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I owned the 180 and 80-200 2.8D at the same time. I wouldn't say the 180 was "pathetically" soft at 2.8, but my zoom was slightly sharper at the same FL. Stopped down to f/4 the 180 was sharper, then by f/5.6, sharpness was about equal. The 180 is a nice little lens though, light, compact, pretty sharp, built in hood, low price... Definitely worth trying, if you find one at a good price. I now own the 70-200vr. While I didn't test it against the 180, it's optical performance is pretty close to the 80-200, so the comparison should be pretty similar.