Nikon 17-55 vs 24-70 for D700/D3s

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by brad_chalmers|1, Jan 8, 2012.

  1. Hi, just seeking advice.

    I have a 17-55 2.8 Nikon lense which I'm currently using on a D700 body, while I use a 70-200 Nikon lense on a D3S. I use both bodies with each lense mostly for low-light theatre photography. I had initially used the 17-55 on a D300, but have since upgraded without changing lenses.

    The 17-55 delivers very sharp images on the D700 (in FX mode, without DX cropping), and clients have been happy with the results. I've been using this combo for photography work for the last year, though I've started to look into buying the 24-70 Nikon lense after reading posts and reviews that it's a better lense for the FX body.

    From what I've seen of the selling prices of the 17-55 on Ebay, if I sell the 17-55 lense, it will cost about an extra $400-500 to purchase the 24-70.

    My question is whether the curvature and barrel distortion that I've noticed in the 17-55 at the wide end on the FX bodies is still present in the wide end of the 24-70 lense on an FX body, and if there is much noticeable difference in image quality between the two lenses? The 17-55 has usually been sharp enough in focus for my needs, and I've been able to take care of the vignetting in Lightroom 3.

    Generally, have others found the 24-70 to be a step up from the 17-55?

    I know that it goes without saying that an FX lense is better suited to an FX body, but just wishing to hear from photographers who have used both the 17-55 and the 24-70 whether an 'upgrade' or change-over from 17-55 to the 24-70 for use on a D700/D3S will be worth the extra dollars?
    I'm also concerned about the number of forum posts which mention faulty zoom ring problems on the 24-70, necessitating returning the lense to Nikon for mechanical repairs under warranty, and I am unsure if this is a common issue with the 24-70?
    Many thanks.
  2. I cannot comment on the 17-55, since this is a lens I do not have, but I have the 24-70, and I have not experienced such a problem as you describe....
  3. Thanks Per-Christian. Just curious to ask, how long have you had and how frequently have you used your 24-70 lense? Has it performed at 100% from your point of view?
  4. I used to have a 17-55 and I know it had a lot of distortion at 17 mm. I t has much more distortion than my Tokina 11-16 at 11 mm. I used it a lot on my D300. After I got a D700 I sold it.
    When the 24 f/1.4 came out I went to the store and tried the 24-70 and then I tried the 24 prime. After looking on my computer I noticed that the 24-70 has as much distortion as the 17-55 and decided to get the 24 prime instead.
    The 24-70 is not a step up from the 17-55 instead it's equivalent one for DX and one for FX.
    If I was doing professional work I wouldn't use a DX lens on an FX camera, but that is just me......
  5. Activate automatic lens format detection, and when you mount DX lens of FX camera, you will get automated DX crop mode,... and your problem will be solved.
    Insteadof 12 MPixels picture, you will get perhaps a 5+ Mega Pixels picture with less or no problems that you described.
  6. Thanks Rene' and Frank for your input.
    Frank, my clients need hi-res files, and equivalent 5-6mp simply won't deliver what they need without additional enlargement of the files in CS3. Hence I've been shooting with the 17-55 in FX mode to retain a larger file size and pixel dimensions. There has been some vignetting around the edges, but this has never been an issue with post-processing, which is easy enough to do when I'm processing each photo afterwards anyway.
    Thanks Rene' for the details on the similar distortion between both lenses.
  7. Frank, at 17mm faces are distorted on the outer sides regardless of whether you shoot DX or FX. Shooing in DX mode only correct the vignetting when using the lens at its widest focal lengths.
    The distortion can actually be fairly well corrected through software during post processing.

