24-70 f/2.8 on D300 - experiences & opinions?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by jennifer valencia, May 26, 2009.

  1. hello everyone,
    I'm trying to decide if I should get the 24-70 f/2.8 or the 17-55 f/2.8 for my D300. If you've used these lenses on a D300, how do you like them? I'm aware that the 24-70 is an FX lens, but I've also read reviews where photos still love it on the D300 (although Ken Rockwell is not one of them, lol).
    I shoot mostly portraits of family/friends and action shots of my daughter & nieces right now. I love natural, outdoor light best although I also have studio lights which I use from time to time. I used to work professionally doing portraits & weddings. I own several other Nikon lenses, including the 50mm f/1.8, 18-200 DX 3.5-5.6VR, 105 f/2.8.
    I've already rented the 17-55 f/2.8 for a week and I liked it pretty well; it seemed sharp and quick to focus. I noticed some fringing on heavily backlit shots of trees against a pale sky. I wanted to also rent the 24-70 but that one is not available for several weeks from my local store. I will probably still rent it but was hoping to get some opinions here in the meantime.
    Any opinions are welcome!
  2. Moose Petersen is another who doesn't like it. He just posted a video review of the 24-70, very positive as always, and towards the end says that if you use a DX camera he "highly recommends" that you do not buy that lens. For what it's worth I agree, I would never be happy with a 24mm wide end on my main zoom, I use the 16-24mm range far too much to want to have to change lenses for it. Of course everybody's different, maybe it would be perfect for you.
    Check out Moose's review here, if interested:
  3. Both the 17-55 and the 24-70 are top of the line lenses. They are both quite solid/good. The 24-70 might be a bit better overall, since it's newer and has Nano coating (it doesn't ghost as much...) I use the 24-70 on my 2 DX cameras, and find it to be an excellent lens for candid portraits (the extra 15mm on the longer end could be nice since its perspective might be more ideal for certain types of portrait subjects...). For event, PJ, and landscape works, the 17-55 is obviously better. The 17-55 is nice to have on a DX camera when you can't step back any further, when you're busy shooting an event/PJ assignment, and when you want the WA perspective for certain shots (especially landscapes...).
    *I do own a 18-55 VR, which provides with WA coverage.
  4. I cannot comment on D300+24-70 combo. But 24-70 is the best lens (in terms of color, sharpness, flare, contrast) I have ever used.
  5. Jennifer
    I have owned & used both the 17-55 & the 24-70 lenses & have used them both on the D300. I like (or love if you so choose) them both. 17-55 often felt too short, but then the 24-70 might not feel wide enoughfor some.
    In the long run - after buying the 24-70mm I sold the 17-55 & am very happy with it. I love the lens - - yet the 17-55 is not as long (which I do miss) - & I have the 14-24 for covering the extreme wide angle shots.
    To each their own - granted the 17-55 is an excellent choice for the D300 - -
    Lil :) who will not give up her 24-70mm f/2.8
  6. I have used the 28-70 extensively on DX cameras, not the 24-70, but I would still take that over the 17-55 for what you do. If you are shooting weddings, I would go for the 17-55 (or more likely buy a full frame body) but I always found the 28-70 to be perfect for portraits, even on DX. Once you go too much wider than that you are getting into a funny focal length to shoot people in. I always had an 18-70 or 12-24 around if I needed it, but rarely did I ever use them for portraits.
    Moose Peterson is a landscape guy, from what I remember, and I would never recommend that lens for a landscape shooter on DX... but dont put too much weight into that if you arent shooting the way he does.
  7. Jennifer: Are you renting from Tempe Camera? If so, I was under the impression that they had the lens from time to time during the middle of an average week, while it is almost impossible to get except far in advance on the weekend. For the record, I live in the Tempe area.

    I recently agonized over the same choice, and I actually made both of them in a way. I initially ordered the 24-70 from B&H and then cancelled it the next day, unable to really feel confident about it (also had ordered an SB-900, which I particularly changed my mind about after making the order). While I was making up my mind further, I did some shooting that really called for a relatively wide-angle zoom, and that helped tip me in the direction of the 17-55. I've had the lens for a few weeks now, and there have been times where I really wish I had gone with the 24-70. It has only been available for a very brief time (probably just a few hours one day last week) since I changed my order, so I may not have been able to in any event. I'm constantly running up against the 55mm limit. But, there have also been several occasions where I've needed every bit of the 17-55's wide angle side and where the 24mm simply wouldn't have been enough without switching to, say, a 12-24mm lens.

