Two 70-210s side by side. The one on the left is the autofocus version with f/4-5.6 and the one on the right is the AI-S version with f/4 throughout the range. While they have the same range, the construction of the lenses are quite different. Notice that the lenses zoom the other way around (the manual focus lens is at 70mm and the auto focus lens is at 210mm as pictured). The autofocus lens collapses, while the AI-S only the inner construction moves, outer tube stays constant.
The zoom range between 70-80mm to 300mm (or slightly longer) is very crowded. This is a very useful range for a long lens that has a lot of utility. I love the Nikon 70-300 but I have to admit, the 70-210 has ridiculous value. It is an older lens that is no longer manufactured, and while faster lenses sell for more than 1000, you can have this lens for less than 100 (I bought one for less than 60 and one for less than 80), which is outright crazy.
Why is this lens so cheap:
- People look at numbers, there are longer lenses out there, 70-300mm is better then 70-210mm
- It is not the fastest lens. f/4.0-5.6 is quite OK for most cases, but you would need to have 4x higher ISO to compete with a f/2.8 lens.
- It is no longer manufactured, it also does not have the latest vibration reduction tricks that newer lenses have. To be fair, vibration reduction helps a lot with long lenses.
But this lens does everything you want from it, and for this price, it is almost a crime not to buy it. Why you should consider it:
- You can get a decent zoom that will serve you well for less than 100
- It weighs a bit more than 600g. Lighter than most lenses of this category.
- Actually when you compare to a popular lens like the Nikon 80-200, having a bit lower low-end (70mm) is a plus
Here is a comparison with some of its rivals
|Extras||VR||VR||VR, tripod collar|
- The older manual focus version is constant f/4 throughout the range, it has great control on the focus ring, is probably not so good suited for fast moving things like animals, but works surprisingly well for cities and landscapes
- The autofocus version is f/4-5.6
|Weight||A bit heavy, 600g|
|Good for||Landscape, animals|
|New or used||No longer manufactured, used you can get it less than 100, I am not kidding|
On a full frame camera the lower end (70mm) actually makes the lens a bit more usable. Do not let the 210mm fool you though. It is actually long enough for most purposes. Though for serious wildlife work, you probably will have to pay more and be able to carry a heavier lens. But for travel, landscapes, and the occasional good weather animal sighting, this lens will be great.
If you think 210mm is not long enough (it is), then do not worry as this lens becomes a 105mm-300mm lens on an APS-C which is more than enough for most photographers. Like the Nikon 70-300 the lower end (105mm) makes this lens bit difficult to use as your only lens, so you will need to carry something else with you when you use this lens. When you combine APS-C and full frame cameras this can be an excellent lens to have with you. Use a wide angle prime lens such as the Nikon 24 and you should have all you may need.
Bianca the Bear posing for the 70-210. This is an excellent zoom that can deliver very good pictures. It is lighter to carry than practically all other zooms in the same range and will serve you well.
Another picture of the same scene, but a different camera and a different 70-210. This one is the manual focus 70-210 f/4 AI-S. It is actually a joy to focus with the AI-S, as a manual focus lens it allows you greater manual control then a auto-focus capable lens in manual focus mode. The color difference between the two shots is a setting problem that I still need to fix.
These pages are for Amateur Photographers and not really for seasoned photographers and professionals. I have no affiliation or commercial interest with any brand/make. I write from my own experience. I ended up using mainly Nikon, so I am more familiar with this brand than others. See price for notes on pricing as well as photography related links.