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Extra Reach

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Let me formally introduce you to......
The 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor (and that's a long introduction....)

This lens set me back by around £1150. There are of course much more expensive lenses out there for some fairly exotic 'glass' but I will not be shopping in that particular market and neither do I need to.....longer reach lenses.



*Update - the new Mark II version of this lens has been released and this has a RRP of £2085! You can purchase one for around £1600-£1700 from the internet.


Now, as I mentioned in my notes on the Nikkor 12-24 DX, I read up as much as I can on equipment before I buy. I prefer QUALITY over QUANTITY. I had already heard good vibes about this lens as my photography knowledge built up so I half guessed the reviews were going to be good. What I did not expect was just how good these reports were. Put it like this, on the internet forums there were three types of people talking about this Nikkor lens:

  • Those people who already owned one
  • People who were on the verge of buying one and were like children waiting for Christmas
  • Or those, like me, who were starting to be lured into the magnetic pull of this lens!

In researching kit I have never come across a lens which created such a fervor, even Canon owners were on the verge of "converting" and turning to the "dark side" to own it!



Well ok, you know what comes next - I go and buy one right? Well yes, but not without a number of concerns:

  • Do I really need this lens?
  • Do I want to spend a serious amount of money on it?
  • Is it really that good?
  • Two semi-skimmed... (oops, sorry wrong list...)

So it was on a fateful day in Birmingham, that I entered the NEC to FOCUS 2007. I still did not know for certain whether I was going to buy it or not.

I went to the Nikon stand after a few minutes milling around trying to think. I asked for the demonstrator to be fitted to their D200 but everybody seemed to want to try it and I had to wait in turn to get my hands on it. When I did - bloody hell it was heavy!!!



I tried it out. Sometimes the problem in reading and not trying something first, is that you can start to believe so much of the hype you expect it to do almost the impossible. Having not owned a telephoto zoom lens prior to this, the extra movement with a long heavy lens soon became apparent. I tried a number of shots in a relatively dark area of the show with VR on and at f2.8. My initial reaction was a little dissapointing I have to say, but once I realised what I was asking the lens to do, my mindset came around to thinking "hey that ain't bad, that ain't bad at all!" I started to think of how my other lenses would have coped with the situation....



The Vibration Reduction (VR) system Nikon has fitted to this lens is superb. I have yet to use the setting for working on the move (e.g. in a car), known as "ACTIVE" only the "NORMAL" VR setting. Nikon state it offers "the equivalent of using a shutter speed 3 stops (eight times) faster" which I can well believe. To finish the techy stuff it has a built-in SWM for ultra-fast ultra-quiet AF operation and a fantastic Five ED glass elements for improved image quality.

The contrast from this lens is superb and the amount of post processing is reduced even with RAW files due to this image quality.


Now I could go on and on about the virtues of this lens but you can read that in almost any review of this lens you care to read. So do a little light reading folks and you will see what I am on about!


The Downsides....



Flare
You have to be mindful of flare, although I always tend to use the lens hood which comes with the lens and have had no real issues with this.



Cost
You really need to decide if:


(A) you can afford it and;
(B) if you need to afford it to get the best.


Will a more respectably priced lens do the job you want?



Weight
This lens is very well put together. As with all professional lenses quality comes at a price - both in terms of money and weight. You will need to try it out first as this may be a factor which puts you off. Having used this lens with my D200 fitted with the battery pack (and D3 body), I know I have been carrying it around! I tend not to put it around my neck, but carry it in my Lowpro camera bag or hold it by the lens's mount.



Want to get noticed?
The third, and somewhat less obvious downside is this lens gets noticed. Its such a big lens with the lens hood attached that it attracts attention and comments in equal measure. Sometimes it almost reaches the point of a 'Carry On' film..."Ooh, that's a big one!"...you get the jist. On a more serious note this can make it attractive to the wrong sort of people. Big shiny camera and lens, that's got to be worth a few quid...and of course they are right.



So what do I use it for?
Since the lens has been in the Mark Hughes Photography kit its main use has been family photographs at various events and days out. For images of my family it can not be beaten. Works in low light, is fast, silent, gives me enough distance from the subject not to intrude too much and the results are great.



I have also used it in my Landscape Photography when I need 'extra reach'. This was one of the principle reasons for buying it, together with allowing me to take detail shots with lovely blurred (bokeh) backgrounds. To this end, this Nikkor Lens is one of the best around.



My verdict


I must be weird in that I like heavy kit. To me that instills confidence in the build. So I accept the pain of carrying this lens all day for the results and options it gives me. Don't get me wrong, I am glad to put it down when I get home, but the results are worth it.



I guess you can not argue about the lens's abilities. Can you afford it, or want to pay out for one? Only you can decide - but I am very pleased I did.

Stiperstones Dawn
Heart of England Landscape Photography....