace myself on something. In this case, I braced myself on the balcony ledge.
In the second image, the lighting was excellent and I was able to shoot the portrait at a much faster shutter spped. The camera settings were: ISO 400, shutter speed, 1/500, aperture, f/5.3, 200mm focal length on the D200. The background blurred out very nice due to my distance from the subject and the subjects distance from the background.

Using this lens at an outdoor sporting match [soccer, non pro football, etc] could prove to be a challenge if the light isn't good enough. If the light drops too low then you will not be able to maintain a fast enough shutter speed.

This lens proves to be an excellent choice when lighting is excellent.

In the third image the lighting was great and the lens combined with the D200 produced great images. The third image was taken at the Pittsburgh airshow in the spring of 08. If you are comparing this lens to the much cheaper 70-300 g version and are asking why the difference in cost. This lens is more than the physical differences. I used the 70-300g in the past and although the focal length is the same the similarities end there. The image quality is much better combined with a metal body versus the plastic body. This lens also has the vibration reduction which makes it a valuable asset. If you do not have the 400-500 to pay for this lens then there is a middle alternative by Nikon.

The Nikon 70-300mm f/4-5.6D ED AF Lens is different but similar and can be bought for $200 used and does not have the vr and has less lens elements. Keep in mind if you need the 300 mm focal length you will need to ensure you have a faster shutter speed to compensate for camera shake. If you cannot obtain the faster shutter speed, then some support is needed.

Nikon and the third party manufacturers make a cheaper alternative in this focal length as well as the 55-200mm [which I owned]. It is a plastic lens and is not a 'fast' lens. The maximum aperture is f/5.6 at 200mm and you will encounter the same problems I described in this post.

The Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR is a tremendous lens when the lighting is great but there is nothing like shooting with the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR
However, it is slightly more expensive coming in at $1600 new. :-)

Tamron and Sigma make an alternative; Tamron AF 70-200mm f/2.8 Di LD IF Macro Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras to Nikon's more expensive version. The Tamron is a plastic lens [which makes it lighter] and does not have the vibration reduction which reduces its price to less than $700.

Have fun and get out and capture the beauty of life!

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