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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

70 To 200


OP’s guide to the professional workhorse lens for nature photographers

Labels: LensesGear



This Article Features Photo Zoom

Daniel J. Cox photographed this pair of thick-billed murres in Svalbard, Norway. With the lens set at 130mm on his Nikon D300 (DX-format APS-C image sensor), he had latitude to zoom in or out as necessary. This shows how useful the lens is for wildlife photography.
Nikon’s first pro AF telezoom was the AF Zoom-Nikkor 80-200mm ƒ/2.8, introduced in 1987. It was followed by the AF Zoom-Nikkor 80-200mm ƒ/2.8D in 1992, which featured internal focusing and provided distance data to the then-new 3D Matrix metering systems in Nikon AF SLRs. In 1997, Nikon introduced a new version of the lens, with a twin-ring design (previous zooms had a single ring for zooming and focusing) and faster AF. The first AF-S 80-200mm ƒ/2.8D was introduced in 1999, with new optics and a quick, quiet AF-S focusing motor (previous lenses used the AF motor in the camera body). In 2002, Nikon introduced its first AF-S 70-200mm ƒ/2.8G zoom, with VR Vibration Reduction built-in, and in 2009 introduced the AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 VR II, a completely new design with Nano-Crystal coating and more effective VR.

Sony’s 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 pro zoom began life as the Konica Minolta AF 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 Apo G (D) SSM, the G signifying a high-performance pro lens, the D that it provides distance data to the camera’s metering system for more accurate exposures, and the SSM that it contains a Super Sonic Wave focusing motor for quiet, accurate autofocusing. The lens now carries the Sony badge, Sony having taken over and built extensively on Konica Minolta’s camera program a few years back.


Art Wolfe took this stunning image near Yangon, Myanmar. The 70-200mm’s versatile range is perfect for travel photography. Wolfe had the Canon EF 70-200mm ƒ/4L IS USM on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR.
Pentax offered the SMC FA* 80-200mm ƒ/2.8 ED (IF) zoom, but it’s no longer in production. Currently, the DA* 60-250mm ƒ/4 ED (IF) SDM fills this focal-length niche in the Pentax line, with a quiet Supersonic Drive focusing motor.

Olympus’ Zuiko Digital 35-100mm ƒ/2.0 zoom for Four Thirds System cameras provides the same field of view as a 70-200mm zoom on a 35mm camera (or full-frame DSLR), thanks to the smaller Four Thirds image sensor’s 2x focal-length factor. The lens is a member of Olympus’ Super High Grade pro series.

Among the independent lens manufacturers, Sigma has produced a number of autofocus 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 zooms, starting in 1998. Currently, it offers two: the recently introduced 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 EX DG OS HSM with Optical Stabilizer and a Hyper Sonic focusing motor, and the earlier 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 ES DG APO Macro HSM II, without OS. Both are available in mounts for Sigma, Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Sony/Minolta SLRs, and the latter is also available on a Four Thirds System mount. Tamron (which offered a 95-205mm F/6.3 manual-focus zoom back in 1961) offers the SP AF70-200mm F/2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro zoom in mounts for Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Sony/Minolta SLRs, currently the lowest-priced 70-200mm ƒ/2.8. Tokina once offered the AT-X AF 80-200mm ƒ/2.8 PRO zoom, but it’s no longer in production.

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