    "I noticed that the 24-70 has as much distortion as the 17-55" I did a shoot New Years Eve and took some table shots as part of it. I process my images with DXO software and one of the options is to correct for face distortion, which I had never used before. I decided to try it out on the table shots and I was shocked to find out just how much distortion there is at 24mm on the 24-70mm lens. Renee is absolutely correct although it is perhaps different than the 17-55mm on FX. On the positive side, DXO did a perfect job of correcting the images.
    Is it worth the upgrade? Yes definitely, but only if you can afford it. Your best choice may be to try both lenses out at the same time.
  8. Brad, I bought my 24-70 slightly used in Nov 2010 from a reputed camera dealer. It is my most often used lens, and I use it almost 100% when shooting freestyle/discojazz competitions. (see my portfolio "dance") It has never let me down. Only one negative point: it is heeeaaaavvvyyyy (!).
  9. Thanks Elliot for your feedback. I can afford the upgrade, but just wishing to make sure if the upgrade will deliver better results besides the vignetting. I read on another forum that an FX lense on an FX body at f2.8 will enable slightly better light sensitivity, which would be exceedingly handy for the low-light theatre work that I do for clients, but am unsure if this can be confirmed? Thanks.
  10. Call me a pedant by all means but how is it possible that someone who seems to be a native English speaker, with a serious interest in photography, has never noticed that the singular of "lenses" is not "lense"?
    Maybe the fact that this toe-curling howler is fairly widespread is an explanation, of sorts.
  11. You have higher-end FX cameras, they deserve the proper lens. Get rid of that DX lens, get the 24-70 and see how much happier you will be. That 17-55 doesn't even cover the whole frame at the wide end, correct? It's like having only half a lens.
  12. You are a pedant, Roy. And just a faster one than me!

    Two things I haven't gathered from Brad's comments. Brad:

    1) Are you using the D700 in DX mode, or FX mode?

    2) At what focal lengths do you find yourself actually using the lens?
  13. The cost of the lens switch is one of the main reasons I never bought a D700. I agree with Peter that it makes no sense to buy an expensive camera and then cripple it because there's no money left for the important thing--lenses. Yes, you can crop down the shots, but when you do that you are throwing away resolution as there are fewer pixels left to the image. The D700 doesn't have all that many pixels to begin with. An alternative you might consider is the Nikon 28-70mm f2.8.
    Kent in SD
  14. Matt, your first question is answered in the OP:
    The 17-55 delivers very sharp images on the D700 (in FX mode, without DX cropping)​
    I am also interested in reading the answer to your second question. From what I have seen, the 17-55 could be usable on FX from 28-55mm; at 17mm, you end up with a circular image because the image circle of the DX doesn't fill the FX frame:
    In the OP, it also says:
    and I've been able to take care of the vignetting in Lightroom 3.
    Does this apply to all focal lengths? Or from 24mm onwards?
  15. Thanks for the responses.
    Admittedly, I usually use the 17-55 in FX mode mainly between 35-55mm, because the circular 'black hole' effect becomes prominent wider than this, and extremely so when the lense is opened wide, which does necessitate cropping of the photo at 17mm, effectively halving the file size after cropping. I rarely shoot this wide though, and 35-55mm has met my needs up until now.
    This may be a silly question (and feel free to call it such), but will a 24-70 on an FX body be able to shoot wide open at 24mm (equivalent 17mm in a DX lense on a DX body) without that same tunnel-effect that the 17-55 shows at 17mm in FX mode?
    Many thanks.
  16. Thanks Per-Christian for letting me know how reliable your lense has been. I shoot hand-held with the D3S and 70-200 for 2 hour shows, so know exactly what you mean by heavy. I have to laugh when reading reviews from people who think the 17-55 on its own is a heavy lense!
    Dieter, the vignetting doesn't appear (to my knowledge) anywhere in the shots taken at 17mm, through each of those shots being cropped regardless because of the tunnel effect that occurs. That tunnel effect has probably already answered my own question on whether I should upgrade to a 24-70...
  17. Brad, the "tunnel effect" is due to the image circle of a DX being smaller than the FX sensor. Even at 17mm, the image circle is large enough to cover the short side but not the long side of the 24x36 frame. Of course, an FX lens like the 24-70 won't have that "tunnel effect" because its image circle is large enough to cover the FX sensor. Just think of it as trying to fit a size 13 foot into a size 9 boot - it fits in width but certainly won't in length.
    This image shows the image circles for DX and FX in relation to the DX and FX sensor sizes:

    The "tunnel effect" and vignetting are actually the same thing - though in general vignetting is used to describe the effect of too thick a filter or a lens hood that is too long - not the effect of using a lens with too small an image circle to cover the sensor format; the result is the same though.

