200mm F2 - a few questions before taking the plunge

Joined
Mar 5, 2011
Messages
523
Location
Tokyo
There are a few old stock new 200mm F2 left in Japan, the pre VRII model, and before taking the plunge on one of these, I have a few questions.

In fact, the reason I found this site on Google was a search for "200mm f2 portrait"...and the rest is history!

1. I asked about portability on another thread, and got a few responses, but just wanted to make sure I could lug around this lens on my D700 for an hour or so... Would having a monopod be helpful? Would it travel as hand baggage in an airplane?

2. I don`t have any tele`s - so just to confirm, at what distance would this work as a portrait lens? Is a 200 4 times a 50? (Sorry for the ignorance)

3. Given the great bokeh, what type of shots will most suit this lens ( I understand indoor sports etc. ) but I like `special effects` and out of the ordinary scenes. Anything that one really wants to shoot with this lens?

The price btw here for a new old one is Y358,000 ($3900 or so).

Many thanks...
 
Joined
Dec 17, 2008
Messages
538
Location
Boise, ID
1. Portability is pretty good. I've had no problem lugging it around hand held for up to 2 hours so far.

2. Not sure distance compared to a 50, but 4x sounds about right. It's a good focal length for head/shoulder shots.

3. Indoor(and ourdoor) sports, portraits, wildlife. It's great for just about everything.

$3900 for a new one is a great deal. This is a fantastic lens, hands down my favorite lens. Icredible sharpness, lightning fast focus, the bokeh, everything about it is great.
 
Joined
Jun 9, 2006
Messages
1,849
Location
Rural Virginia
1. I asked about portability on another thread, and got a few responses, but just wanted to make sure I could lug around this lens on my D700 for an hour or so... Would having a monopod be helpful? Would it travel as hand baggage in an airplane?

I find the 200 f2 to be close to MY limit of hand holding. I used it to photograph a cheerleading competition and held it for a couple of hours, but I would not want to go longer than that. I used the lens strap around my neck to periodically take the weight and give my arms a break. We have members who post here that have much more upper body strength than I do and will likely have a different perspective.

I find a monopod to be very helpful and normally I shoot my big glass from one when in tight quarters. The lens VR is very effective so the monopod is not necessary for stability, but really helps to take the weight off my arms.

I got the 200 f2 for candid portraits. My favorite shots are of people who are unaware they are being photographed so I get natural expressions rather than their "I'm being photographed" face. The 200 f2 is long enough to allow me to keep enough distance and the f2 aperture blows out the background nicely. The result is often a shot that looks like it was shot against a studio backdrop.

The case that ships with the 200 f2 is pretty sturdy and can be configured to hold the lens mounted on a body. I believe that case will easliy go in an airliner overhead bin. I haven't tried it but I think my TT Airport Acceleration bag would accept it as well.
 
Joined
Nov 8, 2008
Messages
425
Location
Portland
1a I always travel with it in the provided bag. Its a very nice solid bag. Its my second carry on with my other camera gear in my backup.

1b Is it "portable?" Don't know what your definition of that is. This is one fat and heavy lense compared to a 70-200 2.8. On sturdy monopod with my D3s have no issue running around with it. As to trassportation, see above.

1c I want to see the guy who says he can handhold this for a couple hours! I can see a shoot for a couple hours, but hand holding for a total of 2 hours of real shooting, I think that is more than a stretch.

1d Bokeh and subject isolation gorgeous, flexibility is limited. I find myself using my 70-200 more often for the flexibility.

As to good price, used 3200-3600 bucks?

There are a few old stock new 200mm F2 left in Japan, the pre VRII model, and before taking the plunge on one of these, I have a few questions.

In fact, the reason I found this site on Google was a search for "200mm f2 portrait"...and the rest is history!

1. I asked about portability on another thread, and got a few responses, but just wanted to make sure I could lug around this lens on my D700 for an hour or so... Would having a monopod be helpful? Would it travel as hand baggage in an airplane?

2. I don`t have any tele`s - so just to confirm, at what distance would this work as a portrait lens? Is a 200 4 times a 50? (Sorry for the ignorance)

3. Given the great bokeh, what type of shots will most suit this lens ( I understand indoor sports etc. ) but I like `special effects` and out of the ordinary scenes. Anything that one really wants to shoot with this lens?

