Nikon 24-120mm f4 vs 24-85mm f3.5-4.5 vs 16-80mm f2.8-4E for a Nikkon D3300

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by federico_rossi|2, Jun 27, 2016.

  1. Hello everyone, this is probably a same old-same old topic but I wanted to ask it anyway.
    I own this amazing entry level camera (D3300), and i have been shooting so many photos in 2 years the camera feels a bit old already :). However, this summer I will go to Mexico and I was thinking of reducing to 3 my 4 lens set. I have:

    Sigma 10-20mm f3.5
    Nikon 35mm f1.8

    and then:
    Nikon 18-55mm f3.5/5.6
    Nikon 55-200mm f4/5.6

    But I wanted to replace the range 18 to 200 with just one more luminous lens.
    I have seen some comparisons and read some reviews, but I am still a little undecided.

    I know all the lenses mentioned in the title cost more than my camera but my camera would be replaced next year, either by a 7200 or a full frame (maybe d750), so for me it make sense to buy already a more serious lens that could be enjoyed also when I upgrade it.

    I've taken wonderful photos with my camera but I feel I could do better.
    I am covered by the 10-20mm for the wide angle, but I'd like a "one lens for all purpose" to go around and shoot on the beach, in the temples/nature, and even if i see some animals far away so I was oriented towards the 24-120mm.

    However from some reviews and some sample photos it seems that the 24-85mm is a little more luminous, and shots better skies.
    I know it lacks of sharpness compared to the 24-120mm and there is less zoom but it seems to be more luminous which for me is important and to consider.

    The last one, the 16-80mm could maybe be the best one as it goes down to f2.8 , but i have not seen enough reviews about it, and it is considerably more expensive. Plus, if I'd upgrade to a Full Frame, I might not be able to use it all, so it kind of is a drag, as this one is for the DX if I recall right, the best one in numbers, it seems.

    What do the experts around here think of this ? Would it be completely senseless to buy the FX lenses for my DX?
    I know i won't use their full capacity but I also know i would get a little more zoom as well as per the 1.6x moltiplicator factor.
    I know there are other brands out there, but frankly i'd stick to Nikon as preferred to Sigma/Tamron in the long run. My brother bought a very expensive Sigma for his Canon and has focus troubles, so i'd steer clear of it and Tamron in this range cost also a lot and if I have to invest around 800-1k$ I'd stick to Nikon.
  2. Good lenses are worth much more than a good body and are a wise investment so yes, buy good FX lenses now that will serve you for a long time to come. A good lens on my old D200 still gives me good useable images.
    I'm not too familiar with the lenses you've mentioned but FWIW, my daily walking about lens is the 24-70/f2.8. Mine is the pre VR version and I've not felt the need to upgrade for VR. The vast majority of daily images are within its range and I'd rather have those really sharp and have to crop a bit for a few than have all of the images off a bit.
    Don't forget to consider used lenses as well. I've bought a few from B&H and they've been a great value.
  3. The 16-80 is the clear choice for DX. A lens that only goes out to 24 as a basic walk-around zoom is frustrating (only 36mm f.o.v. equivalent) and it's a lens that gets really great reviews.
    But the Tamron 17-50 (and the Sigma in a similar range) f2.8 lens is really popular for really good reasons.
  4. I find way more convenient to use lenses that fit the format. The versatility of a zoom lens that reach a "true" wide angle of view in the short end is great; with the crop factor (1.5X on Nikon), any standard FX zoom will appear moderately wide, and will be too short for e.g., indoor shooting.
    About luminosity, 1/3 or even 1/2 of a stop is not that much. At the shortest setting, from f3.5 to f4 the jump is a mere one third of a stop. from f2.8 to f3.5 there are two thirds. If you are looking for the longer end, yes, the light transmission is improved by one full stop with the 24-120, but also a third of a stop with the other lenses. You`ll be paying money for a little improvement.
    A f2.8 lens will be even more costly, but the gain is also bigger, up to two full stops in the longer end, it makes a difference. Notice that the 16-80 is a variable aperture lens; it is f2.8 at the shortest setting, but f4 at the longer. The good thing about it is that the focal length is nice for the format (24-120mm FX equivalent), and still faster with a great compact size. The 24-120 is not a small or light lens. I assume your camera is a small compact one.
    If I were really looking for a wider aperture, I`d get a f2.8 (constant aperture) zoom lens, or better, I`d simply use f1.4 fixed focal lenses.
  5. Hi Federico. All these zooms are a bit compromised compared with the best image quality lenses (compare with, say, the 70-200 f/4) - that's the limitation of a wide-to-telephoto zoom lens. I second Peter's concern that 24mm isn't all that wide on a DX sensor, and you might find that frustrating.

