Nikkor 17-55 vs Tokina 11-16

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by gregory_moreno, Jun 12, 2011.

  1. Hey y'all, I'm ready to buy my first serious lens for my d90. I'm leaning towards the Nikkor 17-55 or the Tokina 11-16. I'll probably get both eventually, but, for now, which would be the better investment?
    I shoot mostly photojournalism, which i hear the 17-55 is ideal for. But I already have a 35 1.8 and the kit 18-55, which suits my purposes fairly well. Basically, i'm drooling over the thought of the possibilities of an ultra-wide angle lens. Since I do a lot of shooting indoors, and within close quarters to people, I think i can justify buying the Tokina. What do you guys think?
    Any thoughts are greatly appreciated
  2. The 11-16 is one of my favorite lenses I've ever owned, and yet even then I use it for a ridiculously small percentage of my actual photography. And it is specifically bad, imho, for "people photography" as perspective distortion tends to make people look really weird with a lens that wide.
    The 17-55 is way more useful to you I would think.
    If budget is really tight, for the price of the 17-55 you could get the 11-16 AND the highly regarded Tamron 17-50 f2.8.
  3. You said you're doing a lot of shooting indoors. With flash you don't need the speed of the 11-16mm f/2.8. Without flash, indoors, I don't know how you cope with the f/5.6 of the 18-55mm kit lens at its long end. It might be best to first purchase the 17-55mm f/2.8.
  4. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    As Peter points out, the Tokina 11-16mm/f2.8 is a dedicated super wide zoom for a very specific purpose; moreover, it has no AF motor inside. I would get it only if you are really into super wide shots.
    The 18-55 kit lens is not in the same class as the 17-55mm/f2.8 AF-S. Once Nikon sent me two 18-55 DX along with a couple of consumer DSLRs to review. I tried to use the 18-55 indoors and it drove me nuts since it is so slow. For casual beginner type photographers, the 18-55 is a good affordable option. When you get to a higher level and especially for low-light PJ work, the advantages for the 17-55mm/f2.8 should be obvious.
  5. I suggest the same idea as Peter Hamm. I've been using the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 VC for many months now to shoot events and people, I'm extremely happy with it. I bought it at the same time as a Tamron 60mm f/2 macro, both for less than a Nikon 17-55.
  6. The 17-55mm is a pro lens. But you say you've "heard" its great for photojournalistic type photography. Which suggests to me that you haven't personally yet experienced the limitations of you current lens covering that range. But you have nothing covering the ultra-fun/ultra-wide 11-16mm Tokina's range. So I would say get the Tokina. Expand you skills and photographic endeavors until you sense the limitations of your lenses and then add to them again. Don't buy just because people say a lens is great. Buy because you feel your current equipment is limiting your photography somehow. That's my two cents. I own both lenses and they are great, indeed.
  7. Another vote for the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 VC. A great lens.
  8. I likewise use the 17-55/2.8, but have a different ultra-wide (I use Sigma's 10-20 HSM). I find I actually do use it mostly at 10mm, or closer to 20mm. And I use it regularly, and almost never feel the need for it to be faster. That said ... I use the 17-55/2.8 far, far more often. That's a killer range for people/event work. It doesn't bother me that I've got faster prime lenses within the same range (30mm, 50mm) since I pull those out for more specific tasks/circumstances.

    I'd miss the ultra-wide zoom if I didn't have it, but I'd really miss the constant f/2.8 wide-to-short-tele zoom that is the 17-55/2.8. If I had to choose one or the other for a short time, I'd let the ultra-wide wait a bit, since for most people it represents a very small part of their regular use.
  9. I agree with Kyle West above. Get the Tokina 11-16 first because it allows you to do something you can't right now.
    The 17-55 is a midrange zoom on DX. The photojournalists I've seen use a wide angle zoom on one camera and a telephoto zoom on their other as their standard lenses, not a midrange zoom.

