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Which 2.8 telephoto zoom for D50?

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by orangejulio, Aug 6, 2007.

  1. Hi,

    I have done my best over the last few weeks to try to answer the question I'm about to ask, but I have yet to find the "right" reviews or forum answers. Here's the deal...

    I have a D50, and I have gotten to where I am happy with all of my lenses - except my telephoto. I have a functional but clunky 70-210mm f/4-5.6 push-pull zoom that I bought last year on ebay. It actually can take decent pictures, but it's too slow. It's useless for action or for anything less than full sunlight. Also, I have found that I am not a fan of push-pull zooms. It's time to upgrade!

    I am looking at the following lenses:
    Nikon 70-200mm AF-S VR
    Nikon 80-200mm D (current 2 ring design)
    Sigma 70-200mm APO HSM... (can't remember the rest of their acronyms offhand)

    At the moment, I could just go out and buy either of the latter two without hesitation. I don't have the cash for the AF-S/VR, and even if I waited to save up more money, I don't know that can stomach the price tag. If I made money from photography, it'd be a lot easier for me to do, but it's a lot of $$ for an amateur. I understand the differences between all these lenses, but I have no way to really try them out, with the exception of the AF-S VR, which I can rent at a local shop. And in all honesty, I'm trying to avoid renting it, since I am afraid I'll succumb to "lens lust."

    What I've gathered from my research is that the IQ of both Nikons is fantastic. The reviews on the Sigma vary, and it sounds good but possibly soft wide open at 200mm. I do like that it has the quick HSM focus, though (I've never had a Sigma, so I'm trusting that it's fast). The AF-S VR is the best on all counts, but I read somewhere that it may have some flare issues (is this true?)

    After saying all that, I guess my decision comes down to a single question... how responsive is the screw focus of the 80-200 on a D50? If it will focus pretty quickly, I will forgo the AF-S/VR of the expensive lens and the HSM motor of the Sigma. I really do not want to spend $900 on a lens that doesn't focus really quickly. I know that different cameras have different motors, and I'd have to assume the a D50 is on the weaker side. That makes having an AF-S or HSM focus system look really attractive. When I shoot sports or fast-moving subjects, I don't want to miss shots due to a weak focus motor. And, yes, I know it's possible to get shots with any lens, practical experience has proven to me that I lose more opportunities when I have a slow-focusing lens. On the subject of VR, I wouldn't object to having it, but I can't justify an extra $700-800 for that feature alone. I would need other compelling reasons to spend the extra money.

    I would be interested in hearing ANY insights or opinions that people want to share. I know this the kind of question that will have many "answers," but since I can only rent one of them, I am hoping to benefit from others' experiences or wisdom. For me, just trying a few test shots in a store doesn't really give me a good idea of how well the lens will work in the real world. I am hoping that you can tell me your recommendation. Sample photos (particularly of the Sigma, which isn't as popular) would be appreciated, too. Thanks!
  2. Does it have to be new?
    Why not look into a used 80-200 AF-S?
    sounds like it might be just what your looking for.
  3. Cope


    Apr 5, 2007
    Houston, Texas
    I have the Sigma 70-210 2.8 EX DG HSM Macro for my D200. I haven't used it a lot, but I like what I see so far. A friend uses this lens for baseball shots day and night, and is the one who initially recommended it to me.
  4. I agree, consider a used 80-200mm AF-S. It is very fast to focus and and I feel that it is better than the AF versions at f2.8. I have a D50 and it is kind of a dog with screw lenses.
  5. I'll go against the tide and recommend against the 80-200AF-S. Nikon stopped making that lens in early 2003, when they introduced the 70-200VR, so any copies you'd get would be at least 4 1/2 years old. And since people tend to sell bad copies rather than have them repaired, your chances for getting an out-of-warranty dog would be 10 times higher than if you bought a new lens.

    Besides, those who recommends the 80-200 AFS over the current 80-200 AF-ED on the basis of focus speed usually haven't owned either of them, and are just repeating "common knowledge", which is suspect. The 80-200 AF-ED is incredibly fast to focus, even on my d70 body. It's fast enough to capture a speeding racecar...

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    a home run swing...

    View attachment 109897

    a bird in flight...

    View attachment 109898

    and even people in flight.

    View attachment 109899

    And it can freeze a hummingbird in mid air!