    I've got a 24-120 f/4 on order for my D810 (before the prices go up in the UK...) - but it does need stopping down a bit for sharpness, and it'll struggle more with the pixel density of the D3300 than my D810. Ironically, it seems to be better at the wide end than the 24-85, but the 24-85 is a bit better at 85mm (I'd stop both down to f/5.6 given the choice, though). The 16-80 seems to be by far the best option on DX, from what reviews I can find. I've no objection to buying with a view to a camera upgrade (or using a film camera!), that's always going to be a struggle for a zoom like this - one end or the other will be compromised. I'd get the lens you need now, and trade it in if you need to. But then I'd think carefully about how much you need full frame anyway - at least until we get another sensor generation, the D7200 and D500 sensors hold up pretty well. Bear in mind the 16-80 isn't going to be all that light (or unobtrusive) either...

    I'm a bit worried that you're using words like "luminous" and talking about how the lenses shoot skies. Unless there's something fundamentally wrong, these should have a lot more to do with technique (and post-processing, and polarisers, and being in the right place) and a lot less to do with the lens hardware. Can you elaborate? We might be encouraging you to buy something that you don't need for what you want...
  6. Federrico you currently have nice light weight DX kit ideal for travel. Before buying a new lens you should decide if you are moving to the FX format. The cost of moving to FX is expensive, my basic FX kit 24-85mm VR, 70-200 f4 VR an 50mm 1.8G is over $2000. The 7200 and 750 are both excellent alternatives to the 3300. Choose one before buying a new lens.
  7. "The 7200 and 750 are both excellent alternatives to the 3300"
    Isn't the 7200 a DX body?
  8. The 24-85 and 24-120 lenses make little sense. They are not better than what you have, and not significantly faster. Buy them when you have a full frame camera, not before. If you want to replace the 18-55 and 55-200 combination, I suggest the 18-140VR. If you want to replace the 18-55 and 35/1.8 combination, then Sigma or Tamron 17-55/2.8 is an option. The non-VR Tamron is the best, but only available used. If you want to replace the 18-55, 55-200 and 35/1.8 with a single lens, well this can't be done. If you do not need the 80-200 range much, then the 16-80 lens is the best option, at a price.
  9. I think Ronald is making the point I agree with: A D7200 is an excellent DX upgrade to the D3300. The D750 is an excellent FX upgrade. If the plan is to go to a D7200 (or successor), a 16-80 would be an excellent lens choice that would still work well on the D7200; bear in mind that the f/2.8 end is the short end, though, so you're not getting an 80mm f/2.8 portrait lens for your money. If going to a D750, the 16-80 will be wasted on that camera (unless you like black boundaries); the 24-120 or 24-85 would be a much better choice, within their limitations. (If you want better optics than that on FX, consider the Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 VC, but it's not as flexible and it's pretty big.)

    I also was wondering about the 18-140. It's apparently not brilliant at the edges of the frame, but it's about as good as you'll get for this kind of flexible zoom.

