First, the VR is somehow quieter and the AF-S feels like its is 10-20% faster as well. For those who have used the old AR-15 (or the M16) rifle and then use the shorter barrel M4, you know what I am talking about. It felt like you can now handle close quarter encounters better. :) Just kiddin.
Second, the optics was quite a treat. Color corrections approaches those of $5000-6000 lenses. I cannot see any visual CA even when zoomed in at 300%. It's amazing what 2 more ED elements can do for your images. Because the color corrections are steeper, the entire image just gives you a much higher contrast feel.
Third, the resolution is certainly higher than the first version both in the center and the edges. Both of these images are shot wide open.
I can say I am quite thrilled by how much this lens can perform in terms of yielding beautiful images of my design and imagination. Do I recommend this lens? Yes, if you have no 70-200mm/2.8 zooms. If you already have the first version, you have to answer these questions:
- Do you need higher resolution on the edge?
- Do you use it on DX or FX body? If you only use it on DX body, you may not need the new version.
- Do you shoot landscapes at f/8 or smaller aperture on FX bodies? If you do, you need the new version. Tests have been done showing that even at f/16, the edges are weak when shot in the FX platform. This was the main complaint from among the pros and enthusiasts.