I’m on a quick holiday to Calgary & Cochrane Alberta, primarily for my cousin’s wedding this weekend, but also for a bit of family fun too. Fortunately, family fun for me equals going to The Camera Store and playing with telephoto zooms. I’ve been debating getting a 70-200 lens for quite some time. I love my primes and primarily shoot them, but for events like weddings, they’re just not versatile enough for fast paced situations. So, Dave at the Camera Store was nice enough to setup three lenses for me on a D800. The Nikon 70-200 f/4, the 70-200 f/2.8 and of special interest, the Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 VC. I was curious to see how these lenses performed against each other in typical wedding-esque crappy lighting (the Camera Store was kind enough to provide that scenario for me). 😉 The most interest to me was in the Tamron after I read how DxO Mark rated it.
So, I provide for your viewing pleasure three sample images that have been downsized to 1024px – mainly to see how the bokeh looks. I shot all the photos at 200mm, wide open, auto WB, and ISO 1600-3200. It simulated real life event photography in low light perfectly. And, I also included 3 100% crop images so you can see the detail that the lenses offer. It should also be noted that I shot them all hand held between 1/60 – 1/125 – truly testing the VR/VC performance of these lenses. They all performed amazingly well and I was very impressed by all three. I knew the Nikon f/2.8 was stellar, but I was blown away to discover the others did just as good! 😀
So, first up, the Tamron:
Next, the 70-200 f/2.8 Nikon
And, here’s the f/4
So, they all look good. Nice bokeh. The difference between f/2.8 and f/4 isn’t all that big, but it is a whole stop of light. It’s all very smooth and pleasing.
OK, here’s the crops so you can check out the details. No noise removal of any kind on these shots:
So there’s the stuff. I’m totally impressed by all three, they performed wonderfully and are very sharp. The f/4 is smaller and lighter than the other 2, renders sweet bokeh and performs awesomely with the new VR. But you lose that extra stop of light for that light, travel friendly form factor. It is the cheapest of the three at $1279.99. The 2.8 version is $2129.99, a whopping $850 bones more. And then, there’s the gem of the bunch, the Tamron. It’s around $1600 so it falls in between Nikon’s offerings. The image quality is just as good as can be seen above – if not better on DxO Marks testing. If the f/4 won’t do it for you and you need the extra 2.8 stop, then I’d go with the Tamron over the Nikon flagship. The images are just superb either way, might as well save the cash, unless you need the Nikon street cred. The f/4 is awesome too, and so much lighter, which I why I would almost pick it, especially since the ISO performance of today’s cameras are so good. They’re always a bit of trade off, depending on one’s needs. After this test, I’m heavily leaning towards the Tamron. 😎