Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bye-bye Nikon 80-200mm f2.8

Well, Nikon, I tried your good old 80-200mm and when it's good, it's really good. But when it's off, like it is constantly for the AF system error at minimum focus distance, it's really horrible. Having seen this same performance from my old Sigma lens up close, I'd say the Sigma's optical formula was based on the Nikon 80-200, as they shared minimum focal distance AF errors and focus shift. I have a Tamron 70-300mm Di VC lens and it has no problems even when used on the same D300 camera body. When I analyzed my shooting, I figured out that I wasn't using the f2.8-f4.5 range anyway, because I didn't like the softness in the images. Above f5.6 both my Sigma and my Nikon were acceptably sharp, but if I'm going to shoot at f5.6, I can do that with my significantly-cheaper Tamron 70-300, and have image stabilization to boot! Yes, the Tamron VC is incredibly good. It enables me to take sharp, colorful, contrast-boosted shots in situations where I had to go to f2.8 before (f2.8 on my previous two lenses suffers from light diffraction inside the glass elements, causing less contrast and color, and a reduction in apparant sharpness). It's good enough that I'm considering getting Tamron's 17-50mm f2.8 Di VC lens in a month or two, making it time to sell off both my 50mm f1.4D (which I never shoot below f2.5 due to focus shift) and my 17-55mm f3.5-5.6 AF-S kit lens. There are benefits to be had from the Tamron, and if I can capture engine bay details at f2.8 or f3.5 between 35mm and 50mm of focal length, I'll be incredibly happy with the new Tamron. Now to save my pennies...

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