Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 and the 70-200mm f/2.8 - my go-to lenses

I know that I have said that I love the new 85mm f/1.4 and the 24mm f/1.4. Well, while I love these lenses, my go to lenses for work and many other shots are often the 24-70mm f/2.8 and the 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses. This goes all the way back to my old  Nikon F5 with a 35-70mm f/2.8 and a 80-200mm f/2.8. I used these for years. Originally these were the focal lengths and lenses that Nikon recommended in its schools.

24-70mm f/2.8 on 24mm f/4

Well I found myself wandering Bandolier National Monument on a short break from work and since I was working, I had my 24-70mm f/2.8 and the 70-200mm f/2.8 with me. I took a few shots inside and outside of the cave dwellings.
I won't begin to describe the history of this site, since I know little about it. You can find out more on the park service's web site here. There are many petroglyphs and cave dwelling in the side of a mountain.
70-200mm f/2.8 on 200mm f/4 from over 100 yards away
24-70mm f/2.8 on 24mm f/5.6
24-70mm f/2.8 on 24mm f/8
24-70mm f/2.8 on 70mm f/8

24-70mm f/2.8 on 70mm f/4

24-70mm f/2.8 on 24mm f/10

Ok - what do I want to cover? Well, with just two lenses you can cover just about all of the shots that you will have to take. You can see shots to document, wide angle shots, tight zoomed and cropped shots in both bright sunlight and darkness of the inside of a cave dwelling.

Going back to these lenses from several weeks using the 85mm f/1.4 and the 24mm f/1.4 exclusively reminded me of a few things. First, I can still isolate my subjects down to f/2.8. Second, I can zoom to get exactly what I want when I can't walk to the best point for a specific focal length. The side of a mountain usually constrains ones movement pretty well. Third, these lenses autofocus extremely fast. This is very beneficial when shooting anything moving. My favorite example of this are children. While I use the 50mm f/1.4, 24mm f/1.4, and 85mm f/1.4 many times for portraits, these lenses do not focus nearly as quickly as the 24-70mm f/2.8 and the 70-200mm f/2.8. I have found that many times it is better to throw on a flash, bounce it off the ceiling or a wall, and crank the ISO on the Nikon D700 up to ISO 1600. This way I get the background light and a bit of fill of a moving child, keeping everything sharp.

For work I primarily use the 24-70mm f/2.8 and the 70-200mm f/2.8 and the 14-24mm f/2.8. The 14-24mm f/2.8 is mainly for covering the entire overview shot, or to accent a specific part of a scene while still covering that small part in the context of the rest of the scene.

I am often asked, what if I want to buy one lens to cover anything. Well first I would start with the 50mm f/1.4. For around $400 you can take great pictures with great isolation, providing good learning potential.  The all around lens for a little more is for those DX shooters the 18-200mm VR II and for FX shooters the 28-300mm VR. I have only played with these lenses and have not use them extensively. You can read the reviews at

In short the main notes are:
-with the  24-70mm f/2.8 and the 70-200mm f/2.8 one can cover just about any shot.
-the Auto Focus is fast on both lenses, making them great for kids and sports.

The Nikon D4 now allows me to shoot fast moving subjects with my 24mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.4 

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