The price btw here for a new old one is Y358,000 ($3900 or so).

Many thanks...
 
Joined
Dec 17, 2008
Messages
538
Location
Boise, ID
$3400 (the price I paid for mine used) is the lowest I've seen. There may have been one or two to pop up on FM for $3200, but pretty much all that I've seen have been $3400+, usually $3600+ still.

I'm a 5'8" 200 lbs ex-pro hockey player, so actually handholding it and shooting for 2+ straight hours is fine for me. I can definitely see how it would be difficult for most people though.
 
Joined
Nov 13, 2008
Messages
774
Location
Austin, TX
2. I don`t have any tele`s - so just to confirm, at what distance would this work as a portrait lens? Is a 200 4 times a 50? (Sorry for the ignorance)

No offense, but you might want to get a cheap 55-200mm lens to to get an idea of what 200mm looks like. I would have a tough time spending ~$4000 on a lens that I'm not even sure I would like the focal length and don't really know what I will be shooting.

It looks like the lens he is considering is a brand new one (older model).
 
Joined
Jul 6, 2009
Messages
438
Location
Berlin, germany
I have no idea about your time pressure / budget, but at this level of investment I would at least like to examine a copy or rent one to if it meets your needs etc
 
Joined
Jun 9, 2006
Messages
1,849
Location
Rural Virginia
In my mind there are two questions to be answered. Does the 200mm focal length work for your style of shooting and do you need f2? My answer is yes to both, which is why I have the 200 f2. I also have the 70-200 f2.8 which meets most of my needs at or near 200mm. But when I need f2, nothing but the 200 f2 will do.

If your style of shooting is at f4-f5.6 then the images from the 70-200 will likely be indistinguishable from those of the 200 f2 @f4-f5.6. But I can't say for sure, since my 200 f2 has always been at f2. :biggrin:
 
M

Mikael O

Guest
Hi,
I would not hesitate if you feel you can spend the money.
It is portable, the bokeh is fantastic and it works extremely well with all TCs.
My experience is also that i use the zoom glasses less and less.
You will not regret a purchase.
Have fun
Mikae
 
Joined
Mar 5, 2011
Messages
523
Location
Tokyo
Many thanks! It does seem more `portable` than I thought. I have test shot it for 5/10 min and loved it, but was concerned not getting back to base without struggling after an hour or so!

As for my shooting - I love candid shots and love bokeh...this seems to be the one. I know its expensive, but if there is a bid in the second hand market, I figure my downside is limited. I`ve bought cheaper lens and seen them lose 70 pct of their value, and good ones only lose 20 pct. True, the cheaper ones were a few hundred dollars and not Nikons, but I feel that getting a fine piece may give me more pleasure than the price minus the potential selling price (my potential loss, or hopefully investment)! But then, lens should be bought for functionality and pleasure - and that`s what I`m thinking about. Many thanks again
 
Joined
Oct 28, 2009
Messages
344
Location
California, San Diego
I once knew a guy who shot outdoor portraits exclusively with the 200 f2 and a 14-24. The 200 delivers great subject isolation for headshots, but might be more hassle than its worth. Telephoto lenses can also be used for landscapes because of the compression that comes with longer lenses, although for framing purposes a telezoom might be easier. I agree with the above poster that you might want to try out a regular telephoto lens before you take such a huge plunge- 200mm is a pretty big dedication and to go for that lens you should probably have a good mind what you want to use it for. Otherwise you might find it gathering dust and forcing yourself to use it to justify keeping it.
 
Joined
Jul 3, 2007
Messages
742
Location
california
The 200/2 was meant to be shot at f/2 (the 70-200VRII is so good even at f/2.8 that's the only justification of the 200) and if you like extreme subject isolation and perfect optics it is the lens for you.
It is worth noting that the lens is so heavy you must carry the setup by the lens and not by the camera or strap.
I have a question for others. Do you walk around with it with the HUGE lens hood on or off? It is easier to carry with it off but the large front element is unprotected and easy to scratch. I always carry it with the hood on even though it's more cumbersome.
 
M

Mikael O

Guest
Hi
I also always carry it with the hood on. And I have replaced the original foot with
a RRS foot.
Mikael
 

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