My latest (hopefully not my last!) visit to RAF Cottesmore to get a few more shots before they are retired from service at the end of this year served up a lot of grey skies. Not what I had wanted but I got to make use of my Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VR for the first time. With the vast majority of my shooting is done with the Nikon 300 f/2.8 VR and the Canon 300 f/2.8 L IS before I made the change it’s not often I make use of a telephoto zoom. When shooting with Canon I would generally have the 300 prime on one body and the 100-400 zoom on another, allowing me to quickly swap between the two. With Nikon not having a lens to replace the 100-400 I went for the 70-200 instead. I lost the extra 200mm reach (some would argue it’s only 150mm as the 100-400’s performance begins to fall off over 350mm) but gained 70mm on the wide end and of course extra two stops.
It didn’t take long to come to a conclusion about the Nikon 70-200 f/2.8. The focal range was pretty close to perfect for taxi shots. The wide end of the 100-400 on Canon’s 1.6 cropped cameras didn’t allow for side on shots in a few locations and ‘zooming’ with your feet is just not possible. You can of course shoot around this but it does limit you a little. 70mm on Nikon’s 1.5 crop allows for side on shots yet still enough reach with 200mm to get shots from the runway. Autofocus in situations like this isn’t high up on the list so I’ll leave that until the next air show season. Satuation and colour reproduction was good but I still think the 100-400 has the edge (it had always impressed me when I shot Canon). When it came to degrees of sharpness the Nikon leaves the Canon for dead. The 100-400 can produce sharp results but generally requires a lot of light to do so where as the 70-200 was doing it with easy in all conditions as you can see below.
Overall, I’m happy with the 70-200 f/2.8 VR and didn’t miss the 100-400 L IS but I think the big test will be air show season where the huge range of the 100-400 really did come into its own. Time will tell!