    View attachment 109900

    You'll have to spend some time learning good technique, but once you do, the 80-200 is not a lens that will ever hold you back.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 6, 2007
  6. jbk224@gmail.com


    Oct 11, 2006
    No Bs

    Uncle Frank,
    You are the MAN. NO BS HERE!
  7. Excellent shots Frank! And more importantly, thanks for validating my recent decision to purchase the 80-200 AF-ED. Now if the UPS man would just cooperate.
  8. Uncle Frank is correct, in that you have to be careful buying used.
    I recommended the AF-S because the Julio seemed concerned with
    the screw drive on his D50.
    Never had the AF-ED, but Uncle Frank sure makes a strong case
    with those images!, Beautiful! The Humming Bird is amazing!
    The AF-ED is obviously no slouch.

    Bottom line- Your probably better off with the warranty.

    Thanks for straitening me out Frank!

    I do have an AF-S, and I'm pretty happy with the "old dog".
    I'll be hangin' on to it pretty tight
    D2h,80-200 AF-S:smile:

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
  9. jmmtn4aj


    Apr 12, 2007
    Focusing speed aside, how many find themselves using monopods or tripods less after switching to the 70-200? To me the main deciding factor wouldn't be IQ or focusing speed but hand-holdability, because I seem to get very few keepers using telephotos :tongue:
  10. I can't deny that VR is neat, but I use a monopod mostly because of weight, not camera shake. If I'm going to stand and wait for a shot to develop, whether it be on the sidelines of a field sport or at a wildlife preserve, I want a monopod to take the weight off my arms and shoulders.
  11. if you don't need

    the 2.8 aperture, the 70-300 VR is the one to beat. You'll find focusing on the D50 to be quite impressive and IQ leaves little to be desired. You'll get more range, faster focusing (than non AF-S optics) and VR in a nice package that would complement your other lenses quite well. (I had to plug the 70-300 VR, it's just a remarkable optic)

    The D50 is kinda slow with non AF-S lenses, I don't now if this will be the case with the 80-200, but with other 2.8 optics I have used it was slow enough to miss some important shots.

    If you need the faster aperture than the 80-200 seems to fit the bill, though you did mention you are tired of push-pull lenses and I believe some (or all ?) of the 80-200 optics are push-pull (someone correct me here). The 70-200 VR of course would be nice, but you mentioned it is outside your price range. The Sigma seems to be a crowd favorite and of course has HSM focusing which satisfies your need for speed, of course the Sigma is harder to research because Nikonfanboys hate it and Sigmafanboys love it and trying to find non-biased information somewhere in the middle is difficult - though friends of mine who have used the Sigma's have told me they are great lenses that are very hard to differentiate from Canon and Nikon's better optics (I think it's more psychological in these debates than anything else).

    I hope this helps,
  12. Dave


    Feb 7, 2007
    Suwanee, GA
    I agree with Frank...I actually never use a monopod or a tripod with my 80-200 as I hate having to lug it around and set up the tripod or walk around with a monopod. If I had a heavier lens then I would consider it. I too have the 80-200 AF-ED lens on a D50 and it focuses very fast for the most part. Sure if there is low light it's going to hunt for focus lock occasionally, but then again the AF-S will also, it just will take about a half second quicker to lock on. I tried the 70-200 VR, and while it is a very nice lens, it is longer than the 80-200 and heavier and I just couldn't justify swallowing the price of a lens that is of the same IQ but 3 times the price (my 80-200 was bought from someone here on the Cafe).

    Here are some examples from my 80-200 and D50:



  13. Dave


    Feb 7, 2007
    Suwanee, GA
    Daniel is right, the 70-300 Vr is a great lens, but it is rather slow at f4.5-5.6. I had this lens and ended up selling it for the 80-200 f/2.8. Yes the VR and the AF-S is nice, but I always found myself with shutter speeds that were too slow for what I wanted to shoot, so to f/2.8 I went and I haven't regretted it since. The 300 f/4 is also a great lens (and comes in AF-S variety) if you want to consider a non-zoom. I never thought I would buy a long tele prime, but they really are amazing pieces of glass.