    As I'm planning to move to the D700 whenever it's feasible for me to do so, and when I feel like I'm ready for it (I do a great deal of low-light shooting, and the high-ISO capabilities would be hugely welcome), I think the 24-70 may have been a better fit for me. I'd say if FX is in your forseeable future that you probably ought to go with the 24-70mm. If you plan to stay with DX for awhile, the 17-55 would serve you well.

    I've experienced the same fringing on backlights that you mentioned with the 17-55, and it's good to hear a similar experience about it. Not just my copy, it would seem. The 24-70 is a renowned lens, but it's also almost five hundred dollars more expensive than the 17-55 at its lowest price (B&H). The 17-55 is extremely solid and well constructed (I learned this first hand recently), and is one of the best documentary/journalism-type zoom lenses available.

    Go with the lens that meets your current and expected needs best. Both feel natural on a D300.
  8. I'm another happy 24-70/D300 user. I shoot people and pets mostly and not events and am happy to give up the super wide end in exchange for the 70mm, which is where I use it the most. There are plenty of wide zooms to choose from when the need arises.
    One reason I haven't been (too) tempted by FX is the lack of a top quality zoom with a range that matches the 24-70 on DX.
  9. I have the 17-55mm and the 24-85 2.8-4. I find that often 24mm is not wide enough on DX, for example for groups. I often use the 17-55 in the 17mm-24mm range.
    WHen I go to full frame then I think the 24-70 woul be a good choice but for DX 24mm is not wide enough.
  10. FWIW, I have a 24-85 f/2.8-4 that pretty much sits on the shelf simply because it isn't wide enough for me with the D300. However, if you prefer shooting people over group shots and scenics, the 24-70 might well be a better choice than the 17-55. I use the wide end too much to consider the 24-70 as a replacement but perhaps you wouldn't.
  11. I agree with Moose on this one. A lot of what drives sales of the 24-70 to DX body owners is some vague plan to upgrade to FX in the future. The problem is that the glass costs so much that each major purchase delays that FX upgrade by a year.
  12. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Lenses such as the 24-70mm/f2.8 and 17-55mm/f2.8 DX are intended for convenient moderate wide to short tele coverage. They actually cover roughly the same angle-of-view range but for FX and DX respectively. The 24-70 works great on FX, but 24mm is not all that wide on DX. Therefore, for most people, using the 24-70 on DX somewhat defeats the whole purpose for those lenses.
    In particular, if you shoot weddings with the 24-70 on DX, you'll really be missing the wide end and will need to change lenses often, and frequent lens changes under time pressure means you'll likely miss shots and make mistakes. If you shoot landscape and have plenty of time to change lenses and compose, it is probably not a big deal.
  13. The 24-70 is attached to my D300 most of the time. The lens is fantastic, though you will find that the wide angle is lacking in a number of circumstance (indoor, groups, large/nearby subjects, landscapes). I love having the 70mm option on DX as it gives me 105mm equiv for close quarters action shots where longer zoom is not needed such as sideline basketball and cross-country. I get consistent, tack-sharp photos that make me look like a much better photographer than I am. A couple of thoughts:
    -If this will be your only/primary short lens, you may favor the 17-55. You should be able to resell it for most of what you paid if you ever upgrade to FX so the total cost of ownership will be low.
    -If you really must have this fantastic lens, consider picking it up and adding a second wide prime or low cost zoom (Nikkor 18-55/3.5-5.6) for when you need the wider angle. The faster focusing, f2.8 24-70 will be great for sports/action and lower light while the slower focusing, wider angle lense could be used for indoor/non-action shots. You can pick up the 18-55 for under $130.
  14. Jennifer,
    Given your stated photographic interests, the 24-70 sounds promising for you.
    www.LensRentals.com has it. Yes, you'll pay a shipping fee but no sales tax.
    Personally speaking, I have one DX lens and have vowed never to buy another.
  15. I think if you shoot portraits a lot the range of the 24-70 (on DX) is more suitable in terms of its focal length range. 17mm for people photography is kind of extreme - you get keystoning and apparent distortion of people near the edges of the frame etc. I think 70mm on DX is great for a head shot whereas 55mm is too short and when I used the 17-55 for portraits on my D200 I would often end up cropping a bit.
