06 March 2010
I recently bought a second hand Nikon 70-210mm f4-f5.6 AF lens from eBay for £65 as I’d read some good things about it, and it comes from the same era as my 35-70mm f2.8 which I like very much (but which was also rather more expensive).
I already have an 18-200 VR so this new 70-210 is going have to be better than that lens to avoid going straight back on eBay.
I set the camera up on a tripod pointing down the garden and took a few shots with each lens at 200mm and 210mm with varying apertures. These are 100% crops from near the centre of the frame (unsharpened). The last shots are shrunk versions of the full image to give an idea of the extra reach the 70-210 has.
These results are a bit disappointing, the 70-210 is clearly putting more pixels over the same area, but I’m not convinced it’s actually capturing much more detail (especially at f5.6).
I’ve also just taken the 70-210 down to the park to take some photos of my daughter, and I’ve learned how important shutter speed is with this lens at 210mm. I guess I’ve been spoiled by the VR on the 18-200 but it does seem that you need a shutter speed of 1/400s or faster when hand holding which means you need quite a sunny day to also get down to f8-f11.
That said, I did get some quite nice shots in the park and noticed that it might be front focusing slightly which I should be able to correct for in the camera.
In terms of build quality the 70-210 wins, feeling much more solid. But it loses out in terms of focus speed to the 18-200’s built in AFS. The AF-D version of the 70-210 is supposed to focus twice as fast which would certainly help (but they are also rarer and more expensive on eBay).
So for now I’m leaning towards the 18-200 as it’s only marginally less sharp, but focuses faster, has VR and can go all the way to 18mm. However, if I didn’t already have the 18-200 I’d certainly be happy with 70-210, especially at the bargain price it can be had for.