Do-it-all lens for Nikon FF (N80/F80)

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by arnabdas, Apr 6, 2011.

  1. Being a complete noob for non-macro gear I have to ask. I ironically ended up buying another Nikon body (N80, F80 outside US) even after I sold off my DSLRs and believed I had switched completely to m4/3 for my main body of work.
    This time the purpose is vacations / family (complete with a hyperactive toddler who my FM3A bodies are no use for). I'm mostly using Kodak Ektar 100 and need a zoom lens (ideally but not necessarily one with vibration control) that focuses quick enough.
    My brain is now numbed from fretting over the choices, much harder than selecting macro gear. Primary purpose is family and vacation snapshots but would not mind a "do-it-all" superzoom if the results can stand up to Ektar 100 film + KM Dimage Scan Elite 5400/II scanner standards.
    These are the ones I am considering. Budget < $800ish.
    • 28-80/3.3-5.6 AF G Nikkor (or the AF-D at the same FL range)
    • 24-85/3.5-4.5 AF-G Nikkor
    • 28-85/3.5-4.5 AF Nikkor
    • 28-75/2.8 Tamron
    • 28-105/3.5-4.5 Nikkor
    • 28-200/3.5-5.6 AF-G Nikkor
    • 28-300/3.5-5.6 VR Nikkor
    • Tamron 28-300/3.5-6.3 XR Di VC LD Aspherical [IF] etc.
    Which one(s) do you think I should shortlist?
  2. Additional titbits
    - I used to happily own the N80 + 28-105/3.5-4.5 once but that was 10 years ago and lens choices were different then
    - really looking for only one lesn to stay more or less always mounted
    - Not meaning to spend a lot of money if I don't need to.
    - Since I'll be shooting only film and that too for family shots, flare/ghosting/vignetting control, good OOF rendition/bokeh, nice color rendition, decent focusing speed are more important attributes (compared to CA, critical sharpness, distorttion etc. which I can live with if not too much).
  3. First instinct says 28-105/3.5-4.5 or 24-85/3.5-4.5.
    The new 28-300 VR will bust your budget, as would the new 24-120/4 VR (that you didn't mention).
    The 28-80/3.3-5.6's best attributes vs. the others are light weight and low price but it's slowest at the long end and its cheap build is particularly visible on the manual focus ring which is really just knurling around the front element filter ring.
    If I didn't care that much about reach to 200mm, I'd probably be looking at the 28-105/3.5-4.5 which goes for about $200. The 24-85 is a little more modern with internal focus & petal hood, AF-S (silent/fast in-lens AF motor), but a little more expensive and a little bigger with a 67mm front element.
    The Tamron 28-75/2.8 is pretty well-regarded, though perhaps moreso on DX digital than full frame. If you're considering a shorter lens like this, probably also consider the Nikkor 28-70/3.5-4.5 which is very compact but good optically. Also goes for less money than all but the 28-80/3.5-5.6G but is better built. The 28-85/3.5-4.5 AF is good too (maybe better) though heavier.
    Other FF choices you didn't mention are the 24-85/2.8-4 (heavier but faster than the 24-85 you mention) or the 24-120/3.5-5.6 choices, some of these offer VR. My understanding is that these 24-120 have so-so reputations and might not stand up to your IQ demands.
    I picked up a N80 + 28-70/3.5-4.5 for purposes of experimenting/comparing with Nikon, and it was about the amount of money and camera size I was willing to try. I'm not overwhelmed with AF speed, if this is priority, perhaps a better body like N90 or F100 might be warranted. Seems sure and accurate but not particularly zippy. AF-S lens like 24-85/3.5-4.5 would probably focus faster but this was more money than I was willing to invest in Nikon at this point.
  4. Well, I'm almost totally digital (D300) but I've been kinda fooling myself that I'll soon get an FX body and for that
    reason I got the 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5.

    Your other lenses are not quite wide enough, IMO, and to be honest I hardy use anything longer than 55mm on a DX
    body, which is something around 85mm, when I am on vacation.

    There is a more expensive version (f/2.8-f/4) but the cheaper f/3.5-4.5 goes for under $300.

    At 24mm it's not outstanding but at the longer end it's really good even wide open. This means that the background
    oof areas can be quite decent.

