Recommendations for work around lens other than 18-70mm ?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by benhai_zhang|1, Dec 22, 2009.

  1. Hello All:
    Do you have some advice on a walk around zoom lens other than the Nikkor 18-70mm DX lens? I've been looking for a better inexpensive alternative for quite a while.
    I've tried older Nikkor 28-85mm which is quite good above certain apeterture but the sample I got have defocus (basically lost color and contrast) at 28mm wide open and can't focus to infinity. I got the repair manual from and after the adjustment I can't get both of the issues solved. I can only get either infinity or close focus correctly. It seems to be a design issue for this is a consumer lens at that time. You'll need to use DOF to fight for focus. Too bad, otherwise it would be good. The color that renders by it is quite pleasant to me.
    I have two prime lens, Nikkor 28mm f3.5 AI and Nikkor 50mm F1.8 AF. I love the 50mm F1.8 very much. That's the picture quality I'm looking after. The picture doesn't seem to be much sharper than the 18-70mm but the color is extremely pleasant to my eyes when using F2.8 and above. 28mm f3.5 is also very good but not as good as 50mm f1.8 AF. I didn't use it often because it is manual focus and manual exposure.
    The 18-70mm Nikkor is sharp and covers popular zoom range. Over the time, I am not quite happy with the color it reders. In many cases the details of color on a face is gone.
    How about the Nikkor 35-135mm AF and Nikkor 35-105mm AF? Are they good?
  2. I assume you have a DX body? IMHO, the best walkaround lens for a DX body is the 16-85mm. Or if 24mm on a DX is wide enough for you, the 24-85mm AFS is a good lens.
    The 35-??? zooms have never impressed me (except for the 35-70mm/2.8), and in any case, aren't wide enough for a DX body anyway.
  3. Hi Keith, for the 16-85mm and 24-85mm, what's the price range for them?
    Personally I like the the zoom range longer than 70mm cause I'd like to shoot kids with a little bit distance.
  4. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The 18-70mm Nikkor is sharp and covers popular zoom range. Over the time, I am not quite happy with the color it reders. In many cases the details of color on a face is gone.​
    That doesn't quite sound like a lens problem to me. Could you post some image examples to illustrate this problem?
    Otherwise, if it is indeed not a lens problem, changing lenses will unlikely solve it.
  5. I don't mean there is a lens problem just I don't like the color the 18-70mm lens renders sometime. It's still my primary lens on the camera. I tried two prime lens and seemed that I can get more color out of it. I forgot to mention that my kids made a deep scrach on the 18-70mm about 6mm. It might effect the picture quality a little bit.
  6. Here is a picture I took with the 50mm F1.8 AF lens. That's my prefered lens quality. The 18-70mm lens can produce same sharpness but it can't generate the color I saw in this picture.
  7. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Hi Ben, you are not happy with the results from the 18-70. Posting an image captured with a different lens doesn't quite help us understand the problem with the 18-70.
  8. Well, here is a picture taken with the 18-70mm though it is my intention to diagnose the 18-70mm lens.
  9. you may be referring to contrast, not color per se, as the ability to render colors is sensor- related; my d80 (CCD sensor) is produces more vivid reds than my d300 (CMOS) regardless of lens used, for instance.
    stopping down may produce more contrast, but in general the 50/1.8 is more "contrasty" than the 18-70. if you like the look of the 50, an inexpensive alternative is the 35/1.8 ($200), which has similar optics but IMO a more useful focal length on DX. moving up the price ladder, the tamron 17-50 and 28-75 both are quite contrasty at large apertures and are great for available light pics. the 16-85 has better corners, less distortion and is sharper than the 18-70, but may not deliver more contrast than the other nikon kit lenses. it's also around $700. the 24-85 is less expensive but IMO you are better off with a constant 2.8 or a fast prime if its contrast you seek.
  10. Eric, you might be right. For 18-70mm lens if the aperture I use is at wide open then no matter how I adjust contrast and saturation the images doesn't look vivid. I started to notice this after I mistakenly sold my beloved Nikkor 70-210mm constant F4 several month ago. Since 70-210mm is a little bit too long for me, so I'd hope there is an cheaper alternative to the more expensive and heavy lens. Maybe I'd need to add up my prime lens instead of zoom lens.
  11. There are not so many alternatives, the 16-85 comes to mind, many people seem to be happy with it and it gets good test scores, but I have not tried it myself.
    I did find that the 18-70 lacked "snap", especially at longer focal lengths, when compared to more specialized lenses. The 24-70 would be a choice worth considering in terms of image quality, but it is quite large, expensive and the focal length might not suit you. Primes are an alternative, but only if you don't need to zoom instantly. A couple of interesting ones would be the 60/2.8 AF-s and the 85/1.8 AF.
  12. Thanks for all of the responses. I don't want to spend huge money on new lens. Maybe I'd try MF prime lens since that's an alternative. I don't mind do MF but manual exposure is like a pain. Is there any way that we can hack the D70/D80 to do exposure in some way? Does a hacked verion of firmwire available somewhere?
  13. Benhai,
    The 18-70mm example you posted looks a little underexposed to me. I'm sure it could be improved with a little post processing. Every lens has slightly different imaging characteristics. Adjust the settings in your camera menus to see if you can get the 18-70mm to more closely match the color and contrast of the 50mm. My opinion of the 18-70mm is that it is a fine lens, especially for the money. As someone suggested, you might like the 16-85mm better, but it is a slower and more costly lens. I doubt that the scratch on your 18-70 has much of a negative effect.
  14. Is there any way that we can hack the D70/D80 to do exposure in some way? Does a hacked verion of firmwire available somewhere?​
    Have you tried manipulating the many menu options in your camera?
  15. Robert,
    Sharp eyes! As I remembered it is -0.5 exposure. Normally I do +0.3. Yes, the picture quality can improve but still can't match prime lens.
  16. 'a walk around zoom lens other than the Nikkor 18-70mm DX lens?
    I've been looking for a better inexpensive alternative for quite a while.'