    I'm worried that you're talking about the 18-200mm range. Nikon makes an 18-200mm lens. So do Sigma and Tamron. They're all optically awful. This isn't because the companies don't know what they're doing, it's because making a wide-to-telephoto lens is hard. The 18-140 is less of a compromise, the 16-80 even less so - but that's half your focal length missing, which isn't going to play nicely with your distant animals. If you can go back to two lenses, a 70-300 (Tamron or Nikon) is pretty decent and gives you a lot of reach. The 70-200 f/4 blows all of these out of the water optically - but you need something else to handle the shorter range (and it costs a lot more).

    Unfortunately you're asking a lot from one lens. The temples are likely to be dim inside, so you could do with aperture and/or VR. The beach is likely to be a bit sandy, so you could do with some decent environmental sealing, and you might want aperture for subject isolation even if you've got decent light. With animals you probably want reach (200-300mm might even be a bit short). And presumably you want this in a lens that is easy to carry around on holiday. I'm wary that any solution here is going to be quite a compromise. Silly question: would you rather have a large-sensor compact like an RX10?
  10. all your current lenses are DX, so... an FX upgrade would entail replacing all of them, at considerable cost. you could start that process now if you are sure this is what you will do, but neither FX lens you mention is ideal for use on a DX body right now. except that since you do have the 10-20, 24-120 or 24-85 wont mean you have no wide angle capability. but if i were you, i'd just get the 18-140. the 16-80 would make the 10-20 largely redundant, except for the extreme wide end, and it's pretty expensive to boot. it's also only 2.8 at the short end. on top of that, you would be replacing two lenses with 18-200 range with one which is quite a bit shorter. for much less cost, with the 18-140 you get a reasonable all-in-one walkaround which would work well with the 10-20 and 35/1.8 for travel purposes. if you need a more 'luminous' lens down, the line, add a fast prime.
  11. I'd go with the advice given by Peter, or the idea of the 18-140 Eric mentions (18-140 with 35mm f/1.8 together would be a nice, simple kit if you can live without ultrawide).
    Getting an FX lens in this range because maybe you may get a FX camera some day is limiting yourself now for something maybe. I never saw the logic in that. So the 24-xx FX lenses, I'd avoid until you actually decide to get FX.
  12. 18-140 with 35mm f/1.8 together would be a nice, simple kit if you can live without ultrawide​
    i agree, although i would always want an ultrawide for travel. the nice thing about the 18-140 is you could avoid lens changes when going from normal to telephoto, which fits the pace of travel photography. the ultrawide would come out of the bag for architectural shots, vistas, etc., while the 35 would be a go-to for indoor and low-light.
    Getting an FX lens in this range because maybe you may get a FX camera some day is limiting yourself now for something maybe.​
    Going FX is a real decision to make if you already have 3-4 DX lenses. you really need a logical reason to do so, i.e., an idea of what you will gain from switching formats. Otherwise, you could easily spend several times the cost of your current kit for only incremental increases in photographic capability. and besides being generally more expensive, FX lenses are bulkier and heavier than DX lenses, making them less well-suited for travel. A 24-120/4, for instance, may be exceedingly front-heavy on a D3300, though that lens would balance a bit better on a D500.

    i dont really understand the point about luminosity when shooting skies. if you're shooting night skies, you get more leeway in terms of light-gathering from a slower shutter than from a stop or two of aperture -- so bring a travel tripod-- while daylight shooting shouldn't be constrained by either shutter or aperture. in fact, i wouldnt hesitate to shoot skies with any of your current lenses, but i might want to add a polarizing filter to reduce atmospheric haze, especially at telephoto distances.
  13. DX to FX isn't necessarily an "upgrade." I own both and think FX is very over hyped. You will easily end up spending three times as much for FX lenses as you will the camera. You just aren't going to gain enough to make it worth it.
    The D3300 is a great sized travel camera. I use a D5300 myself for this. You are wise to try to keep your camera bag light and easy to carry. For lenses, I'd suggest keeping the Sigma 11-20, Nikon 35mm f1.8G, and adding a Nikon 18-140mm. This is a very versatile lens and is quite good. There is no way I'd buy a 24-85mm or 24-120mm for what you want. Neither are nearly wide enough, and neither have better image quality than the 18-140mm. I'll add that if you aren't using a tripod, the difference between lenses becomes very small.
    Nikon 24-120mm vs. 24-85mm on D3300. DxO test:

    As for Sigma lenses, last year I spent >$6,000 on the best available lenses for my camera. Two of those are Sigma ART lenses.
    Kent in SD

  14. As for Sigma lenses, last year I spent >$6,000 on the best available lenses for my camera. Two of those are Sigma ART lenses.​
    For what it's worth, I'm talking to an insurance company about getting my camera kit covered properly. That of it which I can trivially value and replace came to about £18k. Like Kent, I have two Sigma ART lenses (35mm and 50mm). I also have the Sigma 150mm macro and a Sigma 8mm fish-eye. The only trouble I had was an AF failure on my first 150mm, which was quickly replaced. Yes, some older budget Sigmas had problems (the 150-500 wasn't as good as I'd hoped at the long end, but then neither was the older 80-400mm Nikkor it competed with; I had a 28-300mm Sigma for my Canon, and it was pretty awful optically - but so was everyone's 28-300 at that point, and even the current expensive Nikkor isn't that good). There were times when the smaller companies had quality control problems. These days, Sigma isn't a small company, and Nikon are the ones who keep having to recall things. On a DX body, lenses like the Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 and the discontinued 50-150mm f/2.8 are extremely capable. Federico - has your 10-20mm given you any trouble?
    if you're shooting night skies, you get more leeway in terms of light-gathering from a slower shutter than from a stop or two of aperture​
    True, but (at the risk of veering off topic) be careful of star trails. There's a "500(ish) rule" about how long you can maintain an exposure before star trails get visible (without pixel peeping): an exposure of 500/the lens focal length in seconds. Scale that by your crop factor (1.5). So with your lens at 200mm, you'll only be able to take an exposure of about 1 ⅔ seconds before star trails become intrusive. Longer than you'd want to hand hold for, but aperture still makes a difference. Of course, it also helps to take lots of images and stack them, but this gets tedious fast. Another tip: for stars, absolute, not relative, aperture matters: a 200mm f/5.6 lens will show up stars better than a 55mm f/5.6 lens. I mention all this because I recently discovered the SkyWatcher Star Adventurer (which seems a bit cheaper and possibly more solid than the iOptron SkyTracker or Polarie Vixen - although I've not tested them myself) for limiting star trails, and I'm looking forward to experimenting with it.
  15. i have a bunch of Sigma lenses, including the 35 ART. all are made in Japan. all of them work fine on my various Nikon bodies. in fact, the only issue ive ever had with a 3rd party lens was a Tamron 17-50 which overexposed with a sb-600 in ttl-bl mode. so i wouldnt hesitate to buy or recommend another Sigma, and TBH, their lens output for the last several years has smoked Nikon, especially in DX where they have the 18-35/1.8 and 50-100/1.8 -- innovative designs Nikon refuses to make. i also have the older 50-150/2.8 which is a killer DX lens. that said, there are occasionally QC issues with all camera/lens manufacturers, and Nikon has been known to reverse-reverse-engineer their bodies to make Sigma glass not work. But Sigma will rechip their lenses if you send them in. So, on principle, i dont think the old adage that Nikon lenses > Sigma lenses automatically is still correct. Nikon lenses arent built like they used to be, and it's beenawhile since they released something absolutely stellar in the IQ department. That said, if you buy a low-end Sigma or Tamron lens, i wouldn't expect a lot.
  16. Federrico you currently have nice light weight DX kit ideal for travel. Before buying a new lens you should decide if you are moving to the FX format. The cost of moving to FX is expensive, my basic FX kit 24-85mm VR, 70-200 f4 VR an 50mm 1.8G is over $2000.​
    Agree with ronald. Before you actually purchase an FX body, I think it is good idea to stick with your current lineup. They are small and lightweight and produce decent results.

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