    For instance the 17-35 on FX and the 70-200 on FX. That would be 12-24 and 50-150 on DX. Unfortunately there is no 12-24 f/2.8 DX lens available. You either go with the Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 and loose HSM and some zoom range, or you go with the Nikon 12-24 f/4 where you loose the f/2.8 or possibly the Sigma 10-20 f/3.5 which I haven't tried.
  10. Pete: for what it's worth, Sigma's current 10-20mm ultrawide is a constant f/3.5. Which is pretty close to f/2.8, in the scheme of things.
  11. as a PJ myself, hands down, no question, the 17-55 (or 17-50). first of all, 11-16 on DX isn't a people-friendly range unless you like distorted faces and bodies. people shots really begin at about 17mm on DX. i have used an UWA for group shots at 12-16mm (DX), but that's usually from some distance -- 8-10 feet, minimum. for extreme close-ups, nosirree. second, you can't shoot at 2.8 with an 18-55.period. third, the 11-16 isn't really designed to be used wide open. it's much better at 5.6 onward. if you want a W/A 2.8 lens, you need the 17-35 and a FX body.
    sure, you can justify buying the tokina, but you will use the 17-55 more. especially if you have PJ aspirations. if you have to have the 11-16, then get the 17-50 also. optically, it's just as good as the 17-55, maybe even sharper @2.8, but obviously not as fast to focus. and if you do go that route, the original non-VC model's screw-drive is faster than the VC model's micromotor.
    FWIW, 12-24 (or 10-24) is a much better PJ range than 11-16, so i'd also consider the tokina, sigma and nikon lenses in that range. forget using just an 11-16 for events unless you have a second body. i've shot events with a 12-24 and a long tele in a 2-body combo, but it's pretty rare that i would shoot an event and only use the UWA. and even then, the 17-24 range gets used as much as the wide end. switching lenses every other shot is just not practical. OTOH, there are many events i have shot using just a 17-50 on DX (or a 24-70 on FX).
  12. Thanks everyone for your thoughtful responses.
    I think a mid-range zoom would be WAY more practical for what I do.
  13. I bought a Sigma 17-70 last year Its F2.8 at the wide end and F4 at 70mm its on my camera constantly. Its streets ahead in IQ and distortion copmared to Nikons 18-200 and close to the Nikon 17-55 in IQ; I have owned both.
    While the Sigma is not of pro build quality its a good general purpose amateur lens and complements my 10-20 Sigma and Nikon 70-200 F2.8 very well.
  14. The best midrange DX zoom is probably Sigma's 17-50mm f/2.8 EX OS HSM. Well, if you shoot handheld and in low light.
  15. I am virtually in the same boat, except I
    decided to buy the 17-55 first and have
    already done so. It's super great BTW. The
    11-16 is next, hopefully within the next
    month. My reasoning in getting the 17-55
    first is that It's a focal lengths that I use
    much more and the tokina is for special
    needs. I don't shoot a lot of landscapes or
    interiors. Also to echo some previous
    comments the tokina is not ideal for
    portraits so the 17-55 will get used more
  16. The best midrange DX zoom is probably Sigma's 17-50mm f/2.8 EX OS HSM. Well, if you shoot handheld and in low light.​
    i actually have this lens; i got it when my tamron 17-50 i'd had for three years got stolen. i'm still trying to decide if its better than the tamron or not. i liked the tamron's colors. the 17-50 has a weird optical formula, it's sharp, but very contrasty, maybe even overly so. it's ok for PJ use--the 17-55 would be better albeit less stealthy--but it has one thing the 17-55 doesn't have: stabilization. better to have than not have, but you have to consider how it will be used.
    as far as the 17-55 goes, i've considered getting one, but i don't think i would get one new. IMO USD $1479 is not worth it, except for a working PJ who uses a DX camera and has daily paid assignments. otherwise it's hard to justify that cost. used they go for $900-$1100.
  17. I have both and use on a D300. I don't see these lenses as the same at all. They are very different. For photo-j, the 17-55mm f2.8 would likley be a lot more useful. Image quality will improve over the consumer lenses you are using now, and you'll have the speed of a zoom. It's also a lot more pleasing with shots of individual people.
    Kent in SD

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