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Nikon 200mm f/2 vs. the 70-200mm f/2.8 | Matt Granger

By Kishore Sawh on January 16th 2016


When you think of lenses that are renowned, unusual, or to be a bit extra, legendary even, what are those lenses you think of? Like cars, planes, or any number of things born of utility, lenses also end up having a subculture of appreciation of their own, and particular lenses you know will have their own chapter dedicated to them in history books to come. Can you name some?


I’d imagine you could, and more than that you probably have strong feelings about it. Right off the bat you know lenses like the vaunted  Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/0.95, the Canon 1200mm f/5.6, or Nikkor 58mm f/1.2. Those are generally out of reach, and way off practicality for most photographers, but even lenses more attainable have some such status, or at least their own patrons. Lenses like the Canon 85mm f/1.2, the Nikkor 135mm f/2 DC, and for many, myself included, the Nikkor 200mm f/2.


It seems a strange lens to be a bit infatuated with because most of us have fast glass even at the 20mm mark, seeing as though almost all of us have a 70-200mm 2.8 in some shape or fashion. The 70-200s in almost all brands are generally brilliant and beloved, and themselves pricey, as you can expect to pay around the $2000 mark for them brand new.

Not the 200mm f/2 though; for that you’ve got to be prepared for a wallet shriveling experience and shell out around $6000, and that seems a little excessive. After all, sure you’re getting another stop of light so it’s twice as fast. Because it’s a prime, it’ll have less elements and will likely focus a little quicker and perhaps be a little sharper. But it’s just difficult to justify that when the 70-200’s are so brilliant.


And of course, there’s the fact it’s about 2 times the weight, and as a much more niche lens, one would expect it not to be a tried and true, not like the 70-200s anyway. Those things are like Porsches; over the years companies have been churning out endless variations of what is essentially the same thing so by now most of the kinks are worked out. But everyone I’ve ever spoken to who owns a 200mm f/2 speaks about it as if it were another child, and the ones that have used it but don’t own it, speak of it as the one that got away. In the video herein, Matt Granger goes over his experience with it, what he’s found, learned, and the opinion he’s formed about it. It’s an interesting watch, and while the imagery is weak, I’ll bet it’ll be hard not to get excited about it.

[REWIND: Nikon D500 | Nikon Announces The New Flagship DX DSLR]

Source: Matt Granger

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Rafael Steffen

    Thanks Kishore for sharing this great video. I always wanted to see a comparison between the two. Now, I hope they make a comparison between the 300mm F4 and 300mm F2.8 from Nikkor. Thanks again!

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  2. Dave Haynie

    You really have to be dedicated to an additional 1EV to justify the 3x price tag on an already expensive proposition. But I have no doubt that those who have these lenses are pretty proud of them. And think about it… spend that same $6,000 on a car, and rather than own a best of breed, you’re settling for a semi-beater (or a brand new Mobius Two).

    I’m lucky to have the f/2.8s.

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  3. Paul Nguyen

    I don’t consider myself small, I’m probably around average, but I went into a camera store and had a go at holding the 200mm f/2, it’s definitely a weighty beast and not something that I would want to be hand-holding on a regular basis. To be honest, whilst I think it’s a great lens, the fact that it’s so big makes it that much less justifiable for me.

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  4. Stephen Jennings

    Hey.. I happen to be drinking a Hendricks gin and tonic :D
    I think it’s be pretty hard to justify buying a 200mm f/2 while owning a 70-200 .. (I’d still buy one in a heartbeat if I had the expendable cash!) but the 300mm f/2.8 however would be an excellent complement to the 70-200 if you were wanting to do portraits with a beast of a lens comparable to the 200mm f/2. Of course if I had the money.. I’d own them all

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    • Rafael Steffen

      You are right. It would be more interesting to invest on the 300mm f2.8 instead of having the same focal distance. It would be nice comparison to make between the 300m 2.8 and the 200mm 2.0.

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  5. Ralph Hightower

    Yup, the Canon 1200mm is back up for sale at B&H:
    Unfortunately, I didn’t win the $1.6B Powerball lottery.

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