Tom. If you come through Florida on your way to the Caribbean and I'm home, I'd be happy to let you try my 200mm Micro-nikkor in a pool to see if you might like it enough to buy one. To me, worrying about resale possibility or resale value is far less important than whether a lens will allow you to get pictures that you couldn't have gotten before and whether those images will please you. I would also think that since anyone who shoots underwater would need to remove the tripod collar, WetPixel would provide you with numerous potential resale customers if you did decide to sell it.
Elmer. Yes, technically a fixed focal length macro lens, like a 60mm or 105mm Micro-nikkor, should be sharper than the 70-180mm. But many pictures that I've shot with the 70-180mm have been published in magazines like National Geographic, Smithsonian and National Wildlife. And I've made numerous prints up to 16" x 24" and larger that look quite good shot that were taken with the 70-180. Even Thom Hogan rates the 70-180mm as a top quality Nikon lens. Are you using any zooms underwater? Wouldn't you be happier with fixed focal length lenses instead of those zooms?
What are you actually doing with your pictures that requires the small technical difference that you see? Is that difference something you only see when you hunt for it on your monitor at 100% or 200% magnification? Will you be able to see that difference in the waters of the Rhine this fall?
I feel the versatility you gain with the 70-180's 2.5:1 zoom ratio, especially with respect to the shots you don't miss being able to take because whichever fixed focal macro lens you happen to have on the camera for that dive isn't the right lens for a particular subject, far outweighs any minor technical differences between the lenses. I'd rather get a slightly less technically perfect shot than no shot at all.
If you haven't already sold your 70-180mm, I have several friends who might be interested in buying it.
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