    Also, if you use a DX lens on an FX camera - even in the focal length range where the image circle covers the full frame - you are still using a lens that hasn't been optimized for that FOV - and in general, the corner quality suffers.
    And since you seem to shoot mostly between 35 and 55, why not consider the 35-70/2.8 - though I doubt that money is an issue for you.
  18. English: lense
    American: lens
  19. I'm surprised you don't get a major vignette on the 17-55 when using it in FX. In any event I do get some key-stoning at the wide end of my 24-70, but it is easy to correct, don't get much barrel distortion.
  20. will a 24-70 on an FX body be able to shoot wide open at 24mm (equivalent 17mm in a DX lense on a DX body) without that same tunnel-
    If you mean this kind of an effect:
    Of course the 24-70 doesn't produce black edges/corners like that; it is an FX lens. There is a bit of vignetting at 24mm at f/2.8 but this is mostly gone by f/4, and it is very mild compared to the effect you get by using a DX lens on an FX camera in FX mode.
  21. the OP's question is kind of a no-brainer because he has two FX bodies and a DX lens which he's using in crippled mode on one body, i.e. with reduced capabilities. it really doesnt make any sense to continue to use the 17-55 on an FX body any longer than you have to. I'd upgrade ASAP.
  22. English: lense
    American: lens
    NO, NO, NO, NEVER LENSE! Lens or lenses ONLY
  23. I am no expert but see following Merriam-Webster page, under lens variants:
  24. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    the OP's question is kind of a no-brainer because he has two FX bodies and a DX lens which he's using in crippled mode on one body, i.e. with reduced capabilities. it really doesnt make any sense to continue to use the 17-55 on an FX body any longer than you have to. I'd upgrade ASAP.​
    It is more than that. As I have pointed out many times, when you use a DX zoom on FX, even though the lens may appear to produce an image circle that can cover the full FX frame from the middle focal lengths and up, image quality can be very poor outside of the DX area until you reach the very long end. Therefore, using the 17-55 DX on a D700/D3S makes little sense even from 25mm to 50mm or so. I wouldn't buy a D3S if you don't have the money also for a 24-70mm/f2.8 and instead need to use the 17-55 DX.
  25. English: lense
    American: lens​
    I Googled "camera stores london" and went to the first four hits:
    They all use "lens".
  26. It seems the 'lens' spelling is highjacking this thread.
    The reason I responded to it was that I found the critics toward the poster who used the 'wrong' spelling were very harsh and out of place for this kind of forum. Then I googled 'lens' and found that it could actually be correct though it seems to be an old spelling considered obsolete even in England. Yet according to Merriam-Webster it seems valid.
    Now... back to the original subject: I am very surprised to read about using the 17-55 with an FX body. I like this lens on my D300 but would think the corners would show major vignetting and very soft definition on an FX camera.
  27. Thanks for all the advice. Comments on spelling/typos aside (i.e, lense, lenses, lens - at the end of the day, you know what I mean), I've just bought a 24-70 and will be selling my 17-55.
    Comments that my question 'is a no-brainer' kind of miss the point. The change-over is yet another outlay in $$ (not remotely a casual fling of cash), and will probably be my last camera upgrade for the next 10 years. I've been delivering photos to paying (and happy) clients for the last year using that combination of a DX lense on an FX body, working within the 35-55mm focal limits, but will enjoy very much having a wider focal length to work with (and less post-processing) with the 24-70.
    Thanks again for the lens advice.

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