In fact there is only 1 F stop between these two famous telephoto lenses. But, there is a huge weight, size and price difference in between the two. 200mm f2 vr ii is an exotic lens. According to some, it is the ultimate choice for portraits and indoor sports.
So, how does a 70-200 2.8 stand up to it? With this question in my mind, i recently tried them side by side. I was mostly interested in to find out, if 70-200 has as pleasing background blur as 200 f2. Is sharpness on par ? How about the performance with a teleconverter ? So, let's take a closer look at the two lenses.
As one can clearly see, 200 f2 vr has much bigger muscles. Looks more like a heavyweight versus a middle weight.
During the test, i attached both cameras to a Nikon D4S, and left the camera settings the same. Both lenses were used with their wide open aperture. My distance from the subject was the same. I had only one d4s, so when shot the first image, our beautiful model Rosa held her pose, I swapped the lenses and reshot it. If you want to inspect the images yourself, simply go on the image right click and save it. The images are in full resolution. Ps: Normally both of the lenses suck a lot of light, but the images were shot on a dark grey winter day.
I preferred to shoot full body shots, because seeing the difference in background blur on a full body shot was more interesting to find out. For a headshot, one needs to be close to the subject, in this situation background melts away to nothing, making it not easy to tell the difference. When I first uploaded the images to my computer, I immediately realized that 200mm f2 vr renders the background smoother/nicer than the 70-200. When pictures from both lenses are placed side by side, anyone can tell, which photo came from which lens right up. 200mm f2 vr is a clear winner here. But 70-200mm is not much far behind it.
Both lenses are very sharp. It was not easy to handhold the 200mm f2, which might effect the sharpness. So if you want to use this lens use at least a monopod. The performance of the 200mm f2 with teleconverters is better. It gives sharper images with faster autofocus. I am comfortable to use the 70-200 with tc 1.4. With tc 1.7 it gives decent results. But I would hesitate to use the 70-200 even with the latest tc 2 iii. Maybe you will browse the internet and find some good results with the 70-200 + 2xiii combo. But those pictures are small, print them large, this will change the game. So without teleconverters, the sharpness is on par, making it a tie. But with the teleconverters 200mm f2 has the clear edge.
Now with the Nikon TC 17E ii Teleconverter.
200mm f2 vr ii becomes a 340mm f/3,3 70-200 2.8 vr ii becomes a 340mm f/4.8
70-200 has a very good and fast autofocus. 200mm f2 has a faster autofocus. With teleconverters, the difference is still obvious. 200mm f2 has the edge.
200mm f2 feels like a military tank. It has a ''Memory Set" focus limiter that the 70-200 does not have. It is useful when you want to focus to a certain spot often. 200mm f2 is 2x heavier than the 70-200 with its 3kg weight. (6,40 pounds) 200mm f2 vr ii is a front heavy lens. I used also the earlier version, (mark 1) the newest version feels much more balanced, but still on the front heavy side. 70- 200 has a very good built quality, much more handholdable, and more travel friendly.
Ps: I found out that, 70-200 is not a true 200mm. It is more like 190- 195 mm. So, it has a tad shorter focal length than its big brother.
200mm f2 vr is a specialty lens, for people who need better background blur, slightly faster autofocus, 2x more shutter speed/less noise, better teleconverter performance and brighter viewfinder. If you have teleconverters 200mm f2 works with all teleconverters, giving a better performance than the 70-200 2.8 vr. (Sharpness is on par without teleconverters ). But this option is costly and heavy. I also need to say, it is not easy to handhold this lens too. It begs for a monopod.
70-200 on the other hand is giving similar results for a better price and weight, plus it is versatile being a zoom lens.
For many shooting needs, 70-200 is able to give excellent results that is comparable to the bigger brother. But the bigger brother has his own tricks under the sleeve for people who need it. But it comes with a much higher price tag. Being almost 3 times more expensive, this lens is going to make you reach deeper in your wallet. I do not own any of them. If i had to choose one, i would go for the 70-200. Please comment, share and subscribe to the blog. Peace!