    The 24-70 does, however, have some disadvantages: it's quite big and expensive. And you may end up wanting a separate wider lens for some other photography. I think it would be great if as an alternative/complement to the 24-70 for FX /17-55 for DX there would be a 35-105/2.8 for FX / 24-70/2.8 for DX pair.
    For its lower cost and compactness, and for the fact that you may not need a separate wide angle at all, the 17-55 should also be considered. But then you probably need a longer lens like an 85 for portraits. Which is not at all a bad idea.
  16. Hi Jennifer,
    I own both lenses and use them on D300s. The 24-70 is superior for group-shots and portraits, I also think it focuses faster than the 17-55. With the 24-70, there is less distortion on the wide end and at 70mm, you can get a nice head shot. As far as sharpness goes, the 17-55 is very good (f8 being the sweet spot), but not up to the level of the 24-70 (f5.6 is super sharp). I will only use the 17-55 for formals, if I have a large group shot that requires it. I use both the 17-55 and 12-24 for receptions and events, but prefer the 24-70 for anything in the studio, location portraits and wedding formals. Once you get the 24-70, it will make all your other lenses seem soft, it's that good, no, it's that great.
  17. Scott, I think you're underrating the 17-55 and misstating what its "sweet spot" is. Photozone's test shows it to be around F4 to F5.6, not F8, where it has already undergone a bit of a decline. Perhaps you have a subpar copy. Mine also focuses very quickly, about the same as copy of the 24-70 I've tested.
    I highly doubt that the 24-70 makes all other lenses seem that soft, and in fact I've seen more reports of poor copies of the 24-70 than I have of most other lenses. That's probably because people are highly demanding when they get it (understandably so, given the high price). It's a great lens, but it isn't so beyond every other one that they seem soft by comparison.
  18. It appears that for your application the 24-70 is the better fit. Realizing that Nikon is either unwilling or incapable of producing a DX walk-around zoom with decent specifications (like 16-70/4 or 16-85/4), I have resigned to the fact that I have to carry around two lenses - the 12/24 DX and the 24-85/3.5-4.5. The 24-70/2.8 is a too expensive overkill for my use of that range; I might even drop the 24-85 in favor of a 85/1.8. Regarding the 17-55 DX - I feel the zoom range is too limited, especially considering the cost of the lens; it's popularity seem to arise from the fact that it is the only f/2.8 zoom offering in Nikon's DX lens lineup.
  19. Since you shoot mostly portraits of family/friends and action shots of my daughter & nieces right now. I would base the choice on the most useful focal range for your needs. You may very well be better off with the 24-70mm. I have used neither but I suspect quality wise they would be close enough not to matter except for flair and ghost issues which I believe the 24-70mm handles better.
  20. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I have mentioned a few times that I have used 6 different samples of the 24-70mm/f2.8, thanks to various loaners from Nikon to photo.net as well as samples I borrowed from several people. It certainly is a fine lens, but suggesting that it is by far the best lens in the world or something like that is a major exaggeration. I sure hope people don't have such unrealistic expections on this lens. For example, we have discussed a few times that vignetting is very serious around 24mm, f2.8. Verifying that particular problem was why we ended up with multiple samepls from Nikon.
    Even though I have used various samples, this is the only Nikon constant f2.8 zoom that I have never owned. I think my older 28-70mm/f2.8 AF-S is still fine and I don't need to upgrade yet.
  21. Thom Hogan wrote in his review of the D3x that it showed weak spots in even the best Nikon lenses, among them the 14-24 and 24-70m
  22. Shun - Vignetting issues for this lens on a DX camera such as the D300 is not a significant issue given that only the sweet spot in the lens is being used. Perhaps on an FX camera vignetting could be considered, though the alternatives are not great. In practical application, it is probably less of an issue than some have made of it. Even on an FX body I see it as having room for future improvement as opposed to a fatal flaw.
    But for Jennifer's use on a D300, it is a non-issue. The real issue for her is the focal length and whether it fits her needs.
  23. hi everyone,
    thanks so much for your thoughtful responses! This thread has been very helpful to me, or certainly enjoyable. :) It's always SO HARD for me to make a decision on what to get.
