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70-200mm VR and Teleconverters

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by adaml, Jul 6, 2007.

  1. adaml


    Feb 21, 2006
    I'm sure this has been discussed before, but it's a new topic to me.

    MY longest focal length lens is the 80-400mm VR, which as far as I am concerned produces excellent IQ when used properly. Unfortunately, the AF leaves something to be desired as far as speed is concerned. The 70-200mm VR certainly has excellent IQ and on top of that it has lightning-fast AF. Unfortunately it has only half the reach.

    I've been considering the TC-17E II teleconverter, which would give me almost the reach of the 80-400mm VR, when added to the 70-200mm VR. I've read all the warnings about using teleconverters with zoom lenses, which is why I've eliminated the TC-20E II from consideration. I don't need that kind of reach often enough to indulge in the telephoto primes.

    So, I'm wondering if those of you with first-hand experience using the 70-200mm VR can tell me if I'm stretching, or if getting the teleconverter would be worthwhile. I guess my question is how much IQ and AF performance do you lose with this lens/teleconverter combination, assuming proper technique?
  2. Adam, I read somewhere that the TC-17E II was developed by Nikon with the 70-200VR in mind. I have the combination and think you'll find they work real well together. There's going to be a bit of IQ degradation, but VERY little. Acceptable for the added FL. Try it. I don't think you'll be unhappy. Good luck.
  3. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    I used that combo and it was very good
  4. I've been happy w/ mine, I know some folks don't like TCs in general....this page is a good resource for the TC17
  5. rubendparra

    rubendparra Guest

    i usually shot landscape , people, etc.. however i used this combo during the past birding season here in florida , this combo is a versatile tool , i'm sure you will be happy with it
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 7, 2007
  6. Adam;
    As a coincidence I've been considering the 80-400VR VS the 70-200VR + TC myself and have been reading everything I can on a half-dozen forums. From what I've read the 70-200 has superior IQ with the 1.4xTC, is more-or-less on par with the 1.7xTC and loses to the 80-400 with the 2.0xTC.

    The main advantage of the 70-200 would be the AF-S focusing (both lenses use VRI technology). I guess the decision comes down to what you want to use the lens for.

    I'm looking for a walk-around nature/wildlife lens with better IQ + reach than my 70-300VR so I'm leaning towards the 80-400 for its good IQ at 400mm where I would use it the most, long zoom range and no TC hassle. (I hate adding/removing TC's, especially in the field). I figure the slow focus can be countered somewhat with the use of the focus limiter but I'll have to forget shooting in low light with this lens - of course thats nothing new to you. If you think I'm missing anything I'd appreciate your advice.

  7. I just got the 70-200/2.8vr and TC17 combo and I think the IQ is fine- it really seems to slow down & confuse the auto-focus on mine though. Is that typical?
  8. The 70-200 with the 1.7 was go-to combo for the long end and I was VERY happy with the results! I used the TC 90% of the time and it was my must used combo. I now shoot with the 200-400 and this is the only way to get better quality and still zoom...
  9. yamo


    Jun 28, 2007
    Santa Cruz, CA
    Greetings. The 70-200 f2.8 + TC17EII is a 120-340 f4.8. You have both the 70-200 and the 80-400, so what you want this combo for the AF speed in the 200-340 range? for $400 & change?

    Uh, I'm hope I'm not being rude here but... sorry, I don't get it.


  10. adaml


    Feb 21, 2006
    Yamo: no offense taken.

    You are absolutely right; if I don't lose IQ (which according to most of the posts I won't) as compared to the 80-400mm, then I really am only looking for the teleconverter to give me the same approximate range, but with greatly improved AF. For some of what I shoot (action shots) the AF of the 80-400mm is a real issue. My alternatives are the 70-200 with the 1.7 teleconverter at $400+, or the 200-400mm at thousands more. The way I look at it the teleconverter is a bargain!
  11. weiran


    Jan 2, 2007
    Nottingham, UK
    If you don't mind changing lenses then look at the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8, it might give you the reach you want but still have the fast focusing and f/2.8 aperture.
  12. probably stated somewhere else so please forgive if redundant. If you just want distance and don't care about focus speed or searching, and especially if weight is a consideration, the 80-400 is perfect as in landscapes or if you like shooting distant objects that don't move quickly. Great for bikini shots at the beach or muscle man shots if you prefer (in interest of equal opportunity) for example.

    The 70-200 / 80-200 however can offer a nicer blurred background to isolate a subject due to greater f-stop range and of course low light photography especially if subject is moving. comes at a cost in money and weight and size. Photography is about compromise. If it was easy, anyone could do it. Oops, I guess anyone can do it.