    Not sure if there is such an animal. I have the 16-85VR which succeeded my 18-70 .... The words 'Chalk' and 'Cheese' come to mind.
  17. Just by making some simple adjustments you can make the image much better in just a few seconds.
  18. Yes, it is true ^_^.
    For a better lens, ie the 50mm 1.8 prime, I don't need to adjust much. Sometimes the adjustments will wash out lots of details for the pictures taken with 18-70mm lens.
    Probably, I'll just keep using my current lens until they died and move on for another one.
    Now I got an real option, take off my glasses and then everything is about the same now. What a relief!
    Merry Christmas to all!
  19. Maybe not quite a walk around... but if you say that you preffer a longer focal... there is a Sigma 50-150/f2.8 zoom that's a good performer and as well Tokina 50-135/f2.8. You may look for a used copy which I don't think is very expensive.
    Or, if the 85/1.8 is not metering on your body, you can switch for a Tamron 90/2.8 or Tokina 100/2.8 - both being macro lenses but good also for portraiture, etc. In this way you have a longer reach for your kids, a faster lens than your 18-70 and a macro lens when you need...
    Overall, I don't think that 16-85 will give a real sense of upgrade - nor in focal length nor in IQ even though is a bit superior to 18-70.
  20. benhai, i'd highly recommend the 35/1.8 as the least expensive solution to your issue. i personally dont find the 18-70 gets good until f/8, so it's ok for daylight shooting when stopping down is not an issue. i have used it maybe 3-4 times in four years since i got the tamron 28-75, which was so much more contrastier, even wide open, i never looked back. the tamron 17-50 i got because i needed wider field of coverage has similar optics, and is even sharper wide open than the 28-75. i have the sigma 30/1.4 for extreme low-light, but had a chance to use my friend's 35/1.8. i was very impressed with the IQ, although the bokeh isnt nearly as good as the sigma's.
  21. The Tokina and sigma seems quite expensive. Tamron 28-75mm might be in my budget in the future. It seems tamron 28-75mm is not that pricy.
    I normally clean my inventory first and then see how much I can spend for next one. I'd stay with my current gears(18-70mm, 28mm f3.5 AI, 50mm f1.8 AF) for some time and see ^_^.
  22. Off topic a bit, but there is something you can do about the effects of the scratch.
    Put some India ink in the scratch. The scratch itself will no longer refract light, and the rest of your lens will continue to be a fine lens. Flare is reduced, and contrast maintained.
  23. Oh, I have Chinese ink(grinding) for writing. Nice to know there is trick to play.
  24. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Other than the scratch on the lens, the real problem with the image captured with the 18-70mm lens is underexposure. You need to find out why that happens, as it can happen with any other lens.
    You may simply have the desire to buy another lens, which is a totally separate issue. But as I pointed out before, another lens will unlikely fix the exposure problem.
  25. you can get nikon 17 55 2.8 lens
  26. "I forgot to mention that my kids made a deep scratch on the 18-70mm about 6mm (1/4"). It might effect the picture quality a little bit."​
    Whenever someone thinks a small scratch is going to noticeably degrade a photo not taken into a light source, it helps to remind them of this .
    I personally think the lens is being blamed here for things that aren't its fault and that similar or corresponding problems will occur with the same conditions, settings, camera, and photographer no matter which lens is being used.
  27. Benhai,
    For 18-70mm lens if the aperture I use is at wide open then no matter how I adjust contrast and saturation the images doesn't look vivid.​
    Nor will it ever. The 18-70 is not stellar wide open. Hardly any zoom is. So do not expect to find a cheap zoomlens that does deliver sharpness and contrast when used wide-open, since you'll be disappointed. My 18-70 was a good constant f/5.6 lens. Below that, it was mediocre/nice. Sorry, but be realistic about what you expect it to do.
    So, yes, there are some recommendations for other lenses. But if you want good wide aperture performance from a cheap zoom, most of the alternatives will also not deliver.
  28. Maybe I am an equipment lover rather than a photographer. It is fun to play around and trying to get something better through many different ways.
    It seems that the cheap way to get better quality of equipment is go with the old MF Nikkor prime lens. There will be many pain when shooting under Manual mode on non-professional bodies. But that's the fun part. I'm going this way to satify myself now.

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