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on Mar 31, 2009 in Camera Tech

f2 or f2.8, that is the question

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Ever since the 200f2VR video was posted, I’ve been receiving a steady stream of emails with one basic question. It has to do with money (wish it wasn’t so but that is the nature of photography). Do I (as in me, Moose) see a difference between sharpness (both lens & DOF) between the 200f2 at f2 and 70-200VR at 200mm at f2.8? I do which why I shoot the 200f2 (and hence the money). The 200f2 is a wickedly sharp lens and with an inherent contrast that just makes it one of the finest lenses in my bag. I think though the better question is, will you see the difference? Should you spend the money for that stop?

Yes, I’ve heard and read all that has been posted on the web about DOF and while the formulas might be dead on, the photographic examples proving a person point accurate, doesn’t change what I see and use in my photography. There are four factors effecting DOF; focal length, aperture in use, camera to subject distance and, subject to background distance. In the photo here, I was eight feet away and shot at f2.8 with the 200f2. If you check out this image up close, you might see what I’m trying to communicate.

The focus point was the front of the iris, the eyeball. Zoom in and look closely at the eye, then the eyelashes and then the eyebrow and bridge of the nose. Notice how quickly the DOF falls off and elements of the face are out of focus. Then go to the slider at the bottom and zoom out really fast back to full frame. What snaps off the monitor? What tack sharp element smacks you in the face? Now some are asking, “Can’t the 70-200VR deliver the samething?” In my world of photography, no, which is not to say it will or won’t in yours.

We all look for and see something different. Thank goodness! A world with all the same image would be really, really boring. These very, very, very small but real nuances that are so important to my style of communication. I’m trying to share that with you so if that’s where you want to take your photography, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. I hope this helps with this really good question.