    Oh, and the old 80-200's were push pull, but the newer ones are 2 ring, one for zoom and one for focus. :biggrin:
  14. Peet

    I noticed you sold your 70-300 in favor of the 80-200, do you notice a difference in IQ - just curious....
  15. Dave


    Feb 7, 2007
    Suwanee, GA
    Actually, I do notice a difference as I feel the 80-200 is sharper. However, I think the main problem is that I am always shooting in subpar lighting conditions and always hand held, thus I need a lens that can produce a fast shutter speed. This is why the f/2.8 lenses work so well for me in the telephoto range. I consider myself to have a pretty steady hand, but even VR wasn't cutting it when my shutter speeds were dipping down in the 1/160 range at 300mm because there wasn't enough light at f/5.6.

    I did get some super sharp pictures from the 70-300 VR though and if you are shooting outside in the middle of the day where it's nice and sunny, that lens will work wonders. Unfortunately I never found myself shooting in those circumstances.
  16. SP77


    Jun 4, 2007
    Rockville, MD
    aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!! Now why did you have to go and post this? Or better yet, why did I have to go and look in this thread? I was all set and happy to buy the 70-300VR eventually. :biggrin:

    (couldn't see UF's shots because they're blocked at work, but i'm sure they're outstanding also. Can't wait to take a look at home :smile: )
  17. Wow...I'm really impressed with how much good feedback you've all given me on this. As with most lens questions, there are quite a few different opinions! I feel like I am starting to gravitate towards the 80-200 f/2.8D. The 70-300 VR looks like a nice lens, but f/2.8 is mandatory for me on this lens. If I could find a really good copy of an AF-S, that would be interesting to me, but dropping $900 or more on an ebay lens makes me nervous. Like Uncle Frank suggested, I think the chances of getting a bad lens are much higher than buying new. Although that would really be just about the perfect lens (minus the VR, of course) for me...

    I would still be open to the Sigma 70-200. My experience with 3rd party lenses has been mixed so far, but I'm not opposed to them in principle. I was hoping to hear and see more from people that own and use that lens. I was looking through some sample images on pbase and many of the Sigma photos were uninspiring and lacked the "pop" of similar images taken with the Nikon lenses. However, that could just be an issue with the photographers' skills, and it's possible that most of the better photographers go with one of the Nikons.

    Seeing all the great pictures from the variations of the 80-200 is inspiring, though, and making it easier for me to look away from the 70-200 AF-S VR. I really enjoyed Roger's racecar pictures, especially some of the panning shots. Thanks, all!
  18. JakeB.

    JakeB. Guest

    I too have the 80-200 AF-D ED and have been happy with it. As everyone else has mentioned it's impressively sharp and the focus is pretty quick. I have used some slightly faster lenses, but none in the telephoto range.
    The 80-200 is a heap side faster than the 55-200 and the Tokina 80-200 f/2.8 I had.
    I use mine on a D70 and a D80.

    If you look hard enough, you can find these for quite the deal... I picked mine up for $450
  19. Jonathan P.

    Jonathan P.

    Jul 10, 2007
    Whatever you do, don't handle or use a 70-200 AF-S VR.

    I bought a Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 AF-D after having used a 70-200, and I just couldn't warm up to the 80-200. Everyone who says that the 80-200 focuses quickly despite being a screw-drive lens is correct. But it isn't as lightning-fast as the 70-200 with AF-S. I also have to take issue with claims that the image quality between the two lenses is pretty much identical. The 70-200 has better resolution, better corner sharpness, (I formed these opinions after using the two lenses, and a comparison of actual MTF charts on Photozone.de bears this out), better contrast, and better bokeh. In fact, at some apertures, Photozone.de's 70-200 was off the charts on the resolution tests with a D200. The 80-200 is good, but certainly not as good, particularly in the corners.

    I realize that I'm going against the grain, but having owned both the 80-200 and the 70-200, I just can't agree that these two lenses are as close in performance as most people claim. I also realize that I'm probably being a bit of a jerk by hijacking this thread and talking about a lens you're not considering purchasing. But then again, this is the "Lens Lust" forum, and I'm trying to change your mind. ;-)

    I think the 70-200 is worth every penny over the 80-200. If you can't afford the 70-200, then keep saving until you can afford one. If you need a quality telephoto zoom yesterday, buy the 80-200 now, save more money, then sell the 80-200 and get the 70-200.

    My 2 cents, and perhaps overvalued.
  20. Jonathan P.

    Jonathan P.

    Jul 10, 2007
    My best stuff is on another computer, but here are a few images I captured over the weekend with the 70-200 f/2.8 AF-S VR.

    All shots are handheld at 70mm, f/3.2, ISO 100, VR off. No post-processing (yet).



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