Focus breathing: 3 lenses compared, Z 24-200, F 70-300 AF-P E, F 70-200 AF-S VRI

Feb 11, 2006
Riverside, CA
I keep hearing about focus breathing and loss of focal length when focused close with certain lenses. I decided to do an informal test with 3 lenses that I own. For this test, I used my Z6 mounted on a tripod. I shot them all at 200mm, aperture priority and auto ISO, using f/6.3, since that is the max aperture at 200 for the 24-200. I figured I would also compare bokeh, although my subject mostly filled the frame, so there is minimal background to see, which reduced the effectiveness of that part of this test. My main goal was to observe the focus breathing phenomenon anyway, so I chose not to redo it.

First of all, a big difference between the 70-200 VRi and the other two lenses is minimum focus distance. The 70-300 and 24-200 focus closer. By as much as 2 feet it seems, maybe even more. So when I started off with the 24-200 and 70-300, I found I had to start over because of the 70-200's need for more distance to subject.

Anyway, so onto the results. the 70-200 has less focus breathing compared to the other two. It is noticeable. How much are the other two lenses reduced when focused at about 5ft? As I said, this is an informal test, I really have no way of knowing, but I would guess it looks like maybe they give the FOV of about 165mm. (total guess).

BUT: since the two "consumer" lenses focus much closer, you can still get the same FOV, however you need to get closer to the subject.

So here are the images, again, all shot at 200mm and f/6.3, reduced to 2000 pixels on the long edge, first up is the 70-200 :


The 70-300:




And finally, the two lenses that focus closer. (Remember, the 70-200 will not focus from this closer vantage point)

The 24-200, focused to near it's minimum focus distance:


And the 70-300 shot from the same place as the 24-200 above:


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