Practical Difference Between Nikon 80-200 f/2.8 and 70-200 f/2.8?

  • As a photographer for my college's newspaper, most of what I shoot is either low light (concerts, dances, etc.) or sports, so I'm looking into getting a low-light/high speed telephoto zoom for my Nikon D7000. I already have a 35mm f/1.8 that I use for most low-light photography when I have the opportunity to get close to my subject, but I can't always get a press pass for campus events (passes are handled by individual campus clubs who don't always respond to emails), and so I often wish I had some zoom besides my kit 55-200 (from a D40 kit several years ago) that would still be clear in low-light.

    I've come across two lenses by Nikon that seem to be mostly the same for my purposes: The AF 80-200mm f/2.8D ED, and the AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II. I ask, because there's nearly a $1300 dollar difference between them: Is there a practical difference between these two lenses?

    I'm aware of the obvious technical differences, AF vs AF-S, and the lack of VR on the 80-200, but I was curious if either of these features made a practical difference in focus speed and usability. From what I understand, on my D7000, the AF vs AF-S shouldn't make a difference, but is VR really worth the extra $1300?

    On a related note, I've also heard some people mention cheaper Sigma and Tamron lenses in the same focal range and aperture size, and I was curious what some of the differences would be between those and their Nikon equivalents?

    As the owner of the only the 80-200 I cannot compare the two. The 70-200 is out of my price range. All I can add is that it is a great lens. Focussing is fast enough on my D300 and it delivers nice sharp images. I do not regret getting this lens and I'm not sure if VR adds a lot in sports photography.

    To add to all the comments above, another good and surprising feature of the 70-200 is that it shoots well up close (3-5 meters) with practically no distortion. I have shot some amazing outdoor photos with ISO 200, f4.5, but with a 1/4000 shutter, at a distance of about 15 feet. The advantage is that there is great deapth of field, since the lens is working almost like a pinhole.

    @DonGillespie: I'm not sure how the lens behaves like a pinhole with such a wide aperture. I could understand that comment if you were using f/22, but at f/4.5 the aperture is still quite wide...

  • I used that 80-200 for quite a few years, and currently use the first iteration of the the 70-200.

    I think the 80-200 is a steal! It's optically very good, built well, and focuses quickly on a capable body. I don't hesitate to recommend it in the least. (Regarding autofocus: on an N65 and D50 it's not slow to focus, but it's clearly not fast. On an F100, D70, D200, and D300 it focuses quickly. I don't know how the AF motor of the D7000 compares.)

    The 70-200 is a great step beyond the 80-200. With AF-S it clearly focuses faster, VR is a big advantage, and optically it is also clearly superior. A fantastic lens, and I think it's worth the price. I don't have experience with the current "II" iteration of the lens, but based on other reviews I think it's equally excellent.

    Is it worth the price difference? On a great day, shooting in ideal conditions and stopped down, I would say that no the 70-200 is not worth an extra $1300. Want to shoot wide open in difficult conditions with continuous-focusing action with questionable shutter speeds -- go for the 70-200 and you'll enjoy the outing more.

    The 70-200 2.8 II has a drastically shorter focal length at close focus, just a heads up. I believe it's ~135mm on the long end when near it's close focus

    The 70-200 is an amazing lens, but the last few generations of the 80-200 were good in their own right, too.

    I too own the first version of the 70-200 2.8 VR. The VR and "snap your fingers" fast focusing ( on a D90 ) would clearly allow more successful shots. Also, the weather sealing would be beneficial when shooting football games in the fall, and baseball in the spring ( depending on where you live, obviously. )

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM