After studying and looking at many different camera lenses, I was excited when a friend from school recently offered to let me borrow her husband's Nikkor 80-200mm f2.8 professional grade lens. I went to try it out for a quick sunrise shoot near Boulder. I found a spot where you could get the Boulder Flatirons AND Longs Peak in the same frame from an angle south of town. This location is quite a distance away from these two landmarks and would required a telephoto lens. I scouted out the area the evening before and found that 200mm would be just about right for the shot. I took the big 80-200 and compared it to my 55-200 kit lens. The next morning I took some sunrise shots with it, then I picked a location to do my experiment once the golden hour was over.
Both images were taken with a d7100 body on a tripod at 200mm focal length and aperture of f8. I did no post processing. Here are the results:
|55-200 VR kit lens
|80-200 pro lens
|55-200 100% center crop
|80-200 100% center crop
|55-200 100% edge crop
|80-200 100% edge crop
Sooooo….What does this mean for a landscape photographer? I know that many of the pro lenses are built for specific shooting situations. They perform better in low light when hand held (I usually use a tripod), they are better at shooting moving targets (I usually shoot mountains that don't move), and as seen in this quick comparison, generally have better optics (in this situation with blurry edges, there are techniques that can be done to compensate). They are also built much bigger and stronger (which could be a positive or a negative if you're like me and do most of your photography during hiking trips and don't want to carry more weight). They are MUCH more expensive (I am a poor art teacher).
In my opinion, a 2.8 lens is a bit overkill for landscape photography. I would almost never even use the f2.8 aperture because I want a huge depth of field to capture the entire scene in my shots. The only difference between the two lenses that matters for me is the image sharpness and quality. All the other advantages that come with pro grade lenses are not even really helpful for landscapes. I simply cannot justify spending thousands on a lens for minimal improvement in sharpness. There are newer higher end consumer telephoto zoom lenses that rival the 2.8 lenses in image quality when stopped down that I am looking at. The 70-300 has pretty high praise from its reviews.
Anyway, hope this was helpful! It was fun getting to play around with some new equipment. Here's a parting panorama from the sunrise earlier that morning:
|Flatirons and Longs Peak - Prints Available