    I am starting to look at a faster lens in the same range, so I feel your pain in the decision process. I think I have narrowed my lust to the 80-200 AF-D since I have a 200-400 that really is in need of some exercise after a winter of hiding in the closet. I don't shoot sports so don't really need the speed and I am interested in the smaller lighter profile of the 80-200 d and it is a bunch cheaper:biggrin:

    lens/camera weight has recently become a greater issue for me, so I am re-considering my kit a bit.
  13. lexygirl


    Aug 21, 2006
    What is the matter with the 2x. I didn't see much on that, just that it lost to the 80-400mm lens with a 2x converter. Does anyone use a 2x with the 70-200mm Nikon lens?
  14. yamo


    Jun 28, 2007
    Santa Cruz, CA
    So Weiran writes:

    Have you looked at this thread (don't know how to refer to a thread) but the title is in Lens Lust:
    Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8-Update: first impression 4-20

    It's one of those bad Lens lust... bad... Bad! threads (surely you've seen the 200f2 thread). Anyway, I have the 70-200VR, but would like to go longer with something with the quality, speed, TC compatibility, etc. of the 70-200. The Sigma sounds pretty interesting... if it only had VR...

    Anyway, I posted this in another thread... Thought you might be interested.[​IMG]

    It'a a test shot (100% crop) with the 70-200VR with the TC17EII wide open which is f4.8 (f2.8 + 1.5 stops for the TC) ISO 100 at 1/125th, handheld, shot taken 15 feet from the battery. It's hard to see in the jpeg but with the combo the AF nailed the center of the focus range . The small print is 1/16 of an inch and in the raw image you can clearly make out the 16th inch tick marks on the tape measure which with the angle are about 1/32 inch apart for the image. Not bad for being handheld and 15 feet away... I can make out the Duracell part with my eyes at that distance, but can't even see the small print.

    I notice no drop off in AF speed with the TC17EII or maybe a little but have noticed more hunting in very low light. From your description, it will probably work for you...


  16. motor sports are probably the best sports to shoot since the subject is on a predictable path and you can follow the moving object at a predictable rate while your lens is calculating the focus parameters. A sport like football or boxing as examples might be a bit more difficult since they are subject to erratic and sudden changes in movement. Also, when I tried to get a fix on a moving bird in a blue sky, it was truly frustrating to use the auto focus because it was continuouly hunting for the subject. Many sports are indoors or night time reducing the lighting advantage. Same with dance or concert photography. The f2.8 is a distinct advantage in all these cases and you also get the advantage of a nice boquet when you want to isolate a subject which is again limited in the 80-400.

    Having said all that however, I must say, for your purpose and for general outdoor photography especially if you can use a tripod or monopod, I love the 80-400 and would not hesitate to get one for what you are doing. If you can accept it's limitations, it is truly a great multi purpose lightweight (for 400mm) and relatively inexpensive.
  17. Doug


    Jan 17, 2006
    East TN
    good info here. Jason, nice action work with the 80-400. I sold mine, admit a few regrets on that sale... It's strange, we don't see these for sale much now, and they used to pop up quite frequently.

  18. Hi Scott Sherman, Thanks for the reply, All the pics I have posted are all handheld (I dont like tripods etc).
    I do have a question for you though...(and others) I notice that you have the 200-400vr... Would you with your experience with this lens say that it is worth the extra to upgrade from the 80-400vr for what I'm doing. Most of my pics are slow shutter speeds and apertures between F9-F16. Do you think that there would be a significant improvement in IQ, when compared to the price..UK price of 80-400vr £990...200-400vr £4000...??
    I already have the 70-200 F2.8, dont use it nowhere as much as the 80-400vr due to lack of reach + IQ with the 2xtc
    Your thoughts and opinions would be appreciated
  19. Hi Jason,
    Glad to respond although my response may not be what you want to hear. First... 200-400 is an expensive lens and not for the weak of wallet. If it is in your budget and you can buy it without going into financial distress, it is a wonderful lens and one that I recommend whole heartedly. Second... it is a heavy lens and if you don't like to carry a lot of lens weight, this may wind up being left at home alot. I admit, I don't bring it frequently even though I sometimes wish I had because of weight/size. Having said that, it is still at the bottom of the big lenses for size/weight and especially for the great results you can get and it takes TC's to even give you greater reach. So if you have a specific goal which will require long lens with a bit of flexability and don't mind the weight/size penalty over the 80-400, it is the supreme lens in it's range for a zoom. It is not for vacation photography as you would be worn out at the end of the day if you walk alot.

    As I mentioned in the above post, the 80-400 has its' limitations but within those limits, it takes some wonderful pictures. So as has been said so many times, it is conditional and your situation is unique to you and your needs. For some, it is the perfect lens, for others, it would be a waste of money. I would say the best of the zoom kits are the 200-400 which is to its' range what the 70-200 is to its' range and the 17-55 is to its' range. I also like the Sigma 10-20 for wide although I have a 10.5 also and like it for certain uses.

    If money/weight/size is no object and you want the best set up for a Nikon DSLR, in my opinion it is the three lenses I mentioned. If money and weight/size is an object, I like the Sigma 10-20mm, Nikon 18-200 and the 80-400 for a similar range.

    Remember, my perspective is as an outdoor scenic/nature guy. Not a sports photog or action photog guy. If that is your thing, you need to add the extra f stops for light and subject movement and this discussion might go in a different direction.
  20. Hi Scott, Many thanks for the reply. From what you have said it seems for my situation that the answer is keep my money in the bank...As most of pics are taken at F8-F18 + slow shutter speeds. The cost of this great piece of glass far outway the return that I would get in IQ, about the only thing that I would get is faster focusing..which I have never found a problem with the 80-400vr.
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