    To answer a few questions: Yes, I shoot mostly portraits and/or action shots of kids/events; no weddings right now (although maybe in the future I'll start again.) I don't plan to upgrade to an FX camera soon, although I'd love one someday. Yes, I rent from Tempe Camera (great store!) sometimes. I've never tried that internet rental and thanks to the person who gave me the link; I think I might try it. The guy at the Tempe Camera rental counter told me that their 24-70 is completely reserved for the next few weeks; maybe it's a popular time to want it?
    When I used the 17-55, I was kind of expecting "the moon and beyond" from it, based on reviews I'd read, and was disappointed that it wasn't tack-sharper than my beautiful little 50mm 1/8. (I'm completely, irrevocable in love with that 50mm lens!) Also, the fringing disappointed me. I was hoping -- for the price -- that this lens would behave perfectly and brew me coffee, too. Ah well. Such is life.
    I can see from reading YOUR reviews in this thread that both lenses are good. I'm leaning right now towards the 24-70, but I'll make the final decision after I rent it.
    Thanks again for your advice, everyone!
  24. The 24-70 is a bit sharper than the 17-55, in my experience, but I don't think its still quite manages the 50/1.8 level.
  25. I am likely repeating what has been said before. I use the 24-70mm on a D300 all the time. I have so far not been disappointed once by images from the 24-70mm, the images are always crisp, and have wonderful color and contrast. In terms of FOV, it is like having f/2.8 35mm, 50mm, 85mm and 105mm primes from 35mm/FF world all rolled in to one. Sure, the 24mm (and 28mm) from the "standard set" is missing, but I find if I need to go that wide, I might as well change lenses, and use the 12-24mm Tokina instead (I don't shoot weddings, but I have shot plenty of events and parties). If I didn't have that lens, today I would have chosen the 10-24mm Nikkor or the 11-16mm Tokina. IMHO, it is better to have wide-angle, medium, and telephoto zooms since the optical compromises and choices for wide/normal/tele are sometimes conflicting, and you get better optical quality by sticking to a smaller set of design choices. If I go FF next, I plan to keep the D300 for DX advantages, and then the 24-70mm will work on either body.
  26. If you're shooting family portraits and action, for sure the 17mm-23mm missing on the 24-70mm is only going to be needed occasionally at best. I am biased towards the 24-70mm, so I can't resist posting a couple of available light candid family portraits of my nieces at our breakfast table. I guess the risk is that they will convince you to go AWAY from the 24-70mm, but I tried! :)
  27. sash, great shots! very convincing!
    i'll just second what others have said here: 24-70 FL is great for portraits on DX, but less than optimal for walkaround or anything that needs some wideness. it's hard not to expect a lot out of lens that costs over $1000, but the reality is you cant have everything in one lens. i've thought about the 24-70, but i use my 17-50 on DX more than my 28-75, so it's not the biggest priority for me right now. i personally feel the 17-55 is overpriced and overrated compared to 3rd party options, but it is a great FL for DX--except in your case. the 24-70 is still pricey, but if it's that much better than the 17-55 optically, it might be less overpriced. definitely rent before you pull the trigger. still, i'd love to see some direct comparisons between it and the 28-75 tamron, which held its own against the old "beast," the 28-70. (O/T: which reminds me, where's Juanjo? havent heard from him in a while...)
  28. I think the 17-55 can be considered overpriced until you run across a situation where build quality comes into play. The 17-55 is solid metal, and in my case, that paid off, as I accidently banged mine into the edge of a brick wall next to a door frame (it was the barrel that hit, not the actual glass). My lens chipped some of the brick, leaving only a tiny ding in the finish that you'd miss unless you were looking for it. I think the Tamron would have crumbled.
  29. I compromised on my D300. I bought a used 18-70/3.5G and with what I saved I bought the Tokina 11-16/2.8 which is awesome. The 18-70 was like $300 almost brand new. Its sharp as, focuses fast and is made for DX. I don't miss the loss of one f stop as I am at f8-11 most of the time anyway. And that's its sweet spot.
    I am told by a couple of colleagues that the 24-70 is not as happy on DX as on FX where it shines. One also with D300, swapped it for the older 28-70 and said that one worked better. Also, just because a lens goes down to 2.8 does not automatically mean a better image. I also have an 18-35/3.5 which also cost $300 used. I use this on FX a lot. It shoots as sharp as the 17-35/2.8 if you know where its sharpest f stop/focus points are. On my D300 the 18-70 gives better results than does the 18-35. Go figure. You need to read read read and assume nothing. Bjorn's reviews are brutal by good. Kens are good too, but bear in mind the kind of photography these guys do for a living. That colours the reviews a bit. Usually you will find a consensus though.
