Hunt-ing for a New Lens: The Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 Saga

If you remember, my last major purchase was for my Nikon d300s. I had upgraded from my faithful d60 to a professional grade body, and I couldn’t have been happier. A year and a half later, I finally saved up enough money for another massive purchase! But what to buy?

The Nikon d600, which had just been released last October, was ever so tempting. It seemed that many professional photographer friends had and they were in LOVE with it. I caught a little of the fever, thinking maybe I should buy the d600 and make that my primary body and demote the d300s to a back-up. Then I remembered my even more faithful Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 version II lens and how badly I’ve been wanting to upgrade to the Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 version II. Literally dreaming about it. The price difference between the d600 and the Nikkor lens, at the time, was $400. That may not sound like a lot, but a purchase like this would put me close to broke, so I decided to shop smart by shopping in a state without sales tax.

Up in Manchester, NH is Hunt’s Photo and Video, and they had the lens I wanted. I want to clarify that driving up to New Hampshire was not a day trip but a trip planned well in advance, so scooting over to Manchester was worth the money it saved me. Without sales tax, I saved around $200. With that $200, I turned around and bought a filter to protect my lens (which I don’t regret one second) and also a much needed used monopod! The monopod is a Manfrotto 679 and came with the head attachment already in place. In the end, I still saved over $50 and walked out with more equipment.

Why the Lens instead of the d600?
This is an easy question to answer. When I first bought the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 version II almost 4 years ago, I paid about $860 after taxes. I just looked up this lens on Amazon and it is selling for about the same price but used. Sigma’s newer version of this lens costs about $1250. When I was first looking at the d600, it was selling for $2000; now it’s going for $2099 on Nikon’s website. Today, you can get it for less than $1800 on Amazon. This is only over the course of 2 months!! On top of that, Nikon has released the d610 which according to CNET.com is the d600 without the bugs (or in this case, dust and oil spots). The d610 is currently on Nikon’s website for $1999; that’s $100 cheaper than its predecessor. I’m pretty sure I dodged a bullet on this one.

The things I miss about my Sigma lens is the monopod mount on the Nikkor lens cannot be removed. Ever. I guess it shouldn’t bother me since I have a monopod that can hold the weight of the Nikon lens, but sometimes I’d rather torture myself by holding it with only my two hands. The monopod mount leaves nice bruises in my palm.

What I LOVE about my Nikon lens is the autofocus isn’t delayed in any way and is consistent all the time! My Sigma lens was starting to decide it didn’t want to focus. I’d have to turn my camera off, remove and then reattach the lens before turning it on so that maybe it would focus. This, as you might be able to figure out, was obnoxious.

If you’re a specs person (which I am admittedly not), you may enjoy this comparison of the two lenses I found. If, like me, you’re more of a visual kind of person, I thought I’d put up some photos from my old kit and compare them to my new kit. Fortunately, I have the perfect comparison, and that is my Wildwood photos from two years ago versus my Wildwood photos from this past July! I only put up one from each event because I’m going to have an entire posting dedicated to Wildwood (coming eventually!).

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