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on Feb 18, 2010 in Camera Tech, Lenses

The 200mm ?

70-200VR2 - 200f2VR - 200-400VR

With the posting of my camera bag contents, a number of emails and phone have come in with one simple question, “Why all the 200mm duplication?” That’s a damn good question, seriously! Why would anyone have a duplication of focal length let along four times (counting the 70-180 which is purt near 200mm)?

If you look at the three main “200mm” lenses I have, there is one difference that stands out. You have a f/2, f/2.8 and f/4. That’s one of the major reasons why I have the three in my bag. Next to light, DOF is a major influence in my photography. Controlling how much is and is not in focus consumes my mind when I first frame up a subject. While you can always close down a lens, when it comes to opening it, there is a limit. The only way to break that limit is to buy the lens that is fast. That’s the first and main reason I have the three different 200mm lenses, DOF control.

There are other reasons as well. The 200-400VR is my main big game lens. When I’m heading out to photograph bull elk or moose or any other ungulate, I’m going to grab the 200-400VR. Not the 200f2 and not the 600f4, but the 200-400VR, that’s just my personal way I like to photograph these magnificent creatures. Now what if I’m heading into a forest to photograph an ungulate? In a forest, you don’t have big open spaces where that 400mm will do much for you but instead, you tend to have a limited view. And that limited view is often obstructed by limbs and the like. Plus, typically in forests you have limited light. That’s where the 200f2 comes in to save the day.

So then what about the 70-200VR2, where does that come in? I’m doing more and more (and want to do even more) air to air photography. Sitting in the back seat of a T-6 or crammed (and I mean crammed) into the cockpit of a P-51, there is no room for a 200f2 let alone a 200-400 to shoot. So for this one aspect of my photography, the 70-200VR2 is great!

Now here’s the question’s most common component that I’m saving for last. “Which one of the three is sharpest?” We’re splitting hairs, but I think the 200f2VR is the sharpest of the three at 200mm. It’s just a wickedly sharp lens that produces images at f2 that are simply stunning. Hope this look at my thought process and trivia helps you out!