  30. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    If the objective is to shoot portraits on a DX body, the 24-70mm/f2.8 AF-S seems to be an expensive way to go. I have don't that with the 28-70mm/f2.8 on a D2X, and that worked fine, but I already had the 28-70 from my film days (i.e. didn't buy that for DX usage) and I mainly used the 70mm end of the lens.
    If you want to shoot portraits on DX, get a 50mm and/or a 85mm/f1.8. The two lenses combined will still be cheaper than the 24-70mm/f2.8 and you have the option to go to f1.8 or f2 (or perhaps f1.4).
  31. I had to decide between the two myself and I ended up going with the 17-55 after renting them. I shoot in a small studio and so the 17-55 allows me to move around and get some full body shots, where I felt limited with the 24-70. They both are great lenses, it just depends on where you will be using it. If you are going to be in open spaces mostly, then the 24-70 might feel better as you can get close ups without being right in their face and be at a distance so you are less noticeable.
    I always try to think of what my focal distances are... 50mm is suppose to be pretty much what your eyes see without anything in front of them. So the 17-55 is generally a wide angle lens, where the 24-70 allows you to view things closer. What situations do you find yourself in most of the time when you use your 50mm? Do you tend to want to move back and fit more in the frame, or move closer to the subject to get close ups.
    I felt that the space was the determining factor between these two lenses, for me at least.
  32. I recently had to make this exact same decition a few weeks ago. I ended up going with the 24-70 on my D300. I am very happy with this lens, and I'm sure you will be too. It goes great with the 70-200.
  33. I think the 24-70 fits the bill best for your wish for portrait. 36 to 105 it could not be better. If one day you get a second body its the a perfect walkabout lens on a FF. Depends on your style many would argue 35mm is wide enough for walkabout. But could also go the route Shun suggests with a 50mm and 85mm. I have a 24-70 canon and use it on both 30D and 5D. I would buy this lens again. I like this focal lenth and the fixed 2.8 from front to back. Its worth it. My friend has it on his 300d and loves it as well. If you can afford it you will not be disappointed.
  34. OPK


    17-55 is a grat lens which I extensively used on D300. If you have to have a zoom lens theres no need to look further. If you plan upgrade to FX then go for 24-70...
  35. Nearly every great shoot I do begins with the 24-70 f2.8 I love it. And I love its range. I have purchased the lens over a year ago and love it. It started to get tight at the extremes of the zooms and Nikon replaced it under warranty.
  36. I also choose the 24-70mm on my D300. This is probably my main lens. I actually us this for much of my landscapes. Although, I also have the 17-35mm for wider situations. The 24-70mm is an awesome performer. I sold my DX lenses and now have all FX to set up for fullframe down the road.
  37. It really just depends whether 24mm is wide enough for your work. If you don't need anything wider then the 24-70 would probably work just fine. I personally would like as much telephoto end as I could get for portraits and people photos.
  38. So what I'm taking for this POSTING is that grab the 24-70 if you're doing mostly portraits, but if you're thinking weddings or group shots the 17-55 really shines!
  39. The 17-55 would be best for the D300 sensor. If you think you might be upgrading soon to a D700 or D3 then you might consider the 24-70. If you think it will be a while then I would definitely go with the 17-55. I have used a 24-60 on my D200 and now on my D700. It wasn't wide enough on my D200 but is just about perfect on my D700. The 17-55 would give similar results on a DX sensor so I would say go that route. You can always sell it on ebay if you decide to go to a FX sensor.
  40. Hi Jennifer, this is Mark from Singapore. I am currently in the same dilemma as you (last May 2009), except that I have the D300s. My shooting preferences / needs are about the same as yours, children (indoor and outdoor), groups, portraits, events, etc.
    Also caught in between the 17-55 and 24-70 choice. Both lenses are superb and pricey here. Hence, making the decision was a little retarded...... :)
    Was reading through everyone's advice, guides, experiences and it has been really helpful. Like to know what you finally decided on in the end? Kind of like reading a book and did not know what happened in the end. Would love to find out the answer. :)

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