    But the best reason to get this lens is that the colors are really nice, especially for our children. This is in comparison
    to the 18-55mm II, 18-55mm VR and the 55-200mm VR all of which are OK but not as kind on our kids.
  5. These are the ones I am considering. Budget < $800ish.
    • 28-80/3.3-5.6 AF G Nikkor (or the AF-D at the same FL range)
    Never used this, but it's a "disposable" lens in every sense of the word. Major assemblies joined with adhesive tape. Given your budget, I'm not sure why you would even consider this one?
    • 24-85/3.5-4.5 AF-G Nikkor
    This was my "everyday lens" on film, and I still use it extensively on a D200 now. Nice fast autofocus, and excellent close focusing ability at all focal lengths (to 0.38m). Good build quality for a consumer zoom. Shows some barrel distortion at 24mm. Since it was discontinued it seems to have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity, and used prices on eBay are reflecting that.
    • 28-85/3.5-4.5 AF Nikkor
    I used this lens on an F4 for several years, and did like it. Autofocus is a bit slow, and noisy. Macro function (awkward to use) only works at the 28mm focal length, which is definitely not ideal for close-ups. Non-macro close focus is 0.8m.
    • 28-105/3.5-4.5 Nikkor
    For some reason I never warmed to the 28~105, I guess mostly because I was not impressed with that barrel wobble when fully extended to 105mm, and the extremely short focusing ring rotation from normal distances to infinity.
    • 28-75/2.8 Tamron
    • 28-200/3.5-5.6 AF-G Nikkor
    • 28-300/3.5-5.6 VR Nikkor
    • Tamron 28-300/3.5-6.3 XR Di VC LD Aspherical [IF] etc.
    Never used any of the above. But I believe the 28~200mm f/3.5-5.6G is acknowledged to be Nikon's best rendering of a 28~200mm zoom, and a significant improvement over the earlier 28~200 AF-D. In production for only a short time, and somewhat hard to find used.
  6. I'm very happy with my 28-200 f/3.5-5.6 AF G; it's the lens I tend to leave on my D700 when walking around (or in the camera bag, in case I have to grab my camera in a hurry). It's reasonably lightweight and small. I'm sure the Nikkor 28-300 is better - certainly more flexible - but it's also much bigger and much more expensive. If I'm somewhere with decent light (and, for my D700, the definition of "decent" may not be the same as for most film options) it works very well - I only switch to a wider, longer or faster lens if I know I specifically want one, but all the other options cost me weight. The autofocus isn't blazingly quick, though. At the wide end, you can't get away with stacking filters - I keep shoving a polarizer over the UV for a quick shot and forgetting this, so I have lots of images with circular black frames... I won't say it's perfectly sharp at all apertures or that there's no aberration, but because the specification isn't too optimistic, it's really not bad. The range means it'll double for landscapes and wildlife, at a push - I have quite a lot of hills and squirrels photographed with this lens.

    I have the 28-80 f/3.3-5.6 AF G; its autofocus is blindingly fast, especially on my F5, and I got it (cheap) in case I wanted it for that reason. It turns out that I've generally never yet needed it, and it usually sits in a cupboard except when I want to scare people with it. A certain, popular-on-this-forum, Mr Rockwell reviews, and likes, both.

    I can't vouch for the rest of the list, but it looks like it comes down to whether you want more width, length or speed (as it were). I'll be interested in what people say about the Tamron; had you mentioned the (old) Sigma 28-300 f/3.5-6.3 macro, I'd have told you to avoid it like the plague (but I still used it as a very flexible walk-around on my old Canon digital - sometimes flexibility matters more than image quality). :)
  7. I'm very pleased with the second hand Nikon 24-85 ED AF-S I got recently to use on the D700. It seems to be as good as the 16-85mm VR, but without the VR function (which I used only a few times anyway).
  8. I don't know if this works for you, but the Nikon 28-80 f/2.8D ED is a stellar performer, even wide open. Given that you're shooting ISO100 film, it seems like an extra stop or two could come in handy. If you go digital, it'd be a keeper. These are about $1000 used, sturdy, and built for professional use.
  9. I have used the 28-105mm Nikkor on a D200 and D700. The wide end on FX was not that great so I replaced it with a Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 which is better on FX at the wide end. I would think both would work very well on film. I like the speed of f2.8 and the range up to 105mm but can not have both. The 28-105mm Nikkor is heavier and has a very nice build. If you needed wider look closely at the 24-85mm offerings.
  10. the Nikon 28-80 f/2.8D ED is a stellar performer​
    No such lens. There is a Nikon 28-70mm f2.8 AF-S, however. Is this what you meant to say?
  11. It is a D lens with AF-s
  12. The Beast 28-70mm f2.8
  13. I typed an "80" where I intended a "70".
  14. I have the 28-75/2.8 Tamron without BIM. It's small and light and focuses reasonably fast. It's also the only constant f/2.8 of the ones you mention which would seal the deal for me.
  15. I guess the definition of "do it all" is being interpreted differently by different members. "Do it all" means:

    Very wide (only the 24-85, of the lenses you listed)
    Very long (only the 28-200 and - more so - 28-300s)
    Fast - both for amount of light and blurring the background (f/2.8 - only the Tamron, of what you list, or the Nikkor others mentioned)
    Light (not the 28-300 Nikkor or f/2.8 Nikkor, possibly not the Tamron 28-300)
    Fast focusing (28-80 G, not the 28-200, can't speak for the rest)
    Cheap (not the 28-300 VR)
    VR? (only the 28-300s, obviously)
    Robust (not the 28-80 G - mine's working fine, but it feels like it's made of cardboard; the 28-200 is plastic but hasn't broken on me and feels more solid; the 28-70 f/2.8 Nikkor is probably the most solid, although a lens that would be crushed under an F5 might be light enough to bounce on an F80 where a bigger lens would break)

    And so on. Given that you started by saying you wanted a superzoom rather than a mid-range zoom, I'd find the extra range and reasonable portability of the 28-200 worth its (low) price, and what I'd give up on is aperture - but then my D700 copes well with the dark, and I usually have a 135 f/2.8 AI on hand for portraits. On film, the 28-200 would be an outdoor lens, though - if you're in dark conditions indoors, you probably need aperture more than you need to focus in the distance. On my D700 it keeps up with moving subjects okay, although it's definitely slower than the 28-80 f/3.3-5.6 G and 50mm f/1.8 or my AF-S lenses; I can't vouch for whether it's "good enough" on an F80 though. I'd probably consider a 50f/1.8 or 85f/1.8 (small enough to have in your pocket while walking around) to be a worthwhile investment for indoors and portraits anyway, but they don't have the range if you want to capture your children coming face to face with an owl while tree climbing on holiday. If you want a better indoor or portrait lens as a compromise, an f/2.8 is probably the way.

    I've noticed that you ask about bokeh; that of the 28-200 isn't objectionable, but the limited aperture means I've never paid it too much attention - if I want smooth backgrounds, I tend to reach for a faster but less flexible lens (if the background's awful and all I've got is the 28-200, at least I can change focal length to recompose and hide it).

    But, while I strongly like my 28-200, I've not tried enough of the others to tell you whether I'd fall in love with them! I guess the big question is whether you think you'll need the telephoto end - if you only ever shoot wide angles, the 28-200 is an awful choice. FWIW, I'd really like a 20mm f/4 to complement mine; I have a 14-24, but it can't really live in a pocket while I'm walking around with the superzoom on...

    Out of interest, do you need to limit yourself to one lens? It seems to defeat the point of an SLR a bit. A cheap compact superzoom digital is a pretty reasonable option for holidays and kids, if you're ignoring the option of switching between fast SLR lenses.
  16. First of all, thanks everyone for all the inputs, very insightful. I have narrowed my choices down to just the Tamron 28-75 or the Nikon 28-105. I left VR / superzooms out of final consideration, because VR is of not much use for restless kids, and as for superzooms -- I'd rather have very high-qualily shots of only certain kinds than above-average shots of all kinds, if you know what I mean.
    Now to round things out -- corner sharpness is very important to me since I blow-up my film shots rather large and I also have a scanner capable of doing that.
    So, between the Tamron 28-75 and the Nikon 28-105 -- which has better corner sharpness on 35mm film/FX? I can live with the limited zoom range of Tamron if it has the better corner/edge sharpness of the two. Likewise, I can live with the moderate speed of the Nikon 28-105 if that happens to be the one with the better corner sharpness.

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