PHOTOOG Photography writings by Olivier Giroux

31Jul/096

Belated Nikon Commentary

Big launch from Nikon this week. Nothing really surprising happened, unfortunately. We’ve got a new bottom-end camera and a refreshed super-zoom lens, yawn and yawner.

The D300 needed video and it got something of a compromise there. This is something we were waiting for I think impatiently as a community. There is slow AF (instead of zero AF) but it’s still the 720p from the D90 while the competitor did an excellent implementation of 1080p last year. It’s okay… certainly Nikon’s “A-team” didn’t spend 2 years on this so some other projects must be ongoing there. In other news, the dual card slots are pretty cool, I wish I had this on the D700 so I could put JPEGS on the SD card.

The 70-200VR also needed an update and it got its due. No real compromise here though, because even the price got a huge boost (sic).  They managed to make the lens another 5% heavier or thereabout, continuing down the march to the inevitable 2kg 70mm lens of the future.

Here are the old (top) and new (bottom) charts for the two lenses…

70200vrcharts

There is a boost in contrast at 70mm, which in practice I can tell you that's where the old lens was strongest already. I think those are very nice curves, there's hardly any difference between 70mm and 200mm, impressive! I don’t really see a reason for DX shooters to upgrade though, as the older generation lens was fantastic there already and will now sell at a stiff discount on the used market.

Funny thing is that I sold my 70-200VR the day before this new one was announced. It would have been quite a coup if I was thinking of upgrading, imagine that lucky timing. But I’m not, I don’t want another medium telephoto zoom.


Comments (6) Trackbacks (0)
  1. In defense of the 720p, the video system works far better than Canon’s 1080 and produces better images. Of course, I have only used it once or twice…
    Wonder if it is time to retire the old 80-200 and get one of those used 70-200 for my D90.

  2. That’s a bold claim, the 5DmkII video is awesome enough. If nothing else, that’s ~2.1x the number of pixels. ( and yes I do think the D300s competes with the 5DmkII on the store shelf )

    That’s a good question with your 80-200… if you’re thinking of sticking to DX for a good while longer then it might be a good idea yeah. But me personally I would wait for the day (one day…) when Nikon ships a new 200mm f/2.8 prime. I might actually buy that myself.

  3. I sold my 70-200 VR a few months back, not long after I got the D700. The new one looks promising. But with the D700 being heavier than my previous bodies (D200 & F100), and the added weight of the new lens, I’m not sure whether I should get it. (Oh, and the price is a lot higher as well.)

    I’m hoping they will make an f/4 version like Canon instead.

  4. I also hope for the appearance of f/4 zooms. It’s time. It’s past time…

  5. I’m not sure how far I’d trust Nikon’s MTF charts. The MTFs for their consumer zooms sometimes look more than a bit optimistic.

    The high-ISO performance of the D700, etc., certainly makes a stronger case than ever for an f/4 zoom.

  6. The thing to know about Japanese MTF charts it that they use monochromatic light, most likely green. With only one wavelength their MTFs don’t take into account any kind of chromatic separation. Resolution is also higher with green light than other wavelengths, i.e. if you were to use a deep green filter and expose B&W technical film you could get much higher resolutions than normal.

    In short Nikon could show you two identical MTF charts, one for a consumer lens and the other for a professional lens, and still they could be worlds apart in terms of real world performance. Chromatic aberration is a really important effect in cheap lenses.

    At least Nikon’s MTFs are measured in the lab, while Canon’s are just computed with software. That’s yet another step removed from reality…

    Zeiss/Leica charts show white light measurements.

    – As for D700 and f/4

    Yeah. Right now all my SLR lenses are f/2 or faster (!) and yet I shoot them at f/4 most of the time (like, 95%). If Nikon could make an f/4 VR zoom that was sharp and contrasty wide-open then I’d be happy with that. I think high contrast right from the lens is really what I’m really looking for, that’s what Zeiss got me hooked to.


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